Ayutthaya, Thailand: The Historical Background, Getting There And Getting Around

Guest Interview: Ayutthaya In My Mind (Part 1) Written By Kasinee Silapee

Links to more work from Kasinee Silapee will all feature on the 3rd and final part of  of this series on Ayutthaya In My Mind. Kasinee is no stranger to this blog and has written many superb articles for engagingthailand tips and there are thankfully more to come.

kade 1

Kasinee Silapee (nickname Kade)

Since I was an Archeology student at Silapakorn University (University of Fine Arts), Ayutthaya was the place that I usually visited both for studying and for my leisure. I love the ancient city and the historical sites. Ayutthaya, Thailand has all the  quality of an attractive tourist site that you should not miss. The charms of the City will call out to you to visit over and over again without ever getting bored.

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Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya, Thailand

Ayutthaya is an island at the confluence of three rivers: the Chao Phraya River, the Lopburi River and the Pa Sak River. As the train station is at the east side off the island, most visitors will need to cross the river by ferry-boat. Navigating your way around the island is not particularly hard: U Thong Rd is a ring road that circumvents the island completely. Most temple ruins can be found at the northwest of the island, while accommodation and night life is clustered around the northeast.

Historical Background of Ayutthaya

Map of Ancient Ayutthaya

Map Of Ancient Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was founded By King U-Thong or King Ramathibodi the 1st around 1350; It became the second capital of Thailand after Sukhothai. Throughout the centuries, the ideal location between China, India and the Malay Archipelago made Ayutthaya the trading capital of Asia and even the world. Merchants from Europe proclaimed Ayutthaya as the finest city they had ever seen. Dutch and French maps of the city show grandeur with gold-laden palaces, large ceremonies and a huge float of trading vessels from all over the world. All this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city down to the ground.

Today, only a few remains might give a glimpse of the impressive city they must have seen. Its remains are characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and big monasteries. Most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stone at that time. In 1991, UNESCO has recognized Ayutthaya as the Historic City and the World Heritage. To travel from Bangkok to Ayutthaya takes only 1-2 hours driving by car, or bus. But if you chose to travel by train or boat, it will take a few more hours.

How to travel to Ayutthaya

I recommend two convenient ways to go to Ayutthaya from Bangkok, first, you can go by the bus  at Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit), the buses will operate every 20 minutes or so from  Bangkok directly to Ayutthaya (despite what locals say, the last bus leaves at 18:00). First-class air-con buses charge 50 baht more. This trip is scheduled to be around an hour and a half, but allow at least two hours for the trip since the buses stop rather frequently and there are often jams on the roads out of/into Bangkok. And you can go to Mor Chit by BTS and get off at Mor Chit BTS Station.

bangkok_ayutthaya_bus

Bus From Bangkok – Ayutthaya

The second way that I recommend and it’s really convenient is minibus service (they can get stuck in traffic, but makes no stops like regular buses) operates from the Victory Monument square in Bangkok. Take BTS Sky Train to the Victory Monument station, and ask people around that area where the vans are parked that go to Ayutthaya, everyone around there is willing to help all foreigners. The cost of the van is 60 baht, and takes around 1 hour to 1 hour 20 minutes. It’s quite convenient since you don’t have to go to bus terminals (nearby Mo Chit) but the only problem is that the minibuses don’t have much space to carry big bags and have to wait until the car is fully filled.

By Bicycle

My favorite activity when I am in Ayutthaya is to rent a bicycle and ride it to explore all ruin areas as it is the most enjoyable and fun way to spend the day. The archaeological park is easily reachable and manageable on bike even if you aren’t very fit. The paths are paved and the distances between temples are small. Rental fee for bicycle is only 40 Baht/day. (Please check the rate again when you are there.)

Free map of the city is widely available in all hotels. The park opens at 07:30. It is recommended that you begin your tour early, before the tour groups arrive from Bangkok. Take a big bottle of water with you.

By Tuk – Tuk

I guess, most of the foreigners who come to Thailand, are curious to try to use Tuk-Tuk (motorized 3-wheeler) service as an alternative choices, and this is the most fun way for you to go around Ayutthaya by it. You can easily squeeze six people in on facing benches. Usually quoting 300 -400  Baht/hour, but this can usually be bargained to a slightly lower price, for example, you can bargain down to 1,000 Baht/4 hrs., etc.  If you have a map you can point out any of the destinations that you wish to see and they’ll often quote a trip price and will wait for you at each stop. 200 baht per hour seems to be the starting point for tourist tuk-tuks picking up backpackers away from the station, although it can be possible to negotiate a lower price.

Tuk Tuk In Ayutthaya

Travel By Tuk – Tuk

And if you want to travel along Chao Phraya River in Ayutthaya there are a lot of boats waiting to serve you. Boat can be chartered at the pier in front of Chanthara Kasem National Museum, Pom Phet Pier, and Wat Phananchoeng Pier. The fare depends on the route and duration. Rice barges are also available for groups that offer a relaxed way to see Ayutthaya.

Coming Very Soon Part 2

Places You Absolutely Must Visit In Ayutthaya

For more articles on travel, food and culture in Thailand please visit

http://www.engagingthailand.com/index.html

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