Ayutthaya is a UNESCO world heritage center, I would call it a temple town. The remains of many a temples here, are a splendid sight.
Here is a detailed account of my travel, followed by the important points and Gyan gain sections.
My long narrative (For important information, please scroll down)
We reached Ayutthaya by 6 am, Thankfully the train was delayed by an hour, which gave us a little more sleeping time. We were at the guesthouse at 630 am and waited until 7 am. The common area had a high roof filled with colorful umbrellas for decoration. And in the waiting area there were lots of potted plants. We watched and scanned the area while donating some blood to the local mosquitoes. And finally a guy woke up half asleep and walked to the reception right out of bed. We tried requesting for an early check in or at least some shower facilities. And it took us 20 minutes to communicate just that. Not because he was sleepy, but because I did not know Thai and he did not know English!
Finally he opened up Google translate and typed in Thai and showed the English translated text which said ‘This room is full’.
I asked him in sign language with a thumb pouring imaginary water on top of my head and saying ‘shou vurr’ (shower). He understood and showed us to a laundry room which had a toilet and a cold shower. An end to our struggle owing to the lack of a common language of communication.
Hotel did have motor bike and cycles for rent, costing 300 and 50 baht a day respectively. We decided to go explore outside to ensure we pay the best price.
We got a deal for 250 baht without gas or 300 full tank until 9 pm. We took the latter and started our day searching for food. Found street vendors in the market area near SCB Bank. Most people did not serve vegetarian food. My friend ate only vegetarian food, so we walked around to check if there was vegetarian food in concrete hotels. We could not find any and finally returned to one of the street vendors based on the best smelling cart. We explained that we wanted a dish with only vegetables, he agreed to make vegetarian fried rice for us. He gave us stir fried veggies with rice instead, nevertheless it was the tastiest food I have had so far in this trip. So, food that smells good will taste good. So choosing a vendor based on good smelling food went well.
Wat Mahathat and Wat Ratchanaburi and the night market are at a walking distance (20 to 30 minutes) from Goodmorning by Tamarind. You need a bike or cycle to visit Chai Mongkhong or the floating market which are outside the main city across the Chao Phraya river.
Am glad we took a motor bike, walking in the scorching heat was just not a possibility. We trotted from one temple to another using a local map, and leisurely strolled around inside each monument. Taking breaks, sometimes to sink in the beauty of the place and at other times resting under trees, enjoying shade with dry hot air. In spite of the scorching heat, Ayutthaya was the most memorable in the (North) Thailand leg of our travel.
By sun down, I think we both were already heat struck! But galvanized by the views, we decided to stay around to see the night lights of the temples. So after a Pad Thai dinner at the night market, we headed out for a ride around the temple areas and got a night view of all the temples (from outside). Returned the bike and checked into our room at 10 pm.
In the morning while we got ready to leave, in the common area there was a Chinese lady who was traveling with family. She could talk very little English but was very friendly. Well travelers are not supposed to have language bounds, so we were happily communicating. And then she saw us mixing our coffee with a spoon and said ‘Ah You India eat with hand, giggles’. The younger ladies in the group who were walking around tried to tell her it was rude (am just assuming, I don’t understand a word of Chinese).She continued her comment, ‘we eat chopstick’, taking her hands to her mouth with an imaginary chopstick.
I wanted to ask if they had coffee with chopsticks as well. And then I told myself – humility, traveler relax! She does not mean to offend you. It’s just an amusement at another culture, so I let her enjoy her joke. My friend took it as an invitation to explain (which was the right thing to do) the benefits of eating by hand and that being the reason for us eating with our own hands/fingers. The Chinese traveler continued to laugh though! Well don’t we stereotype all cheap products, as ‘Chinese maal’ (maal = product), so we laughed away this stranger’s amusement. We finished our coffee and bid good byes to the staff and the chopstick lady who was eating a banana with her hand!
Next stop: Kanchanaburi
1. You can cover all of Ayutthaya easily in a Motorbike. We rented one at 300 baht from morning until 9 pm with a full tank gas. No harm in trying to bargain for less. We rented at Casa Ayutthaya. If you walk from the guest house take right at 7 11 (store) and walk until the first signal and take right. The rental place is on the right.
2. Most temples close around 6 or 6 30 pm. The last show at the floating market is at 4 pm. It is a staged setup, you will not miss much if you skip this. In fact it will save you 200 baht entry fee.
3. Cruise around in the night to see all the temple monuments lit up. You anyway have the bike until 9, so make good use of it.
4. Watch sunset at the Wat Chai Wattanaram, by the river Chao Phraya
5. Places to see
Wat Mahathat (buddha head entangled in a tree)
Wat Ratchanaburi -another world heritage site
Wat Chai Mongkhong – Experience the radiance of rows of sitting Buddha idols dressed in orange, this sight is not to be missed.
Wat Lokasayukta – reclining Buddha
Night market – a wide variety of food including fried insects which I could not identify. There were fruits and salads too, a rare combination to find at one place !
Floating market : this is a setup. Entrance ticket of 200 baht. You can skip this and save some money. Since it’s a setup there is no fun in seeing this Floating village.
There are many more temples, memorials and museums, however I have only listed whatever we chose and completed in a day.
1. I thought I will die of heat stroke but nothing happened. Now, I have learnt that I can survive 40 degrees of scorching heat. Although, I did not get stronger for sure. But 6 hours of sleep was enough to get over the heat torture.
2. Street vendors can be chosen by the way their food smells, in addition to the popular way of going where the local crowd is eating. And this method will most likely go well. Will put it to test through out my trip.
3. And to avoid Delhi Belly, my street food rule is to not have anything cold or raw and have only hot food. Can’t afford to fall ill on a backpacking travel, so avoid salads and anything raw.
See Pictures: Bangkok and North Thailand
Ayutthaya: 1 day and 1 night
Stayed at : Good morning by tamarind
Short review : Good location, it’s close to the night market and Wat Mahathat. Free coffee and limited drinking water. Lots of mosquitoes, carry some repellents. Staff does not understand even a bit of English, challenging to communicate.
Travelers: Two female backpackers
Loop: Bangkok -> Chiang Mai -> Ayutthaya -> Kanchanaburi -> Bangkok -> Udon Thani
Duration : 8 days
Country Loop: North Thailand -> Laos -> Vietnam -> Cambodia -> Myanmar -> Malaysia -> Philippines -> South Thailand -> Back Home