A day trip to Ayutthaya is a popular break from the noise and busyness of Bangkok.
Whilst alot of people book a tour to Ayutthaya, this is a trip that is easy to organise for yourself – giving you more flexibility and saving money in the process.
With trains departing every hour from both Bangkok and Ayutthaya, I will leave the exact timings of this trip down to you, as it will depend on exactly how much time you want to explore. I would suggest giving yourself a minimum of five hours between trains before heading back to Bangkok.
In this guide I will share with you everything you need to know to plan your day trip to Ayutthaya.
- How To Get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
- Arriving at Ayutthaya
- Ayutthaya Day Trip Itinerary plus Cycling Route
- Get a Local Guide
- Ayutthaya Day Trip – Further Reading
- Want to Stay Overnight Instead?
How To Get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
Whilst you can get a bus, the simplest and most predictable way to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok is by train.
Trains leave from Hua Lamphong station about once an hour, so there is no need to book in advance. Hua Lamphong is easily accessed if you have an apartment near the metro stations, but you will need to get a cab or tuk-tuk if you are staying in the Old Town near the river.
If you want to check the train times in advance, then use this link.
Buying a Train Ticket from Bangkok to Ayuttyaha
- Tickets are easy to book. Go to the ticket booths at Hua Lamphong, the cashiers speak good English, and will spin round their computer screen to show you your booking, so you can confirm it is correct.
- There are two booths one selling tickets for today, the others selling advance tickets for future dates. The ones you need will be to the left.
- Tickets cost 15฿ per person. Yes you read that right! The equivalent of about 35p at the time of writing.
- You will be issued with a 3rd class ticket. There are no 2nd or 1st class carriages on this train so don’t worry, they are still fairly comfortable.
- You will not be issued with a seat as your journey is too short.
- The cashier will tell you which platform to go to.
What to Expect from a Train Journey from Bangkok to Ayutthaya
The journey from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is a simple one, that takes somewhere between 1 and 1 1/2 hours depending on which train you get. It is very stop-start as the train negotiates all the level crossings in Bangkok’s suburbs, but once you’re out in the rural areas the train moves fairly quickly, and the landscape is beautiful.
Here are a few things you should know:
- Third class carriages have no air conditioning, but the windows open fully so it will be cool enough when the train is moving.
- There is lots of luggage storage area above the seats if you have bags with you.
- It is possible to get food on the train. There are lots of sellers who work their way up and down the aisles with everything from street food and bottled drinks through to Pokemon branded battery-powered fans!
- There are toilets on the train. They’re not the best, and you will need your own toilet paper, but they’re available if you need one.
- Keep your tickets with you as the inspectors come through the train regularly.
Arriving at Ayutthaya
The station at Ayutthaya is quite small, and unfortunately not ideally located for the main historical park that you’ll want to access. Ayutthaya itself is built on a small island, and the railway station is outside these city limits.
You now have a choice.
You can hire a tuk-tuk and driver for the day from the station to take you around all the main sights. Expect this to cost somewhere in the region of 500฿-750฿ or 200฿ an hour depending on your negotiating skills.
Or you can get a tuk-tuk into town (around 100฿) and then hire bikes (50฿) for the day, making your way around the historic ruins at your own pace.
We chose to hire bikes, to give ourselves some more freedom.
Ayutthaya Bike Hire
There are a number of places you can hire bikes from Ayutthaya.
Personally I wouldn’t hire them from the station, as this means you need to either take them on a ferry crossing, or over a busy flyover before a relatively long ride to the historical park.
Instead ask for a tuk-tuk at the station to take you to ‘Wat Maha That’, and this will put you at the beginning of the a tour around the best sights, and will give you much more choice of bicycle hire places.
Bike Hire and Cycling Tips:
- Bike hire is 50฿ for the day (not 24hrs) at most locations.
- The bikes are generally quite old. Double check brakes, and get the seat height right before you leave to make it as comfortable and safe as possible,
- Don’t expect to get issued with a helmet! This is Thailand, they don’t even wear them on motorbikes!
- Cycling in Ayutthaya is quite safe, but Thai roads can get busy. There is usually a hard shoulder type area on the busy roads on in which you can cycle, but most of the city is fairly quiet.
- You should be issued with a lock when you hire to keep the bike safe, though whilst researching this article it seems bike theft is not a major problem in Ayutthaya anyway.
Ayutthaya Day Trip Itinerary plus Cycling Route
There is loads to do in Ayutthaya, and most of the key sites are fairly close together. To be honest, if you just cycle around a bit and stop when you see something interesting you won’t go too far wrong!
For those who like a bit more structure though, I’ve listed the key points of interest and an easy to follow cycling route below.
Ayutthaya Day Trip Itinerary
I am not aiming to give a full historical background to Ayutthaya in this article, just a list of the best places to visit.
If you want more background on the city, I have picked out some great articles in the ‘further reading’ section at the bottom of this post.
All of the temples below cost 50฿ entry fee unless otherwise listed.
Wat Maha That
This temple is famous for having the head of a Buddha statue that has been consumed by a tree. No-one really knows how it ended up here, but it was possible it was left behind by looters, who raided the city after its destruction by the Burmese army in 1767.
This was our favourite temple in Ayutthaya. It is one of the most complete, and also one of the few we’ve seen in Thailand where you can go inside the main prang, and drop down to the crypt.
Wat Thammikarat is a bit different to the first two temples on this list, which is why I’ve included it. Unlike the first two, it is still a working temple, so you will regularly see monks at the site.
It also has an incredible display of roosters, which local people bring here as offerings. Legend has it that an Ayutthayan prince once humiliated a Burmese prince at this site, after the local prince’s rooster won a cock fight.
The other interesting sight is a giant reclining Buddha, which is housed in its own building right beside the temple. I could only get a photo of the head, because the entire Buddha was far too big to fit in one frame!
Wat Phra Ram
Despite being in the historical park, Wat Phra Ram seems to get missed out by the big tour groups. We had the place to ourselves – all the more reason to visit!
Whilst the ruins themselves are not as impressive as the other locations, what we loved about Wat Phra Ram was the tranquil garden setting, where it’s easy to find your own space in this busy part of the city. The lush green trees, were home to Indian Rollers, darting down catch to insects from the manicured lawns.
If you want some space and contemplation time whilst in Ayutthaya, this would be a great place to break up your day away from the busier temples.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet was once the most important temple in Ayutthaya, due to its location right beside the Grand Palace.
The three chedi at the centre of the grounds are some of the most impressive in Ayutthaya.
Somdet Phra Si Nakharin Park
Cycling around Somdet Phra Si Nakharin Park was some of the best fun we had on our day trip to Ayutthaya.
The park was empty, so it was just us and our bikes whizzing up and down the wooden bridges and around the ruined Wats.
The paths are a bit worse-for-wear in places, and some of them turn out to be dead-ends, but it was a great little adventure. The trees gave us some relief from the intensity of the sun, and it felt like we were explorers, discovering the numerous ruins dotted around the park.
Monument to Princess Srinagarindra
Opened in 2000, this is a modern attraction in the ancient city.
It is a beautifully calm place, surrounded by trees and canals, and the perfect place to sit in the shade and eat a packed lunch before heading to the station for your journey back to Bangkok.
Ayutthaya Cycling Route
The cycling route is shown as a red line on the map above the photos.
Here are some step by step directions to help you navigate.
- After hiring bikes, lock them up outside Wat Maha That. Visit Wat Maha That temple, and then cross the road to visit Wat Rathaburana before heading back to collect the bikes.
- Cycle left from Maha That, taking the first left hand turning between Maha That and Ratchaburana.
- Take the first right after Wat Ratchaburana.
- At the end of the road there is a t-junction. Take a left. This road is a bit busier.
- Wat Thammikarat is the fourth turning. It is easy to spot, as there are normally alot of street-food vendors just outside.
- On leaving Wat Thammikarat, carry on in the same direction you were going before turning.
- You will come to a small roundabout, where you need to take a left. You will know it is the correct road, because there is a small canal running down the centre of it, with a small road the other side.
- Cycle along the road and pull into the first place which says ‘parking’. Here you will find some small restaurants and a market to talk through.
- Lock up the bikes here, and visit Wat Phra Ram and Wat Phra Si Sanphet on foot. This is a beautiful park area, and a great place to stop and have some refreshments.
- Once you are finished, take turn left and continue down the road your were on.
- At one of the little bridges, you need to turn right over the canal, and then carry on in the same direction, left beside the canal.
- At the end of the road, before you reach the busy ring-road, you will see the entrance to Phra Si Nakharin Park. Head in, and explore!
- The best route is taking a left, and taking the path adjacent to the main ring road. You will come out the other side onto proper paved roads again, where you will need to turn right twice, on the small road that cuts between the two sides of the park. On the left here you will find the memorial to Princess Srinagarinda.
- When you get back to the main road, turn left on the road beside the canal that brought you here. Cross over one of the little bridges to the other side when you can.
- When you get to Pa Thon Road, take a right. This road can get quite busy. You will cycle past the elephant riding and main historical park on your left.
- After the historical park, you will get to a roundabout. Take a left onto Chikun Alley, where you will get back to Wat Maha That and you can drop the bikes back off to your chosen hire shop.
Get a Local Guide
Can’t be bothered with organising all this yourself?
Then there are some great value local guides who will be able to help you out.
Check out some of the links below.
Ayutthaya Day Trip – Further Reading
Really interesting guides to the main temples in Ayutthaya, giving lots of history and including some stunning photos.
This website is completely dedicated to the Wats of Ayutthaya, and includes a really useful map showing all their locations.
Ken Lawrence has a fantastic website, and has spent his time in Southeast Asia on the trail of the Emerald Buddha. His guide to Ayutthaya is both detailed and beautiful, a really inspiring read.
If you’re looking to understand a but more about the history of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, then this article rounds up the key historical events without going into so much detail as to be unnameable. A great introduction to the history of Ayutthaya.
If you are looking for some great lunchtime stop-offs, then have a read of this article to find the best ones.
Want to Stay Overnight Instead?
Here are a list of hotels in Ayutthaya.
Our personal favourite was the beautiful Baan Baimai Boutique Hotel.
A peaceful, modern retreat with some of the friendliest owners we found anywhere in Thailand. They also hire bikes from just outside the hotel, which makes doing a cycling tour really easy.