If you're thinking of staying at home over this long weekend because you think it's too late to plan anything, think again. Make the most out of these substitute holidays by exploring these exciting destinations that are a short train ride or a quick drive from Bangkok. Pack a bag and get moving.

Appreciating nature's jewels at Flower Land Pattaya

This 100-rai flower nirvana near Pattaya city used to be a sweltering hot section of Thailand's eastern Gulf coast. But now it is home to various kinds of winter flowers from colourful cyclamens and hydrangeas to all sorts of rare orchids from around the world.

(Photos courtesy of Flower Land Pattaya)

On the property, there are three large flower domes that visitors must check out. Two are meant to resemble Eden and the mythical Himmapan forest, while one showcases flowers, plants and trees that are characteristic of Chiang Mai's highest mountain, Doi Inthanon. In addition to sweet-scented flowers, the park's highlights also include a large cylindrical aquarium that offers visitors a spectacular 360-degree view of over a countless number of marine species.

Tickets are priced at B200 for adults and B100 for kids.

Heart-pumping Rides

If you need to cool off during the holidays, this giant 184,000m² water park in Pattaya might be just what you need. Though, Ramayana Water Park will do more than just cool you off. It will also test your boldness with its extreme free-fall slide, with a thrilling vertical drop. Apart from that, there are plenty more large high-speed slides to be discovered at the park.

(Photos courtesy of Ramayana Water Park)

Right now, the water park is selling special 2-in-1 tickets, which grant visitors full-day access to the water park and also the Khao Kheow Open Zoo that is located an hour away. For Thais, the tickets cost B605 for adults and B521 for kids while for foreigners they cost B1,199 for adults and B899 for kids.

Ticket holders will have the flexibility of visiting both the attractions on the same day or on different days, as long as they do so within the promotion period that is until Dec 31. Online tickets are on sale at bit.ly/3kXq1yu.

Animal Encounters at Viva Foresta Farm

Get up close and personal with many of our lesser-known friends from the animal kingdom at this cage-free farm in Chanthaburi. Giant African spurred tortoises, fluffy silkie chickens and Netherland dwarf rabbits now live there, alongside different breeds of deers (javan rusa, sika and chital), miniature potbellied pigs, llamas and many more wonderful creatures. There are no barriers or cages, so visitors can marvel at all of them freely and can even pet them. The only rule to follow here is to not stand behind llamas, deers and horses, to reduce your chances of getting kicked or being pooped on.

(Photos courtesy of Viva Foresta Farm)

Elsewhere on the property, you can find a large flock of sheep, a man-made pond with different breeds of ducks and swans, a flower garden showcasing exotic flowers and plants, a restaurant and a cafe.

Entry costs B70 per person, but kids under the height of 110cm can get in for free. Don't throw away your ticket stubs because you can use them to get free food to feed the sheep or get a discount on beverages at the cafe.

Eating Your Way Through Chakngeaw Market

In Huai Yai sub-district of Chon Buri, Chakngeaw was pretty much known only for being home to a 100-year-old Chinese community. That was until its villagers decided to unite and open their very own communal market that shines a spotlight on the community's rich Chinese heritage. Every Saturday, the neighbourhood's alleyways turn into a neon-lit, food paradise with an array of eateries and vendors selling treats that have origins from all over China, as well as traditional Thai-Chinese delicacies.

(Photos courtesy of Taladthongchomchonburi via Facebook)

You will also find cheerful vendors dressed up in bright red Chinese costumes, hollering at visitors to come into their shophouses that turn into eateries on Saturdays. Either enjoy a bowl of guay jap inside a retro wooden shophouse or eat your goodies under a canopy of lanterns. You can also hit up the Chao Mae Thapthim (the goddess of the sea) Shrine and an old vintage cinema situated right in the heart of the neighbourhood, before getting some cool IG shots at the many photo booths set throughout the market.

The Saturday market operates from 3-9 pm.

One-Day Train Tours

Now and then, we miss the great outdoors and ache to reconnect with it. But picking the perfect place to stay in, travelling for hours to get there and figuring out what to do during your stay can just tire one out completely. The State Railway of Thailand can probably alleviate some of the stress of planning a nature trip, with its eight train tours. They are simple one-day trips, perfect for quick weekend adventures and allow you to participate in a few special activities along the way.

(Photos courtesy of The State Railway of Thailand)

If you fancy some fresh sea air, the Hua Hin tour might be of interest to you. The train departs from Hua Lamphong at 6.30am, with only one stop along the way, at Nakhon Pathom, where passengers can pay respect to Phra Pathom Chedi (Thailand's largest pagoda) and shop for snacks at the local market. From there, after another two hours on the train, passengers will arrive at Suan Son Pradiphat and enjoy some downtime on a quiet stretch of sand. They will also get to indulge in sumptuous seafood from local restaurants located in the area, before making their way back to Bangkok at 3pm. Tickets costs either B120 (no air-conditioning) or B240 (with air-conditioning).

Other interesting one-day tours include the Pasak Chonlasit Dam in Lop Buri, the Prasat Mueang Sing Historical Park and the Sai Yok Noi Waterfall in Kanchanaburi. Visit bit.ly/3j4pQQq.

Whale Sightings

Did you know that September and October are prime whale-watching months? Don't miss out on this opportunity. It takes merely 45 minutes to drive from Bangkok to Bang Tabun. From there, you can book a tour with Wildlife eX, founded by cetologist Jirayu Ekkul. The tour company carries out conservation programmes to protect marine mammals in the Gulf of Thailand, so you will be doing some good by joining the trips and supporting an ethical company that doesn't do harm to ocean creatures. Jirayu will lead you on a boat trip to the upper Gulf of Thailand to spot Bryde's whales as they go through this area as part of their migration.

(Photos courtesy of Wildlife eX)

Right now Jirayu is operating day-trips from two different meeting points: Bang Khun Thian District and Bang Tabun Bay Pier in Ban Laem District, Phetchaburi. All trips will be accompanied by a naturalist, who will educate you on Bryde's whale and mangrove ecosystems in Phetchaburi. Price ranges from B1,500-B2,500 per person, depending on the boat you choose.

Those who aren't early risers, do take note that the trip will start off early at 6.30 am and will occupy the whole day.


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