We booked a train (following the advice of Seat 61) as we didn’t want to ride 3rd class and so we travelled on a 2nd class with air-con which was a comfortable ride (but almost 45 mins late upon arriving in Ayutthaya for an unknown reason.)
I was somehow misled by reading about Ayutthaya online into thinking it was walkable. It really isn’t, especially not in 36 degree heat, so my initial plan of potentially renting a bicycle and taking a leisurely ride around what I thought was an enclosed area with lots of ruins actually turned out to be a bad idea and was immediately ditched upon arrival at the train station.
Our hostel offers tours to Ayutthaya where you pay 1000b each to get picked up at 6.30am and then whisked around via minibus until you are eventually deposited back in Bangkok after 6pm. It sounded expensive and exhausting and we’ve had enough early starts recently so that’s why we decided to do things our own way.
Not two minutes after stepping off the train and we had a Thai guy come up to us asking us questions and pointing to various sites on a map of Ayutthaya (and laughing at our original plan to rent a bike.) The guy seemed ok, he told us he was a volunteer for the tourist police and basically informed us that we could rent a guide to take us round for 3-4 hours via air-conditioned car (all to ourselves) for 1400 baht between us. The sales pitch was rounded off with him showing us a book of handwritten testimonials from previous buyers praising the service. We decided it sounded a good deal and we shook on 1400b.
We met our driver, informed him we needed lunch first as we hadn’t had breakfast due to our hostel cafe being overrun by newcomers before we left for the station. The guy (Noi) spoke enough English that he could tell us how much the entrance fee was (if there was one) what there was to see and do and what we thought of it afterwards.
It turned out to be a great idea as the air-con drive was a lifesaver as I was doing my tomato impression before mid-day and Jack was enjoying climbing up all of the tallest ruins and (being afraid of heights) I was dragging my feet behind him.
I’d recommend the guide. We finished up just before 3hrs as we’d had our fill of playing Lara Croft and were over-heating. Noi offered to drive us all the way back to Bangkok for double the price (and way over the price of the train) so we declined but when we got back to the station we almost regretted it as we ended up getting onto a delayed 3rd class with standing room only and it was quite cramped with people hanging out the part where the train carriages join. It was a long 90mins.
However, Ayutthaya itself was great. I have over 160 odd photos from today so here’s some of the better ones of each place we visited:
1. Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
2. Wat Mahathat
3. Wat Phra Si Samphet