I had always wanted to visit the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya. It has been on my bucket list for years & I was finally going to get to see it!
I took the 9 am train from Bangkok a journey that took 2 hours. Once I got there I took a Tuk Tuk to my hostel as I had no idea where it was. But, if you are staying within the city, I recommend you take the ferry across the river as its only 5 baht & the city is small enough that most things are within walking distances.
Seeing the small & charming city of Ayutthaya it was hard to imagine that in 1770, it was the largest city in the world with a population of 1 million people.
Getting to Ayutthaya City
Learn from me & make sure you know where your hostel in Ayutthaya is, if it’s in the City of Ayutthaya then the cheapest way to get there is by ferry. There are no signs to the pier, but it is right across from the train station. When you exit the train station look for a “Bicycle for Rent” sign, it will be on the corner of the street that you walk down to the Train Station Pier.
I stayed at Sleepaholic Hostel in Ayutthaya. The hostel was one of the best I stayed in Thailand. Double sized bunk beds, with privacy curtains & the place was kept extremely clean. They even served a complimentary breakfast of toast, jams & fresh fruit.
Sleepaholic Hostel is located on Naresuan Rd, which is very central & right next to Stockhome Hostel & a small bar. This made for a laid back & chill evenings at the hostel with the convenience of not having to go very far to get a beer or go to sleep.
There were quite a lot of people at both hostels when I stayed there. At night the small bar had a live band, with speakers outside so could hear the music.
During my stay I met a couple from Belgium, who were travelling around South East Asia for a year. We hung out outside our hostel & over a few beers & some street food we exchanged stories of our travels to date, exchanged some tips & got to know each other.
Biking Around Ayutthaya City
I love to bike & was excited to learn that biking was one of the recommended ways to visit the temples in Ayutthaya. Bike rentals are plentiful in the city & there are bike tours of the temples as well. I took advantage of my hostels bike rentals, 50 baht for one day.
Biking is safe enough in Ayutthaya, as long as you have some experience biking on the street in a city. There are no bike lanes in Ayutthaya so you are sharing the road with cars & motorbikes. And Thailand is not a place where traffic laws are followed, well they are .. it’s just that the traffic law is that the largest, fastest vehicle gets priority & you yield if you are smaller.
One thing that no one mentioned in the “what to do in Ayutthaya” posts I’ve read, is how hot it is in Ayutthaya, much hotter than Bangkok. So be prepared to visit the temples in a heat wave. If you choose to bike, start early, take it slow, take breaks in the shade & have water on you!
My first stop was the Wat Mahathat temple. I can’t even explain what it felt like to finally be in a place I had yearned to see for so many years. It was as amazing as I had hoped.
Interesting tibit: You had to kneel to get a picture with the Buddha head in the Bodhi Tree. It is a sign of respect to place yourself below the Buddha.
While I was at Wat Mahathat, I stopped to sketch in the shade. It was one of my first “good” sketches in Thailand. While I was sketching I got approached by a group of school kids who had an assignment to complete. They had to have a conversation with an English speaker, which ended with a selfie. Whoever the teacher is that thought of this assignment, hats off to you.
Wat Phra Ram
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Evening meal at Burinda
On Thanon Chikun, right across from Wat Ratburana is a restaurant called Burinda & you have to go if you are in Ayutthaya. I saw it when I was biking back to my hostel & after a shower I went back to eat dinner. I am so very glad I did as the staff was amazing & the food even more so. I was amazed to receive a plate that you expect to seen in 5 star restaurants in Toronto, New York or London, in Ayutthaya.
I loved my stay in Ayutthaya. It had the perfect mix of history, small town life & amazing food that I craved during my time in Thailand. Even thought it was hot, I don’t regret choosing to bike around to see the sites, it was more fun than walking or taking a taxi. If you are up for an adventure & in semi-good shape, then I recommend you try biking in Ayutthaya.