Three hundred years ago Ayutthaya was the largest city in the world. Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam. For centuries it was known as the trading capital of the world. By 1700 there were more than one million inhabitants in Ayutthaya. Unfortunately in 1767 all this came to a sudden end when the Burmese invaded and burnt much of Ayutthaya down to the ground. The temple ruins are some of the most magnificent in Thailand; and in 1991 it was recognized by being awarded UNESCO world heritage status.
There are many ways to travel to Ayutthaya. You can hire a car, go on a guided tour, or by bus or train. I traveled by train and was very happy that I did. It was easy, convenient, inexpensive and fun. As usual, you need to take into account Bangkok’s peak hours. Heavy traffic getting in and out of the city can add to an already long day, even on the train. Therefore I avoided traveling during ‘rush’ hours.
My adventure began the moment I Arrived at the Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok around 9:40 AM. The station was not very busy, and I found it very easy to make my way around. After purchasing my ticket I grabbed a coffee, found my way to the platform and enjoyed some prime people watching.
I was curiously drawn to this elderly man who was ever so gently massaging the worn body of his sleeping wife. It was so endearing that it actually brought tears to my eyes. She was very thin and looked fragile. The tan line on her feet led me to believe she spent a lot of time outside, possibly working in a field. Was she ill? Where were they going or coming from?
Runny short on time? Did you know you could get a haircut on the platform while you wait for your train?
My train was #71 and it came in just as quickly as it departed, which was promptly at 10:05 AM. I purchased a third class seat for only 20 Baht (.60 USD). There was no AC, but the breeze from the open window was nice and I really enjoyed looking out as we passed through the city and small villages and farms. Just under two hours later we pulled up to the station in Ayutthaya.
Once in Ayutthaya, if you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to decide how you want to tour the old city. The temples are pretty far apart and there are a lot of them. Depending on how much time you have, and how much you want to see should determine the best mode of transportation for you.
The most popular ways to get around are by hiring a sedan (AC), tuk-tuk (no AC) or renting a bicycle. I negotiated 850 Baht for four hours with a tuk-tuk driver. If you don’t already know what temple ruins you want to visit your driver will have a brochure with photos and brief descriptions. Please note that you are only hiring a tuk-tuk driver, not a guide, and the admission fees to the ruins are 20-50 Baht each. We agreed on where we were going to go, but my first stop was to get some local Ayutthaya cuisine. Very popular are boat noodles, KuayTiaw-Reua.
Once at Wat Yai Chaimongkhon, my driver directed me across the street to a cute little restaurant where I enjoyed a delicious meal. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name of the place or what I ate. Next stops were Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and Grand Palace, Wat Mahathat, and Wat Ratchaburana. I carried an umbrella to protect me from the sun but it was still very hot.
There were cold drinks, food and bathrooms at some of the bigger sites. And although I found a passion fruit popsicle to be very refreshing, after three and a half hours I had had enough. We returned to the station and my driver brought me across the street to a cool little café were I enjoyed a snack and cold drink while waiting for my train.
When I booked my return ticket (which I did as soon as I arrived in Ayutthaya), I was told that it would be hotter and more crowded in the late afternoon, so I opted for a window seat in second class on train #76 which would have AC and for about 245 Baht ($7.50 USD) I felt would be worth it.
The train station was very crowded. My train left from the third platform, which was on the far side, furthest track from the station. There was no shade and it was very hot. Luckily my train departed on time at 3:35 PM. I was very happy to have the AC and an assigned seat! The ride home was just as pleasant, although I did prefer the company of the locals in third class versus the tourist in second.
If hungry, there are venders that walk the isles of the train selling food and drinks. Treat yourself to something, sit back, relax and enjoy the scenic trip back to the city.
My day trip to Ayutthaya from Bangkok was very rewarding and definitely one of the highlights of my time in Thailand.
There is much more to do and see in Ayutthaya. To learn more visit Ayutthaya Tourist Center.
For another great blog post on Ayutthaya, click here!
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