Central Thailand

Ayutthaya

Ayuthaya was the capital of the Siam empire from 1350 to 1767AD.  It is home to several wonderfully restored temples and many ruins so, provided you’re not “templed-out” from visiting other destinations in the region like Angkor Wat, spending a day here can be a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok.  Ayuthaya can be done easily as a day trip out of Bangkok but staying overnight offers a different perspective on the city as four of the temples are dramatically lit.

What to see
Most of the temples are open from 8am to 4pm and some charge an admission fee of 50B.  You can buy an all-day pass for 220B.  Grab a guide book for the lowdown on all of Ayuthaya’s temples.  it’s hand to have something with you so you know what you’re looking at.  You can hire a guide from the TAT office if you’re really interested in what you’re seeing.  Here are some of the highlights:
Dating from the 14th century, Wat Phra Si Samphet, the largest temple in Ayuthaya, with it’s three main chedi is the number one spot in town.
For something a little different, Wat Phanan Choeng is a modern Chinese temple where you can buy fish and release them into the river.  It also contains a 19 metre high image of Buddha.
Wat Chai Wattanaram is a Khmer-style temple with a central tower standing 35 metres high.  It’s an excellent place to take in the sunset.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon contains a seven metre long reclining Buddha in an orange robe.
Wihaan Mongkhon Bophit houses a 17 metre high bronze Buddha, one of the largest bronze Buddha’s in Thailand.

Ayuthaya was home to many foreign merchants and traders at the height of it’s power.  The remains of a Portugese village and Japanese village lie of the outskirts of town.  Both are interesting enough for a visit.  The Portuguese village contains skeletal remains of 40 settlers in a large pit.  The Japanese village has an exhibition hall, video display and a Japanese garden.

The Ayuthaya Fighting Show will entertain kids both young and old.  The display of fighting with swords and sticks costs 550B, lasts for 30 minutes and is on five times a day in high season.  You’ll find it behind the elephant taxi stand.

The Ayuthaya Elephant Palace or Elephant Stay http://www.elephantstay.com/ have a range of programmes starting from 3 days and up to several weeks where you can learn to care for elephants which includes feeding and bathing them.  Prices start at 12000B, which is not cheap but includes food and air-conditioned accommodation.  Children are welcome and there are packages for families.

Getting Around
The sites are relatively compact so consider renting a bicycle to get around, it’s cheap at around 30B a day.  You can catch a tuktuk between sites for around 30 to 40B, agree your price with the driver in advance.  Elephants are a unique way to travel within the temples, a short ride will cost 400to 500B.

Getting In and Out
Buses from Bangkok leave frequently from the Northern terminal, taking 90 minutes and costing around 60B.  You can also catch a minibus from Victory Monument taking two hours and costing 65B.  From Bangkok’s Hualamphong station the train will take 90 minutes, leaves frequestly and costs anything from 15 to 315B depending on the train you take.  If you’re heading North to Chiang Mai, the best night trains to catch depart Ayuthaya at 19.45 and 21.01, arriving at Chiang Mai at 07.45 and 09.45, and will cost around 1200B for a first class AC sleeping berth or around 800B for a second class AC sleeping berth.  There are also numerous trains throughout the day to Lopburi which take just over an hour.  Night buses to Chaing Mai will take around nine hours and cost about 500B.  Buses to Sukhothai take six hours and cost around 300B.  If you want to reach Kanchanaburi without backtracking to Bangkok you can take a bus to Suphanburi 90 minutes away and from there pick up a bus to Kanchanaburi.

Lopburi

Kanchanaburi

http://www.elephantsworld.org/en/

Phetchaburi

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