Ayutthaya is the old capital of Thailand but was destroyed but the Burmese during the 18th century. Ruins of the old capital remain and are well-preserved all over the place.
When I got back from Bangkok last February, my boss mentioned that the next time I go, I should get a tour going to Ayutthaya. She called it the Cambodia version of Thailand. I kept that in mind and made sure to mention to my friends when we were planning our Thailand itinerary last November.
Ayutthaya is north of Bangkok (around 80 kms). Given that, you should devote at least one day for you to be able to see the major sights and make time for travel. There are also a lot of tour packages available (both online and in hotels) wherein you get a van that drives you to Ayutthaya that comes with an English speaking tour-guide and even lunch. It would usually cost around THB 1,500 – 2,000 per person and would be perfect if you want to do it hassle free. For me and my friends, we decided to just spend half day in Ayutthaya and do the travel on our own.
How to go to Ayutthaya via minibus:
Looking online, we were told that minibus (Grandia vans) that go to Ayutthaya are found in Victory Monument. However, on our travel, the vans are now located in the Mo Chit 2 Bus Terminal. We didn’t know how to go there via BTS, so from our AirBNB (in Punnawithi), we took an uber to drop us off in the bus terminal (THB 240).
When you get there, counters would have signage on which tickets you can buy, but just to be sure, we asked the lady at the counter (who was very nice and accommodating at 6:00 in the morning!). We went inside the bus terminal and paid the fare of THB 70 per person. Afterwards, we were given a ticket of some sort and was told to wait until we were called.
We boarded inside a Grandia. Back here in the Philippines riding the shuttle would mean squeezing 16-18 people inside, but this was a comfortable ride! I was asleep for most of the ride, only waking up every now and then when the van would make a stop to drop off someone.
There was no traffic at all, but the minivan made quite a few stops so we got to Ayutthaya at around 8:00 in the morning. The trip was about 1.5 hours away. We weren’t sure if it was the right stop, but our driver and conductor said so. I have no picture, but it was basically at the corner of the street with a huge map of Ayutthaya and a bunch of tuktuk drivers on standby.
While in Ayutthaya:
Someone approached us and we told him we need a tuktuk to take us around temples. He made a package costing THB 1,500 (all-in-all, so for us three that was THB 500 each) going to seven temples for the whole day. We tried haggling a bit but had problems communicating so off we went with the THB 1,500. I read online that you can haggle it a bit further but the whole trip turned out really well for us that the THB 1,500 is worth it.
Our first stop is the Wat Ya Chai Mongkhon which is where you can find the largest chedi in all of Ayyuthaya, and it also has a large and impressive reclining Buddha. The whole area is a massive complex and it took us more than hour to go around.
Wat Maha That and Wat Ratcha Burana
These two sights were located beside each other and are filled with brick ruins and remains from the Burmese attack.
Wat Maha That is where you can find the Buddha head with tree roots growing around it. Our tour guide shared that the Buddha head is all that remained and through the years, the tree grew around it, leading to what it looks like today.
Aside from the Buddha growing around the head, Wat Maha That and Wat Ratchaburana are both wide complexes with various headless Buddha’s and remains from back then. We weren’t able to tour the entire area of both places since it was starting to get really hot and late (we needed to be back in Bangkok before 2 PM). The whole area is truly impressive. I can just imagine how the whole place looked back when everything is still up.
Before leaving Wat Maha That, there were a bunch of Thai university students asking for some donation to fund a program for the needy. It was inspiring to see students working hard for their advocacy and giving up a week-end doing work to help others.
Before we went to our last stop for the day, we stopped by in front of a fresh fruits vendor. That man sold the sweetest and best pineapples I have tasted in my life! The cool and sweet taste of pineapples really refreshed us.
This was our last stop. Wat Naphrameru is the only Wat that was not destroyed by the Burmese. Although not as grand looking as the others we went to, the interior of this place is wonderful. The Buddha inside is truly special and one of a kind as it wears a suit that the Ayutthaya king wore as well.
In the same area as Wat Naphrameru is a place where a Sri Lankan Buddha can be found.
We still had three temples to go, but we had to leave and go back to Bangkok so we said good bye to our tour guide.
This is our tour guide, Mr. Pok. As I wrote earlier, my friends and I were really surprised at the THB 1,500 cost of the tuktuk and we couldn’t haggle any further (the best we could was lowering it to THB 1,400). However after the whole trip, we realized that the THB 1,500 is completely worth it because we got lucky with Mr. Pok. Mr. Pok is an amazing tour guide who speaks English really, really well! He told us that his son-in-law is Filipino and teaches English in University and that they speak English at home. He’s been a tour guide for a long time, very patient, and has a really good sense of humor. He taught us so many things about the different Wats we went to and Ayutthaya history, some Buddhist teachings, and a few life lessons as well. He made our trip really special because we expected that our tour guide would just bring us to places. But no, he took the time to get to know us for a bit, and was really nice about everything! He even stopped over and made us try these sweet pineapples. I was craving for kluay kaek (a special kind of fried banana) and he really drove around so that we can find a stall! Mr. Pok proudly shared to us that he has 95 reviews on TripAdvisor. I highly recommend getting Mr. Pok as your tour guide. You can look for him there or contact him on this number: 081 253 9037 (I saw this from TripAdvisor, he said his number can be found there). He dropped us off at the van station going back to Bangkok.
The fare going back to Bangkok is still THB 70 going back and the van dropped us off near the Mo Chit BTS station.
Please take note that the THB 1,500 cost of the tuktuk is for the whole day (7 temples) supposedly plus the floating market. In our case, we had to cut the trip short so we only visited a few temples.
Tips in visiting Ayutthaya:
1.) Wear light and comfortable clothes! I wore a maxi skirt just in case there was a dress code anywhere, but there was no dress code in the whole area. I’m used to humid places because of where I live so although I was sweating a bit while there, I wasn’t so uncomfortable. However, this isn’t the case for others so best to just wear really light clothes! Shorts should be okay. Also, it might be best to wear running shoes because there is going to be a lot of walking (whether you hire a tuktuk or not) since all Wats are quite big. Sandals would do too, just make sure that your feet will be comfortable!
2.) Bring water. Since it’s hot and there’s a lot of walking, you will need water to rehydrate you. I think there is water being sold in Wat Mahat hat but I can’t remember quite clearly so best to just bring some with you.
3.) Temple entrance fees. It costs THB 20-50 to enter the wats. However, when we came to visit, the entrance fees were waived due to the late King’s death, but we had to pay in Wat Naphrameru, THB 20. The entrance fees are not part of the tour with the tuktuk and are to be paid separately.