Last updated on March 30th, 2020 at 11:30 pm
This Ayutthaya travel guide is for you, if you’re looking at a modern but still authentic experience of what Ayutthaya is all about today. We visited the historic city this March 2017, and it’s amazing how it’s old beauty has been preserved for the new generation to value and see. Apart from the ruins, there are more cool things to do in Ayutthaya.
Read here how to get from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya is the capital of Ayutthaya Province was a kingdom from 1351 to 1767. They had several wars against Burma and in The Burmese-Siamese War (1765-67) ended the Ayutthaya Kingdom on April 1767. This is why an Ayutthaya travel will always be filled with national parks and preserved ruins from the previous wars. The remaining relics show people that history is something to be remembered, and that it has shaped who and what Thailand is today. It’s always great to look back at these historical times!
How to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok?
More than usual, you’ll get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok on the way to Chiang Mai. One of the best experience we had is to ride the ordinary train from the Bangkok Train Station. The journey is around 2 hours to get to Ayutthaya. We even chose to ride third class! It was Rachel’s first time to ride a third class ordinary train.
If you’re someone who hasn’t done Ayutthaya travel or hasn’t ridden on an ordinary train before, you might be wondering what it looks like and how it feels to be on one. No, it’s not a mix of disgusting, dirty people and it is a totally safe environment. Train systems in Thailand actually work well, although the trains don’t always come and go on time because of all its many stops. When you get a long distance train ride, you have the choice to get a first class seat which usually includes sleeping quarters and/or a proper resting area. Second class looks like a small bus or has the same seating arrangement as an airplane, and riding third class means you’ll have to sit either by twos or threes, with two seats facing each other.
We chose third class for it’s price mainly. We like spending our money more on other experiences we want like island hopping trips, new food you want to taste, or investing back in our selves. Also, riding in this section of the train allows you to be exposed to this real and raw view of Thai people. You see how monks travel with the locals and other things you don’t get to experience when you’re in a sleeper train. Of course, the way you travel will really heavily on what you prioritize during your trip and for us, a full night of sleep in a third class train is just as good (and in some ways even better) than sleeping in a first class cabin. So, we basically choose to spend more money on other things than transportation.
A train ride for your Ayutthaya travel is THB 15, which is less than half a dollar. This is crazy cheap, compared to prices when moving around Bangkok. The city can be much more expensive for transportation and food.
Best time to visit Ayutthaya
The weather in Thailand is both pleasant and predictable, making it a year-round destination from travelers all over the world. However, there are still ideal months and some periods to avoid if you want to make the most out of your stay in the country. If you’re traveling to Ayutthaya, you might want to avoid the summer months of March to May. If the heat doesn’t bother you, just always make sure to stay hydrated, bring sunscreen and to wear light clothing during your travels. For those thinking of going from June to September, this is Thailand’s rainy season. Sightseeing may not be as enjoyable during these months. So, the best time to visit Ayutthaya would be around November to February, when the rain has lifted but the cool weather remains.
Those thinking of attending a cultural event in Ayutthaya will have plenty of festivities to choose from. In November, for example, Ayutthaya celebrates the Loy Krathong festival on the full moon of the month. People gather by the city’s rivers and canals to float decorated baskets (or krathongs) and make a wish.
Transportation around Ayutthaya
A thrilling and cost-efficient way to go around Ayutthaya is by riding a bicycle. The streets are paved and distances from one temple to another aren’t that big, so this is the ideal vehicle for those who love going around on their own. You can rent a bike for 40-50 THB, or less than $2 a day, in Ayutthaya.
By tuk tuk
A famous way to travel around Thailand is by riding a tuk tuk, or an auto rickshaw. These 3-wheeled vehicles come larger in Ayutthaya than in Bangkok and can fit up to six people. Tuk tuks can be found on the train station or can be flagged down on the street. You can spend around 100 to 200 THB on a tuk tuk depending on where you are picked up and how many you are riding with.
When you get off the railway station, you can take a mini-bus to the city. Hiring one costs 400 to 500 THB per day. Another passenger vehicle in the area is called a Songteow. These are pick-ups or other large trucks that have been converted for public transportation. Think of it as a shared taxi or a bus of sorts.
Daily budget to visit Ayutthaya
If you’re traveling to a foreign country, one of your primary concerns would be how much you’d have to spend in a day. This daily budget covers expenses for things like food, transportation, entrance fees and accommodations in the city. Prices are very affordable in Thailand. There are meals in local restaurants that go for as low as 30 to 50 TBH. Some accommodations only cost less than 500 THB–that’s a room for below 15 USD! You can also get an Airbnb for $15 USD. Click here to get $30 USD free credit when you sign up for your first booking! There are many mid-budget rooms in Ayutthaya for $20-50 USD and you can find luxury rooms starting from $80 USD. Click here to get the best hotel deals in Ayutthaya with Booking and Agoda!
As we previously mentioned, transportation is also cheap in Ayutthaya, so you won’t have any problem going around the temples and other sites. Entrance fees can take 100 to 500 TBH from your budget, depending on which places you visit in Ayutthaya. A floating market tour goes for less than 700 TBH. Also, like we said, it only takes $2 USD to rent a bike and move around Ayutthaya. We still think this is the perfect way to move around the city!
Things to do in Ayutthaya
1. Visit Wat Mahathat
The Wat Mahathat was registered as part of Ayutthaya World Heritage Historical Park in 1935 and is located in the center of Ayutthaya. It was a place for the relics of Buddha. The temple was burned during The Burmese War but the place has been conserved in a beautiful way for people to visit. The entrance fee is 50 THB ($1.5). During our days of visit, 17th-19th of March, it was free of charge!
One hour is enough to visit the temple, go around, and take pictures. The most touristic part is at the entrance where you can see the Buddha’s face in the middle of the roots of the tree. But there are more interesting parts around to take pictures of, and a lot more areas that are quieter than the first stop.
A quick reminder: during the summer months, it can get quite hot so better have water with you and have very comfortable clothes on! Visiting this temple is a must in the things to do in Ayutthaya.
2. Dine in a River Boat
We’re so happy to have experienced dining on a river boat during our Ayyuthaya travel! We can easily see why anyone would choose to do this over a simple lunch. Well, at least once in a while for experience! We did a River Cruise with Raan Tha Luang. We had lunch on board while cruising. You have the option to do the river cruise at lunch or at dinner time. We chose lunch and the boat passed by The Pet Fortress, Wat Phananchoeng, Wat Putthalsawan, St Joseph Catholic Church, Wat Chai Watthanaram and The Memorial Stupa of Queen Suriyothai.
How was our river cruise experience?
Quite breathtaking, to sum it up in two words. The cruise was quite breezy even when it was during lunch time. It was absolutely amazing to cruise in the river, experience an Ayyutthaya travel in another way, and yes, dine with sumptuous Thai dishes while enjoying a good conversation and the scenic view.
For lunch, we had coconut soup, spring rolls and vegetables with rice–all cooked in authentic Thai style. The food and the service was great! The whole cruise lasted an hour and a half. That’s ample time where you can eat, take pictures and savor in the river’s atmosphere. Check out some our pictures below!
3. Visit Local Market
We always love visiting local markets in every place that we visit. The local market during our Ayutthaya travel is small but the best time to visit is at lunch time to try some local food. The local market is 10 minutes walking distance from Wat Maha That and very close to the river and train station. Walking around the area was very peaceful, with not so many people around.
4. Rent a bicycle
Ayutthaya is the perfect city for moving around by bicycle. You can rent a bicycle for THB 50 ($1.5) for the whole day. You can even get it for free through your accommodation (some places offer that). Definitely try it when you can since it’s one of the best things to do in Ayutthaya.
More Things to do in Ayutthaya
5. Floating Market
The area is full of local people where you can ride elephants (although we hope people stop doing this), visit the local market and rent a boat to go around. The entrance was free of charge for locals and 200 THB for foreigners. Rachel can go as a local as everyone thinks she’s Thai. Well, at least before she starts speaking with her American accent. Haha! We are happy to report that there have been less people riding the elephants on high chairs, though. Hopefully, this can be completely eradicated in the next few years.
6. Having a street-bought juice
It’s so hot in Ayutthaya, so you’ll definitely see a lot of local food and drink vendors around. What’s surprising is how sweet the Thai taste can be. Prepare to taste very, very sweet juices! There are many flavors to choose from and you can find them everywhere. Prices start from 30 THB ($1) which is very affordable!
7. Eating in local places
We really enjoy eating in local places where you can’t even understand each other. Weird huh? Haha! But most of these local places offer surprisingly good tasting food. They serve very authentic tasting meals, as sometimes Thai food in hotels can actually be worse or at least, with the taste slightly adjusted just to fit foreign palates. Prices can start from 25 THB, which is less than a dollar, for a Thai dish with service water and smiling faces while you get your meal served.
8. Ride Local Transportation
If you don’t feel like biking, cycling or walking around, the Tuk Tuk is the best transportation to cover big distances in Ayutthaya. We have to say that the city isn’t as busy as the capital Bangkok.
9. Catching the sunset
We found an amazing place to watch the sunset in Ayutthaya while paddling with a small boat in one of the accommodations in Ayutthaya. We enjoyed the amazing colors and the peacefulness of the place.
Accommodation: Where to stay in Ayutthaya
We found our small paradise in a very quiet place just 5 minutes walking distance from the train station. Baan Thai House Ayutthaya is surrounded by a small lake. The area is very green, the staff is super friendly and we enjoyed taking a lot of pictures in this place. You can get a boat and spend a lazy morning around the lake with really nice views.
For breakfast at Baan Thai House, we loved the many Thai options and Western choices on their menu. A safe mix, especially if you’re not too accustomed with the Thai taste just yet. We loved the sweet coconut cake wrapped in banana leaf. The food was great and the view of the lake was magical and incredible! We loved our room so much, with the water seen from the inside. We find that we love very, very peaceful places. The services offered in Baan Thai were amazing too: You can use bicycles for free and get free Tuk Tuk rides to the city two times a day. They have a lot of maps and information for visiting Ayutthaya and various places for your next destination. Check out the images below to have an idea of how our little paradise in Ayutthaya felt like.
Festivals in Ayutthaya
Bang Sai Loi Krathong
As we mentioned earlier, November is a great time to visit Ayutthaya. One of the highlights of your trip may be the Loi Krathong festival held at the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre. There are processions, pageants, hanging lanterns, long boat races and the signature krathong (decorated floats on the waters) that both locals and tourists can enjoy. You can also purchase many local products during this celebration.
Ayutthaya World Heritage Fair
The Ayutthaya Historical Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991. This fair aims to celebrate that honor given to the city through the presentation of Thai culture and traditions. There are even light and sound processions that portray the rich heritage of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. It’s a thrill to experience and also a great place to try authentic Thai food and products.
There is so much love on this post, really! The experience we had during our Ayyuthaya travel was definitely a must-try for all you travelers. It is a highly recommended destination for your trip to Thailand. Did you like our list of things to do in Ayutthaya? Tell us if we missed anything in the comments below!
If you want to know more about our experience in Thailand, read our full guide on the Krabi beaches we traveled before. If you want to go to Thailand and travel in a budget, click here to read our full guide.
Let us know what you thought about our Ayutthaya travel experience. Keen to always hear from all of you! x