Exactly one year (!) ago, I went back to visit the city of Ayutthaya with a friend. It is one of my favorite day trips from Bangkok because it’s a quick drive, can be done half day, and it’s rich with history.
Ayutthaya is the old capital back in 1350 and was ruined by the Burmese in 1767. The ruins are all over the city and is well-preserved. There are different temples all over the area and tour guides are everywhere.
When I first went there, we were lucky to chance upon a really good tour guide named Mr. Pok who really gave us value for our money. He didn’t just drive us around places, he also made sure to explain the history and importance of each place we went to. I found his Facebook page and tried to reach out to him weeks before my trip. Unfortunately I only got a reply a day before the trip and I had to talk through him via text — international texts are expensive!
Just like when I first went there, we started our day pretty early. We were staying in Bang Na which is another twenty minutes from where we stayed in Punnawithi. I still remember how to go to Ayutthaya so I followed the same way we did before. We took a Grab to the Mo Chit Bus Terminal to ride the mini van. Unfortunately the bus terminal has changed and there are instructions on how to go there, but basically it’s not in the same bus terminal and you have to cross the street to some small buildings, pay your tickets and ride the van. It’s about a 1.5 to 2 hour drive.
I don’t remember anymore where we got off the first time. I remember the driver specifically stopping and telling us that’s where we should get off. This time I just waited until we were in a somewhat touristy area, got down, and find a Tuktuk driver who can do the tour with us.
The cost of the tour is still THB 1,500 which is the same amount we paid for four years ago. It consists of four or five temples or a half day tour.
I think we went to a total of four places, two of which were new to me. The other two were the really famous places — Wat Phra Si Sanphet and Wat Mahathat.
To be honest, most of the ruins look the same. All made with red brick, same architectural style, and plenty of Buddha statues with missing heads or dismembered figures. Probably from their old age or were stolen during the war.
The temple areas are so vast that we can have private areas to ourselves or go around the park unbothered by other tourists. We ended up in this one place which was so quiet all you can hear are the birds chirping.
The sun was at its prime and it was getting harder to take pictures. It’s already hard to go around because it’s really bright and just uncomfortable. We went to our last stop which is Wat Mahathat.
We had some lunch before going back to Bangkok. The whole visit took about half the day. We were back before 2 PM.
I don’t mind going back to Ayutthaya over and over. It’s not going to change anymore although restorations are being done to some temples, but it just fascinates me how well preserved everything is. The temples are also far apart and it was a five to ten minute ride to get from one place to another. Throughout the drive you can see small ruins everywhere. Pieces of the old capital living along with the modern days. The people built their new houses around the small ruins. It’s a cool sight.
Compared to Bangkok, Ayutthaya is really rural. You can rent a bike to go around or get a tuktuk driver. I’m not too sure about the public transportation, but I’m sure there is. There are also places there which you can experience an elephant ride (but I do not recommend this). Compared to the temples in Bangkok which are glimmering and have vibrant colors and designs, the temples here were red bricks. It’s not an apples to apples comparison, but it tells how much Thai architecture has grown in the years.
The temples in Ayutthaya look similar to the temples in Chiang Mai. I think other southeast Asian countries have similar looking temples also such as the Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and the Borobudur Temple in Indonesia. I’ve never been to either but I think the architecture is similar although the materials used might have been different.
A private Ayutthaya tour runs at THB 1,500 which covers the cost of the driver for half of the day. This can be split if there are more of you since the tuktuks they use can ride more than two people. You get your own time and can go around and take as quick or as long as you want. I will still recommend Mr. Pok if he is free. You can find him on Facebook and his son will reply but it takes some time. The entrance fees are not covered and they range from THB 20 to THB 50.