It’s time for us to leave Chiang Mai and charming Northern Thailand to head south. We just have a few days remaining before our flight back home from Bangkok, to be spent either in Sukhothai or in Ayutthaya.
Since we are travelling by train, the former is more difficult to reach as there’s no direct connection, you have to take a bus from Pithsanulok. So we decide to put Sukhothai on the side for future travels, and go straight to Ayutthaya.
We wait for a while in Chiang Mai station, and step in our train half an hour before leaving time, at 6 pm. The coaches looks nice and clean, the beds are not prepared yet, each passengers sits on a large seat. We booked a 2nd class upper-bed for 780 bahts (22$).
After a couple hours, an officer starts to set up every single bed, with great organisation. The coach transforms in a moving dormitory, all the beds are parallel to the aisle, there are no cabins unlike Vietnamese sleeper trains, privacy is created by curtains.
We have now our own berth, quite comfortable, just a bit narrow (lower beds are larger). It’s a good set up, but we preferred Vietnamese style. The railway is surely very old and worn out, trains can’t ride that fast, vibrations and shakes are damn frequent.
We have a super early wake up call at 4.40, but we won’t reach Ayutthaya before 5.45 (was scheduled at 5.00). Anyway it’s always a good option to travel by train, you have time and space to do whatever you like, and in this particular case in Thailand, travelling by night from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and viceversa has decent timetables that bring you to destination at the start of a new day.
So we are in Ayutthaya at dawn, what’s better than renting a bicycle to go and see the beautiful temples?? We won’t be that excited in half an hour, but still… We drop our bags at the station left luggage, and find the only renter open at that time, who of course has only crap bicycles (30 bahts, less than a dollar!).
The ride to Wat Chai Watthanaram is endless, we are still half asleep, on empty stomach, we sweat like pigs. But it’s absolutely worth it. The beauty of the site is beyond words, the sunlight at dawn is amazing, plus there is not even one person there. Magnificent.
Views are mesmerizing, as usual with these kind of wonders, photographs can describe better than any word.
We go back over the river and inside the old city, have some sugars at a always trusty 7/11 shop, and continue our tour through the awesome ruins and shrines, preserved open-air in the middle of this timeless city.
The number of temples is enormous, we ride past a lot of them and stop by the most important like Wat Phra Mahathat (famous for the buddha face in a tree), Wat Rachaburana, Wat Lokayasutha (reclining Buddha).
After 4 hours riding, we have seen most of Ayutthaya attractions, the sun is hotter than ever, and fatigue takes over us. We change our plan one more time and decide we’ve seen enough here, and to go to Bangkok one day before scheduled.
Another thrilling train journey in the always busy 3rd class brings us to the capital (15 bahts!): everybody snoozes, some for a long day of work tiredness, some smothered by stuffiness, some other cuddled by the dangling of the train. It takes just half an hour to reach Bangkok’s suburbs, but then it’s walking pace 1h-travel to get to Hua Lamphong station.
We get to destination at 2 pm, tired but happy, as usual.
A 3rd class train travel to go in or outside Bangkok is probably the best way to learn and understand Thai culture and lifestyle: slow, humble, easygoing and friendly.
WHERE TO STAY:
- Pingviman Hotel Chiang Mai: excellent staff and hospitality within the city walls, gorgeous swimming pool;
- Busaba Hostel Ayutthaya: this brand new stylish hostel is the perfect base to visit Ayutthaya and its dozens of temples. The dorms are clean and spacious and it is conveniently located along the river in the town centre. Plus they have a cool coffee shop with AirCon, ideal to take a break during a hot sunny day in Ayutthaya.
- At Mind Executive Suites Bangkok: modern studio suites, close to BTS skytrain, cheap prices, amazing rooftop swimming pool!
- You can pre-book all your accommodation in Thailand with free cancellation here.
HOW TO GET AROUND:
- Overnight sleeper train Chiang Mai-Ayutthaya-Bangkok: 12-14 hours, from 700 baht/head;
- Book your train&bus tickets in Southeast Asia on amt.12go.asia
- Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.
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