Ayutthaya is one of the most popular excursions outside Bangkok. It is located 76 km north of Bangkok City and can be reached by bus or train. It is also called the Old City when since it used to be the capital of Siam. It is home to many magnificent ruins and temples and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most tourists go here for a day trip. I stayed here overnight as I wanted to have more time to explore the city.
I went to Ayutthaya last September because I was kicked out of the airport for not having a visa to Myanmar. It is important to know that in 2010, Myanmar laws have changed and it is now the only country in South East Asia that you need a visa even if you have a South East Asian passport. Since I have dual citizenship, I thought I could just go without a visa. I even checked my lonely planet guidebook and it was also not updated. Before I even board the plane, I was rejected. Big fail. Lesson learned: always check visa situation especially on troubled countries.
Since I was already in Bangkok and have explored the city before, I decided to go somewhere else instead. The closest was Ayutthaya and since I love traveling to World Heritage sites, Ayutthaya was the best option at that point.
(Buddha on tree in Wat Mahathat)
How To Get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
I don’t recommend joining a tour because it’s so easy that you can do it yourself. Getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok is very easy and cheap. When you’re in Bangkok proper, take the BTS and get off at Victory Monument station. The station is like a circuit and since I didn’t exactly know where the mini vans are going to Ayutthaya I asked for directions. Most of the people in Thailand are not good in English so I had to break my English and said “Ayutthaya van” and I was pointed towards the right direction. It’s quite easy to spot because the station is where all the white mini vans are, however, all the signs are written in Thai symbols so the best way to make sure you’re on the right van is ask. Travel time is about 1- 1.5 hours and the van stops exactly at Ayutthaya town in Naresuan Road where all the backpacker accommodations are.
My Solo Travel Experience in Ayutthaya
Accommodations in Naresuan Road are few of the cheapest places I found in Thailand. It cost me THB 150 ($5) for a private fan room with en suite bathroom. So if you are traveling with a partner, it’s even cheaper. I keep a $10 budget for my accommodations and $5 was a great bargain for me. I stayed at PU guesthouse. Though it’s cheap, clean and safe, I don’t recommend it as the guesthouse owner was discriminating and was rude to me during my stay. I was also pressured to buy the river boat trip in that guesthouse even if they were aware of the flooding in Ayutthaya. It was one of the scariest trips I had since the flooding was quite high and I found out after my trip from a different travel agent that it’s not recommended to join such trip with a rainy weather in Ayutthaya. I was also charged an extra THB 50 to take a shower the next day when I checked out after my biking trip. I normally only give good reviews but staying here was disappointing and the only bad review I have ever given in Tripadvisor. Other than that experience, I highly highly recommend visiting Ayutthaya.
(The flooding view from my boat trip last September)
(This would have been a great sunset spot)
As an alternative I happily recommend Ayutthaya Guesthouse which also has THB 150 rooms but with the friendliest guesthouse owners. I checked out this guesthouse but they were full during that time so I stayed at PU Inn.
Since I was unlucky during my afternoon boat trip, I wished and prayed for a sunny weather so I could explore the city the next day. Lo and behold, my wish was granted and it was one of the nicest weather that week. So I rented a bike and toured the whole city. The best and most fun way to enjoy the city is absolutely by biking. The city is small and though it is surrounded by three rivers- Chao Phraya, Lopburi and Pa Sak, the temples are quite easy to reach as they are not too far from each other.
(Cycling around this loop has been one of the best biking trips I ever had)
As I was cycling around town almost done seeing the major ruins and temples, a traveler recommended me to see one temple which is supposedly really beautiful outside town and across the river. So I cycled with my map, drenched with sweat as it was a very sunny and humid day and found myself… lost. Since this was a do-it-yourself trip, I was alone the whole time. I ended up in a place where there were only locals and I’m so glad I did because I was happily welcomed by this family even if they didn’t speak English except for hello and bye.
(Thailand really is the land of Smiles)
I was greeted which such warmth and smiles so I asked for the temple and was given instructions in Thai (of course) and never understood a single word. So I ended up taking a photo on my iPhone with the kids instead.
One of the main reasons I travel is for experiences like this- to meet people who are unable to travel and see their worlds. I am also constantly reminded in my travels that it is always the journey and not the destination. Sure I may not remember the names of the temples that I visited in Ayutthaya but I will always remember that time when I got lost in the city and was greeted with such warm smiles and hugs from strangers. It’s true that a smile not only brightens one’s day but is also the universal language that connects people despite cultural and language barriers.
Cost Breakdown of My 1.5 Day Ayutthaya Trip
RT Minivan from BKK- THB 140
Bike- THB 30
Accommodation- THB 150
Boat Trip- THB 250
Entrance Fees- THB 150* accumulated estimate
Total: THB 720 ($23)
Ayutthaya Experience: Priceless
Another excursion outside Bangkok coming up soon!