Not too far from Bangkok are a number of interesting places to visit- some of them historical, some of them culturally significant and some simply lovely places to while away a day. Some of the popular getaways include:
Pattaya is just a two hour drive away from Bangkok airport and is the perfect place to catch some sun and sand.
Hua Hin also a two and half hour drive away is a quiet little resort town by the beach. Hua Hin is also the king''s summer retreat. Not very much to do here except enjoy the facilities of you resort and catch a Thai meal at a local restaurant.
Kanchanaburi lies about 130 km west of Bangkok, and if you travel by train both ways, you can fit it into a day- a long day, but worth it. Kanchanaburi’s main attraction is the River Kwai of `The Bridge on the River Kwai’ fame, once the location of a Japanese prisoner of war camp and an Allied war cemetery that is now a Commonwealth War Cemetery. The River Kwai is the famous Allied war cemetery immortalized in the Hollywood classic `The Bridge on the River Kwai’. The surrounding area, in the district of Kanchanaburi, has ancient caves in which remains of pre-historic dwellings have been found and some lovely waterfalls, especially the Erawan, Saiyok Noi and Saiyok Yai falls.
Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand for almost 4 centuries (till 1767) was a powerful city-state at one time. Ayutthaya is about 80 km north of Bangkok, and some of the buildings are very good examples of early Thai architecture. Although in ruins, the city still has remnants of its bygone splendour- some pretty stupendous temples, forts and palaces that bear witness to the Hindu influence on this erstwhile Hindu kingdom. Ayutthaya also has a museum, with a good collection of artefacts gleaned from the ruins of the city.
Sukhothai or “The Dawn of Happiness”, was Thailand’s capital prior to the rise of Ayutthaya and is situated 427 km north of Bangkok. Its ruins include old temples and palaces; among the temples, the Wat Mahathat and the Wat Si Chum are most famous; also worth seeing are the huge statues of the Buddha which stand guard in different parts of the city. The Rose Garden lies at an hour’s drive from Bangkok, and is a resort with accommodation, entertainment and a Thai Village. It’s for those who like their entertainment organized- there are cultural performances of some sort or the other going on all the time, including dances, musical shows and enactments of the Thai wedding ceremony.
Nakhon Pathom respected all over the country as the place where Buddhism was first introduced to Thailand is only 30 minutes’ drive from Bangkok. The town boasts the world’s tallest Buddhist monument, in the form of the Phra Pathom Chedi.
Bang Saen , is the closest seaside resort to Bangkok, only 100 km south west of the capital, and is a pleasant place to spend the day in. It’s got a fairly nice beach, a modern hotel and a water park. Quite convenient if you don’t want to go all the way to Phuket or Pattaya, but want to go to the seaside anyway.
Phra Buddha Bat lies further afield and is famous as the place where a `footprint’ of the Buddha was discovered.
Phetchaburi is a town known for its ancient caves, murals, and delightful sweets.
Damnoensaduak is just an hour away from Bangkok and is Thailand’s most lively floating market.
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