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EASY GUIDE to Ayutthaya from Bangkok and How To Go Around the Ruins

If you have a whole day to spare, a visit to Ayutthaya is so worth it. Don't make the same mistake as we did though, if you are coming from Bangkok, leave the earliest possible time. We underestimated the expanse of the place that we arrived lunchtime. That means we had only half day to go around. If you are a camwhore like us,that would not be enough. Although enough, we were not able to visit all the ruins. It would have been better if we had more time to check all the spots.

Although not as big as Angkor Complex, Ayutthaya is huge. Rent a bike and you will be busy going around the whole day. Again, when I say whole day I mean morning and afternoon. Don't even think of just going around by foot. With Ayutthaya's hot weather, you will be exhausted before you even get to the 3rd temple. Bicycle rent for whole day is only 50 Baht or approx 75 pesos. There are many bike shops along the streets and in hostels too.

How To Get To Ayutthaya
from Bangkok
Tip: Just take the van dammit and that's it. It's a small difference in fare with buses or trains and you get utmost convenience especially with warm and humid Thailand weather. Once in Ayutthaya, walk around and you can find bicycles you can rent. Easy!

We went together with a German woman we met at the hostel we were staying at. The bus/van station with tranpo that could take you to Ayutthaya is Chatuchak Integrated Transport Hub which is by the way off the BTS Line so we decided to take the taxi. It would have saved us a bit coming from the area of BTS Ari Station but the hostel called for the taxi so there was an additional charge. Same thing. I think we paid around 120 Baht divided to three pax.

At the bus terminal, it is easy to find vans to Ayutthaya because there are barkers all over the place. Fare is only 60 baht. It was quicker than I thought. Approximate time of travel is 2 hrs but it took us around 1.5 hours.
It was already almost lunchtime when we finished finding our companion's accommodation so we had a hearty meal at a sidewalk stall nearby her hostel. Ayutthaya is a small town. Other than the shops downtown,one can hardly find restaurants on the streets leading to the historical section. There are a few food stalls and we found one thanks to the help of the hostel. It was here where I felt the warm hospitality of Thai people. First, a female diner helped us with ordering food. Then a group of teenagers helped us figure out the map we got from the hostel which is not so much of use in terms of what the significant ruins. It only serves as a guide as to where things are.

If you are thinking of overnight stay in Ayutthaya to give more time to exploring the ruins, I can suggest Sleepaholic Hostel. Our German friend stayed here and she said the hostel seemed nice. We were only at the lobby waiting but we could already tell that it is a modern hostel with a chic vibe.

Sleepaholic Hostel
Address: 6/14, Naresaun rd. Tambon Pratuchai
Sleepaholic Hostel
Call +66 85 601 5401

Bundle Entrance Fee 
Quite tricky where to start indeed but if you a do-it-yourself traveler, just get yourself to Wat Maha That, that's where you register and settle entrance fees. 

1 temple = 50 baht ( for foreigners) 
6 temples = 220 baht (bundle) 

So you can save 80 baht if you pay the bundle which we did. Unfortunately, We were able to visit 4 temples total. Lugi pa kami 20 baht but it was all worth it. 

There are six significant stops in the ruins and the once at registration booth will point them in the map. That will save you a lot of time. Some of the ruins don't require entrance fees which means they are not that significant due to their conditions but feel free to explore anyway. If you have limited time, I would suggest you focus on the six.

Wat Maha That
Wat Maha That is a good set off point. It used to be the royal temple that housed Buddha's relics. It is mostly in ruined but this is where you see the head of a Buddha stuck in the roots of a tree, probably one of the most well known attraction in Ayutthaya. Should you start in other temples (ruins) with pay, each has a ticket booth where you get the pass.

Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana was our next stop. It is the most elaborate of all the six significat ruins thanks to the restoration supported by the German government. This temple was founded in 1424. Odd, because the style of the prang of this temple resembles more of the Khmer architecture than Thai. This only proves that the two kingdoms were of influence to each other. Ayuttalhaya actually brought upon the decay and eventual destruction of Khmer Empire.

The highlight of Wat Ratchaburana is the crypt where tremendous treasures were stored. In the year 1956 – 1957, looters smuggled through the Prang and plundered a considerable amount of valuables, especially votive tablets made of tin and lead. In September 1957, the Fine Arts Department officially excavated and restored the crypt of Wat Ratchaburana. To their surprise, they uncovered the relics of the Lord Buddha, swords, crowns, golden attires, Buddha images made of gold and copper alloy, royal regalia and a few hundred thousands of votive tablets. Later the Fine Arts Department allowed collectors to purchase these recuperated sacred items, and the proceeds from the sale were meant to build Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.

To date, one can climb up to prang and even go down the section where they excavated the buddhas. At the upper cavity is are tablets chronicling the history of the place.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the loveliest but also the most historically important temple in old Ayutthaya. Its three large chedis and numerous smaller ones make this wat - also known as the King's Temple - one of the most impressive sights in the ruined city. Two of the large chedis, the eastern and central ones, were built in 1492 by King Rama Thibodi II to house the ashes of his father and elder brother. His own ashes are interred in the third chedi, built in 1530 by his son and royal successor, King Boromaraja IV.

All three chedis were plundered by the Burmese, though they failed to find the hundreds of small Buddha statues in bronze, crystal, silver, lead, and gold now on display in the National Museum in Bangkok. Other smaller Buddha figures were also taken to the capital to be placed in Wat Buddhaisawan (now also part of the National Museum in Bangkok) and the western wiharn of Wat Pho.  -- source

With the first and second temples, I felt like "wow, this place is way better than I expected!". But with the 3rd, I was completely blown away. Perhaps because it was late afternoon and the cast of sunlight on the three prangs set a more magical feels to the place. And that exactly sums up the feeling of being here --- it's like being transported to another dimension, a magical place. My favorite spot in Ayutthaya Historical Complex among the limited locations we visited.
Wat Phra Ram
Wat Phra Ram is a World Heritage Site. The monastery faces a large lagoon. It consists of a massive Khmer-influenced prang at the center. It is a quiet compound if I may say. It was our last stop before before entrance to major temples close. We barely made it before they closed the ticket section. Here, we climbed up the steps and observed the surrounding area. We were the only people here it was like having the entire Wat at our disposal. I was amazed at how high the prang of this temple is and wondered if it were to hold long as it looked already fragile with age. Snapped a few photos, took time to breath and feel the place before we grabbed our bike and headed back to the hostel.

We made it back to the hostel before 6:00 pm after a fun bike ride through the ruins of Ayutthaya. The town is really laid back and more relaxed compared to the crazy business of Bangkok. The receptionist at Sleepaholic where we returned our bikes was so nice to remind us that the last van trip back to Bangkok was at 6:00 pm and the last van was ready to depart. We rushed to catch it just across the street and made it back to Bangkok in less than two hours.