Ayutthaya is a historic wonderland less than 90 kilometers north of Bangkok.
Many do visit this enchanted place packed with an incredible number of ancient ruins from the times when the city was Siam’s proud capital. However, I recommend spending at least two days to really take the ancient glory in – and to include a half-day trip to Lop Buri.
Getting from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is easy-peasy: There are public buses as well as private minivans going, but I preferred to take the train. It was an…experience; mainly because trains in Thailand are less reliable than (tourist) busses, so that we had to wait for more than one hour – for a ride of about 60 minutes.
|Waiting at Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok for the train to Ayutthaya.|
The train station is on the outskirts of Ayutthaya, but tuk-tuks are waiting for the passengers.
You’ll probably spend the entire day walking – or even better cycling – around from temple ruin to temple ruin. There is really a lot of beauty to admire, you can easily spend two days. I did it in one but at the end of the day, I was really exhausted!
Former royal city Ayutthaya prides itself to host about 500 ruins and being, therefore, part of UNESCO world heritage.
There are many people – mostly larger tourist groups – coming on day trips to Ayutthaya but they are mostly visiting only the bigger ruins so you can still have a tranquil, relaxed day.
Here are the sights not to be missed – all located within walking resp. cycling distance. One tip for your cycling: don’t forget to put lots of sun protection on the back of your hands since this will be the part of your body that’s mostly exposed to the sun. I did have a slight sunburn there in the evening.
|Wang Luang, the former palace – today’s royal palace in Bangkok was build accordingly – with Wat Phra Si San Phet, which used to be the holiest temple (destroyed in 1767 by the Burmese)|
|The reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam is 40 m/131 ft long, and his majestic head is resting on four lotus buds.|
|Wat Chai Watthanaram is located on the West bank of river Chao Phraya. It stems from the Khmer era and was destroyed by the Burmese – therefore all the Buddha statues are beheaded which gives the place a morbid feel.|
|The Mona Lisa of Ayutthaya: Probably no other sight in Ayutthaya is photographed as often as this stone buddha head in a tree at Wat Mahathat.|
|Wat Ratburana – Wat Mahathat’s twin temple and neighbor. Don’t miss the disclosed burial chamber with the ancient wall paintings.|
Daytrip to LOP BURI
I think that most people visit Lopburi, the legendary ‘monkey town’, on a day trip; and what can I say, they are right. I know that after having stayed the night.
Anyway, arriving at Lopburi, I left my big luggage at the train station and took only a knapsack with me. There is the Narai Raja Niwet Palast to visit, and in front of it on Thanon Surasak, there is a really good coffee shop, so plan a quick break there.
|Narai Raja Niwet|
The main reason people come to Lopburi is for the Wat San Phra Karn, where most of the monkeys live. As a matter of fact, they live everywhere in Lopburi, and they quickly show you who runs the show. In the middle of the street, all of a sudden one of them jumped on my belly and hugged me around the waist, and if you think that’s cute, let me assure you, it’s not. Since I screamed and waved my arms like a madwoman, he let go; but seriously, these creatures are far from being curious George. A girl I met on Ko Phi Phi told me that one of them bit her in her thigh, fortunately, it didn’t break the skin. So look at them, but keep your distance. And get rabies vaccination before travelling; I’m serious.
|No wonder these monkeys are like crazy – they probably get electroshocks from hanging out on the power lines.|
Most of these drolly creatures hang around Wat San Phra Karn. There are actually masses of them, and seeing so many of them with their gray fur and long tails, they deem to be rats. Somehow it’s cute and creepy at the same time.
|They look cute, but watch out! They are taking everything that is not like nailed to your body.|
|Resting in the shade of an ancient statue. Alright, alright, that is really sweet.|
As I said, I did stay the night. Not only did I stay the night, I also booked myself to the less charming, most remote hotel ever. This was so me! It was located about 4 miles out of town, which was nice insofar, that I had to take two different busses that look quite different from those I know from home; and that’s the reason I’m travelling, right?! They took me to some industrial-commercial outskirts where there were only big car dealers and hardware megastores and fortunately also a big supermarket. The real Thailand, that nobody comes there for – like I said: sooo me!