♫ Come on ride that train…♫
Sitting on an island in Thailand between three rivers is Ayutthaya. Those three rivers are: Chao Phraya, Pa Sak, and Lopburi. Ayutthaya was the old capital city of Siam (now Thailand) until overthrown by the Burmese Army. Now it is a mecca of palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries, and statues. You may find yourself perplexed by the hundreds of rooster statues you’ll see. We certainly were and quickly sought to find the story behind them. Read the story behind them here (last paragraph).
Are you going to Chiang Mai from Bangkok? To Ayutthaya? I said it - “come on ride that train.” Head to Hua Lamphong Railway Station, pay 20 baht for the no a/c train to Ayutthaya and roll with the locals. It was absolutely, culturally enticing. Yes, you can get on the ‘nicer’ train for a good price, but take a chance. Be adventurous and not so predictable. However, it did take about 2 hours even though the ticket said 1 hour and 20 mins. Remain flexible and find joy in every moment (sweat, rain, and all). So many people would be too fearful or just plain reluctant to do what you’re planning to do.
On a funny note, we saw a taxi driver relieving himself on the side of the road as we passed by. When you gotta go, you gotta go. Speaking of going, I’m still not sure if there were toilets (WC) on the train. I just knew if there were toilets, I would have to go real bad before risking it. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go so I can’t tell you how the toilets are or if they exist on the 20 THB train.
After you get to the train station in Ayutthaya, you’ll head toward the river. As you approach the pier, you’ll be greeted by the tourist traps. They will try to get you to rent their bikes. DO NOT RENT BIKES BY THE TRAIN STATION. Cross the river first, then rent bikes. They will be cheaper and the shop will be easier to get to should something go wrong.
Something go wrong? Yes, like someone’s tire goes flat, someone’s brakes go out, or someone crashes. Yes, our friend crashed! YIKES! We had gotten about 3 sites under our belt, was on our way to the next one and she hit the curb and flew over - POW! She was bleeding, probably a little embarrassed and definitely shook up. People passing pulled over, one man was videoing or taking pictures not sure which, park police came, etc. They threw the bikes in a taxi and returned to the bike shop. Thankfully the bike shop had a seating area and drinks available for them to rest and kindly wait on us to return.
The three of us felt bad and wanted to get back to ensure she was ok, so we rushed to see a few sites after the crash, then onto the bike shop. Each site cost 20-50 THB for the “foreigner.” Note: there are public restrooms on site and places to park and lock your bikes.
It is truly a sight to see. I think the whole trip from Bangkok, taxi across the river, rental bikes, and return trip cost around $7 US. Seriously, make it a point to schedule this day trip. That is the price for going by yourself. We have a friend that lives in Bangkok (she’s local), so we felt confident we didn’t need a tour guide. We saw a lot of backpackers on the cheap train going to the same place without a local. I think it’s totally doable. It just depends on your comfort level. Whichever way you decide to go, don’t travel with all of your jewels flashing, fancy handbags, etc., and remember to dress modestly, i.e. cover your shoulders, chest, waist, and legs.
Let me know what we missed. I aim to return and see the whole island. Sawadee kah.