For travelers in Thailand, Bangkok is a an important hub. Some people may not enjoy the big city or desire to get to the beach as quick as possible, fair enough, but those that avoid Bangkok miss a lot because using Bangkok as your base, there are many fantastic day trips, over night trips or 2/3 day trips where you see many interesting places including some great beach locations in Thailand. Once you know how to get in and out of Bangkok, its is super easy.
You are about to find out how and why its so easy. Victory Monument is a very large traffic circle in Bangkok, it has a tall monument in its center. It was erected in 1941 following a brief military conflict between Thailand and France over land in Laos and Cambodia to which the Kingdom of Siam had former ownership. However, in 1945 Thailand gave the land back to the French.
Today, Victory Monument is a very important transportation hub and this is why its very important to you as a tourist in Thailand. The first thing you need to know is that Victory Monument is that its a station on the BTS Sukhumvit Skytrain Line. So you can easily get to Victory Monument from almost anywhere in Bangkok. Once you arrive at Victory Monument which you probably did by skytrain, you exit down to the street level and you will begin to see what looks to be many ad hoc ticket booths; in most cases, they are no more substantial than card tables with makeshift signs saying Hua Hin, Pattaya, Koh Samet. This is where you buy your tickets to so many destinations within Thailand and this is where you catch the mini vans that you take there.
For almost all of the destinations below, mini vans depart from Victory Monument hourly, sometimes more often and starting as early as 6am to 7 or 8pm depending on the destination. Yes the mini vans are air conditioned. Shop around! There are many vendors selling tickets to the same destinations. Shop not because you want to save $2 dollars on a ticket, but you do want to find a way to ask vendors does the mini bus take you exactly to where you want to go.
For example, if going to Koh Chang, some mini buses in the Victory Monument area will take you right to the ferry terminal while others will take you to a taxi stand 2o minutes away from the ferry terminal. So its just nice to know. Either way, you will get to your destination.
Do not take too much luggage on these day trips or short stay trips, the mini vans hold about 9 people, they are sometimes full. If you are traveling with all your gear, it might be best to go by bus or train or buy 2 mini van tickets, one for you, one for your luggage! Also, you can always leave 1 or 2 bags with any hotel in Bangkok. All hotels will put your luggage in a locked room. I have never had a problem yet.
These prices below are the minimal prices for one person one way.
Hua Hin – about 2.5 hours, cost about 150 baht
Koh Samet – about 3 hours including ferry, cost of mini van about 160 baht, buy your ferry ticket at the pier on main land
Patttaya – about 2 hours, cost about 150 baht
Domnoen Saduak Floating Market – about 2 hours, cost about 150 baht
Lop Buri – about 2 hours, cost about 140 baht
Kanchanaburi (River Kwai) – about 2. 5 hours cost about 170 baht
Koh Chang – about 5 hours, cost about 275 baht, buy your ferry ticket at the pier on main land
Koh Mak – about 5 hours to 6 hours, cost about 275 baht, buy your ferry ticket at the pier on main land
Koh Hood, about 5 to 6 hours, cost about 275 baht, buy your ferry ticket at the pier on the mainland.
Ayutthaya – about 2 hours, cost about 160 baht
Maeklong Train Market – about 90 minutes, cost about 140 baht
For all the above destinations, there are also more premium transportation options that can be arranged through your hotel. Alternatively, you can go to most of the above destinations via the Ekamai Bus Station in Bangkok, which also happens to be very close the Ekamai BTS Skytrain Station on the Sukhumvit Line.