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Top Places to Visit in and Around Bangkok

Wat Phra Keaw at sunset, Bangkok, Thailand.

Bangkok has no shortage of things to keep you occupied during the weekends when you’re not studying (I hope that’s not every weekend!). Whether it’s museums, restaurants, shopping or socializing that you’re in to – Bangkok has you covered! As Webster University Thailand’s Bangkok campus is located right downtown, you don’t have to stray too far from home to find whatever it is that you desire.

Personally, after several months of living in Bangkok, I felt the need to get out of the city center and explore a little. Whilst the restaurants and nightspots around Sathorn and Silom are of course extremely fun, I had a yearning to escape from the chaotic Bangkok streets and explore some of the places that are really only known and visited by locals and expats. After a little bit of research, I discovered that there is literally an endless list of things to see and do and all is easily doable as a simple day trip.

Here are my top five places to visit both in and around Bangkok. I have tried to include something for everyone including a place for fitness activities, leisure, a mini-escape, shopping and ‘the wildcard’ – a collection of small activities that can be done together as a full day outing.

Bangkok’s Green Lung

If I were to ask you where the closest nature reserve to Webster Thailand’s Bangkok campus is, I imagine the response would be “a few hours drive away”. Surprisingly, for nature enthusiasts and those that are looking to substitute the concrete jungle for actual greenery, the answer is only about 40 minutes away! Located in Phra Pradaeng just on the bank of the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok’s ‘green lung’ is an oasis for bike riders and those simply looking to chill out.

Cycling in Bangkok - Phra Pradaeng, Bangkok, Thailand

Cycling in Bangkok – Phra Pradaeng, Bangkok, Thailand

You can rent bikes upon arrival for 80-100 baht and there are numerous trails, markets and small cycling tracks for you to enjoy. With a definitively slower pace of life to downtown Bangkok, you’ll undoubtedly return feeling invigorated. If you want to splash out a little bit and make a weekend out of it, the Bangkok Treehouse Hotel is pretty special! To learn more about the “Green Lung” visit Bangkok Coconuts Day Tripper: Get some fresh air at Bangkok’s Green Lung article.

Samut Prakan – Ancient City

Ancient City or Ancient Siam in Samut Prakan province, north of Bangkok, Thailand.

Ancient City or Ancient Siam in Samut Prakan province, north of Bangkok, Thailand.

Samut Prakan province is most famous as the home of Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi International Airport. What many people don’t know is that it’s also home to the ‘Ancient City’, a 320-acre parkland in the geographic shape of Thailand that contains 116 different replicas of historical monuments. Only about 30 minutes from On Nut BTS by taxi, the park is open all weekend from 8am – 5pm. It is best explored by bicycle but a word of warning – come prepared! There is very little shade throughout the park so bring a hat, a bottle of water and plenty of sunscreen.

Koh Kret

As students that are into all the cool things, you’ve undoubtedly heard of many of Thailand’s ‘kohs’ (islands) including Koh Sumai, Koh Phi Phi and Koh Larn. What you may not know is that there is a tiny koh located smack bang in the middle of Bangkok. At a miniscule 3 kilometers wide by 3 kilometers long, Koh Kret packs a punch for what it lacks in size.

A stupa or chedi at Wat Poramai Yikawat in Koh Kret, Thailand.

A stupa or chedi at Wat Poramai Yikawat in Koh Kret, Thailand.

For such a small island you won’t be lacking for things to do. Famous for its artisans that make handmade terracotta pots, you can easily explore the island by bike, motorcycle or even on foot. There is also plenty of places to try some delicious Thai Mon foods (my favorite is the tort man nor galah). Only 20 minutes by boat from BTS Saphan Taksin, there is really no excuse not to go!

Chatuchak Market

For those of you that have been in Thailand a little while, you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with Chatuchak Weekend Market. Just a short walk from Mo Chit BTS, it is full of clothing, books, food, drink and even animals. The first few times I visited the market I left after only a few hours because it was too hot and I kept wandering around in circles.

Night scene of colorful tenta and cityscape at Chatuchak market in Bangkok , Thailand

Night scene of colorful tenta and cityscape at Chatuchak market in Bangkok , Thailand

I would suggest that you arrive early before the sizzling midday sun catches you out. After all your main shopping is done, you’ll have plenty of time to spare to explore the tiny alleys that are full of creatures and critters of all shapes and sizes. There are also plenty of good places to sit down for a relaxing drink and a meal. The only hard part is – finding it! Keep an eye out for the signs at ad hoc intervals that’ll let you get your bearings and continue on.

The Weird, Wacky and Wonderful

Let’s be truthful – some people just aren’t into the everyday and ‘mundane’ but would rather tread their own path when it comes to exploring a new city. Surprisingly, Bangkok contains a treasure trove of such attractions that can all be visited without having to stray too far from the BTS line. Just a taste of these said ‘attractions’ include:

  • Nightingale-Olympic Department Store: With items on the shelf that date back to the 1960s, be prepared to take a step back in time.
  • Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden: Ever want to see visual depictions of people that go to Buddhist Hell? If so here is your place.
  • Amulet Market: Undoubtedly one of the biggest amulet collections in Bangkok. This is definitely a fascinating insight into Thai society.

As you can see Bangkok offers pretty much anything and everything to keep you occupied on your weekends. Don’t leave it to the last minute and get out there and start exploring today.