This Budget-Friendly Asian City Is A Tropical Slice Of Heaven To Visit This Winter

Winter has a strange way of making things feel a little ... dull. And while snowy mountain towns might be all the rage when it comes to seasonal escapes, one thing's for sure — the colder temperatures, shorter days, and dreary weather tend to get old very quickly. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to escape the chill and trade it up for sunnier, brighter, and happier climates.

Of course, stateside destinations like Florida and California are perfect for a warm-weather winter trip that doesn't break the bank. Then, just over the southern border, there are even more opportunities to escape the cold and soak up some sun-soaked vibes. But for travelers who really want to go all out, Southeast Asia is brimming with tropical islands, bustling cities, and beautiful cultures that'll help you forget all about the negative temperatures back home.

One of these places is Samut Prakan. A 30-minute drive from Thailand's capital city, Bangkok, this small town is home to different activities that make for a perfect day out. From sampling some local Thai food to visiting replicas of the country's most famous landmarks, Samut Prakan is as awe-inspiring as it gets.

Best things to do in Samut Prakan

If you've been dreaming of seeing the best of Thailand but are running short on time, Samut Prakan has you covered. In fact, you'll probably be able to tick everything off your list in an afternoon with a visit to the Ancient City. Made up of over 300 acres, the open-air museum is home to more than 120 replicas of famous Thai attractions —from castles to temples — and can be explored by bike (rentals are available for just over $4). Ideally, you'll want to plan your visit near the end of the day when the heat has subsided. Admission to the Ancient City is set at $20 for adults and $10 for children, and operates daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. After you've explored the Ancient City, make sure to also visit Wat Asokaram, a nearby Buddhist temple that's open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Another must-see spot in is the Erawan Museum. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., the museum is easy to spot thanks to the 140-foot statue of a three-headed elephant that stands atop the roof, as if guarding the area. Inside, the building is split into three separate floors that represent sections of the universe according to Hindu belief: the Underworld, Earth, and Heaven. With its stained glass windows and ceilings, dragon-like staircases, and shrines, it's a sight to behold. Access to the Erawan Museum costs $11 for adults and roughly $6 for children.

Other tips for your visit

Samut Prakan's attractions don't stop there. Other highlights include visiting Bang Krachao — often called the "Green Lung of Bangkok." It's an artificial island that's home to Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park and Botanical Garden. The park can be explored by bike or foot for some beautiful birdwatching. And while you're in Bang Krachao, shop for local goodies aboard your own kayak — rentals cost about $3 — at Bang Nam Phueng Floating Market (which takes place on weekends from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.). It's a great way to pass the time and sample some Thai staples. 

Due to its proximity, most people travel to Samut Prakan on a day trip to escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok. The easiest way to do this is to head over to your nearest BTS station — Bangkok's skytrain system — and hop onboard the Sukhumvit Line. To visit Erawan Museum, make sure you hop off at Chang Erawan first; and to hit up Samut Prakan, keep going until the Kheha BTS station, which marks the end of the line.

Lastly, since you're trying to escape the cold, you'll also be happy to know that the best time to visit Samut Prakan is between November and February, when the days are cooler, there's less chance of rain, and humidity levels are low. All of which will come together to make this a perfect escape from the chill of winter.