Visiting the Historic City of Ayutthaya and Cruising the Chao Phraya River in One Day
Coming to Bangkok without any concrete plans aside from pre-booked activities gave me enough time to explore the historic Ayutthaya. Like the Thai cooking class and Afternoon Tea Time at Okura, I also booked this day tour with KKdayPH. And because I was traveling alone, I thought that sharing the journey with others would be the cheapest way to go. It allowed me not just to visit Ayutthaya but also learn its history straight from one of its locals.
Pick-up from The Yard Bangkok Hostel
I’m starting with the flaw because this tour only has one — its pick-up area. The driver did pick me up right at my hostel in Ari neighborhood. But I had to pay an additional 100 baht for it because it’s outside their pick- up point. It’s fine with me, though. It’s better than getting lost or taking a cab to get to the terminal after all. At least, the driver arrived at The Yard Bangkok Hostel on time. I was also the first passenger he picked up. So, I was able to catch more sleep on the way to the River City Shopping Complex.
Bus to Ayutthaya
After picking up all the passengers and sending us to the station, we transferred to a tourist bus to start our journey. I sat in front across our tour guide, Donna. She’s a lovely local of Ayutthaya, and I think that it’s safe to say that everyone in the group adored her. She liked cracking jokes, too. I think she's very fond of her father even if he calls her happy Buddha because she loves to eat a lot!
Ayutthaya & River of Kings Cruise via KKdayPH
This day tour from Bangkok is undoubtedly the best of both worlds. We didn't just get to explore the historic city of Ayutthaya. We also looked forward to the buffet lunch while on a cruise. The group started the day by leaving Bangkok to head to the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace.
Bang Pa-In Royal Palace
If you’ve visited The Grand Palace, you might notice on your entrance ticket that you also get free admission at the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace. It is a complex used by the royalty and their consorts, especially during the summer. It’s also called the Royal Summer Palace.
After being abandoned for a long time, King Rama IV began with the revival of the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace. He reigned from 1851 to 1868. And since then, there were more erected buildings and expansion of the area. The Bang Pa-In Royal palace has a Chinese garden and even European style architecture. There’s also a beautiful landscape and a vast green garden with animal-shaped bushes. The complex is massive. Others even rented an electric golf cart to take a good look at all the significant buildings of the palace.
Travel tip: You can get a sarong for only 100 baht at the store near the entrance of the complex. It gets more expensive as you enter Ayutthaya so better shop for your souvenirs here.
Our next stop was the Wat Mahathat or the Monastery of the Great Relic. It is on the central part of Ayutthaya where you can also find the famous Buddha’s head at the Banyan tree. The exact date of establishment of Wat Mahathat is undefined. But the fall of Ayutthaya was during the Burmese attack on 1767 when the monastery was set on fire. Until now, Wat Mahathat remains as one of the most critical sites in Thailand’s history.
Travel Tip: Get a taste of the 20-baht ice cream. It's cheap, and there are a lot of flavors to choose from like chocolate, mango, and durian. Best way to beat the heat while touring!
Vihara Phra Mongkhon Bophit
We passed by the Wat Phra Sri Sanphet on the way to Vihara Phra Mongkhon Bophit to see the bronze Buddha image. It is one of the most prominent Buddha images in Thailand. Inside the temple, there is a Thai monk that blesses people who come before them and donate. After each blessing, they would give you a string bracelet that you could wear or keep as a souvenir. I thought of wearing mine until my wish at the smaller temple comes true. But Donna said that the blessing is more important than the bracelet that they give. So, I decided to keep it instead.
Reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam
We had our quick and final stop at the reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam. The locals also call the 37-meters long reclining Buddha as Phra Buddha Sai Yat. There is an altar in front of the statue where Buddhists place their offerings. Donna said that it is a practice among Buddhists to pray to Buddha. And after granted prayers, they would come back and make an offer for him in the form of food, fruits, or flowers.
Kings of River Cruise and Lunch Buffet
After our last stop, we headed straight to the pier to board the boat and go back to the River City Shopping Complex in Bangkok. I think two or three buses boarded the vessel and enjoyed the buffet lunch while crossing the Chao Phraya River.
The buffet was nothing spectacular. But it was more than what I had expected. I liked the chicken with tamarind flavor. I enjoyed the sushi rolls the most that I was a little upset to know that the food station doesn't get a refill. So instead, I devoured on the wide variety of desserts while waiting for the boat to reach the River City Shopping complex. After then, we quickly found our drivers to send us back to our accommodations.
I am not exactly a fan of joining group tours. But sometimes, I can't help it. When you’re traveling alone and are still interested in seeing places that are pretty far from your home base, you can’t help but spend a ton of money. I remember paying around P 7,000.00 for a private trip to Taroko National Park in Taiwan because I didn’t want to share the van with any random person. But then I realized that it's more practical to join tours instead. It also helps me develop my social skills.
My experience in Australia while driving along The Great Ocean Road proved to me that being a joiner isn’t too bad. And this time, although I was with a larger group, I can say that the tour operator took great care of us as well. Everyone behaved well, so it was a success!
How about you? Do you mind joining group tours or do you prefer private transportation? Let me know in the comments below!
Note: You can also book affordable and convenient tours and activities around the world on #KKdayPH ‘s website.
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