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Thailand Road Trip Guide: 5 Epic Ideas Under 3hrs from Bangkok

Experience epic hikes, wild elephant safaris, and top-quality vineyards — all less than three hours away from Bangkok!

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In my opinion, road trips are the best kind of adventure. We’ve been lucky enough to go on some pretty amazing road trips — from living in a camper van around Iceland’s Golden Circle, exploring Western Australia‘s coastal drives and even Spain’s Catalonia region.

We love Thailand, but it’s probably one of the last places you’d think of when picking a road trip destination.

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The view during most of our Bangkok to Hua Hin road trip 🤯

But with so many underrated towns less than three hours away, Bangkok is actually an excellent starting base for a road trip. Each place has something unique to offer — thrilling activities, breathtaking hikes, beautiful temples, and animal encounters.

Renting a car was also really easy, but more on that at the end. Still unconvinced? Here are five ideas for an epic Thailand road trip!

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Click to jump to each section: Kanchanaburi | Hua Hin | Khao Yai | Pattaya | Ayutthaya

1) Bangkok to Kanchanaburi 

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Distance: 2hr 7min (124km) 
Recommended duration: 3D2N

Kanchanaburi is a town with stunning natural landscapes and a harrowing past. A bit of history — during World War II, prisoners were forced by the Japanese army to construct a bridge to connect Thailand and Myanmar.

An estimated 100,000 prisoners died building this bridge that passed through Kanchanaburi, hence the name Death Railway.

Death Railway Museum

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The Death Railway Museum pays tribute to the prisoners of war who died building the railway. We’d recommend visiting this museum first so you’ll have a better understanding of the town’s history before seeing the landmarks.

Entrance fee: ฿150 (~S$6)Opening hours: 9AM – 5PM
Address: 73 Chao Khun Nen Rd, Ban Nuea, Mueang Kanchanaburi District, Kanchanaburi 71000, Thailand

Wat Tham Suea Temple 

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Wat Tham Suea Temple is one of Kanchanaburi’s most famous attractions, with a mix of Thai and Chinese architectural features.

The temple is also called the Tiger Cave Temple as the area was rumoured to be home to a family of tigers. Don’t worry though, you won’t find any tigers there!

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Be sure to spot the 18m-tall golden Buddha and colourful steps (157 total!) to the temple.

Entrance fee: FreeOpening hours: 5AM – 5PM
Address: Moo 3 Tha Muang, Kanchanaburi, Thailand

River Kwai Death Railway Bridge

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But of course, you can’t visit Kanchanaburi without seeing the Death Railway for yourself. There are many viewing spots along the track, but the section at Tham Kra Sae Bridge has the best scenery.

*Pro-tip: Time your visit during train passings (see train schedule for fixed timings). Come an hour earlier before the train arrives to walk along the track!

Entrance fee: FreeOpening hours: 24 hours
Address: Lum Sum, Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi 71150, Thailand

Elephants World

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Sign up for an elephant daycare at Elephants World, a sanctuary for elephants rescued from all over Thailand. There are currently 10 elephants living there and they spend most of the day roaming around freely.

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You’ll also get to live a day in the life of a mahout (elephant trainer), starting with prepping food for the elephants! Elephants spend most of their time eating, consuming 10% of their body weight daily.

We got to cut fruits, cook rice balls, and — my favourite bit — feed the elephants.

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After that, head down to the river to bathe the elephants. Spending the day with these gentle giants was a very humbling, wholesome experience — definitely one for the books!

Cost: ~S$93 for a one-day program (incl. lunch and round trip transfer)Tour timing: 9AM – 4PM
Address: 90/9 Moo 4, Baan Nong Hoi, Amphoe Mueang, Tambon Wang Dong, Kanchanaburi, 71190, Thailand

Erawan National Park

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Photo credit: @nomadteacher via Instagram

An hour’s drive from Kanchanaburi’s city centre lies Erawan National Park. There are several hiking trails, but the real reason everyone visits is the seven-tiered Erawan Falls. The cascading waterfalls and vibrant emerald ponds might remind you of Kuang Si Falls in Laos!

After enjoying the waterfalls, explore the park’s many caves like Phra That Cave and Wang Bah Dan Cave.

Entrance fee: ฿300 (~S$12)Opening hours: 8AM – 4:30PM
Address: 94GV+5HW, Tha Kradan, Si Sawat District, Kanchanaburi 71250, Thailand

Accommodation in Kanchanaburi: Kanchanaburi City Hotel is a six-minute drive from the Death Railway Museum. A Standard Twin Room starts from ~S$45/night.

2) Bangkok to Hua Hin

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Distance: 2hr 45min (200km) 
Recommended duration: 4D3N

Hua Hin is a charming seaside town surrounded by vast national parks and pristine beaches — the perfect road trip destination for nature lovers!

Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park

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One of the best things to do in Hua Hin is to visit Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park. Khao Sam Roi Yot translates to “mountain with three hundred peaks”, which refers to the park’s series of limestone hills.

This park is massive and we recommend spending a full day here. Here are some highlights:

Khao Daeng Viewpoint

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The trek up to Khao Daeng Viewpoint is one that’s low effort and high reward. It takes just 30 minutes to reach the 157m-tall peak, where panoramic views of the Gulf of Thailand await.

Entrance fee: ฿200 (~S$8) — Keep this ticket as it covers entry to the entire park (incl. landmarks below)!Opening hours: 6AM – 8PM
Address: 4XH5+X42, Khao Daeng, Kui Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77150, Thailand. Park at Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park Visitor Centre.

Phraya Nakhon Cave

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Phraya Nakhon Cave is arguably Hua Hin’s most recognised landmark, taking a 45-minute (mostly uphill) hike to reach. The Khuha Kharuehat Pavilion is the cave’s main attraction, perched on a small hill at its centre — built in 1890 in honour of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V).

*Pro-tip: Aim to arrive between 10:30AM and 12PM when the sun is directly above the cave! It casts a beautiful light over the pavilion.

Opening hours: 8AM – 3PM
Address: Park at Bang Pu Beach (6246+C42, Ro Pho Cho Prachuap Khiri Khan 2107 Rd, Sam Roi Yot District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77120, Thailand). It’s a 20min drive from Khao Daeng Viewpoint

Thung Sam Roi Yot Freshwater Marsh

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Thung Sam Roi Yot Freshwater Marsh was one of the highlights of our Thailand road trip. It looks like a set from a blockbuster film — you’re bound to hear yourself say “wow” at least a few times here.

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An hour-long boat ride is the best way to take in the beauty of this place. Our boatman even stopped at several fantastic photo areas — like the spot in front of the yellow boat above!

Cost: ฿500/boat (~S$20/boat) — sits up to five paxOpening hours: 8AM – 5PM
Address: Sam Roi Yot, Sam Roi Yot District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77120, Thailand

Kiteboarding at Hua Hin Beach

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Head to Hua Hin Beach for a thrilling session of kiteboarding at Thailand’s first kiteboarding school! Learn the fundamentals of the sport, from setting up the kite on land to controlling the kite.

Cost: From ~S$50 for a 1hr lessonOpening hours: 9AM – 5PM
Address: 143/8 Hua Hin 75/1 Alley, Hua Hin, Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110, Thailand

Kui Buri National Park

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You don’t have to head all the way to Africa to experience a safari. Just a 90-minute drive from Hua Hin lies Kui Buri National Park — home to 300 wild elephants!

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A safari jeep tour is compulsory to explore the park. While elephant sightings aren’t guaranteed, there’s a 99% chance of seeing them on any given day. We managed to spot eight in the hour that we were there!

*Pro-tip: Rent binoculars at the visitor centre for a fee.

Cost: ฿200/pax (~S$8) entry fee, ฿850/group, up to 8pax (~S$34) for a safari tourOpening hours: 2PM – 5PM
Address: 3J4G+Q9, Hat Kham, Kui Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77150, Thailand

Vana Nava Waterpark

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Vana Nava Waterpark is the perfect place to cool down in Hua Hin’s hot weather! It’s home to Asia’s first VR water slide (we got to wear VR goggles and pick from three different themes!) as well as Thailand’s largest waterslide.

*Pro-tip: Book on Klook to enjoy S$12 off tickets!

Entrance fee: ~S$34 (incl. unlimited VR slide, locker and towel)Opening hours: 11AM – 5PM
Address: Pak Nam Pran, Pran Buri District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77120, Thailand

Hua Hin Night Market

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Hua Hin Night Market has everything you need — street food, shops, and massage spots. It pales in comparison to the larger markets in Bangkok, but there are several affordable seafood restaurants that make great dining options!

Opening hours: 6PM – 11PM
Address: Hua Hin 72, Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110, Thailand

Vana Nava Sky Bar

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End the night at Vana Nava Sky Bar, Hua Hin’s highest bar! The drinks are nothing to rave about, but the views are worth coming here for. The bar also has an open Sky Deck with a glass floor walkway overlooking the whole of Hua Hin.

Cost: ฿350 (~S$14) for a drinkOpening hours: 5PM – 10PM
Address: 129, 129 Petchkasem Rd, Nong Kae, Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan 77110, Thailand

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Accommodation in Hua Hin: Maven Stylish Hotel is within walking distance of Hua Hin Night Market and Hua Hin Beach. A Deluxe Room (incl. breakfast) starts from ~S$77/night.

3) Bangkok to Khao Yai 

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Distance: 2.5hrs (177km) 
Recommended duration: 4D3N

European villages, mild weather, and local wineries — a road trip to Khao Yai might just have you thinking you left the country.

Khao Yai is in a mountainous region, so the weather is slightly cooler than in Bangkok. During the post-monsoon season (Nov – Feb), average daytime temperatures hover around mid-20°C and drop to around 15°C at night!

Primo Piazza

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Take a short trip to “Italy” by visiting Primo Piazza, an Italian-themed village. There are a few cafes and an ice cream parlour — great for immersing in that European cafe culture.

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The best part about Primo Piazza, however, are the adorable sheep, donkeys, and alpacas!

Entrance fee: ฿200 (~S$8)Opening hours: 9AM – 6PM
Address: 200/2 Moo10, Tambon Musi, Pakchong District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand

PB Wine Valley

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PB Wine Valley is Khao Yai’s largest vineyard. It’s 350 metres above sea level, meaning there’s a slightly cooler climate — the perfect conditions for growing different varieties of grapes and other fruits.

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Go on a wine tasting tour to learn about Khao Yai’s wine culture while tasting homegrown Thai wines! There are also non-alcoholic beverages available, like fresh grape juice

Cost: From ~S$31/pax for a 70min tour (incl. lunch and wine tasting)Tour timings: 9:30AM, 11AM, 1:30PM, 3PM
Address: 02 Moo 5, Mittraphap Road, Payayen, Pakchong, Nakorn Ratchasima 30320, Thailand

Baan Suan Noi Resort (Hobbit Resort)

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Fans of the Lord of the Rings series will love Baan Suan Noi Resort — nicknamed the Hobbit Resort! It’s actually a themed boutique hotel, but you don’t have to be a guest to roam around and take photos.

There’s also a whole room full of costumes ranging from Snow White to Harry Potter and of course, The Hobbit characters.

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There are other themed areas here as well — from charming Santorini-style rooms to whimsical castles with dragons.

Cost: ฿100 (~S$4) for entrance only; ฿150 (~S$6) for entrance and costume rentalOpening hours: 8AM – 6PM
Address: Lat Bua Khao, Sikhio District, Nakhon Ratchasima 30340, Thailand

Khao Yai National Park

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Khao Yai National Park is Thailand’s first national park, almost three times the size of Singapore. It’s home to tons of wildlife — deer, gibbons, and even elephants!

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The 25m high Haew Suwat Waterfall!

Longer hikes require a guide (because of the wildlife) but there are a few short treks that visitors can go on unaccompanied. Like the trail to the park’s tallest waterfall, the 100m high Haew Narok! Or the Pa Deo Die viewpoint located really close to the Pak Chong Entrance.

Entrance fee: ฿400/pax (~S$16), ฿50 (~S$2) for the carOpening hours: 6AM – 6PM
Address: Hin Tung, Mueang Nakhon Nayok District, Nakhon Nayok 26000, Thailand

Jim Thompson Farm

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If you’re visiting Khao Yai in December, take a trip to Jim Thompson Farm! There are vast sunflower and rice fields — perfect for mini photoshoots.

Entrance fee: ฿220 (~S$8.80)Opening hours: Varies (Mid Dec – early Jan)
Address: 2072, Tambon Takhop, Amphoe Pak Thong Chai, Chang Wat Nakhon Ratchasima 30150, Thailand

Accommodation in Khao Yai: Ozone Hotel is a nine-minute drive from Primo Piazza. A Deluxe Room (incl. breakfast) starts from ~S$83/night.

4) Bangkok to Pattaya

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Distance: 2hrs (150km) 
Recommended duration: 3D2N

Pattaya might mainly be known for nightlife, but this coastal city has a fair bit of adventure and culture hidden up her sleeves!

Sanctuary of Truth

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The Sanctuary of Truth temple is a fine display of Thai craftsmanship set against the backdrop of the Gulf of Thailand. It’s made completely of wood — no nails!

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Entrance fee: ~S$15/paxOpening hours: 8AM – 6PM
Address: 5 206/2 Pattaya-Naklua, Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri 20150, Thailand

Shooting Experience

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Hone your inner marksman at Light Bullet shooting range! The basic shooting package includes three different guns (rifle, pistol, and revolver) with 10 rounds each.

An instructor is present to demonstrate how to use the guns, as well as ensure the safety of visitors. It was my first time firing a gun and I gotta say, it was a lot of fun!

Cost: ~S$64 for the three-gun packageOpening hours: 10AM – 5PM
Address: Nong Kham, Si Racha District, Chon Buri 20110, Thailand

ATV Ride

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Head out to the Pattaya countryside for an epic off-road ATV adventure! This tour navigates rugged unpaved tracks, with several turns and slopes — ideal for those who love thrill.

No prior experience is needed; you’ll receive an introduction and a few training rounds before the tour begins.

Cost: ~S$106 for a 27km route, ~S$126 for a 34km route (incl. round trip hotel transfer and lunch)Tour timings: 10:30AM – 1:30PM, 2:30PM – 5:30PM
Address: 22/6 Moo 6, Pong, Banglamung, Chon Buri 20150, Thailand

3 Mermaids Cafe

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After a day of excitement, head to 3 Mermaids Cafe. The entrance is a little unassuming — but trust us, this gorgeous beachfront bar and restaurant is worth a visit!

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There are several types of seating to choose from, but we couldn’t resist picking one of the booths that resemble a bird’s nest. The food here isn’t too pricey for the location — I had a Pad Thai and strawberry cream cheese smoothie for ฿199 (~S$8) each.

Cost: ~S$16/paxOpening hours: 10AM – 10PM
Address: 286/5 Kasetsin 11 Alley, Nongprue, Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri 20150, Thailand

Cozy Beach

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Before leaving 3 Mermaids Cafe, drop by Cozy Beach — located right in front of it! This beach is not too crowded and is a nice spot to catch the sunset.

Entrance fee: FreeOpening hours: 24 hours
Address: 20150, Thailand

Koh Larn Day Trip

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Pattaya has a couple of offshore islands perfect for a day trip. We went on a Koh Larn island-hopping tour and took a 30-minute speedboat ride out to the island.

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Guests can opt for different packages which include water sports like a banana boat ride, jet ski or even snorkelling!

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The tour also includes a set lunch; we had fried fish, tom yum soup, grilled pork, chicken wings, and steamed vegetables.

After Koh Larn island, the boat brings you to Funny Land — a floating playground with slides and trampolines. Guests have the option to play here or relax at the nearby Koh Sak Island beach!

Cost: From ~S$34 (incl. hotel pick up and lunch), S$51.65 (incl. of hotel pick up, lunch, banana boat, and jet ski)
Tour timing: 8AM – 4PM

Tappia Floating Cafe

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Catch the sunset from Tappia Floating Cafe, a restaurant located on the water off the coast of Pattaya. The place is very cosy, with live music and multi-coloured beanbags!

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Guests can also try squid fishing — any catches will be grilled by the staff!

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The boat ticket includes one free drink, but there’s a full menu serving main courses like fried rice and sides like squid!

Cost: ~S$16/pax(incl. of drink)Opening hours: 4PM – 10PM, Last entry 8PM
Meeting point: Bali Hai Pier, Pattaya City, Bang Lamung District, Chon Buri 20150, Thailand

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Photo credit: Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya

Accommodation in Pattaya: Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya is conveniently located right along Pattaya Beach and has a massive swimming pool. A Deluxe Room (incl. buffet breakfast) starts from ~S$91/night.

5) Bangkok to Ayutthaya

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Distance: 1hr 12min (76.3km) 
Recommended duration: Day trip

Just an hour north of Bangkok lies the ancient city of Ayutthaya. This UNESCO World Heritage city was once a thriving commercial hub as the capital of the Siamese Kingdom (1350 – 1767), before it was destroyed in 1767 by the Burmese army.

Today, the original city lies in ruins (Ayutthaya was rebuilt in a new location). Here are some of Ayutthaya’s key landmarks!

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

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First up, Wat Chaiwatthanaram. Built in 1630 by King Prasat Thong to honour his mother, this Buddhist temple was inspired by Cambodia’s Angkor Wat.

Entrance fee: ฿50 (~S$2)Opening hours: 8:30AM – 4:30PM
Address: 8GVR+5PX, Tambon Ban Pom, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand

Wat Mahathat

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Wat Mahathat is one of the oldest temples in Ayutthaya — hosting several important royal events here.  In 1767, the temple was reduced to ruins when the Burmese army invaded Ayutthaya, chopping off or vandalising the head of the Buddha.

But one remains untouched, entwined within the roots of a Banyan tree and is now the most photographed image of Ayutthaya.

Entrance fee: ฿50 (~S$2)Opening hours: 8:30AM – 6PM
Address: Wat Mahathat, Naresuan Rd, Tha Wasukri, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand

Wat Yai Chaimongkhon

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Before Wat Yai Chaimongkhon was looted by the Burmese in 1767, the bell-shaped Chedi here was one of the most distinctive landmarks of Ayutthaya.  It wasn’t until the 1950s that major restoration works began, including this full sized replica of the reclining Buddha.

Entrance fee: ฿20 (~S$0.80)Opening hours: 8AM – 5PM
Address: 40 Khlong Suan Phlu, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand

Bang Pa-in Palace

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Bang Pa-In Palace was the summer residence of the Thai royal family in the 17th century. The original structure was destroyed along with most of Ayutthaya in 1767, but restored by King Rama IV in the 1800s.

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This palace complex features some Greek and Chinese architectural influences. Today, it’s used occasionally by the current royal family for receptions.

Entrance fee: ฿100 (~S$4)Opening hours: 8AM – 4PM
Address: Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, Ban Len, Bang Pa-in District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13160, Thailand

*Note: A day trip to Ayutthaya can be done on your own. But if you’d like a guide to share more about the significance and history of each landmark, consider opting for a day tour.

Historical Ayutthaya Temples TourCost: ~S$96/pax for a group of three to four (incl. round trip transfer and all entry fees)
Tour timing: 8:30AM – 6PM

Our Experience Road-tripping from Bangkok 

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We’ve visited Bangkok several times, but this was our first time renting a car and driving out of the city.

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We had a lot of fun during our Thailand road trip, belting out classics and taking in the gorgeous landscapes. This road trip even allowed us to chance upon several beautiful photo spots (like the one above!) along the way — places we wouldn’t have discovered if we didn’t drive.

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Driving in Thailand was also a lot easier than we anticipated. Google Maps was accurate and traffic outside of Bangkok is a lot lighter — though you might run into the occasional jaywalking cow. 😂

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For car rental, we booked via Klook. It was really convenient, with several car models available and multiple pickup points around Bangkok. We chose a seven-seater Honda Cr-v SUV (from ~S$78/day) for the five of us, mainly for the larger trunk space.

Also, remember to bring your passport (digital copies aren’t allowed) and international driving permit during car collection.

PSA: Klook is hosting a Virtual Travel Fair till 30 June 2022! There are several site-wide promo codes up for redemption, like S$50 off when you spend a minimum of S$300!

Which Thailand road trip idea are you most excited about? Share with us in the comments!


This post was brought to you by Klook.

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