By seven o’clock in the morning on my fourth day in Thailand, Kimchi Man and I were already waiting for our tour to Ayutthaya, known as the second largest city in Siam next to Sukothai. Also called the Ancient City, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations near Bangkok due to its rich history brought by its almost destruction by the Burmese army in 1767. Now, this historic complex of temples and monasteries has become a UNESCO world heritage site.
WAT PHU KHAO THONG
Almost an hour away from Khao San Road, we reached out first destination- Wat Phu Khao Thong. Also known as the “Monastery of the Golden Mount”, this 262 ft temple was originally built by King Ramesuan. However, King Bhruneng Noung of Burma seized Ayutthaya and built additional layers in Burmese style and named it Phu Khao Thong.
Visitors can climb the temple from the base to the foot of the chedi, and from there, the surrounding rice fields and moats can be seen. On one side, the monastery is also visible.
The temple is still in use. Aside from few monks I have seen, there were a lot of dogs, too. Kimchi Man explained why, but I cannot remember it now.
Your Royal Highness
WAT PHRA SI SANPHET
Hopping in and off from the tour van, our next location was Wat Phra Si Sanphet or the ancient palace. As part of the royal complex, only Ayutthayan Kings exclusively used this and no clergy was permitted to reside on the grounds.
WAT LOKAYA SUTHA
Wat Lokaya Sutha is a 42-meter long and 8-meter high reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya.
WAT YAI CHAI MONGKHON
The sun was almost above our heads as our tour guide made an interesting retelling of its history. It was an educational and major-related stories, but after listening to him for almost ten minutes non-stopped, I decided to walk five steps from our group and took this photo.
A historical site with cute AIS icons.
Also known as the “Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory”
Couple shot with the Buddhas
I am not sure if my eyes were playing tricks on me, but this…
WAT PHRA MAHA THAT
Wat Maha That, Monastery of the Great Relic, is one of the most important monasteries during the Ayutthaya kingdom because of its proximity to the Grand Palace. It was also the religious center and has been a royal monastery and seat of the Supreme Patriarch of the City Dwelling sect.
The architecture was found to be of a Khmer origin. Our tour guide even noted that it has some similarities with the earlier built structures of the Angkor Wat.
Here, you can find the famous Buddha head in tree roots!
- Going to Ayutthaya, we joined a group to have the convenient hop-on, hop-off tour around the city. There are other ways to go there from Bangkok and you could even go there by yourselves using train.
- Most temples have entrance fees only to foreigners. I forgot to take down the prices as these were included in our tour package.
- Do not sit or lie down along the base of Buddha monuments. Never put your feet on top of Buddha’s head, too.
GETTING LOST IN BANGKOK
As soon as the van dropped us at Khao San Road, Kimchi Man had other plans aside from resting back to the hotel. He wanted to book some tour packages from a Korean Travel Agency near Khao San Road, but he didn’t know where it was located. I didn’t know which surprised more – the existence of his fellow nationals working in the country or the frequent tourist not knowing a place in Bangkok. After I got over my reaction (which was less than two minutes), we decided to follow the location map of the agency.
We went many times to the same road Kimchi Man surely pointed out to be right direction, but was actually a dead-end. In all fairness though, Kimchi Man was correct. He really knew the streets around Khao San, but we didn’t easily locate the agency as its entrance was through a Muay Thai boxing gym. Figures. 🙂
TIPS: Creativity on possible location of your destination helps. Also, you don’t have to look stupid when you got lost, even if you would pass the same person thrice.
CHAO PHRAYA PRINCESS CRUISE
Kimchi Man had us booked for a two-hour dinner cruise along Chao Phraya River. He recommended this activity as it would be refreshing to have a panoramic view of Bangkok temples shining during the night. We would also go under the long and famous King Rama VIII suspension bridge as we dine.
Upon arriving to the River City proper, I was excited to see that we would aboard the Chao Phraya Princess III. The Chao Phraya Princess Cruise is the most luxurious cruise serving dinner and entertainment along the river tour. A very fitting vessel for a princess, wouldn’t you say?
When we have given our tickets to the staff, we were surprised to know that 1. We were part of the upper deck, and 2. Our seats were right in the front of the bow. We could see the Thailand flag swaying along the wind and I remembered glancing at Kimchi Man. When I smiled at him, I noticed that the captain winked at me. Funny because our table was set just beside the cruise’s bridge, so we could easily see the captain steering the boat.
Dinner was a sumptuous affair consisting of both Western and Thai buffet. While guests were eating, a live band played beautiful music in the promenade. After filling their stomachs, some guests proceeded to the bow and took their photos. We then appreciated our strategic location – convenient and with a good view.
CHAO PHRAYA RIVER NIGHT TOUR
We saw a lot of beautifully-lit temples like the Wat Arun and Grand Palace. Kimchi Man and I marvelled at the stunning view of the historical architectures made live by lights. It was a splendid way to go sightseeing at night! I don’t want to share photos taken here though since most are grainy due to the night and yellow lights.
[credits: Asia Web Direct]
When the cruise reached the Pinklao bridge and started to head back, people started singing and dancing in the promenade deck, which was a few steps away from us. They partied all the way back to the River City!
TIPS: I highly recommend a dinner cruise when you visit Bangkok. Book tickets though as I haven’t seen any walk-ins. I didn’t know if you could select your seats, but if you could, I suggest the upper deck with a better view. Also, some hotels offer dinner cruises as well, but I really prefer the Chao Phraya Princess.
For this day, I had fun revisiting the rich history of Thailand. I wish I paid more attention to my world history classes before. Also, I enjoyed appreciating the traditional and mixed architectural designs of the temples, Doraemon aside. Going to Wat Phra Mahathat is one of the items in my 2014 bucket list so I was very glad to have seen it. A romantic dinner cruise was a perfect way to end my night.
Waiting for my next adventure
How did you like my 4th day in Thailand? Follow me for the my fifth day in Bangkok!
P.S. All photos were taken using my Samsung smartphone only.