0. Travelling to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
We left our Samran Place hotel immediately after breakfast and hop on a cab to the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chi Mai). There are many counters in the bus terminal with the destination written in large Thai font while English is written in smaller font beneath it. The counter to Ayutthaya is way to the right from the main entrance. Just as we arrived at the counter, a lady there told us to pay at the bus direct and we proceed on. It left the terminal at 9.15am and cost only 55Baht to Ayutthaya. It stops at several places along the way and the bus was packed as it is approaching Ayutthaya.
While travelling enroute, I saw the U-Thong Inn sign and signalled that we can get down here. It is closer for us here instead of dropping at the bus station which is a longer distance away. We arrived in Ayutthaya at 10.35am. It is fast, definitely much faster and more convenient than taking a train. We check into our hotel. It reminds me of my hotel room in Wuxi. The hotel bell boy was recommending us to take up a 200Baht/hour tour of Ayutthaya and highlighted a few main sights in Ayutthaya. This is the standard going rate in Ayutthaya.
We walked out from our hotel and made our way to the train station by foot. We made a right turn once we reach a junction with a large Chedi (stupa). It is a wrong turn actually and we should be turning right one junction later to get to the train station.
But this wrong turn bring us to the first ruins of Ayutthaya. Some of these sights were recommended by the travel books but they are off the beaten tracks. Here are the photos I have taken of these places.
My internal compass told me the train station is to the west, so we just made a dash through the rural roads after visiting the first ruins. While walking along the road, we chanced upon this beautiful Wat. This Wat is famous for the statues of great masters plated with gold and a raised temple floating on a lake.
Here is the lake that is adjacent to the temple.
After visiting the Wat, we walked further westward and came upon a school. There is a road cutting through the school further west and we walked right in. The railway tracks is ahead of us. It appears we overshot the station by a 100 metres. The sight of the railway station is like coming upon an oasis. We walked through the tracks to the main train station at the other end.
There are many English speaking staffs in the train station. Almost half of the commutors in the station are foreigners. In the station, the timings for the trains departing to Bangkok to the south or northwards are displayed. There are only a few first/second class trains, the rest are all third class trains. The ticket counter for the third class trains are only opened 20 minutes before time. As we still have 40 minutes to the next train arrival, we decided to proceed on for lunch at the street market in front of the station.
We had a chicken rice lunch (one of the best chicken rice we have sampled in Thailand) and barbeque chicken (also one of the best barbeque chicken). It only cost 25Baht and 5Baht respectively.
We also got ourselves some refreshments from this stall. The ice-coffee and ice-coke only cost 15Baht each. It is full of ice and is fitting for this hot day.
Thereafter we got back to the train station to purchase tickets to Lopburi. The cost and details will be shared in the Lopburi entry.
We got back from Lopburi in the evening and decide to take a slow walk back to our hotel while checking out any shops along the way. The walk is 40minutes long. Here is the large chedi in the middle of the road junction which we came upon earlier the day.
We placed our stuffs back into our rooms and went out for supper. Just a short distance eastwards from our hotel is a night market. It sells lots of food stuffs, clothings and accessories. At night we decided to go for our first Thai massage for the day. A 2-hour body massage cost 480Bhat. Boy! Was I surprised when the massage therapist start talking to me in Japanese and throughout the entire 2-hour!
This is the breakfast area in U-Thong Inn. It is a buffet style breakfast. The selection are limited but good enough for a day.
We decide to look for a tuk-tuk that could bring us around Ayutthaya in the morning. Just outside our hotel is this friendly tuk-tuk driver. We negotiated 450Bhat for 3 hours. But it was later extended to 500Baht for 3.5 hours. Our adventure begins here!
1. Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
This is one of the top 3 sights in Ayutthaya - the Wat Yai Chai Mongkol. Costing 20Baht per entry. It has many large and impressive-looking Buddhas and chedis.
Here is a mega reclining Buddha.
There is an active functioning shrine in this temple. Here we have devotees making oil offering. There is a large gong where devotees can strike. Pretty cool.
The main temple structure. We climb all the way to the top.
And is rewarded with a panoramic view of the surrounding area.
Here are many Buddha statues donated by devotees which line the side of the main chedi.
We spent almost 45 minutes in this sight and we have to proceed to the next destination.
2. Wat Phanan Choeng
This temple has great chinese influences and several of the deities in there are of chinese origin like Guan Yin. It is also in here where a super large Buddha is enshrined. But unfortunately, it is in maintenance but we still get a chance to see the big Buddha. The most memorable part of this temple is the Thai music being played in the hall. Devotees also have the opportunity to ring the bells outside the main shrine. It cost 20Baht per entry too.
3. Wat Phra Mahathat
This used to be a large temple complex in the empire of Ayutthaya. Costing 30Baht per entry. The second of the top 3 sights.
Here is what is left of the base of a large temple pagoda. You can try to image a tower 5 times the height of the base. It must be an amazing sight from far. In the temple pagoda, relics of the Buddha are kept.
A stone Buddha image.
And the famous, most frequently photographed sight of a Buddha's serene head nested in the midst of the Bodhi tree's roots.
4. Wat Ratburana
Inside this Wat is a 2-level crypt and large chedi. We took a photo from the outside.
5. Wat Thammikarat
This wat is famous for its many stone lions surrounding a chedi.
6. Wat Napramen
This wat is notable for its pure gold Buddha below.
7. Wat Lokayasutharam
This Wat is famous for its large reclining Buddha.
8. Central Chedi
To the north of Ayutthaya is this large and white-wash chedi.
Here I am climbing to the top. It gives visitors a good view of the surrounding area. We were the only visitors there when we got there.
9. Wat Phra Mongkhon
By the time we got to this Wat, 3 hours have past. Time really flies while we are going through the ruins. This is a functioning wat with many devotees making offerings and praying. It is just next to our third main sight - Wat Phra Si Sanphet.
10. Wat Phra Si Sanphet
This is one of the main and more famous symbols of Ayutthaya. The three chedis side by side.
Here is Darren and me.
On the way back to our hotel, we saw elephant riders taking the tourist for a short stroll.
We got back to our hotel at 1pm and prepared to hop on a bus back to Bangkok. There are frequent buses (15-20mins interval) that passes by U-Thong Inn at the main entrance. The friendly tuk-tuk driver told us to flag down the blue buses going to Bangkok. And we got back to Bangkok in an hour's time. This part of the journey will be continued in Bangkok 2.