Ayutthaya is 76 kilometres north of Bangkok and has many magnificent ruins. Ayutthaya was one of Southeast Asia’s most prosperous cities in the 17th Century. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991.
There are many ways to get to Ayutthaya but the most exciting would have to be by train.
My friend and I thought we’d go for the local experience and booked third class, which is no air-con and hard wooden benches. The price was about 80 cents for the 1hr 40min journey. Luckily we checked the tickets shortly after leaving the counter as ours were stamped with ‘STANDING’. There were no seats left! My back would be stuffed standing for that long so we upgraded to first class, except I got assigned a dicky seat that the spring had gone on, which meant it was in a state of permanent recline and my head was in the lap of the poor guy behind me. I had to sit upright the whole way not to fling the chair back.
We took the ferry barge across the small river and were then pestered by tuk-tuk drivers offering tours. We had intended to rent bicycles and cycle around but given the heat (high 30’s Celsius) and the sheer distance between the sites of interest (maps don’t do it justice, we relented to the requests and haggled to about $20 for half the day and seeing all the things on the map we wanted in that time. We got transferred from the tuk tuk to an air-conditioned sedan car which was bliss. We could spend as little or as long as we wanted at each stop, it really was the best way to do it. We just paid the entrance fee at each place.
In 3-4 hours we covered: Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Lokayasutharam, Elephant Village, Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana before we were dropped off back at the train station.
A sign greeted us saying the trains were delayed indefinitely going back to Bangkok due to a breakdown. ‘Indefinitely’ from talking to others could mean 5 or 6 hours so luckily we only bought a one way ticket. Now we had to figure out how to get back to the city. Lunch was eaten at the delightfully quirky Seven Seas Riverside Restaurant. It was nautical themed and had an impressive menu of both Thai and western fare and… free wi-fi!
We worked out we could get a shared mini-van back to the city but the directions on where they departed from were very hazy. We ended up crossing the river again by ferry barge and then just walking for kilometres down Pa Thon Road until we saw a row of mini-vans offering rides back to Bangkok for 60 baht (about $2) although by that stage I would have happily paid 10 times that. A bit over an hour later and we were dropped off at Democracy Monument in the city. A long day, but a fascinating walk back into Thailand’s history.
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