Ayutthaya, once Thailand’s capital for more than 400 years, is a UNESCO World Heritage site that I already marked for visit in our trip to Thailand. I did not pre-book a tour with any agency and I set no expectations on what might happen or what to see when we get there. We decided to venture out on a Monday, and I think it was a fun (and not to mention, affordable) day trip from Bangkok. Read on for more details.We started our day early. It was a Monday, but it was a holiday in Thailand being the Queen’s birthday and Mothers’ Day. We left our hostel in Silom to go to the Hua Lumphong train station via taxi. At the train station, it was not very busy and we were able to get an early trip.
How to Go to Ayutthaya via Thai Railways
It is easy peasy. At the Hua Lumphong station, go to the ticket booths and ask where to buy tickets for Ayutthaya. I found that there is no constant ticket booth number that you should go to for Ayuttahaya tickets, but the train station is not that big. A ticket from Bangkok to Ayutthaya via the Rapid train cost us 20baht. The downside was, we had no seat numbers. I think the Rapid train is primarily for locals and foreigners were not given seat numbers as all of the foreigners I saw on that train were standing. The Rapid train is not so rapid and arrives in Ayutthaya in 1.5-2 hours.
How to Go Back to Bangkok from Ayutthaya via Thai Railways
Upon arriving at the Ayutthaya train station, it is best to book your return ticket via train because we learned tickets going to Bangkok are fewer because the train would be coming from other stations up north (meaning the train already has passengers when it pass by Ayutthaya). When we arrived at 9AM, the earliest train with sure seats is at 4PM, via Special Express. One ticket costs 65baht. But we rescheduled our return trip to an earlier time because we finished our tour early, and we ended up paying only 15baht for a Rapid train trip. This time, the train was full and we were standing almost all the way to Bangkok. NOTE: The train station does not refund the full price of the tickets. For my 65baht ticket, I only got 8baht refund.
How to Go Around Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is a tourist destination, and rightfully so, because it was a major city. The city is straddling the Chao Phraya River, and international commerce and diplomacy were already practiced here. It was not difficult to find a tour operator because once you step out of the train station, there will be many tour operators greeting you. The initial asking price was 1,200baht for the four of us, for a four-hour tour. We found it too steep, and we were able to lower the cost to 800baht. It would be good to go with a group to share the expenses because the tuk-tuk can carry up to 10 people.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
This was our first destination and this was the farthest, most out-of-the-way attraction. This wat is still used by the same order of Buddhist monks that occupied this temple since it was built in 1357, so do not be surprised to see many people inside. When we visited, there were more pilgrims than tourists. As a tourist, please be mindful of your clothing and behaviour. Be modest. Entrance fee: 10baht
This is where you will find the famous Buddha in the roots. And, if you are not an archaeology buff, you won’t appreciate these ruins because these are unlike Angkor Wat that is still intact. The rendition of the wat near the entrance illustrates how grand the place must have been. Across Wat Mahathat is Wat Ratchaburana. Entrance fee: 50baht or 200baht to see combination of 5-6 attractions in the park.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
By the time we arrived at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, we were kinda tired. I’m not very sure why, but I wasn’t very excited when we arrived in Ayutthaya (maybe because I hated the fact that I had to pay separate entrance fees at each site?) than when we were at the Angkor Archaeological Park. But I did get excited when I saw elephants walking around the Ayutthaya historical park and we spent several minutes just looking at the elephants in awe. We did not enter the wat anymore and asked our tuk-tuk driver to drive us to the next attraction. Unfortunately, the next attraction was not free so we did not get off the tuk-tuk and proceeded to another. Entrance fee: 50 baht
Wat Lokaya Sutha
Wat Lokaya Sutha is the temple with the reclining Buddha. I offered candles and flowers for thanks and to gain merit. Entrance fee: free
Total Expense: 295 baht
I thought our tour of the Ayutthaya was too short and rushed. Our tuk-tuk driver and his wife, while they tried their best to bring us to all of the places a tourist must see, failed to convince me to visit all the places they pointed out. They did not speak any English at all, although I do not find that a problem. Also, I wished I knew of the combination ticket beforehand so that I would have prepared myself mentally to check out all the places included in the ticket. Now, writing this blog post, made me regret I did not make the most of my time in the historic city of Ayutthaya. Probably, an overnight stay would have been best. We still had time though before our four-hour tour is over and we headed to the Ayutthaya Floating Market, that is very popular with locals but not so with tourists.