At school, I was never interested in history. Aside from the fact that textbooks are full of dates, events, and names to memorize, my teacher couldn’t make the lesson appealing.But when I started tutoring English to Japanese students, I found myself having a conversation withthe elders. As all topics are welcome during the speaking lesson, history is often brought up. Curiosity was then cultivated as I came to realize that knowing the past is as exciting as envisioning the future.
Whether or not you are into knowing the past, and whatever kind of traveler you are, Ayutthaya is one place that can take your breath away. An island city set about 80 km from Bangkok, where the rivers meet, Ayutthaya was deemed the most beautiful place on earth.
This former capital of Thailand was most glorious in 1350 to 1767. Ayutthaya, once upon a time, was the largest city in the world and the heart of trading in Asia until the Burmese invasion that set it on fire. The ruins of this ancient city, however, remain stunning. Monuments, temples, and palaces, evince that Ayutthaya Kingdom was among world’s finest.
Tours are available for online booking, you can easily check that out. If you are like us, however, who would discover places by ourselves, go ahead and read the guide below.
Bangkok to Ayutthaya
Because we traveled with our 67 year old dad, we opted for the most convenient way of commuting to get to Ayutthaya. Grab a taxi from your hotel to Mo Chit Bus Terminal, metered taxi is cheap, it won’t cost you a pretty penny. Proceed to Counter 6, book a minivan, and pay 60 baht per head. I’m not sure if there’s a regular schedule of vans traveling to and from Ayutthaya but it only took us 15 minutes to be picked up at the terminal.
After 1.5 hours ride, you will be dropped off at a Tourist Booth in Ayutthaya. Brace yourself as persistent tutktuk drivers will come to offer you a tour.
Moving around Ayutthaya
The city is pretty large and the distance between tourist spots extends up to 10 kilometers. Hiring a tutktuk is the way to go if you are traveling with parents or have limited time. When hiring one, unleash your negotiation skills to get the best deal. Our group of 4 was initially offered 3,000 ฿to visit 7 temples but managed to get it at 2,000 ฿ instead. There’s no time limit for the tour and you can wander around each site until you are satisfied. Take note though that the last trip of minivan back to Bangkok is 5pmso better be at the terminal before 5.
We didn’t speak to the driver himself while bargaining. There was another man, one that speaks good English, who showed us postcards of tourist spots and a notebook of testimonials from past customers. The testimonials appear to have been google translated though because of the weird sentence construction. Anyway, you will have to pay first before starting the tour.
- Do your homework. Having knowledge onthe most significant and beautiful places to visit beforehand will not only maximize your trip but also will help you appreciate the sights.
- Discuss with the driver your itinerary, what you want to see, where you want to eat, etc. If you don’t do this, the driver will only take you to the nearest tourist spots, favorable to them but not to you. Many places in Ayutthaya just can’t be missed.
- There are many stories you can read online about hiring a tuktuk in Ayutthaya. Some paid 300 baht/hour, some 250 baht, that makes the 2,000 baht, which lasted for 4 hours, we paid above average.
- The driver might ask for a tip by the end of the tour. Prepare a small (or a big) bill.
- Budget your time and energy. Tourist attractions vary in sizes. Temples such as Wat Chaiwatthanaram and Wat Mahathatdemand much time to enjoy while Wat Lokayasutharam and Wat Thammikarat don’t because there isn’t much to see. As tempting as it can be, be careful not to be carried away by the impressive structure and move on the next to maximize your time.
- Respect the dress code. It isn’t as strict as in Bangkok but monuments and temples in Ayutthaya remain sacred to Buddhists even in ruin state. Wear long pants or skirts and don’t bare your shoulders.
- Weather – we were there in June and the sun rays were intense enough to burn your skin. The best time to travel is said to be during the cool and dry season between December and February.
- Entrance fee – 50 baht for major temples, 20 baht for others
- Opening hours – 8:00am until 5:00pm