By Ashley Niedringhaus
August 12, 2014
Design Pics Inc. / Alamy

Even the most devoted of Bangkok residents crave an escape from the capital’s non-stop action and maddening traffic. And it’s not uncommon for visitors with a long stay to feel the push to break away from the malls and chaos of the city. Here are a handful of day trips—ranging from historical expeditions to outdoor adventures—to add to your next itinerary. Did the temples of Bangkok and the history of the city leave you wanting more? Then a visit to Ayuthaya or Nakhon Pathom should be on your list. Nature lovers will want to fill their days with excursions to one of the fishing lakes nearby or try to catch a glimpse of one of the tigers or elephants at Khao Yai National Park. No matter what your travel preferences are, these five day trips prove that there is much more to the Bangkok area than an active urban life.

Ayuthaya Historic Park

Visit Thailand’s former capital (a title that Ayuthaya held until 1767) and UNESCO World Heritage site for its impressive capital ruins, heaps of ancient history, and beautiful temples. The great food and rural vibe make this a top attraction.

Getting there: Buses depart regularly from Victory Monument, but hiring a taxi for the day is surprisingly affordable.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

The country’s most famous floating market sets up shop 50 miles from Bangkok. Today, vendors sell more souvenirs than goods bought by locals, but this watery market will show you how commerce in Thailand used to be. Hire a private longboat and visit other nearby local vendors while you’re there.

Getting there: Take an early morning bus from Bangkok or join a tour group.

Khao Yai National Park

Roughly 100 miles from Bangkok, Khao Yai National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and top spot in Thailand for birding and, if you’re lucky, viewing the park’s elephants or tigers. Guides are available on-site and highly recommended.

Getting there: Hire a driver for greater flexibility or take a bus from Victory Monument. Overnight accommodations are also available.

Bung Sam Ran Fishing Park

Try your hand at the tiring-yet-satisfying job of reeling in massive fish at this catch-and-release lake outside of Bangkok. Private guides can assist with baiting the line, casting, and making sure the fish are properly handled.

Getting there: Negotiate a flat fee for the 40-minute taxi ride to the park.

Nakhon Pathom Chedi

Possibly the oldest city in Thailand, this historic town is an hour from Bangkok. Visitors should budget a full day to see the sights (Phra Pathom Chedi is the tallest Buddhist monument in the world) and eat the food (like khao larm, a grilled combo of sticky rice, sugar and black beans served in bamboo).

Getting there: Take a train or bus to the site.