Not far North of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is a must for anyone with an interest in Thai history. It is the former capital, and offers the feeling of travelling centuries back in time – very much like going to Swansea, come to think of it. For anyone wanting to travel there, going by Minivan is highly recommended, if only for the fact that they will transport you onto the island itself. A bus is far more comfortable, but you will be left stranded on a motorway a few miles away from the island….and I mean on the central reservation of the motorway. I’ve no problem with motorways – they’ve always given me a shoulder to cry on – but trying to run across the traffic to the other side is not my idea of a decent holiday. I wish I’d spotted the bridge earlier.
Most of the cheaper hotels/hostels seem to be located on, or near, ‘Soi 2’, (oh-so-conveniently, incorrectly, signposted as ‘Soi 5’), and I can say nothing bad about ‘Baan Lotus Guest House’ as a place to stay if you’re looking for somewhere quiet, away from the crowd, which I was (I like my privacy). I’ve often been accused by people of being anti-social – I wish those people would leave me alone. I’ve self-diagnosed as an antisocial schizophrenic – I hear voices in my head, but I ignore them.
Food-wise, ‘Hua Raw Night Market’ offers plenty of options, as well as a nice, riverside view of a temple (fireworks are set off at night, adding to the ‘oooh’ factor), or one can opt for one of many restaurants on the street East of the market, though the view of a naked man in his hotel room doesn’t quite match the view offered by the market.
Recommended sites to visit:
‘Wat Phra Si Sanphet’ – the sort of thing I imagined I would see when I came to Thailand. Ticked all the preconceived ‘Thai’ boxes I had in my mind.
‘Wat Phra Mahathat’ – located in the park in the centre of the island. Worth a trip just to see a Buddha’s head that’s tangled in tree roots that grew around it.
‘Wat Chai Wattanaram’ – this one is off the island, but well worth the trip. Apparently* covered by thick Jungle just a few decades ago, it is now apparently* one of the most photographed sites in Ayutthaya.
*apparently = I read it in Lonely Planet
Don’t bother with:
‘Japanese Village’ – it’s a long old walk away and it consists of two rooms in which you sit down and watch a video, and another two small rooms with very few objects to see – not at all worth the effort.
Last tip – hire a bike. You’ll waste a lot of time walking / waste a lot of money on tuk-tuks otherwise.