With its ancient temples, colourful markets and some of the best food in the whole of Asia, Bangkok deserves several days on any visitor’s Thailand travel itinerary.
It’s also a logical starting point for trips to other destinations in the country. For example, it’s easy to head north from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and tribal communities in the jungle-covered mountains bordering Burma, or travel south to island paradises such as Krabi, Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan.
And once you’ve already spent some time in Thailand, Bangkok is the perfect jumping-off point for visiting several other fascinating, southeast Asian destinations.
Bangkok to Cambodia
Visiting the Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia is an experience of a lifetime. Surrounded by jungle, the complex spans an area of roughly 400 square kilometres. It includes fascinating ruins, temples and sculptures from the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, among them the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple, with its magnificent, sculpted stone faces.
You can fly from Bangkok to Siem Reap, which is the town closest to Angkor Wat, in just an hour and five minutes. Seven flights depart for Siem Reap every day.
Alternatively, for a cheaper and more interesting (albeit more tiring) approach, you can organise an overland trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap with any number of operators. Just enquire at your hotel or guesthouse.
You can choose to take a bus directly to Siem Reap or, for a slightly more comfortable and varied option, take the train as far as Aranyaprathet, use a tuk tuk to cover the 6 kilometres to Poipet, cross into Cambodia and then take a bus to Siem Reap.
From Bangkok, you can also easily arrange overland travel directly to Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. From there, you can organise transport to Cambodia’s magnificent beaches, like those on Koh Rong, Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) or the more resort-oriented Sihanoukville.
Bangkok to Vietnam
In just an hour and a half, you can fly from Bangkok to Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City (previously known as Saigon). Eight flights leave for the city every day.
Alternatively, you can travel overland to Ho Chi Minh City, via Cambodia. For example, travel first to Siem Reap and visit Angkor Wat. Then get to Phnom Penh via bus or, for a more interesting trip, a speedboat ride along the Tonle Sap River. From there, it’s just a six and a half hour bus ride to Ho Chi Minh City.
Among the many highlights for visitors to Vietnam are:
- Ha Long Bay with its sapphire blue waters and incredible limestone outcrops.
- The Thien Mu Pagoda, featuring the country’s tallest pagoda, in Hue.
- The picturesque fishing village of Hoi An, with its canals and quaint buildings, on the coast of the South China Sea.
- Beautiful beaches, coral reefs and tropical forest on the island of Phu Quoc.
- Elegant rice terraces in the Muong Hoa valley, between the Fansipan Mountain and Sa Pa town.
Bangkok to Singapore
Roughly 18 flights a day leave Bangkok for Singapore, completing the route in a little over three hours.
Singapore is a mix of glittering modern high rises, graceful colonial European and Chinese buildings, quaint waterways and parks. It’s home to Chinese, Malay and Tamil Indian communities, each of which contribute to the country’s culture and celebrate various annual festivals.
Above all, Singapore is known for its food and outstanding shopping.
Bangkok to Malaysia
From Bangkok, you can fly to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in a little over three hours.
The more adventurous can travel overland from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur. For example, take a comfortable overnight train from Bangkok to Butterworth, Penang, on Malaysia’s northwest coast.
Some highlights of a trip to Malaysia include:
- Kuala Lumpur, with its iconic Petronas Towers, many beautiful colonial and Malay-inspired buildings, bustling Chinatown and incredible bird and butterfly parks.
- The great food, Chinese and Hindu communities, beaches and interesting mosque and temples on Penang Island.
- The island of Langkawi, with its dense jungle (you’ll spot plenty of monitor lizards, monkeys and bats) and unspoilt beaches.
- Incomparable diving around Sipandan Island.
- The rolling green hills and tea plantations of the Cameron Highlands.
- A visit to one of the famous orangutan sanctuaries – either the Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Sabah or the Semenggoh Wildlife Centre in Sarawak.