We have developed our Bangkok daytime leisure section fairly well, but the other sections are still under construction.
The best thing to do for starters is to get a pocket tour guide from the bookstore, e.g., the Lonely Planet Guide, or the Bangkok Handbook by Carl Parkes for Moon Travel Handbooks. Frankly, none of the current tourism websites come close to the good books, and eastern history is not covered on the Internet nearly as well as western history.
There are books which specialize on ancient historical sites, others on beaches, nature, golf, and so on.
Notably, I've been surprised to find many inaccuracies in the tour guide books that I've found in bookstores, as well as major oversights, so I remind you to not believe everything you read. (What I've read on some tourism websites is the worst, obviously written for hire, for commercial purposes, and by a cheap bidder who's available, not academic.) Many people go straight for the Lonely Planet Guide, but that's actually not very well written, in my opinion, and there are better tour guides written by local expat veterans here.
What draws me to ancient sites is not so much the "been there, seen that" architecture or present day customs as the history and spiritual ambiance.
It's common for new expats who do not have a good Thai friend to hire a professional tour guide (most expensive), join a local tour (very economical but not flexible), or even "rent" a friend such as a "long haired dictionary", one of the "amateur tour guides" from the prostitution scene who speaks enough English to be a translator and who can guide their guest as regards local transport and other things. More on these option on our page on tour guides.
Tour guides generally direct you to touristy places. But some people, like myself, like to spend a day away from the famous buildings and objects, and instead within the ordinary, core culture outside the farang areas. You will be the only farang, or one of the few farangs, in these areas, but in Thailand the Thais don't stare and you won't feel like a minority. You'll usually be treated just like everyone else, which is one of the nice attributes of this society.
If you like getting out into Thai society and nature by bicycle, check out Absolute Explorer Bicycle Safari for bicycle tours of Bangkok and Thailand for the whole family.
There are so many places to go and things to do in Thailand that one could work a year creating a website on daytime leisure, just to get up to par. However, that's not ThailandGuru's focus. In the near future, we intend to provide links to the best website guides.
Just a few things I've written up in the 1995-2000 timeframe:
Phra Pathom Chedi in Nakhon Pathom province approximately 50 km west of Bangkok
Nakhon Phanom Chedi (note slightly different spelling than the link above -- Phanom, not Pathom) may be the oldest Buddhist memorial and temple in Thailand. The only other one of this era is Nakhon Pathom (pronounced similarly but 1000 km away) near Bangkok, on what was the Gulf of Thailand coastline at the time. Nakhon Phanom is way up the Mekong River, on the Thai side of the Lao border/river, a good few hundred meters from the river's erosion-vulnerable banks.
Ban Chieng, the world's oldest known bronze-making civilization, and a lost civilization, 4700-3500 years ago, in northeast Thailand.
"Turn off, tune in, far out!", i.e., turn off the mobile phone, tune in to the local rhythms, and go far out.
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