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This was our sixth visit to Thailand (or seventh – we lose track as we love the country so much) and we’d never been on a day trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya before. We therefore decided to rectify this and booked a tour with KKday to explore the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam.
Around 80km north from Bangkok, Ayutthaya originated in c.1350 and became the second Siamese capital city (after Sukhothai), until it was decimated by the Burmese in the late 18th century. The main reason we wanted to visit was that the ruins of the old city now form the Ayutthaya Historical Park, an archaeological site that contains a variety of temples, palaces and statues.
Our journey into the past started in a more modern manner – we met our tour guide outside one of Bangkok’s numerous malls, ready to get on the bus that would be taking us around the various sites on a day trip. As we got on the bus (complete with faux Louis Vuitton interiors and much appreciated air-conditioning), we noticed that we were the only western / english speaking people in the group so the tour guide went to great efforts to tell us everything again in English, after she had spoken Chinese to all the other people on the tour (it almost felt like our very own personal tour!).
After about 90 minutes on the bus, a quick service station stop and some background information from our guide, we arrived at our first stop of our Ayutthaya day trip: the first Buddhist temple, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon (or ‘the Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory’).
This has to be one of the most beautiful temples in all of Thailand and it still has monks that reside there. People not only pay their respects to Buddha here, but also to King Naresuan the Great, one of the most respected (former) kings in Thai history.
The main features are a large stone Buddha, several stupa and the Great Buddha reclining, all set amongst lush gardens – you can also visit the ordination hall.
Whilst there, make sure you climb up the steps of the temple so that you can drop a coin into the bucket placed at the bottom of a very large well – if you get the coin in, it is said to bring you good luck (although we got our coin in on the second attempt via a lucky bounce so we are not sure if that counts).
Our tour-guide also saw us looking and taking pictures of a big Doraemon cuddly toy at one of the temple’s shrines – she explained a couple had come to the temple to wish to have a family and had subsequently got pregnant – they left a Doraemon as an initial token of appreciation and since then, many other would-be parents have done the same.
Next up on our day trip from Bangkok was the Ayutthaya Floating Market, which started with a group boat tour on the river, so we could see the floating market and stalls from the river. After the boat-ride, we had just over an hour and a half to explore and grab some lunch.
All the initial restaurants were a little overzealous for our trade (‘ touty’) but after the first few, we found a nice little restaurant that allowed us to peruse the menu at leisure – the clincher was that it had one table left right by the water. We ordered fishcakes, chicken fried rice and a cold drink for only 120 baht for two of us (plus a ‘million dollar’ view thrown in for free!).
We then explored the shops and wandered around the whole perimeter of the fish village – the shops here are really cheap and the quality of garments (particularly T-shirts) seemed better here than in Bangkok. All in all, the floating market was a nice experience but there was something a little ‘Disneyland’ about the whole thing – it was a little too touristy and didn’t feel that authentic. It is also sad to see that the village still allows elephants to be ridden by tourists (and that there is still a demand for this).
Another short bus ride took us to Wat Mahathat – one of the oldest temples in the city that first fell into ruin in the early 16th century, and has been left alone until the 1950s when modern restoration began.
The most popular attraction inside Wat Mahathat is a tree where the roots have grown around a statue of a Buddha head. Our guide informed us when taking photos or admiring this statue, your head must be below the buddha to show respect (there is a small mat placed there for you to sit on for taking photos).
We then carried on to Wat Phra Si Sanphet – a beautiful temple with three bell-shaped chides. The chedis were built to contain the ashes of King Boromatrailokanat and his two sons, King Ramathibodhi and King Boromatrailokanat II. This temple is one of the most famous sights in Ayutthaya.
Although there are a lot of visitors to the sites, there are moments when you find yourself alone and able to get a picture of just yourselves and the temples.
Our guide was also very helpful not only taking time to explain the history of the site to just the two of us in English, but also offering to take lots of photos and suggesting some cute and clever compositions – she should be a professional photographer!
We then headed inside Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit – a wihan (preaching hall) that houses a large bronze statue of Buddha (named Phra Mongkhon Bophit) which measures nearly 13 meters high!
Our final stop of our day trip to Ayutthaya was Wat Lokayasutharam (Nirvana temple) to see the giant reclining Buddha known as Phra Buddhasaiyart, which is just under 40 metres long and 8 metres high. You can also make out small sections of gold leaf which have been placed there by worshippers as an offering. Whilst we were there, people were also making offerings with flowers and incense.
As the sun started to set, we made our journey back to Bangkok and we were fascinated by the number of markets along the highway back into the city. Our last stop and drop-off point was the Ratchada Train Market, one of Bangkok’s best night markets (in our humble opinion) – there are so many good food stalls, bars and craft stalls to choose from here, it is almost worthy of it’s own blog. After a brief orientation from the tour-guide, we bid our farewells and then explored (and obviously ate at) the night market.
Ayutthaya is one of the best attractions near Bangkok and we are so glad we visited and got to experience its incredible history and culture. Given its distance away from Bangkok and all the history of the area we weren’t previously aware of, it made sense to do a tour and we’d definitely recommend this day trip to Ayutthaya.
How to book this day trip to Ayutthaya with KKday
KKday is the leading travel e-commerce platform in Asia that provides a huge range of authentic tours and activities in 500+ cities across the world.
We reserved a place on the Day Tour from Bangkok: Ayutthaya Temples, which is one of many Thailand tours available to book through KKday. There are 2 separate Ayutthaya day trip itineraries which run on different days of the week – we booked onto a Tuesday tour so it included the floating market.
The meeting point for the tour is at the Central Plaza shopping centre outside MRT Phra Ram 9 Station, which means not having to sit on the bus for an hour doing pickups like many other tour companies do.
The tour includes the guide, transportation, temple entrance fees, floating market cruise fee and snacks and drinks on the bus. Lunch at the floating market is at your own cost.
Other Bangkok blog posts
- Exploring Bangkok on an evening Tuk Tuk tour
- Lhong 1919 guide, Bangkok, Thailand
- Things to do in Silom, Bangkok
- Bangkok on a Budget – Thailand Backpacking guide
- Mahanakhon Skywalk – Bangkok’s Newest Observation Deck
- A Thai cookery class in Bangkok’s flower market
- Avani Riverside hotel in Bangkok review
Download the Grab app
Grab taxis are widely used by both tourists and locals, and the fares are really cheap! Download the Grab app here and use the code GRABCKTRAVELS to earn a free ride when you sign up.
SIM cards and pocket WIFI
Having data on your phone whilst travelling is almost essential these days – from planning your route around the city, booking a Grab taxi or for staying connected with friends and family back home. SIM cards are pretty cheap in Thailand with generous data allowances and are available to purchase from both of Bangkok’s airports, malls and 7-Elevens (bring your passport along for identification purposes).
You can also prepay online and collect a SIM from Suvarnabhumi Airport, Don Muang Airport or Siam Centre. Just remember to make sure your phone is not locked to your local network provider before purchasing one.
Alternatively if you do not want to change your sim card then renting a pocket WIFI device with unlimited high speed internet access might be for you. We’ve used them multiple times and love that we can both connect our devices to it. Pre-order one online with Klook for collection when you arrive at either Suvarnabhumi or Don Muang Airport.
Disclosure: Our day trip to Ayutthaya was provided by KKday, but as always, opinions are all our own.
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