The ‘Big Mango’ is known for its hustle and bustle, exotic sights and sounds. Though a vibrant city – with shopping, dining and nightlife offerings which rival any cosmopolitan destination – Bangkok also has a quieter side. When you’re surrounded by towering condo blocks and jam-packed traffic, it might seem like the city sprawls endlessly. Less than an hour’s drive out of the Thai capital, however, life feels very different. Exploring these four hidden gems just outside of Bangkok will allow you a glimpse of the rural side of Thai life and a look into the country’s long-held traditions.
1.Enjoy a scenic ride past rice paddies
While many head north or east to catch a glimpse of Thailand’s rice paddies, you don’t have to go far out of Bangkok to behold this sight. More than just a staple crop, rice planting cycles with the seasons and dictates the rhythms of rural life. Take a ride on the open-air 3rd class train to Mae Klong and enjoy the scenic ride, if you board the first train of the day, you can beat the heat and the crowds. Upon arrival, catch a glimpse of the infamous Mae Klong Railway Market. Daring vendors set up shop right alongside the tracks, dashing away with their wares when a train comes speeding by before nonchalantly returning to their posts. These hawkers aren’t so much daredevils; here it’s just how you do business.
2.Explore a palm plantation and indulge your sweet tooth
After the market, get to know another local way of life. Vast forests of palm trees cover this area, and you can visit a local enterprise that produces palm sugar. Made from the sweet, watery sap that drips from cut flower buds, the sap is collected each morning and boiled in huge woks until a sticky sugar remains. Learn about the process and have a turn stirring the thick, syrupy wok. Ask nicely, and you might get a taste of the day’s labour.
3.Visit canal communities by longtail boat
You’ve more than likely seen pictures and postcards of Bangkok’s most famous market, but nothing beats the charm of actual exploring the Damnoen Saduak floating market. The best way to experience the market is to arrive by longtail boat and wind through the canals, passing traditional houses and plantations. While it’s a vast concrete jungle now, the entire city of Bangkok was once crisscrossed with such canals.
4.Meet local farmers and enjoy a brief homestay
Many of Thailand’s people hold close ties to land workings as farmers and food producers. Outside of the city, it’s easy to learn about the essential herbs, spices and vegetable used in Thai cooking in an authentic atmosphere. From rice and palm sugar to dried fruits and important herbs, getting to know the country’s flavours and ingredients will open a door to its entire way of life.
Diethelm Travel’s Full Day Markets & Thai Community Lifestyle tour is the perfect chance to see another side of Bangkok you would never experience while soaring on the Skytrain or speeding by on a Tuk Tuk. Just outside of Bangkok are hidden gems which demonstrate the slower side of life that is still enjoyed in Thailand. Book your excursion today to get a taste of it.