Thailand strikes to most of us for its picturistic beaches and as a party hub. Tourists usually flock to Thailand to visit its tranquil islands and white sand beaches in the south or the lush green forests and mountains of Chiang Mai province in the north. But when I decided to visit Thailand for the first time I wanted to experience a whole different side of it, its rich culture and history. Also I had plans to visit Cambodia as well during the trip, so I decided to travel east of Thailand from where I can easily get across the Cambodian border by road. After some research online, I shortlisted three places - Ayutthaya, Phimai and Phanom Rung, histories of which dates back to as early as 10th century.I kick started my trip to Thailand from Pattaya since I had promised to visit a friend there. After spending couple of days each in Pattaya and Bangkok, I set off to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya is well connected with Bangkok through frequent buses and trains. I decided to take the train as traveling in third class is much cheaper and comfortable option. Also trains are available at every 2-3 hours interval from Hua Lamphong Train Station in Bangkok. Though the trains are slowed down due to the city traffic, once it gets outside the city they are quite faster and takes not more than 3 hours to reach Ayutthaya. Once you in Ayutthaya station, you can just walk across the road and take the ferry boat to the island. However after 6 pm, the boats stop plying and you will need to take a tuk tuk from the station through the bridge connecting to the eastern side of Island. Most of the guest houses are located in the eastern part , so it shouldn't take more than 10-15 mins to reach your accommodation.
What a cool place! Ayutthaya (pronounced uh-you-tee-ya ..when pronounced how it is spelled, nobody knows what you're talking about) is a perfect place to spend a day or two. We stayed overnight at the Tanrin Guest House right across the street and down an alley from the train station. The woman at the guest house was super sweet and the room was just like most others, but had a very tiny outdoor space where I hung dry my clothes that I hand washed. The "patio" was about 5'x7', but nice to have, nonetheless. Tip: You have to cross the water on a 1 minute ferry ride to get to the temples/ruins from the train, unless you want to go way around. So I recommend that you rent a bike on the other side of the water to avoid carrying it down what would have been an illegally steep ramp and set of stairs in the US to get to the ferry. We learned our lesson, and got a crazy arm workout.
Ayutthaya was once the capital of Thailand. Located around 2 hours from Bangkok, Ayutthaya is a modern Thai city studded with archaeological wonders. Headless Buddhas and crumbling but still-beautiful towers and wats make a compelling reason to spend a day.