Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Thailand 2013: Taking the Train to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

R bound for Ayutthaya
We were back in Singapore about two weeks upon returning from Sri Lanka before we left again, this time bound for Bangkok. I had been to Bangkok once before, back in 2004, and had gone to most of the "big" tourist attractions: the Royal Palace, Wat Arun, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Jim Thompson House...I enjoyed Bangkok then but it didn't leave a huge impression, because we went to Angkor Wat directly afterwards, which turned out to be one of my all-time favorite destinations. Too bad I wasn't blogging then, so that I could remember things better!
View from the train as we left Bangkok: so strange to see graffiti again (Singapore has none, it is not allowed)
This time we flew into Bangkok and immediately took the train a couple hours north to the ancient city of Ayutthaya. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the capital of Thailand's empire from 1350 until 1767 when an invading Burmese army sacked it and burned it to the ground. At one time (1700) it was the largest city in the world, so despite the destruction and intervening centuries there is quite a bit to see.
Ruins of Ayutthaya
Taking the train is totally easy and incredibly cheap (like under a dollar per person), so while other forms of transportation are available (buses, car hire etc) I don't see why you would bother. No reservations are required and there are many trains daily: just show up at the train station (which is connected by metro to the airport) and soon enough you are on your way (I think we waited around 30 minutes). They have various classes but third class, beyond being ridiculously cheap, is the most colorful/fun; since it's a short journey the lack of padded seats and other amenities is not a problem.
Wat Phra Sisanpetch
Wat Chaiwattanaram
Wat Ratchaburana
R loves trains so of course she loved the ride. When she got bored we broke out a new sticker book (a large supply of these is indispensable for travel with R) or walked the aisles (one of the many upsides of train travel).
Me and R doing some sticking
The ride is supposed to take around 2 hours but in our case it took over 3 (lots of delays, who knows why, welcome to SE Asia). Once we arrived we took a tuk tuk to our hotel (transport of choice for our entire stay in Ayutthaya).
R and I in the tuk tuk in front of the hotel
We stayed three nights at the Kantary Hotel, which was pretty nice (though the location was unattractive, right next to an ugly highway). We stayed there because of the gym (very important to B, as it's one of his favorite things to do on vacation), which was good; the restaurant was terrible, overpriced, mediocre food and the world's slowest service. Dinner took almost three hours even though we ordered immediately and got simple food: most unfortunate as R was overtired and in full hyper mode at this point. I would stay there again but would definitely avoid the restaurant.

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