About 90km north of Bangkok is the city of Ayutthaya. Very often this city is left out of most Singaporeans’ itineraries since all their time is spent shopping and eating in Bangkok. It’s a pity as Ayutthaya has much to offer in terms of history and rustic charm. Easily covered in a day trip from Bangkok, there are several travel options to get there; by road or by train. Train is the slower option (2.5hrs) and cheapest, as the train stops at every station from Bangkok to Ayutthaya but is a good way to see more of the people and their way of life. Travelling by road is the fastest and takes roughly 1hr from Bangkok. You can rent your own car, or hire a car with driver to bring you.
I had visited Ayutthaya a couple of times previously but these were just passing through business trips. In May of 2012 I had to stay in Ayutthaya for several days to inspect the repair work at a nearby factory after the country’s worst floods. Due to a scheduling hiccup, I ended up with a free day to explore the city.
The weather in May is extremely hot and ground temperature was 40”C at mid-day. I hired a tuk-tuk from outside my hotel and bargained on the price for the driver to bring me around for a few hours. The rate is around 1,000 baht for 4 hrs. So together with another colleague, off we went in a non-air conditioned and rickety tuk-tuk.
Ayutthaya was the second largest city of ancient Siam with a population of 1 million inhabitants in 1700AD. It was also the trading capital of Asia and former capital of Thailand. But in 1767AD, it was invaded by Burma and most of the city was burnt to the ground. Today, only the ruins of the temples and palaces remain since they were made of stone and not destroyed by the fire.
Next, the tuk-tuk driver brought us to a floating market. But it was more of a tourist place and just a modern replica of a village. We had our lunch there and shopped for some souvenirs.
After lunch, we were off to visit more historical sites.
We finally went back to our hotel after around 4 hrs of touring. The heat was stifling and made getting around difficult. There are many more ruins that are could be visited besides those that I’ve shown here. A visit in the cooler months of December or January would be a better time.