The first leg of our Thailand road trip (of which there were only two, really). We rented a car at the airport and drove to this ancient capital in the Central Plains of Thailand, 85 km north of Bangkok.
Driving time: 1 hour (more or less). With a satnav/GPS.
One of the best things about Ayutthaya, aside from being so pretty and conveniently close to Bangkok, is how quiet and underpopulated the temples are. Compared to the temples of Siem Reap in Cambodia and Borobodur in Indonesia, you can stroll the temple complexes of Ayutthaya in peace without bumping into loads of other tourists. It would be lovely to just sit down and have a picnic or relax and sunbathe at any spot of choice. You can have a whole temple to yourself, if you wanted. And note that we were there during peak season, right after new year. January is one of the best times of the year to come in terms of weather as well!
I recommend renting a bicycle so you can cycle from temple to temple at the Historic City (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Getting around was a bit challenging since barely anyone spoke English and everyone thought I was Thai. I was embarrassed to talk to people because I felt like I was disappointing them when I couldn’t understand them, so I tried to make James ask for directions every time, but whenever he did, they would ignore him and look at me for translation help, shooting rapid Thai sentences at me, none of which I understood… usually I just managed a helpless and embarrassed “sorry I’m not Thai” laugh/cough.
Eat: Malakor, Chee Kun Rd (opposite Wat Ratchaburana) – great food. Chicken with cashew nuts was amazing. I hear there are good restaurants by the river; unfortunately we didn’t have time to do that.
Sleep: We stayed at Baan Thai House (199/19 Soi Mooban Sri Kung, Moo 4, Tumbon Pailing, Ampher Muang, Ayutthaya) – a pretty little place (Thai architecture – breezy and grassy) with a pond and everything in the middle. We had our own cottage next to the lobby, which was an open-air verandah that included a library, the restaurant, and living room. They would play 50’s music in there, and even had an old record player, if I recall correctly. We met the Thai lady who owns and runs the place with her sister and Australian husband, lovely people 🙂
Aaand that was mostly it for our Ayutthaya trip! We didn’t pressure ourselves to go to every single temple, because who wants to be stressed out during the holidays?! Living in Hong Kong is stressful enough as it is.
Next stop: Kanchanaburi, home of the River Kwai Bridge and Thailand’s biggest national parks.