Visiting Ayutthaya National Park

If Bangkok is loud, chaotic, hot and a little stressful, Ayutthaya is way calmer, less chaotic, still hot and only stressful until we’d found a map and could work out more or less where we needed to go.

Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam from 1350 until 1767 when it was sacked and razed by the Burmese and the court moved south towards Bangkok. Its a collection of ruined temple buildings in red stone on an island in the centre of the modern city and it is beautiful! Of all the things I wanted to do while in Bangkok, this was top of the list. I am so glad I was able to go and I fully intend to go back one day!

Wat Maha That
There are two seperate parts of the temple in this picture…

There are ruins of the city in collections all over the city. We hired biked (eventually – heads up, download a google map or something just to help you find a bike!) but you can also hire a tuktuk for the day (negotiate on the price). It’s also doable walking if you don’t like bikes. Once we had our bikes we headed to what was once the temple, a big collection of ruins.

Wat Maha That
The tallest part of the ruin in this section with the Buddha statue, and the ruins of Buddha statues around the edge – Wat Maha That
The ruined Buddha statues around the edge of the hall.

Some of the big temple ruins have an entrance fee. If you’re looking for the head of the Buddha in the tree roots (as made famous by Instagram and tbh, how I found out about Ayutthaya in the first place), that is in Wat Mata That. We ended up there accidently, to be perfectly honest!

The roots of the tree grew around the stone head of the Buddha when it fell off
(My favourite picture of the trip) The other side of the tree growing into the side of the ruin – it looks faintly magical to me

The entire area is beautiful! We only paid to go into Wat Mata That but that part of the ruins were in a parkland, so we walked around there and we admired the sheer scale and durability of the buildings that once stood there. The sheer scale! It was incredible. I highly recommend adding Ayutthaya to your list of things to do in Bangkok, especially if you are there for more than a flying visit! It was nice getting away from the chaos of Bangkok city, however briefly.

Wat Maha That
Some fantastic sillouettes!

Also, all in, I think I spent about 500 baht on everything for the day. And I know I could have done the day even cheaper if I’d gotten on the train from the beginning. So if you’re running low on baht (as I am), then it’s perfectly feasilble to do the trip on a shoestring!

Getting There and Getting Back

So. There is a minibus that goes to Ayutthaya city from Bangkok, however, this bus goes from Morchit Bus Station in the north of the city. I was told it went from Victory Monument which is why I got so tuned around trying to find the bus the day before. You need to get the number 77 from Victory Monument to Morchit Bus Station (10B) and then it’s Station/Building B at the bus station. The mini buses leave when full, and are also part of a local bus service – so it stops along the way. We were waiting about half an hour to leave. The bus cost 60B. All in, I think it took 2 1/2 to 3 hours to get from our hostel to Ayutthaya city.

Then we got incredibly lost trying to find the bikes and had to take a watermelon smoothie break. We did eventually get our bikes (50B for the day – would recommend) and figure out how to get to the Ayutthaya National Park section, where all the temple ruins are.

On the way back, we decided to eschew the bus (my travel buddy is over 6 foot – it was a bit cramped for him) and give the train a go. The trains take about 2 hours, and its 15B for Ordinary/3rd class, and 330B for the airconned 1st class carriage. We took 3rd, and it was great! It was so much easier than the bus because it just goes straight to the main train station in Bangkok. We did have to wait an hour and a half for the train to arrive, but we just got dinner at the station restaurant (can recommend). We got back to Bangkok at 20:30 and decided to just tuk-tuk back to our hotel, even though the SkyTrain would have been cheaper. Eh, live a little.

I would definately recommend taking the train – there are bike rentals directly opposite if nothing else (but crossing the bridge was wild – all of the hostels have bike rentals available once you’re across the bridge). It was cheaper and definately less stressful than trying to work out which stop to get off on all the buses!

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Given I took buses, trains, tuk tuks, walked and cycled round Ayutthaya yesterday, I feel as if I should be doing some sort of travel bingo! Ayutthaya National Park was incredible and I highly recommend going – it’s worth leaving the city for!

I am posting this on the SkyBus into Auckland, but i wrote it yestersay while waitng for my clothes in the tumble dryer (praying they didn’t shrink) and uploading all my photos to my drive and drawing. Rest days are important I think. I’m very excited to be in New Zealand now!

Bea

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