‘Ayutthaya?’ I hear you say, I had that exact reaction when my host in Bangkok recommended I go there. I quickly learnt 3 things whilst visiting the city, 1. Site seeing alone means you are a target for taking couple’s ‘cute’ photos, 2. A selfie stick was a good investment, 3. WHY doesn’t everybody know about this incredible place?!
Ayutthaya was once the biggest city in the WORLD, inhabited by 1 million people from many surrounding countries. Europeans regularly proclaimed it the most beautiful city they’d ever seen, full of palaces draped in gold, then the Burmese invaded and burnt every inch to the ground in 1767. What remains now are the magnificent ruins of the once impressive city of life.
Ayutthaya lies about 1.5hours north of Bangkok, I caught a bus there for around 100baht (£2!) and it’s WELL worth a visit whilst travelling through Southeast Asia. SO few people are aware of this ancient city filled with beautiful ruins and towering pagodas, which isn’t always a bad thing.
I had 5 hours before I had to head back to Bangkok and meet my friend for a visit to Ko Kret Island so my first priority was to grab a tuk tuk. They all lined up at the historical park entrance and as I stepped off the bus I began looking for travellers like me to share one with, always thinking about the budget! To my surprise, there wasn’t anybody else on the bus jumping off at the ruins and not ONE backpacker in sight, a world away from the bustle of Bangkok only an hour down the road!
Some Chinese tourists travelling together piled in the back of a tuk tuk without leaving space for a pad thai, let alone me, so I decided to haggle and go solo. I bagged an amazing driver for 1,000baht (£20) for however long I needed to see every main temple there was to see. There are many smaller ruins in the centre of Ayutthaya but the beauty in the larger buildings is unmissable. At each stop he was there to greet me with a new gift, a smoothie, a bottle of water, a fan, a parasol for shade, he was awesome! I’m sure it’s possible to score a better deal but that money goes a long way for locals and I was happy to pay it to make his day, he certainly made mine.
‘Unleash your inner tomb raider…’
When we arrived at the first temple I was immediately taken aback by its sublime plots to explore. I wandered up staircases, through fallen walls and to the tops of towers marvelling at the intricate details in each statue, some draped in golden cloth. Each ruin I explored had its own story, often carved into the pagodas structure, telling of powerful leaders or grand royal weddings. An utterly captivating history was told in each through stone.
I strolled among the ancient ruins of 7 temples including the famous (+ my personal favourite) Wat Mahathat (Buddha head in the tree), Wat Na Phra Meru (giant golden Buddha), Wat Lokkayasutharam (giant reclining Buddha) and so many more breathtaking structures.
The contrast of these precious remains among the still lively city of Ayutthaya wasn’t a massive leap from the tourist magnets of the Temple of Dawn and Wat Po in Bangkok but the HUGE difference was that on several occasions I was the ONLY person wandering around the grounds of the sites in Ayutthaya! I recommend you never skip the unforgettable ruins that will forever be a treasured memory of my time in Thailand and a constant reminder of what amazing secrets each part of the world hides in its lesser known corners.
If my recounts didn’t make you want to hop on a plane maybe my photos will…
Have you been to Ayutthaya? Have you seen any amazing sites around the world?
Read the about my other adventures playing explorer in my Travel section.
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