Top 5 things to do in Ayutthaya Thailand
The far east is my current obsession and having spent the last two years traveling and living in Thailand I have so many incredible places to share.
Thailand is receiving a lot of negative press at the moment, the current military led leadership coupled with the tragic murder of two tourists in Koh Tao have probably struck it off your list for now. The country is not without its cultural problems but my hope is that the scrutiny will raise valid questions and highlight important issues that the interim government and future elected governments will take note of. Tourism is the life blood of this vast country and visiting while it’s a little quieter might bring you even closer to some of the absolute gems it has to offer.
My best advice is always check with your local consular web site if travel within your chosen country / area is safe but don’t let isolated incidents totally cloud your wanderlust!
The particular gem I would like to share with you today is the ancient city of Ayutthaya. I decided to make this a day trip mainly because well that’s all I had. A day.
Ayutthaya is easily reached from Bangkok via train, bus, mini van, river boat and personal car services (around $50 for 4 people). For me trains are my first thought, personally I feel like I’m being herded like a sheep when I travel on tours via bus or mini van (I am open to suggestions though!). I’m also not very punctual so a little flexibility works better for me. I alway consult the ultimate train travel site “The man in seat 61”when contemplating a route anywhere in the world. This site is so extensive its staggering and a resource I am absolutely obsessed with. More about that another time. Another more relaxed way of reaching Ayutthaya is via the Charo Praya river on many of the cruise operators you will find online. One day Oscar Chang and I might try this.
Here are my top 5 things to see and do in Ayuthaya
The way to see this unique city and ancient capital of Siam is definitely on two wheels. The city is mainly flat and its wide roads easy to navigate. Once you arrive at the station its worth mentioning you have a river to cross before you hit the city. I rented my bike just a few meters away from the station which did mean I had to take it on a rather small and not entirely steady looking boat. No one seemed to mind but this was pretty nerve-racking and made me break into an unnecesary sweat. Something anyone visiting Thailand will NOT want to do. Its hot enough already.
There are plenty of bike rentals on the other side so try not to be as over zealous as I was.
The sheer scale and vast history of this site could take hours to write about so guess what? I’m not going to. Most good guidebooks will let you know about a Kings escape from the smallpox, the conch shells and the moats that would have surrounded this ancient island city. If not then maybe I have peaked your curiosity to search beyond a Lonely Planet guidebook! The temples are built in the Khmere style and are simply breathtaking although they are pretty ruined since most date back to the 14th Century. Incredible isn’t?!
My most treasured moment was following a group of young novice monks clearly on a spiritual pilgrimage of their own, snapping photos at every corner a few of which im sharing here.
The view of the Buddhas head in the ancient fig tree at Wat Mahatat though is fascinating and a must on your selfie tour. Do be respectful though and pose lower than the head itself, You’re cultural expertise will be applauded.
This temple lies a little outside the Historical park on the South West of the city. The temple is on the banks of the Charo Praya river and is a beautiful site to behold. Well worth the extra cycle the sense of calm is overwhelming.
Wandering what all the weird candy colored spaghetti is? Well wonder no more, this popular sweet delicacy is called Roti Sai Mai (meaning silk threads) resembling candy floss this Ayutthaya delicacy was introduced by the Portuguese along with the use of eggs in the making of confectionary. The Roti part refers to the thin pancake the sweet “threads” are rolled in. The city is full of these colorful stalls so when in Rome….
I don’t think I need to explain this in great detail. This is a taxi, you should take a ride in one, The selfie opportunities are endless.