Ayutthaya or Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is located 85 kilometers to the north of Bangkok or 2 hours drive. It's a Historical City and the Siamese Kingdom's second Capital in around 1930. The remnants of the city are still visible to this day and it become a popular tourist attraction. Spending your time visiting Ayutthaya, does not just give your broad knowledge about an old Thailand but is very good for Instagram too!
How to get here from Bangkok?
You can do it by car or taxi but it is rather expensive if you are alone. It is indeed much more convenient and if you have the budget to do so, why not. As a solo traveler, I would recommend using the train plus you have the chance to experience a Thailand train ride.
Train to Ayuthaya leaves from Hualamphong Station in the city center. To get to Hualamphong you may use BTS Skytrain or take a grab. At Hualampong Train Station, head to the counter to purchase your ticket. No need to book online. The ticket price depends on the train class you choose.
Ordinary class: Around 15 THB (3rd Class) - this is the slowest.
Rapid Train: 45 THB for the 3rd class and 65 THB for the 2nd class.
Express Trains: 2nd class seat costs 245 THB - a 3rd class fan-cooled seat is 165 THB (with air-cond)
Last time I choose ;
Bangkok to Ayutthaya: Rapid Trains at 6.30 am , ETA at Ayutthaya is 8.40 am plus.
Ayutthaya to Bangkok: Ordinary Class (15THB) because it's cheap - Last Train at 6.45 pm
The reason is that I want to arrive early to do as many activities and visit all remnants and also because I have no idea what the weather looks like in the evening time. So better to this arrangement.
Arrive at Ayutthaya.
Once you arrived at Ayutthaya, there is plenty of Tuk Tuk park outside of the station offering tours and services that will bring you around the city. You may negotiate a good price. Renting a bicycle/motorcycle is a great way to see the sites, and you can rent them from shops near the train station. Last time, I choose to rent a motorbike (around RM20 a day) which is much more fun and much more freedom. You can walk to Saifon Guest House. However, you need to navigate yourself to find the historical site. The motorbike shop cum restaurant is very kind enough to give a map and mark the top site to visit first. Navigating or driving around Ayutthaya is very easy and safe. Just follow the rules. Waze is life when at Ayutthaya so make sure you install one and bring a power bank along because you will need it a lot.
Tops Things to do at Ayuthaya.
There are plenty of temples to visit and each one is beautiful and unique, however, if you are on a day trip, you must manage your time and the goal is to visit the popular temple first and follow by the rest. Here is a top temple you must put on your list.
1. Wat Chaiwatthanaram
Wat Chaiwatthanaram, since going through restoration efforts has become the most visited attraction in Ayutthaya Historical Park. This impressive complex lies on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. Most of the architecture is similar to the traditional Khmer style. Be here when sunset, it is beautiful!
2. Wat Phra Mahathat
The motorbike shop marks this site first, he says " Go here first". I wonder why. Upon arrival at Wat Phra Mahathat, then I know why he says so because of the famous tree that has grown around a Buddha's head. According to the map and some info at the site, Wat Mahathat was the residence of the leader of the Thai Buddhist monks.
3. Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet, personally, I felt the most beautiful temple of them all because of the stunning three large chedis and numerous smaller ones. It shapes like a bell. It was built by King Boromatrailokanat in 1448 as his private chapel. The three chedis are known to have the ashes of three kings: King Trilok, King Rama Thibodi II, and King Borom Ratchathirat III. It is such a stunning sight to visit and has a lot of impressive historical facts.
4. Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
This temple is located on the City Island within Ayutthaya Historical Park - situated south of Wat Sri Sanphet and the Grand Palace. The highlight of this temple is an impressive Thailand's largest bronze Buddha images. It's coated in gold and stands at a 12.5m-high figure.
5. Wat Lokkayasutharam
To the western side of the Historical park lies Wat Lokkayasutharam. The highlight of Wat Lokkayasutharam is a 42-meter-long reclining Buddha. The condition is still good and locals come to place offerings around the statues.
6. Wat Phu Khao Thong
When I visited at that time, the site was closed for restoration work. So can't really go around the temple much. This temple is located 2 Km northwest of Ayutthaya in Phukhao Thong Sub-district. The highlight is the enormous chedi towers like a giant white bell, topped with a gold ball. Impressive.
7. Wat Na Phra Men
This active monastery is located in the northern area of Ayutthaya in the Wasukri sub-district. It's just opposite the ancient Grand Palace. The temple was originally built in the 13th century and it has been renovated over the years. This day its function is a place for conducting different ceremonies. The highlight of Wat Na Phra Men is the impressive 6 meters high crowned Buddha, which is also covered with metal and gold life. Before you come here, make sure you dress properly.
The above sites are highly recommended or must-go sites/temples to visit if you have limited time (a day trip like me). There are other sites to visit if you have more time such as Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Thammikarat, Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, and Bang Pa-in Palace.
Foods & Drinks
Like any other part of Thailand, you can find food everywhere in Ayuthaya. There is plenty of shops ranging from mid-range restaurant to street foods. After exploring Ayutthaya, best that you eat near the train station so that you don't have to spend much time walking back. I recommend Saifon Guest House where you can eat and rent a motorcycle.
Bought a return ticket once you have arrived at Ayutthaya to ensure availability. (Normally it does)
Sunscreen is good (probably must have) to have when you drive around the city. It can be really hot at Ayuthaya or in Thailand in general.
Keep yourself hydrated and have a little breakfast.
Make sure enough battery and memory space in your phone.
Most of the site/ temple operates from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. Plan your time accordingly.
There used to be an entrance fee at each site of around THB15 to THB20. Prepare cash.
Learn, stay safe on the road & have fun!
These tips and guides are based on my personal experience. I found Ayuttya such a magnificent place to visit apart from Bangkok. So much history, facts, and impressive architecture in one city. Spend your time here na krab.