Bangkok is a well-worn and explored destination for most Singaporeans and sometimes, apart from indulging in the cheap shopping and good eats, there is nothing much left to do.
Thailand is beyond Platinum Mall’s wholesale prices to revamp your closet, or Khao San Street for late night partying. This country has so much to offer, in terms of nature or history; and some are just at the outskirts of Bangkok.
1) Erawan Waterfalls
With 7 tiers of pools powerfully yet gracefully cascading onto the rocks, admiring it just from the side is already a divine experience. Don’t hesitate to take a plunge into this aquarium-blue falls and let the cascading waters be your masseur for the day, it might just be one of the most refreshing moments in your life!
Erawan Waterfalls is slightly further west (from Bangkok City) from yet another popular destination, the Burma Death Railway.
Tip: Tier 2 and 3 offer the biggest pools.
2) Lopburi’s Sunflower Fields & Monkey Temple
One of Thailand’s oldest cities, Lopburi, located just 150 kilometres north of Bangkok City still retains much of the later Khmer and Ayutthaya architectures. Home to Monkey Temple, you’ll be greeted by throngs of free-roaming monkeys when you first get to Lopburi province. It is as if the monkeys rule the place, you can expect up to hundreds of them living in and around two of the major ruins in the province. Don’t miss out on the monkey mayhem when you are here!
Tucked further in this province are some of Thailand’s largest sunflower fields, only accessible by taxi or provincial buses. With the steep mountains as the backdrop against the sunflowers as tall as you, be prepared to spend hours indulging in this floral frenzy.
Tip: The sunflower season begins in November and ends late January.
3) Hua Hin Beaches
For those looking for a beach getaway but yet with not sufficient time to make it to the beaches in Southern Thailand, the endless stretch of white sand beach at Hua Hin could be your solution. Just 200 kilometres south of Bangkok City, Hua Hin is an active fishing port that attracts all types of travellers.
The outdoor activities available at Hua Hin are adventurous, suited for the younger crowd, and also family-friendly for the children. You can expect activities such as golfing, trekking at caves and waterfalls, or the usual sea sports.
4) Amphawa Floating Market
If you want a less touristy floating market experience that is not sardine-packed with endless touts, you can take a half-day trip out of Bangkok City to Samut Songkran Province to Amphawa Floating Market.
The hustle and bustle you experience at Amphawa Floating Market traces back to the 17th century and till date, you can find most of the stalls selling Thai favourites and quality handicrafts. To make your floating market experience more fun, you can visit one of the cafes littered along the riverbanks; and some of them have live bands performing!
Tip: There will be ‘Firefly Tours’ after the market closes at 10pm.
5) Maeklong Railway Market
Thailand has been paving way to modernity and tourism, that you start seeing more indoor cafes popping up rather than the retaining of old school street markets – though still prevalent. Maeklong Railway is however one well-hidden market that has proven its adaptability in this rapidly-changing age and prides itself as an active market in the middle of a functioning train track.
As if shopping in Bangkok City does not have enough adrenaline rush, you can get your extra dosage here as you scramble to find a spot among the stall owners under the shelter while avoiding the oncoming trains.
Tip: Its colloquial name is Talad Rom Hoop Market (translates to Market Umbrella Pulldown)
6) Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park is hailed as one of the world’s greatest, and is actually Thailand’s oldest reserve. Khao Yai National Park incorporates one of the largest intact monsoon forests in mainland Asia and has joined the ranks as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Khao Yai National Park boasts 44 waterfalls, 300 species of birds, 1,351 mountain peaks, rice paddies, Khao Luk Chang Bat Caves, and some 200 free-roaming elephants among other mammals. The park’s popularity stems from the various activities it offers such as water rafting and ox-cart ride.
7) Ayutthaya Kingdom
Ayutthaya Kingdom is the second Siamese capital founded after Sukhothai and even though it is already a popular tourist attraction and often crowded, you cannot miss out on Ayutthaya if you want to better understand the Thai history and culture.
Just 85 kilometres north of Bangkok City, you can witness the heyday of Ayutthaya Kingdom through the intricate roads, canals, moats and the elaborated monasteries built since the extensive rule from 14th to 18th century.