Wrestle with a crocodile and pedal power round an ancient city.
Thanon Sukhumvit continues all the way to Cambodia, and the BTS is extending above this highway – past Bangna’s housing estates, industry, golf courses and outsize theme restaurants – into suburban Samut Prakarn province. You can combine its sights located at the Chao Phraya estuary into a half-or full-day trip.
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Explore the summer palace and ruined Siamese capital.
For the best historical day trip, head 55km (34 miles) north to Bang Sai, another 17km (11 miles) to the 19th-century Bang Pa-In summer palace, and 21km (13 miles) further to the ruined Siamese capital of Ayutthaya. Tours tend to engulf Bang Pa-in before lunching in Ayutthaya, and boating back, or breaking the return at Bang Sai.
Read more about Ayutthaya & Bang Pa-In
Estuarine attractions and a vast Buddhist theme park.
Siam’s oldest city and the entry point of Buddhism, Nakhon Pathom was a centre of the Mon-influenced Dvaravati culture two millennia ago. Its huge Phra Pathom Chedi and Sanam Chan Palace make it a drop-in destination on the way west or south, or on a day trip to canal communities in this province, and neighbouring Amphawa. Amphawa retains some bygone lifestyles and markets.
The district bordering Bangkok features Putthamonthon, a vast Buddhist theme park. Look out for its 40-metre (131-foot) Buddha and Utthayan Avenue, which shimmers with ornate bridges, fountains, flora and lampposts. It makes a good half-day trip with the nearby House of Museums and National Film Archive.
Read more about floating markets around Bangkok
The sand is fine and the water is clear. Chic resorts are now gentrifying a shambolic fringe of formerly basic resorts, but pricing out its young regulars. Jetskis and inflatable banana rides start the string of quieter, pretty east coast bays where the calm is disturbed only by beach massages, snorkelling and a mellow party scene focused on populist Had Sai Kaew and groovier Ao Phai.
Resorts get sparser as the coccyx-bruising road judders to Ao Phai and Ao Tubtim. A short hike further lies rockier Ao Thian.
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The former fishing village of Hua Hin in Prachuap Khiri Khan province owes its prestige to King Rama VI building Marukhathaiyawan Palace between here and Cha-am, a resort catering to raucous Thai sanuk that’s rapidly going upmarket. High society and Thailand’s first golf course followed.
Overcrowding can be a problem on weekends, but the many world-class resorts have more tasteful architecture, while there’s less sleaze than in Pattaya or Phuket.
Read more about Hua Hin & Cha-am