1. Khao Yai National Park
For exceptional wildlife-watching three hours out of Bangkok, head to Khao Yai National Park. Amidst the evergreen forest and mountainous terrain, you’ll find wild elephants, deer, bears and if you’re lucky (or severely unlucky) tigers.
The park is UNESCO listed and boasts a range of hiking trails, waterfalls, lookouts and campgrounds. Haew Suwat waterfall is what lands Khao Yai on the tourist map – it’s where Leonardo Dicaprio made his iconic leap in The Beach. Climb Yod Khao Kiew for the highest vantage point in the province at 1247m. Plus, elephant activity around that area is pretty common!
How to get to Khao Yai National Park: Buses and minivans to Pak Chong depart daily from Mo Chit Bus Station for 150 Baht (return trip). The journey is about 3 hours and from there you can hire a songthaew for 40 Baht to take you to the national park. But if you’re going with a few friends, it’s worth looking into hiring a driver for a day and splitting the cost which could range from 1500 Baht to 3000 Baht.
2. Bang Krachao
Here’s how to leave behind the chaos of the city while remaining in the safe and secure confines of its public transport system – visit Bang Krachao. Otherwise known as the Green Lung of Bangkok, it’s a horseshoe of land surrounded by the Chao Phraya river. Catch a glimpse of what Bangkok may have been like in a previous century – swapping skyscrapers for stilt houses and mega-malls for a weekend floating market. Rent a bike for the day or explore the 100-acre Sri Nakhon Kuenkhan Park.
How to get to Bang Krachao: Catch the MRT to Klong Toei Station, and from there make your way to Klong Toei Pier where you can get a longtail boat to the island.
3. Erawan National Park
![Erawan Waterfall](https://content.skyscnr.com/9e016fbd5586e09575d70956167b005a/erawan.jpg “Erawan Falls”)
Famous for its 7-tiered waterfall, Erawan National Park draws many Bangkok day-trippers to the Kanchanaburi province (also known for the Death Railway and River Kwai). The park is great for hiking, picnicking but the main attraction is of course, making a splash in the milky turquoise pools of Erawan Falls.
Follow a series of dirt trails and bridges to the 6th tier, dipping in and out of the water along the way. Warning – a complimentary fish foot spa may be included in your swim. Then, wade through the falls and up short cliffs to reach the top, where the 7th waterfall is meant to resemble an elephant’s head.
How to get to Erawan Falls: Minivans depart for Kanchanaburi from Mo Chit Bus Station, costing 150 Baht. You can also take a bus from Southern Bus Terminal. From Kanchanaburi, hop on the local bus to Erawan Falls for 50 Baht. The total journey time is about 3.5 hours.
Embark on your own temple run amongst the ruins of the ancient Thai capital, Ayutthaya, 70km north of Bangkok. From the sprawling remains of the Grand Palace to the crumbling, burnt-orange temple grounds, each site is mesmerising in its own way.
Rent a bicycle or hire a tuktuk driver to take you from one temple to the next. Alternatively, if you set out early enough and manage to escape the sweltering midday heat, you could even walk the whole thing! Don’t miss the haunting Wat Mahatat, where Buddha’s head is entwined in the roots of a fig tree.
How to get to Ayutthaya: The quickest way is by minivan from Mo Chit Bus Station. They depart multiple times a day, takes about an hour and costs 70 Baht (one way).
5. Koh Samet
![Koh Samet](https://content.skyscnr.com/ef5f0e0c97bbc826a49e7959874f99de/beach.jpg “Koh Samet”)
Thailand is famous for its beaches, but did you know you can get a postcard pretty island holiday without flying to Phuket or Koh Samui? Just a 3 hour drive from Bangkok, Koh Samet boasts soft white sand, pristine ocean and here’s the real kicker – while the Andaman Sea gets rained on from June to October, this island stays nice and dry. Offering windsurfing, paragliding, snorkelling and island hopping tours, Koh Samet has plenty to entertain those who want to stay longer than a day (and you really should).
How to get to Koh Samet: Hop on a minivan to Ban Phe at Eastern Bus Terminal. The journey is approximately 3 hours and costs 250 Baht. It’ll drop you off at Taruephe pier where you can catch a ferry to the island. If you’re willing to splash out, 2000 Baht will get you a private taxi and shave an hour off travel time.