On our way to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, we decided to make a pitstop in Ayutthaya. About a 2 hour train ride away (tickets are a mere $2!), Ayutthaya is home to a world heritage site. Centuries ago, Ayutthaya was a flourishing kingdom and the second Siamese capital. In the 18th century, the Burmese army completely ravaged the city, burning everything to the ground, and the inhabitants were forced to desert their home. What remains today are bits and pieces of the once glorious kingdom.
Now getting to the historical site was quite a perilous journey. There is an option to get there by boat, but I read online that the best way to get around is to rent bike.
Exiting the train station, we made our way across the street to the rental bike shops. After a quick bite to eat, we began bike ride to the historic center. So all the blogs and travel sites I read about biking around Ayutthaya made it sound like a breeze and even someone like me, who still prefer training wheels, could do it. Well let me tell ya...that was not the case.
About five minutes into the ride, we discovered that the way to get there was to bike onto a highway ramp. And if that's not scary enough, there was a stream of motorbikes and cars zooming past us, with no intentions of letting us silly bikers cutting in. Once we got onto the highway, there was a little bike lane, but seriously, if I swerved just a little out of my lane, I would've been roadkill.
Eventually, after an adrenaline inducing bike ride, we made it to one of the main sites, a little sweaty, and surprisingly, unscathed!
As we wandered around the park, we were completely in awe of the ruins. There weren't that many people there either, which made the whole experience very peaceful.
Wat Maha That
Wat Ratcha Burana
Despite the challenging bike ride, I'm really glad we checked this off our bucket list. It was definitely was one of the best Unesco sites I've been to so far. I can't even begin to imagine how they managed to build their kingdom from the ground up without the technology and tools we have today.
The only thing I do regret is that we didn't allot enough time. so we only managed to see two of the sites. We got there later in the afternoon and didn't bike there until around 4 pm (bike ride takes 20-30 minutes), which only gave us around 3 hours or so since the park starts shutting down around sunset. I didn't realize how large and spread out the historic sites were, hence why you need a bike to get around if you don't want to pay for tuk tuk rides.
I highly recommend taking an early train from Bangkok to the site to beat the afternoon heat and so you have the entire day to explore the ruins. Truly worth the day trip from Bangkok!