With international travel remaining uncertain at best this summer, many families will be looking for interesting and easy road trips to discover areas outside of Bangkok. Happily, Thailand boasts many undiscovered gems that are easily accessible within only a few hours by hopping in the car.
In this post, we are featuring easy car rides from Bangkok. If you’re looking for island hopping or the best beach destinations in Thailand via a short flight or driving to the piers in Rayong or Trat, where you can pop over to Ko Si Chang or Koh Samet, that’s a whole other ball game with kids! Here we are looking more at overnight stays for a quick get away from the heat and traffic in The Big Mango!
We asked our BKK Kids community which locations were there favourite go-to places for a long weekend or a mini-break and this is what they told us:
Kanchanaburi River resorts
At around a 2-3 hour drive from Bangkok, Kanchanaburi, Thailand’s third largest province offers a tranquil retreat away from the urban sprawl of the city. So if you’re looking for a relaxing getaway with the family, Kanchanaburi is well worth the drive.
Kanchanaburi has a number of famous WWII sites which serve as sobering reminders of the horrors of the war in the setting of the death railway. The province also has many historic museums, Khmer temples, and lush hilly terrains with nature-filled national parks and plenty of natural wonders to explore. Kids can swim in a waterfall, explore caves in the jungle and kyak on the key waterways of the Kwai Yai and Kwai Noi. Kanchanaburi offers the chance to enjoy a family trip combining easy-going sightseeing with rugged outdoor adventures! With that in mind, here are 10 Family activities in Kanchanaburi worth considering.
Hua Hin Beach Resorts
Cha-am, Hua Hin and Pranburi have always attracted families, thanks to their long stretches of beach and mellow, relaxed settings. Each area has its own personality and all have long since been a favourite beach get-away for Bangkok residents with many fun things to do for the whole family.
Hua Hin is a pretty beachside town which is family friendly. The relaxed atmosphere does not feature the all night partying and seedier aspects of other resort areas, which makes it popular with families. It boasts two nights markets, the main town market and Cicada, and even has a beautifully restored and historic railway station that has been the setting for many Thai movies. There are plenty of water parks, water sports, para gliding and kite surfing options as well as other activities. Check out our list of 15 family friendly activities in the area and 10 family friendly beach resorts.
Floating Markets Around Amphawa
About two hours outside of Bangkok, you can discover one of the lesser known floating market in Amphawa. The market still has a more traditional feel and is flanked by small traditional style guest houses and shops that line the narrow sois. Amphawa usualy makes a popular day trip for BKK families, but to really get a feel of the place you can stay in any of the small hostels that surround the river or at one of the river resorts upstream. These resorts will send you into the market area via long tail boats which is a fun experience for the family!
In the market area you will find vintage cafes, seafood restaurants by the dozen, souvenir shops and, of course, the boat vendors plying their wares along the sides of the canal. For some reason Pad Thai and mango and sticky rice tastes so much better when its been made on a narrow boat! For a truly Thai experience get up at sunrise and ask your hotel to make you a small rice packet to give alms to the monks who row down stream for their morning ritual.
From Amphawa you can also easily visit a few small local temples, firefly visits and even do a morning trip to the larger main and more popular floating market at Damnoen Saduak.
Ancient Kingdoms at Ayutthaya
Looking to get out of the city for a day and discover something new? Ayutthaya fits the bill! Located just 75 km north of Bangkok and easily accessible by minivan, train or your own car, it’s a great place to explore the cultural side of Thai history while escaping the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.
The ancient city of Ayutthaya was founded in 1351 and made the capital of the Kingdom of Siam by King U Thong. It quickly became a centre of trade, known for its many foreign residents and large number of grand monasteries. After the city was destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767, the ruins were left behind by the surviving inhabitants. Today, these ruins are rich historical and religious sites that are preserved in the Ayutthaya historical park; they have also been classified as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The ruins are a wonderful place for kids to learn about the history of Thailand and experience the things they have learned in school first hand. Many of the ruins are well preserved and if parents read up before going there or hire a local guide, history can really come to life in this beautiful city. Here are some of the top sights when exploring and visiting Ayutthaya for the first time.
Top tip: Weather permitting you can either hire bikes and see the temples at your own pace or for some real family fun hire a tuk-tuk for the day and ask them to show you some of the lesser visited temples so the kids can really explore! Finish the day off with a sun-downer on the banks of the river, unless you have really put on your tourist hat and done one of the many day trips from Bangkok by boat.
Saraburi & The Sunflowers
Normally reserved for the cooler seasons around the end of November to January when the vibrant sunflower fields are in bloom (which is an absolutely stunning sight) Saraburi makes for a nice day trip or weekend away from Bangkok any time of year. Over a 100 kilometres (or a 2+ hour drive) north of the capital, the fields draw lots of visitors, offering beautiful photo ops, picnic venues and farmer’s markets with mostly sunflower-related products, such as sunflower honey, seeds and oil. There are many great walks and bike rides in the area around the main water dam and if you’re brave enough you can visit the ancient Khmer ruins which are infamous for the hundreds of monkeys who go there for their daily meals.
Top tip: The ruins can be quite frightening, especially for smaller kids, and we don’t recommend you feed the monkeys as they will jump on back bags and try to open bags!
Countryside hikes in Khao Yai
Khao Yai is Thailand’s third largest national parks and a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its lush rainforests and rolling hills. We’ve visited Khao Yai National Park many times and it never fails to impress and is definitely a beloved getaway for city dwellers! It spreads across four provinces and is home to some pretty amazing wildlife including a large and healthy population of elephants, deer, gibbons, hornbills, sloth and more!
To reach Khao Yai its a 2.5-3 hr drive from Bangkok. To really appreciate the diversity and natural beauty, we recommend an overnight stay inside the national park or possibly try your hand at camping in Khao Yai during the cooler and drier months. There are many great family fun activities and Khao Yai offers plenty of fresh air and fun open spaces for kids to explore from exploring natural waterfalls on horse back to cool off in the summer months, day trips to local farms to help with fruit picking or planting paddy rice and there’s even a cowboy themed adventure park!
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