Ayutthaya – Temple Hopping

This is quite a belated post and is actually part 2 of my Thai trip continuing on from Bangkok. While that one was dedicated more towards the shopping and food aspect, this one will be all about the beautiful scenery at the ancient Wats (Temples).

There’s a number of options that you can choose from to get there. By bus, minivan or train. Among the 3, the fastest is the minivan while the longest would be by train. Considering how we were quite short on time, we opted for the minivan which was surprisingly very comfortable. We got a nice new van which can fit up to 10 passengers and was fully air-conditioned.

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You can catch a minivan from Victory Monument which is easily accessible by BTS. Stop at the Victory Monument station and you will see an elevated walkway towards the monument which is literally in the middle of a big roundabout. You would need to walk straight towards that side and then turn left and go down the stairs. You will see a bunch of minivans parked downstairs. Simply ask around for Ayutthaya or if you can’t pronounce it, simply show them the word on your phone (พระนครศรีอยุธยา – Ayutthaya) and you can simply do the same when you need to head back to Bangkok (กรุงเทพฯ). The journey takes about an hour or so (one way).

Once we reached Ayutthaya, the driver dropped us off at a place where we could hire a Tuk-Tuk to take us around the temples. Please do yourself a favor and hire a Tuk-Tuk for a couple of hours. Can’t recall how much it was, but it was definitely worth it because the temples are quite far apart and you will definitely need some sort of mode of transportation to get from one temple to the other. Some of the more “adventurous” people rented a bicycle.

Since we hired a Tuk-Tuk, getting to the various temples was pretty simple from this point. The driver had a piece of paper with pictures of the temples and we simply needed to point to the one that we wanted to go to and he would take us there. Upon reaching our destination, he would just wait for us until we returned and he would bring us to the next temple.

Our first stop was at Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol. This is where you can find the reclining Buddha.

Next up was Wat Mahathat which has the Buddha sculpture engulfed by tree roots. I spent a fair amount of time strolling around the temple grounds capturing the amazing view.

The third location was Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit Temple.

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The fourth and last temple was Wat Chaiwatthanaram. At this point the temples pretty much looked similar, so we didn’t enter the temple grounds but just enjoyed the view from outside.

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All in all we spent about 3 hours around the 4 temples before making our way back to Bangkok. Getting back was pretty simple too as our driver dropped us off at the minivan area. Definitely worth the trip and getting here was a lot easier than I initially imagined in my mind. Most of the temple area have food vendors and toilets. So you won’t have to worry about that. One thing to take note of is that most temples have a small entrance fee so do try to plan your visit and if you’re short on time, just try those which are unique from one another. 

 

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Bangkok – Shopping

My friend and I planned a random getaway one day and decided on Bangkok. We found a really chic hotel in the Sukhumvit area called Salil Hotel. It’s not a flashy luxurious place. But they sure have great room deco and also really convenient location which is just like a 5mins walk from the Nana BTS train station.

Bangkok is known as the shopping paradise. So of course shopping was one of our main agenda for the trip. Among the places we visited were Chatuchak Market, Terminal 21, Siam Paragon, Asiatique and also Central World.

Chatuchak Market:

Opening hours: Saturday/Sunday 9am – 6pm
How to get there: Hop on the skytrain (BTS) to Mo Chit station, take exit no. 1

Before venturing into this huge place, I downloaded a map of the entire market. It’s pretty useful to plan your time there as the place is simply far to big to cover in one day. My main target was clothes and shoes so I stuck around the bottom left side of the map. I ended up buying t-shirts, souvenirs (soaps shaped like fruits), sunglasses, a dress and lots of local snacks at the cheapest price around Bangkok. Also do try the coconut ice-cream there. So smooth and good!

Terminal 21

Opening hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm daily
How to get there: Take BTS to Asok Station

My friend and I loved the fact that this mall was just one stop away from our hotel and conveniently linked to the BTS station. The unique thing about this mall was the fact that each level is themed after different countries. Even the toilets are fancily decorated. Good spot for shopping too as I bought a top, shoes, handmade bracelet and earrings for around 300 baht each. You just need to find the right shops and hunt for good bargains.

Siam Paragon

Opening hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm daily
How to get there: Take BTS to Siam Station

This shopping mall is more for the luxury brands and high end shopping. I didn’t spend too much time here but worth a look too.

Asiatique

Opening hours: 5pm – 12am daily
How to get there: Take BTS to Saphan Taksin station. Then take the free shuttle boat to Asiatique.

This place is like a warehouse with a bunch of shop stalls within it. Something like a mini Chatuchak but with a more polished and organised look. Things aren’t as cheap as Chatuchak but it’s fairly cheap as well. I bought earrings for like 150baht, a lovely lace blouse for 200baht and customised lanyard card holder for 50baht. There’s also a shop selling cheap food items which make perfect souvenirs. I got various flavoured nuts, and seaweed for around 200 baht a packet. Getting here was pretty fun too as we took a free shuttle boat which was next to the Saphan Taksin BTS. It’s around a 10min boat ride over the Chao Phraya river. While you’re there it’s also worth a visit to the Mango dessert shop called Mango Tango. The mango sticky rice was so worth it!

Central World

Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm
How to get there:
– Chit Lom BTS exit 9
– Siam BTS exit 6 to skywalk

I didn’t do much shopping here but more of for the food. Had really yummy smooth mango peach gelato at Gelate and there’s a bunch of really great restaurants on the 7th floor. My friend and I had lunch at Mango Tree and ordered this huge grilled fish with dipping sauce while my friend ordered some kinda seafood noodle and the bill came up to about 500baht. After that I had ice cream again but this time at Coldstone for brownie icecream.

Travel Tips:

  • Bring a foldable umbrella – It rains quite a bit here. I was caught in the rain many times and regret not bringing an umbrella with me. Of course you could buy one easily. But I didn’t want the hassle of bringing back another umbrella. I already have far too many at home. Also while you’re at it, do try to wear sandals or shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. I made the mistake of wearing my cloth material flats and had to wash and hair-dry it at the hotel each time.
  • Buy a local sim card – One thing I do as soon as I touch down in another country is to definitely get a local sim. You can get it at the airport or 7/11 shops. It’s always good to stay connected (like for searching info for places to eat, using waze, or maps and contacting your family/friends if you ever get lost while wandering off on your own). There’s 3 different providers to choose from which are True, AIS, and DTAC. I hear that they all have similar coverage and the price are also the same for the traveller sim pack. I got the 299baht plan for 7 days with 1.5GB of data. Definitely more than enough for my 4 day stay.
  • Buy a Rabbit Card (BTS travel card) – I got mines for 550baht (50baht refundable deposit and loaded with 15 trips) at the BTS station. This is really useful if you stay in the central part of the city and plan on using the BTS a lot. Saves the hassle and time from buying tickets each time. I ended up using only 9 trips during my stay. But definitely still worth it and i highly recommend it to those who are staying in central Bangkok for about a week.