Thailand is a Buddhist country blessed with an abundance of natural and also mystic beauty. While Phimai Historical Park is arguably Thailand’s number one site to visit temples of breathtaking beauty and serenity, the sites to be seen in Ayutthaya are not to be missed either!
Getting to Ayutthaya
The city of Ayutthaya is only about an hour and a half away from Bangkok which makes it perfect for a day trip or a stepping stone on the way up north to Chiang Mai or south to Bangkok. Buses to Ayutthaya run from Mo Chit bus station and Victory monument. There you should be able to get a van ticket for only 60 baht. You can also take the scenic route by catching a train from Hualamphong station in Bangkok. Tickets start as low was 20 baht!
Since the temples are spread out across the center of the city you will need to get some way to transport yourself around. The cheapest but most time consuming way, because you will have to wait around and do some more walking, is to catch a songthaew. These should cost no more than 10 baht a ride and there are quite a few driving around the city. For those more physically inclined, and perhaps staying the night, you could rent a bike for a less than a hundred baht at most hostels or guesthouses. If you prefer to feel the breeze in your hair, then you can rent a motorbike for a few hundred baht with a full tank of gas. Then there is the option which I took, hiring a tuk tuk to ferry you around the city for a few hours. 900 baht for 3hrs is what I paid but split between a group of people it is arguably the best option after you have been walking around in the blistering heat and just want a break between temples. You can get taxis, songthaews, and tuk tuks from the bus and train station.
Farangs (foreigners) pay 60 baht to enter the different temple areas while Thais pay 30 baht, I believe. For expats who work and live in Thailand I have read that if you can show them proof that you live in the country, like showing your visa or work permit, you can pay the Thai rate.
Which temples to see?
Now this is a matter of taste, because I only had a day in Ayutthaya I chose to go to the four most popular temple sites but really you could easily spend 2, 3 or more days exploring the full extent of the temples and ruins spread out across the city. Personally I went to Wat Phra Si Sanphet (the largest temple in Ayutthaya), Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit (which houses a large bronze cast image of Buddha), Wat Phra Mahathat (with a tree growing over the head of a Buddha statue), and Phet Fortress (great views of the river!)
After the temples
I found Ayutthaya to have a real chill laidback vibe to it and definitely backpacker friendly. At night a good place to go to is the night plaza where there is a market selling food, clothes, souvenirs, and generally the usual stuff you expect to find at a market in Thailand. Nearby for dinner or drinks is the Cowboy bar and restaurant. There you can get Thai and Western food at reasonable prices, it also has a pool table and live music. For those wanting to go to a club or just have drinks, I recommend going to Zeedzaa Pub and Restaurant. While calling itself a pub, it is closer to a club the later you go with DJs and live music. There was a closed off room with a TV playing sports, which I guess was the pub portion. No dance floor, but people start dancing at their tables once the beats begin to drops and the drinks flow. I was the only foreigner there but I was made to feel welcome by Thais giving me cheers. I will say that drinks were a little more expensive than I would normally pay (120 baht for a big Singha), but I was with a date so I couldn’t complain.
So I hope you find time in your travels to fit a day in to visit Ayutthaya. I will say that you should bring lots of water as it can get very hot if you’re visiting during the hot end of the dry season (40 Celsius when we visited!!!) If you’re just looking for a day out of Bangkok, interested in Buddhism, or you like to see Asian ruins, Ayutthaya is just what you’re looking for. Please comment and like if you found the article helpful for your future visit!
Next up I will write about how I got on at the 10th Annual Chiang Mai Ultimate Frisbee Hat Tournament. Catch you later!