Ayutthaya: A place of history, temples and markets

IMG_20150531_103125As I had a three day weekend due to Buddhist celebration of Monday, I wanted to take a trip to somewhere not too far from Bangkok. I knew I would only be spending one night here as my friends that were visiting Thailand were departing on Saturday and Sunday.

I had heard so many things about Ayutthaya and it certainly didn’t disappoint. To get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok, I brought my ticket and started my journey at Hua Lumphong train station. It only cost 20 baht for a ticket. The trains are pretty standard with hard seats and packed carriages but with the price and it only taking about two and a half hours, it is so worth taking an excursion to this part of Thailand.

IMG_20150531_095605On the way, I met a French guy, who I ended up spending the day with. After the train journey, We walked to my hostel (Baan Are Gong), which was less than a five minute walk to check in. Unfortunately the room wasn’t ready so we rode a boat, which was about a minute walk, to the main Island. There were many Tuk Tuk drivers pestering us to take us around on the main road but it’s easier, quicker and cheaper to get a long boat.

Today, we strolled across the whole Island for miles and miles to explore the city. Majority of the time, I like to travel by foot to get the feel and bearings of a new place. I find that it is always a good way to get lost and discover unknown areas or places which can’t be found in a travel guide.

IMG_20150531_143825Ayutthaya is an impressive city with stone remains from the Burmese invasion, which nearly completely burnt the city down to the ground.

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Phra Ram Park

Over the two days, I managed to see nearly every temple, both ruins and functioning ones. Some had admissions fees; others didn’t. Before lunch, I scouted temples including Wat Mahathat, Wat Ractchaburana, Wat Thammikarat, Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit, Wat Phra Si Samnphet, Wat Worapho, Wat Worachettharam, Wat Lokayasutharam (gold reclining Buddha) and Ancient Palace. Around some of these temples is large, well-kept, beautiful Phra Ram Parks with steams and bridges. Up one of the streets, elephants were trudging aimlessly with tourists on their backs. Nothing really surprises me in Thailand especially when it came to animals. It’s normal to see theses sort of happenings.

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Wat Lokayasutharam

Lunch was difficult to find as there wasn’t many places to dine but we did find a small place that sold a limited of options.

After, we walked and admired the architecture inside and out of Chedi Sri Suriyothai,  Wat That Ka Rong, Wat Thammaram and Wat Kasattrathirat, We then caught a Songtaew but unfortunately we went further than we thought so we roamed around Wat Na Phra Men, Wat Choeng Tha, Wat Salapoon Worawiham.IMG_20150531_111627
From here we grabbed another Songtaew to Wat Racha Praditsatarn and Wat Khun Saen. We found a market full of food and little cabins. As it was nearing the end of the day, we took a long tail boat back to the guesthouse where the French guy left to go back to Bangkok.

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Wat Chaiwatthanaram

I rested my feet for a while before deciding what to do that evening and the following day. During the evening, I hired a motorbike to drive to the opposite side to see the view of Wat Chaiwatthanaram, which is a replica of Angkor Wat with the sun setting behind. It felt tranquil and before my eyes was a spectacular sight. For dinner, I ate at one of the night market on the riverside looking at Wat Monthop. I got told about another night market so I drove around trying to find the other it. Eventually, I did and brought a delicious creamy Oreo cake for dessert.

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Wat Monthop

The next day, I wanted to see pretty much the rest of Ayutthaya. Jumping onto my motorbike, driving through crazy traffic, across lanes, I searched for the elephant village and floating markets. With a huge sign above the road leading to my destination, it was easy to find especially as I wasn’t aware that they were both side by side. After parking up, I spent time with the elephants, feeding, stroking and posing for selfies with them. Right here, there was an entrance to have photos with some tigers but as I peered through the door, I could clearly see one completely out of it. I just didn’t want to pay to have a photo with an animal that wasn’t treated right. It looked tired and miserable with no life.

IMG_20150601_102603On one side of the elephants was a fun fair sort of market with food and souvenirs. On the opposite area was the huge floating market. Actually I’m not sure it can be called a proper floating market. Yes, i could see water but things were being sold in wooden huts and not boats. There was a variety of souvenirs, food, clothes to buy. It was extremely pretty and definitely worth a look.IMG_20150601_104907

Riding back on the motorbike, I admired many temples including Wat Samanakottharam, Wat Kudidao and Wat Pradoo Songton. From the previous day, I had heard about the Buddha head in the tree so I went on a mission to find it, which I soon discovered was in Wat Maha That, which is one of the temples that has an admission fee.

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Buddha Head in a tree, Wat Maha That

Before having lunch in a local Thai restaurant, I drove to Wat Phu Khao Thi and King Naresuan Monument, which were stunning. I did one last round of Ayutthaya to soak up the area for the last time. As I was driving back to drop off my bike, I was zigzaging through the crazy traffic, nearly being hit by several vehicles. There are not any traffic rules so drivers seem to do what they like. It just means that I have to have my head screwed on while on the road.IMG_20150601_114842

Ayutthaya is a beautiful city, full of spectacular ruins.