Ayutthaya was the old capital of Thailand from 1350-1767. It’s located 80 km north from Bangkok.
The city was ruined in one night in 1767 and since then there have been ruins of palaces and temples. The ruins are beautiful and each place has its own magic. The atmosphere in this city is different than in any regular city because of the ruins.
If you are staying in Bangkok, you should consider a visit there and even spend a night or two.
Lodging in Ayutthaya
- Tamarind guesthouse – the guesthouse is in a great location. It’s a walking distance from some of the ruins and the city center. The rooms are clean and big. The owner is really nice and friendly. She will give you recommendations if you need, and you can rent a bike for about 1.5$ a day. The room’s price is about 20-30 $ for a couple. We really enjoyed our time there.
- Baan Tai house– a 3-stars hotel near the lake; we didn’t stay there but we saw it from the outside and the reviews are good so if you prefer a hotel, I think it’s a good option too. Its price is about 40-50$ per couple.
How to arrive to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
- A train- you can take a sky train to Hua Lampong and from there take a train. The advantage of the train is that it’s really cheap, at about 1.5 for a 2-hour ride. The disadvantage is that it’s a local train and the seats are very uncomfortable benches. We took this train on the way back. It was a nice local experience but if you have back pain or problems to sit on a hard bench, maybe it won’t fit you.
- Minivan- you can take a minivan from the Victory Monument. It cost about 4 $ per person. If you are staying in the Khao San area, you can book a minivan from an agency and it will take you direct to Ayutthaya. That’s what we did. It was a convenient way. It’s important to continue in it until it arrives to the end of its ride. There’s a chance that the driver will stop at some temples before his last station. So wait for him to continue the ride. It happened to us, he stopped at some temple and after 20 minutes he came back to the minivan and we continued the way.
- Organized tour- you can book a day tour or 2-days tour in any agency or hotel. I don’t think it’s necessary, I think it’s better to explore Ayuttaya by yourself. But if you are in a rush and you want only a day tour maybe it will be the best option for you.
The minivan was the most convenient way for us but the way back by train was a unique local experience. I love to feel the same as the locals and to experience how they live. It’s not always comfortable, but I think it’s the way to experience the country you visit.
Things to do in Ayutthaya
Wander around between the ruins
you can explore the area with bikes, by foot, or by taxi/tuk-tuk. We took the bikes and explored the area with them. We didn’t succeed to see all the ruins but we chose some that we thought would be interesting to see (we read a little bit about them in order to see what would interest us). The bikes were not in the best condition (we took them from our guesthouse), but they did the job. If it’s hot I recommend you to start the exploring as early as you can.
- Markets- there is a really nice market with fruits, vegetables, and also an area with food stalls. We ate their lunch and it was a great meal. The market is non-touristic; almost everyone you see there is local. Some stalls have the menu in English, but most of them don’t. I ordered a spicy dish with shrimps by pointing at them on a picture and I really liked it. It wasn’t too spicy and it was very tasty. Roman ordered a dish with mussels from another stall and also enjoyed it.
- River tour- we booked this tour through our guesthouse. A tuk tuk pick us around 15:00 and on the way we picked 4 more people. It was a little bit crowded 🙂 and then we got on a boat for about 10 persons; every few minutes we had a stop at a temple or another landmark. We were pretty much exhausted from the bike trip so at every stop we just sat near the boat and enjoyed the great view and the silence. On the way back the boat stopped us at a night market. It’s not a big market, but it’s a nice local one with food stalls. We tried the little sushi that were interesting. Not the best sushi we have eaten but it was nice and the presentation was colorful and creative. We also tried a crusted fish but it was already cold and they couldn’t warm it so it was less tasty. It was very relaxing to be there by the lake and to eat the local dishes. We sat there on the bench and had a great time.
- Coffee shops and bars- in the evening it’s really nice to walk in the peaceful city center; there are several coffee shops and bars with not too many people, so the atmosphere is calm. A nice place to hang out is the jazz bar and a good place for coffee is the Coffee Old City
Ayutthaya is so different from Bangkok, the islands, and the north. It’s more relaxing, less touristic and with an ancient atmosphere. We enjoyed it very much. It was so nice to ride with the bikes there and visit the local markets. It felt authentic. The locals there are very friendly and welcoming.