Ayutthaya & Sukhothai
The only reason that I came to Ayutthaya was because it’s on the route from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, And I’m so glad that it was because it would have been a real shame to have been missed. The same goes for Sukhothai. I hadn’t ¬†done any research into these places prior to arriving in Thailand and had only discovered them by running my finger along a map and¬†stopping at a place with the name written big enough for it to imply that it has some importance. Stopping in Ayutthaya and Sukhothai split the journey up nicely on the way to Chiang Mai, so I researched them a little on the internet and found out that these two places are of huge historical importance and full to the rafters with interesting things to see and learn about.
I travelled to¬†Ayutthaya in a ‘van’ from Bangkok. It was a very comfortable ride with luxurious seats, air-con and and more importantly was¬†very cheap. a single fare was 60 baht, but I had to pay double as my big backpack took up one of the seats. Even at 120 baht, this is a very cheap ride.
I’d already booked a place to stay using Agoda the night before so I simply flagged down a tuk-tuk when I got to Ayutthaya and went straight there. The driver offered to take me on a tour of some of the local sights, and I wasn’t in the mood for wasting any time so I bargained him down to a good price and hired him for the day. He took me to numerous¬†temples where I saw more buddha statues in all shapes and sizes than I can count and some very interesting ruins.
One of the places that stood out to me the most was a temple called Wat Phanan Choeng that housed a 19 meter high golden buddha. It is spectacular to say the least. I walked around the whole thing several times admiring the sheer enormity of this thing.
Ayutthaya was once a capitol city and as a result it has quite a collection of historical sites to visit. Many of these sites are in a bad state of repair and are currently being renovated. This resulted in some of the places I visited being more like a building site with large areas fenced off to the public and heavy machinery drowning out the peace and quiet which made it unpleasant at times and difficult to appreciate the significance that these ruins reperesent. Luckily, not all the places were like this and I found some real gems that were in a decent condition and practically deserted. I love it when there is no one else around and I can enjoy these places alone and let my mind wander into the past and try to imagine the things that happened here and what life was like.
I saw very few other tourists here in Ayutthaya, and that was only at the main sites of interest, everywhere else I saw none. There was a night market that I went to one evening and had some interesting and unusual food. I’m not entirely sure what it was that I ate, some of it was quite tasty and some of it was disgusting and I had to throw it away. But, even when things are disgusting, it’s always good to try for yourself.
I caught a bus from Ayutthaya to Sukhothai. It would have been a lot quicker if I had taken the train but unfortunately there was some maintenance on the train tracks and the route to Sukhothai was closed. After deciding that I was going to stop in Sukhothai, I did a bit of research on-line and was really looking forward to exploring.
The guest house that I had booked was lovely. The room was quite basic but the surroundings were very pleasant. There were lots of plants and trees and water features that provided a tranquil soundtrack as I sat outside at the restaurant. For the first time in a few days I had a real conversation with someone. A girl from Essex in the UK was also staying at the guest house and it was nice just to be able to talk to someone who spoke English.
The historical park in Sukhothai has some really amazing monuments. There is a hell of a lot to see and it’s all spread out over about 45 square kilometres. There is a main part to the historical park which is a concentration of ruins and monuments close together. This is a great place to start exploring, and it’s the place where I started.
It’s a good idea to hire a scooter to really make the most of your time exploring. You can also hire bicycles in the main parts of the historical park, which is better than walking but limits the distance you can travel and can be exhausting in the mid-day sun.
Many of the ruins here have undergone some level of restoration or are currently in the process, and the results are pretty great. In comparison to Ayutthaya, this place gives much more of an idea of what it would have been like hundreds of years ago.
Further out from the main historical park there are some really fascinating ¬†structures casually occupying patches of grass and hidden away in the forests. These locations are much less visited and I found them to be the most magical.