Easily accessible from modern-day Bangkok, the former Siam capital of Ayutthaya, Thailand has a number of cultural locations to tour, including an historical archaeological park which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We spent nearly a week there before heading to Cambodia, enjoying great Thai food and exploring ancient ruins. Hereís a basic rundown of what you can expect.
The Ayutthaya temples are the main attractions.
There are a number Ayutthaya temples to tour, and many of them are quite impressive. The grounds of one are a popular picnic destination for locals, while another hosts the unusual photo op of a Buddha head in a Banyan tree. The roots have grown around the head portion of an ancient statue, making for a unique distraction. Not all temples are from the old kingdom. Several are more modern, but still house beautiful gold statues tended to by monks in mystical orange garments. For my tourist time, these are just as interesting to visit and photograph.
Itís possible to rest your head affordably while you tour Ayutthaya, and still have a private room.
We managed to stay for $12 per night at a place called Bann Kun Phra. The rooms were tiny, but clean and we had a private bath. The establishment also had an affordable restaurant with a riverside patio. The food was really quite good, and in the evening the place was lit with a myriad of white lights. The inside seating area for the restaurant boasted unique loft-style tables with glass tops and the wrought-iron bases of antique sewing machines. All in all, quite a bit of charm for the price.
If you want to squeeze in as much as possible, book a tuk-tuk driver for the day.
Youíll see people renting bicycles, which is fine if you live there and have the luxury of spending your entire break seeing just that one town. Even with six months off, that wasnít in our schedule as we had other countries we wanted to visit. Besides, the city of Ayutthaya is quite expansive. Spending too much time biking between temple attractions really leaves you short on time to strategically plan for photo ops and enjoy the actual temples themselves.
All in all, Ayutthaya, Thailand is a great place to spend a few days before heading further north to Chiang Mai, or through Korat on your way to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Itís also a great place to spend a long weekend for expats living and working in Bangkok.