The Beauty of Decay

Welcome to Thailand!

The comfort when seeing this few words upon reaching the Thai airports…

I was so excited about visiting Ayuthaya, because that would mean that i will have completed 2/3 of the ancient ruin cities in Thailand. Prior this trip, I did pretty much homework to decide whether to take a train, cruise or minivan from Bangkok to the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Transport is really convenient in Thailand, though there may not be sufficient information online for us to know how.

To begin with, my flight arrival time is midnight, so i had a night stay near Don Muang Airport, nevermind the location, because it was cheap, comfortable and within walkable distance of the terminals. All i need is a 711 and a couple of street vendors to deal with my midnight hunger pangs. *Tesco Express nearby was a bonus!

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Silence in the city
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Miss this familiar scene? 711 Dogs
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The  magic of Thailand’s 711 is its ability to satisfy our need for retail therapy even in the wee hours.
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Look at the variety of options, I don’t know 711 saved how many souls.. hungry ones included
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Bustling street beside FuturePark Rangsit
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Who wouldn’t enjoy some aircon in this tropical climate~
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Packs of dogs chilling outside the shopping mall
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woof what do you want
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Drying salted fish on the streets, wanna try some?

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Getting to Ayutthaya via Mini Van from Don Muang, Future Park Rangsit

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Pictures taken from Google

The van station taking you to Ayuthaya is located across the highway, one will need to cross the pedestrian bridge to reach the place. Do not be confused with the van terminal beside the shopping mall. The Van station looks like the picture above.

  • Cost:  Less than 100baht/pax, you would have to wait for the van to be filled up before the driver is willing to leave.
  • Duration: Journey takes about 30 – 40mins
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The van can take up to 14 people
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City Municipality Building, where your minivan will drop you off.
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Ayothaya Hotel

This hotel is recommended for no-frills stay, as the rooms are clean and inexpensive. It’s safe and beautifully quiet. The downside is that the lobby is huge & stuffy, not very conducive for tourist waiting to check in or coming back from their visits. This hotel is strategically located within walking distance from the minivan drop off point (municipal building), bicycle rental shop and many more.

Visiting the UNESCO sites of Buddhist temples, monasteries, and statues is definitely a must when you are in Ayuthaya. But one should really spare some time to explore the other parts of this ancient city. Located diagonally across the minivan drop off point is the Chao Phrom Market. Here you can get your lunch or check in to the hotels nearby to freshen up before starting your temple visits.

Chao Phrom Market

Chao Phrom Market is Ayutthaya fresh market, opened 7am-5pm, daily.  Its good to come here and experience the sight and smell. There is an abundance of cooked food, raw seafood and meats, more fruit and vegetables than you can imagine, and other captivating snacks.

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Chao Phrom Market
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Surprise to see a modern bakery in a traditional wet market
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Food vendor delivering or collecting bowls back from customers.
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The market is open throughout the day, but also depending on individual vendors.
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Locals can totally rely on this market for their groceries
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Check out the Thai-Chinese shop selling old school tidbits and household stuff.

Travel Tips

Depending on your desired time to spend here, It is still good to rent some form of transport to explore all the sites. One may hire a tuktuk driver to bring you to all the Temples. But if you are like me who is only interested in one or two temple, a bicycle would be sufficient to bring you from Ayuthaya Municipal Building > Wat Mahathat Compound > Bang Lan rd (Night Market) > Naresuan rd. A proper visit will take entire day, while a visit to a couple of sites takes 3-4hrs.

    • Pack less, carry light
    • Wear comfortable clothing, sunblock and bring water
    • Carry a map around, keep the phone batt for your photographs 😉
    • Respect the rules e.g. Not climbing over the stupas
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Maps are available in most touristy places, you should be able to find them at your hotel lobbies, or bicycle rental shops.

Wat Ratchaburana

Admission Fees. There is a fee of 50 Baht (1.30 USD) to enter the grounds of Wat Ratchaburana. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm every day.  Monies collected are use to fund the maintenance and preservation of these sites.

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Wat Ratchaburana

The UNESCO historic site of Wat Ratchaburana aka Monastery of the Royal Repairs is situated on the corner of Chikun road and Naresuan Road, directly opposite Wat Mahathat in the vicinity.

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View of the main prang
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Steps leading up to the phrang
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View inside the prang

There is a two level crypt inside the prang tower, you can reach there via a narrow (REALLY NARROW) and steep staircase. It is warm and stuffy inside, really not recommended for those who are claustrophobic.

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View of Lower Chamber
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Ancient murals i assume to be depicting Buddhist Stories?
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View of the Main Vihara

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Opps spotted!
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Woof!
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Simply impressive
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Wat Mahathat

Wat Mahathat

Admission Fees:  50 Baht to enter the grounds of Wat Mahathat. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm everyday

Just next door of Wat Ratchaburana is Wat Mahatat, a must visit site of Ayutthaya. One of the most photographed Buddha around the world is the Renown for the stone Buddha head entwined within the roots base of a tree.

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Seeing this is like a dream come true

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Spot some elephants grazing nearby

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Wat Yannawa, Bangkok

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Chinese wording translated as dragonboat temple

On the banks of the Chao Phraya river in Sathorn district is the Wat Yannawa. The Wat Yannawa aka known as “the boat temple” features the viharn built in the shape of a Chinese junk vessel, a 19th century sailing ship.

The Wat Yannawa is one of the older temples in Bangkok; it was built during the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, before the founding of the Rattanakosin Kingdom and the city of Bangkok. At that time the temple was called Wat Kok Khwai.

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Funny signboards at the temple ground.

The structure has a multi tiered roof with chofas in the shape of stylized naga decorating its roof edges. Other buildings on the temple grounds include a large meeting hall, several offices and libraries and the monks living quarters.

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Behind the boat shape viharn is the ubosot, the building where monks get ordained.

The King Nangklao had the boat like structure built to serve as a memorial to the Chinese junk vessels that were used intensively for trade with China and that had brought prosperity to the Kingdom.

The replica of a Chinese junk vessel is over 40 meters long and made from concrete. At the place where the masts should be are two white chedis or pagodas. In the back where the wheel house should be is a room containing a number of Buddha images where visitors can pay respect to the Buddha. The viharn is open to visitors; At the top of the stairs leading to the boat is a statue of King Nangklao.

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There is a relic exhibition of sages and monks here
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Lay congregation chanting in another hall
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Chinese wording translated as dragonboat temple
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a lay devotee meditating outside the ubosot
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Monks gathered for evening service
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Monks chanting in the ubosot

The boat temple is located in the Sathorn district of Bangkok on Charoen Krung road. It is found just around the corner (South) from BTS Sky Train station Saphan Taksin.

Address: 40 Charoen Krung Rd, Yan Nawa, Sathon, Bangkok 10120, Thailand

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahatat

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Khmer style chedi or pagoda
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Stop and breathe
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No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path
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Side chapel and museum
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The main sanctuary

The main sanctuary at this temple, known by locals as Wat Yai, houses the Phra Phuttha Chinnarat, one of Thailand’s most revered and copied Buddha images. This famous bronze statue is probably second in importance only to the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew.

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Most beautiful Buddha in Thailand

The image was cast in the late Sukhothai style, but what makes it strikingly unique is the flamelike halo around the head and torso that turns up at the bottom to become dragon-serpent heads on either side of the image. The head of this Buddha is a little wider than standard Sukhothai, giving the statue a very solid feel.

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Finding a peaceful corner in this fully congregated hall.

Despite the holiness of the temple, endless loud broadcasts asking for donations, Thai musicians, a strip of vendors hawking everything from herbs to lottery tickets, several ATM machines and hundreds of visitors all contribute to a relentlessly hectic atmosphere. Come early (ideally before 7am) if you’re looking for quiet contemplation or simply wish to take photos, and regardless of the time be sure to dress appropriately – no shorts or sleeveless tops.

Address: Ong Dam Road | Nai Mueang, Phitsanulok, Thailand