Ayutthaya, Thailand: UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and served as the second Siamese capital. It was partially destroyed by the Burmese in the 18th century. Today, the ruins of the ancient civilization are spread throughout the modern city. They are stunningly beautiful and quite the adventure to visit. If you’re going north to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, make sure to devote a day or two to Ayutthaya.
How we got there from Bangkok
One of the quickest options is to take a minibus from Victory Monument. When you get off the train, the ticket desk is to the left of the monument. The ticket cost us 60 baht each ($1.72 USD), plus an extra 60 baht total for our luggage because it took up one of the seats. The minibus got us to the edge of Ayutthaya in a bit over an hour. From there, we grabbed a tuktuk to our hostel.
How to get around
In Ayutthaya it is necessary to rent a motorbike. While some people chose to rent bicycles, a motorbike is a better option for Ayutthaya if you want to see as many temples as possible.
Some advice about renting a motorbike in Thailand
Bring an old passport to leave as collateral. There are a few motorbike scams out there where the renter will actually drive off your bike while you are looking at the temples and then demand an insane amount of money in order to get your passport back. Old passport = no problem.
Rent a motorbike from a place recommended by your accommodation, or at least near it. You are less likely to get scammed this way.
Drive carefully. In Thailand, they drive on the left. Be aware of your surroundings because drivers don’t often obey traffic rules. And say a prayer that your helmet, which is more like a bicycle helmet, saves you should you crash.
Top temples to visit
Wat Mahathat - where you can see Buddha's head in a tree
When the Burmese attacked Ayutthaya in the 18th century, they cut off the heads of many of the Buddha statues. You will notice that many of the statues are missing their heads entirely. No one knows how, but at some point this Buddha head became surrounded by tree roots. You can visit this iconic Thai site today at Wat Mahathat.
Wat Phra Sri Sanphet - Temple of the Holy, Splendid Omniscient
Wat Phra Sri Sanphet was the holiest temple on the Royal Palace complex when Ayutthaya was capital. It has three Chedis, which are pictured below. It was used by the royal family exclusively.
Hop on your motorbike and search for the tiny path to the Reclining Buddha
To get to this massive Buddha, you'll need to have a motorbike passenger with a keen eye to see the small pathway entrance. It's marked with "Reclining Buddha."
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon - cross the bridge to visit this temple
Hop on your motorbike again and head to the southeast of Ayutthaya. In this temple the Buddhas remain more intact than previous temples. You can climb the massive staircase to get a great view of Ayutthaya and explore the temple's beautiful gardens.
Wat Phanan Choeng - where you can see the Golden Buddha
Located near the previous temple mentioned, this temple was built even before the city of Ayutthaya was founded. Inside you'll find a massive, golden Buddha.
Thanks for reading! More temples to come in the next few weeks, and a video will be up to match my Bangkok post as soon as we have internet. Happy travels!
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