About The City of Ayutthaya in Thailand, where it is and how to get there.
Situated to the north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya was the former capital of Siam and is actually a City Island as it's encircled by three rivers (Chao Phraya, Pa Sak and Lopburi) and was once interlaced with many canals and waterways.
Ayutthaya City's temples and palaces with their extensive water features must have looked very grand in the old times. However today most of the red brick ruins are situated in dusty fields but you can still get a good insight into what they once looked like - a huge contrast
to the bright sometimes garish temples and Wats to be found in modern Bangkok.
The City, which was named after Ayodhya (see the story of the Ramakien which is
shown on the walls of Wat Phra Kaeo) was founded between 1351 and 1369 by Ramathibodi I who moved here to escape the outbreak of smallpox at Lop Buri. During the 16th and 17th centuries it was part of an extremely important trading route between India and China and people from all over the world arrived there
to take advantage of this - the city had a population of 1 million people. The City's importance lasted for about 400 years but ended when the Burmese finally sacked it in 1767 - this was when the capitol was moved to Bangkok.
Taking a Day Trip from Bangkok to tour the Wats at Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya is quite easily reached from Bangkok - a car and driver for the day costs around 2800 Baht
with a bit of bargaining however you should ensure before travelling that the agreed price includes all road tolls as these can certainly add up. The trip by car takes about an hour
depending on which bit of Bangkok you start out from although heavy traffic and time of day can lengthen travelling time somewhat.
Bangkok hotels organise coach trips to Ayutthaya (some of these involve an option for a return trip along the Chao Phraya by boat) and you can also get there by train from Hualamphong Railway Station and by bus from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal.
The railway station at Ayutthaya is a few 100 metres away from the river - having crossed the river on the local ferry you are not far from many of the
main temple sites which are just a few minutes pedalling if you cycle. (Bike hire shops are plentiful on the road leading from the ferry).
Ways of Travelling from Chiang Mai and/or Sukhothai to Ayutthaya.
Firstly there is no airport at Ayutthaya and the best way to get from Northern Thailand
i.e. Chiang Mai and Sukhothai is by express buses or by Bangkok railways. There is a direct railway link from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya but from Sukhothai the nearest station is at Phitsanulok which is around 58kms so you have to get a bus or transport to that station. Therefore the best bet from Sukhothai to
Ayutthaya is by bus - there are a variety of services but certainly for day travel the First Class is quite inexpensive, comfortable and takes about 7 hours. The drawback is that these express buses do not actually go right into Ayutthaya but stop out on the main road around 3kms from the centre of town. You need to ask the conductor to stop at the Lotus Tesco bus stop where there should be taxis available however it might be worth having a couple of local Ayutthaya taxi phone numbers on you.
Is it worth staying in Ayutthaya rather than Bangkok?.
This is actually an excellent option especially if travelling back from northern Thailand and intending to end your holiday by flying out of Bangkok in the next day or two. Hotels in Ayutthaya are much cheaper to stay in than Bangkok, there are several decent
restaurants around and the trip from the Ayutthaya to Bangkok Airport is down a fairly quiet motorway and only takes around 90 minutes. Apart from this the City has some excellent sightseeing available with some of the temples etc. located within extensive parks - and it is peaceful.
On our previous visit we had simply made the day-trip out of Bangkok - this time we spent four days at Ayutthaya - totally worth while because there are some excellent places to visit in and around the city. The various sites were all open from 0800 to 1700 daily and
sometimes have a small entrance fee - varying between 20 and 50 Baht. Also most of these sites had various refreshment facilities.
Sightseeing and Touring around the central temple areas of Ayutthaya.
Two of the main sites to visit on an Ayutthaya tour are Wat Phra Mahathan (Wat Maha That) and Wat Ratburana - these large temple complexes are on the edge of Phram Park and are the main places that organised day trips will usually go too. Equally popular to visit is Wat Phra Si Sanphet which is again fairly
close to the centre of Ayutthaya. There are also many more temples, wats and chedi to see around the outer parts of the city - in truth the best way to see any and all of these lovely temples is to hire a bike for the day.
Our other Topics related to visiting and looking around in Ayutthaya.