As we found ourselves with a few extra days in Bangkok, we decided to get out of the city for a day and head to Ayutthaya. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya was going to be one of the places we stopped for a night en route to Chaing Mai before those plans were derailed by a lack of trains (pun intended). Instead we took a morning train and explored the city on motorbike before heading back to Bangkok in the evening.
Ayutthaya was once the second capital city of Siam – the former name for the Kingdom of Thailand – and its history begins in around 1350 AD. Between the 14th and 18th centuries, it was considered one of the world’s largest and most cosmopolitan urban areas and a center of global diplomacy and commerce. By the 1700’s, Ayutthaya was the largest city in the world with 1 million inhabitants; however, this came to an end in 1767 when the Burmese invaded the city and pretty much burnt it to the ground.
The people of Ayutthaya never rebuilt the city in the same place, and all that is left of the once thriving metropolis is a vast archaeological ruin. It was officially recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, and remains today as a popular day trip from Bangkok. It’s a fairly easy place to visit, with trains running to and from multiple times a day at various times. We showed up at Hua Lamphong around 9:30 in the morning, as this is the station where the overground trains leave Bangkok. We were able to buy a 2nd class (assigned seating with A/C) ticket for the next train and only had to wait about 30 minutes. Once on the train it took about 90 minutes to get to Ayutthaya’s station, where we got off and were immediately inundated with tuk tuk drivers, taxis, and people trying to convince us to join their tour. We brushed them off and once we left the station found that there were a number of motorbike rental places, so we grabbed one and set off.
Ayutthaya is pretty easy to get around, although some of the sites are slightly spread out from each other. The lady who rented us a motorbike suggested we go to the floating market first, as it’s away from most of the other sites and serves good food and it was lunch time. We headed over there; however, it wasn’t until we’d got there and parked that we realized you had to pay to get in to the market, as well as paying for anything else you want, so we ended up getting back on the bike and heading back into town to eat somewhere else. I’m sure it’s a great place to go; however, we’ve seen so many markets (and they’re all pretty similar), and we didn’t want to pay to get into somewhere as well as having to buy food, so we gave it a miss. Let me know if you’ve been, as I’d love to know if it was worth it!
After stopping at a local place for some food, we headed over to the main area of Ayutthaya where most of the ruins are and set off to explore. There are a number of different complexes to wander around in, and we were lucky that on the day we went everything was free! We don’t know why (it was a Friday), we just know that beside every entrance fee sign was a sign that said ‘Free Today’. You could easily go through every single area of Ayutthaya in a day, which we did not as after a few hours there, all the ruins started to blend together and we were ready to move on. It’s really neat seeing the various temples and grounds with all the ruins, but I wish there was a bit more history on what each thing was and why it was build and what it was used for. There were a few signs here and there which usually referenced what king built that particular sport and she, but none of them go I to any detail about what it all means or the lives of people back then. Despite this, it was a great way to spent the day and it got shout of the city, which is always nice.
Once we were done, we scooted back to the train station and dropped off the bike, before going to the ticket counter for our return train. Again, we were able to buy a 2nd class ticket for the next train, and it was less then 40 minutes to wait, which was just enough time to get a cold drink. Once we were back in the city, we both agreed that we would have struggled to spend a night there (other than the ruins, there isn’t much to do), and that doing it as a day trip was a better way to do it. If you’re in Bangkok and want to see something a bit different, I highly recommend going out to Ayutthaya. Alternatively, a lot of people do use it as their first stop when heading up north towards Chiang Mai to break up the train journey, so that’s always an option as well!