Slow lane in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Siam during 1350-1767, has disappointed visitors when it comes to slow travel. Most of Historical sites in the old quarters of the city can be reached by bicycle, the relaxing mode of transportation for exploring the Unesco World Heritage Site.
You may start your journey early in the morning or late afternoon when the sunshine is not too strong. Since the ancient town of Ayutthaya is large and full with attractions, you should have a map before leaving. The map is available at the office of Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) on Si Sanphet Road. You also may want to visit Chao Sam Phraya National museum, located not far from the TAT’s office for an overview of the History and the city of Ayutthaya.
Start your journey at Wat Maha That (built in 1374) which is one of the most important Temples of Ayutthaya Kingdom. In the past, it housed relics of the Buddha and served as a royal monastery and the seat of the Supreme Patriarch. Today the ruin is best known for the Buddha head encased in the roots of a banyan tree.
After exploring the temple, cross Naresuan Road to Wat Ratchaburana to see the ancient Khmer-style prangs. It is said that the temple's main prang is one of the best in the city. You may continue Cycling to Wat Na Phra Meru, Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit and Wat Phra Si San Phet which houses the three graceful pagodas, one of the old city’s landmarks.
You can take a short break from the temple tour and stop at the elephant kraal to feed elephants. Then continue riding to Wat Wora Chet Tha Ram which is on the way to Wat Lokaya Sutharam to take photos of a 42-meter-long reclining white Buddha.
Before you are ready to call it a day, head to Wat Chaiwatthanaram on another site of Chao Phraya River. The ruin site looks magnificent during Sunset. It creates a picturesque relaxing atmosphere.
Ayutthaya Historical Park is too huge to be discovered within a day. It consists of 67 temples and ruins. A one-day cycling trip at least is the most convenient and environmental friendly way to visit the highlights of the ancient city.
How to get there: Ayutthaya is located about 100 km north of Bangkok. You may get a train from Hua Lamphong or get on a public bus or van from the Northern Bus Terminal (Mor Chit 2) on Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road in Bangkok to Ayutthaya. You can find bicycle rental shops not far from Wat Mahathat.