Basically, there are few selections if you are interested to venture out of the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and to experience the more exotic attractions and the more laid down environment of the other provinces of Thailand. Among those which are recommended are Patttaya and Hua-Hin or Cha-am if you are more into beaches and sea activities or if you are like me, a person whose interest is more on cultural and historical sites, than you might consider visiting Kanchanaburi or the ancient city of Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya simply translates to mean "Invincible City". It was founded around 1350 and it was the second capital for the Siamese Empire after Sukhothai. It is believed that its founder King U Thong moved his court south into the rich floodplain of the Chao Phraya on an island surrounded by rivers, which was the former seaport city of Ayothaya, or Ayothaya Si Raam Thep Nakhon which was later known as Ayutthaya.
Getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok is very easy. You may take the train service from Hualamphong train station for a 2 hours trip to Ayutthaya. The 2nd class ticket will cost you around THB250.
Next option is the bus.Buses operate every 20 minutes or so from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit) directly to Ayutthaya. First class air-con buses charge THB 50. This trip is scheduled to be around an hour and a half, but allow at least two hours for the trip since the buses stop rather frequently and there are often jams on the roads out of/into Bangkok.
If you dont like the on and off stopping of the bus, you may opt for minibus service which provides non-stop travel to Ayutthaya. It operates from Victory Monument Square and costs around THB 70 for 1-1 half hour trip.
The more adventurous traveler might love this last option, by boat. Cruise boats run up the river from Bangkok, often stopping at Ko Kret and Bang Pa-In along the way. You'll need to book in advance as there are no scheduled services, just trips for tourists. It's a fairly lengthy trip (at least one whole day) and some of the larger boats offer (pricy) overnight tours. -- Boat from Ayutthaya to Bangkok leaves 11:30AM daily (arrives Bangkok ~4PM) at the cost of THB 1350 baht/person.
And as for me..i travelled by car with T as the driver..as always...
There is no highway all the way to Ayutthaya and you have to travel through some country roads (non-highway) after leaving the city's highway limit.
Entering the highway...this will only lead you outside of Bangkok area untill you enter the 2 lanes country road.
arriving at Ayutthaya City after almost 2 hours drive
and the first chedi came in sight...chedi or better known as stupa is actually mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of a Buddha or saint, used by Buddhists as a place of worship.Here in Ayutthaya they are in abundance..some are in complete and preserved form while others are in derelict conditions.
our first stop of the day was at Wat Yai Chai Mongkhol. This is basically a monestary complex consists of few numbers of wats and statutes.
as you enter the premises, on your first right you will come across this reclining buddha named Wihan Phraphutthasaiyat. Buddhist (including T) offered their prayers by holding and putting garland flowers which can be bought for THB 2 per stick.
Signage of attractions to guide your way
Phra Chedi Chaimongkol is a very big and impressive wat complex. It is well preserved and the architecture of the wat is so grand and majestic with hundreds of buddha statutes lining the interior walls of the wat. Incredible pictures can be taken here with such a view in place.
unfortunately for us..after exiting the monestary complex.. we were met with drizzling rain...and thus we stopped by at a riverside restaurant for some hot tomyam while waiting for the rain to seize..
elephant ride..in rain!
our next stop in our exploration of the city is What Maha That
most of the monuments here are in derelict state..shame as i believe it used to look majestic and grand in its former glory days..
our next stop was Wat Phra Ram. This is equally impressive and more preserved than Maha That
the above are only some of my recollections of my tour of this ancient and historic city of Ayutthaya. There are many more attractions to be visited in this city and i believe at least one full day is required to cover all the same.As one of the UNESCO's World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya is a place which should be included in every history lovers itinerary whenever they visit Thailand or even for those who just want to escape the hustle and bustle of Bangkok for a while and soak in the tranquil atmosphere and be brought back in time of the ancient Siam..like yours truly....