Day Trip to Ayutthaya
Here is the first post on our day trip to Ayutthaya from Bangkok! Many more to come!
“Founded around 1350, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai. Throughout the centuries, the ideal location between China, India and the Malay Archipelago made Ayutthaya the trading capital of Asia and even the world. By 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Many international merchants set sail for Ayutthaya, from diverse regions as the Arab world, China, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands and France. All this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city down to the ground.
Today, only a few remains might give a glimpse of the impressive city they must have seen. Its remains are characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and big monasteries. Most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stone at that time. The great cultural value of Ayutthaya’s ruins were officially recognized in 1991, when the Historic City became an UNESCO World Heritage Site. “
Source: Wiki Travel
With such rich history which became a UNESCO site and that it is a miniature version of Cambodia’s Ang Kor Wat, I wondered why I took so long to visit this site! Before we head off, we researched on four things, how to get there, when to go, what to do and what to see and below are some tips to share!
How to Get There
We were debating between taking a train there which is the cheapest way or taking a mini bus which is a fast and affordable way. In the end, we picked neither and chose the lazy way out. We hired a driver from the hotel at 2800 Baht for an entire day and we were glad we did. The ride took around 1 hr 20 mins depending on traffic.
It was a sunny and tiring day and I cannot imagine ourselves going there in any other way. We appreciated the ride back especially after a sweaty day out riding for hours! The driver was amused to see us all sweaty and toasted and congratulated us for a great work out session! Haha.
It will be of great value to hire a driver if you are traveling in a group of four or a pampering one even if it’s just the two of you. So off we went in the comfort of a Toyota Camry, with wide leg space at 7.30am with breakfast in hand! Awww. The little luxury in life. Haha.
When to Go
I read about the crazy crowd and tour bus if you head over to Ayutthaya on a weekend, so we plan the itinerary around the trip to make sure it falls on a weekday. Additionally, we set to head out early to avoid the crowd. Leaving Bangkok at 7.30am, we reached Ayutthaya at slightly before 9am and got to enjoy the peace and tranquillity before throngs of tourist came at around 11am.
We toured around for a few hours, had lunch at a nearby shopping mall on Naresuan Road (there is KFC, Pizza, Cafe and some street vendors there) before heading to another location and call it a day at around 2pm when the sun gets too hot and scorching.
What to Do
Instead of going on a guided tour or get the driver to send us around from location to location, we rented a bicycle and cycle around the island! There are plenty of bike rental place at Soi 1 and Soi 2 on Naresuan Road among the Backpackers Inn.
But make sure the bicycle is ok, we had to change the bicycle midway before lunch as my bicycle chain is getting weird and creaky. We rented a bicycle for 50 Baht for an entire day and the shop gave us a chain and lock.
I think the cycling made the day trip much more worth while than just plain visiting the sites. It was really fun!
Do remember to ask for maps and brochure at the bicycle rental place! We printed this map off the web and thought it complements well with the maps from the rental shop. It has got greater details of the main island then the ones given to us from the rental shop.
Some tips on cycling in Ayutthaya. You need great navigation skills as the buildings all look similar. Try to remember the landmark and read maps. Girls can read maps! You also need a great smile and friendly attitude to get help from the locals. The street names are all in Thai characters and we asked a security guard, random middle age man on the street and a housewife at her place. Lastly, you need a strong heart and a love for adventure! We went the wrong way a couple of times and had to cycle on a few busy streets! Generally, the drivers there are very friendly and patient with the tourist cyclist. Never once did we get honked for cycling on opposite direction, crossing the road slowly, trying hard but failing at times to keep to the side of the road and observing traffic rules while hogging the road. They simply slowed down and drove past us patiently! I’m impressed!
What to See
There are plenty temples and ruins to see in Ayutthaya and after a while they all look the same. All red bricks and crumbling, so we were really selective on the ones we wanted to see. We didn’t want to see the modern temples which is still active and have picked the top 5 sites to visit! They are Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Lokayasutha, around Phra Ram Park and Elephant Krang/Viewing Pavilion. More of them in the next few posts!