wpid-wat-chai-watthanaram-sunset13-01-resized-1280.jpg.jpeg

Seven Wonders of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is one of my favourite places to visit in Thailand. It has a great selection of historical temples, it’s very easy to navigate and has a great foodie scene.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic city of Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand from 1350 to 1767, when it was almost burnt to the ground by invading Burmese armies. The temple ruins that remain are impressive, but vary greatly in condition.

Although it is one of the most popular areas of Thailand to visit, I went in December (peak season) and it never felt crowded.

Take the train there

Most visitors to Ayutthaya will travel from Bangkok, and whilst there are plenty of day tours from the city, I’d recommend taking a train instead and spending a couple of nights. The scenery for the 90 minute ride is gorgeous, and when an ordinary class ticket costs just 15 baht (approximately 30p), it just makes sense!

Thailand Train

See the temples by bicycle

Cycling around the pancake-flat historical park is definitely the highlight of my visit to Ayutthaya. Most of the temples are located close to each other in the central island of the city, but even those outside the city river border are within a 20 minute ride. Exploring by bicycle gives complete freedom to see temples of choice. Some of my favourite, and the easiest to reach, include Wat Maha That, Wat Phra Si Samphet and Wat Lokkaya Sutharam.

Wat Maha That

Wat Maha That

Wat Maha That - Buddha's head encased in the roots of a tree

Wat Maha That – Buddha’s head encased in the roots of a tree

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Lokkaya Sutharam

Wat Lokkaya Sutharam

Wat Chai Watthanaram

Wat Chai Watthanaram

Visit the Floating market

The busy and colourful floating market is great to spend an hour or so wandering around. It hosts around 200 stalls selling a variety of food, handicrafts and souvenirs, although I definitely spent most of my time feeding and playing with some goats penned up by the river.

Ayutthaya Floating Market

Ayutthaya Floating Market

Floating Market

Food Stalls

Goats @ Floating Market

Ayutthaya Floating Market

See The Million Toy Museum

This quirky museum is a perfect side attraction during a day of temple visits. Whether it actually holds a million different toys I’m not entirely sure, but it definitely brought back childhood memories of toys forgotten.

Million Toy Museum

Million Toy Museum

Donkey & Shrek

Donkey & Shrek

Yoda @ Million Toy Museum

Yoda @ Million Toy Museum

Army of Robots

Army of Robots

Creepy Dolls

Creepy Dolls

Take a River Cruise

For a different temple perspective and for a peek into local river life, a boat ride along the Chao Phraya and Lopburi Rivers is a must. I took an hour long cruise just before sunset.

Wat Chai Watthanaram from the water

Wat Chai Watthanaram from the water

Ayutthaya River Cruise

Ayutthaya River Cruise

Ayutthaya River Cruise

Ayutthaya River Cruise

Pick a Good Temple for Sunset

Sunset at a temple in Ayutthaya is a must-see, but make sure you pick the right one. Everyone recommends Wat Chai Watthanaram, and whilst it was incredible, it’s also extremely busy. A good spot if you’re looking for solitude is at Wat Phukao Thong, a short ride out of the city. You can climb the stupa here for a great sunset shot over the surrounding fields.

Sunset at Wat Chai Watthanaram

Sunset at Wat Chai Watthanaram

Wat Chai Watthanaram

Wat Chai Watthanaram

Wat Phukhao Thong

Wat Phukhao Thong

King Naresuan the Great Monument - located next to Wat Phukhao Thong

King Naresuan the Great Monument – located next to Wat Phukhao Thong

River sunset

River sunset

Fit your Ayutthaya Visit around a Festival

Like a lot of Thailand, Ayutthaya hosts a good amount of festivals throughout the year. Whilst I was visiting in December, I was lucky to encounter the Thai Life Festival, which was spread out amongst the temple ruins. I didn’t attend the pricey sound and light show, but instead spend hours walking around the various food stalls, market shops, craft fairs and amusement parks.

Ayutthaya Thai Life Festival

Ayutthaya Thai Life Festival

Ayutthaya Thai Life Festival

Ayutthaya Thai Life Festival

Ayutthaya Thai Life Festival

Baaa

Life Lately

Hey I’m back, after a massive blogging break. Apologies for the huge hiatus; here’s what I’ve been up to:

At the beginning of May Jeni and I took our final flight from Bali to New Zealand, stopping off in Sydney en route. After too few hours in the city catching up with friends around Darling Harbour, we met Jonny at the airport for the last leg to Christchurch.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

Darling Harbour, Sydney

Darling Harbour, Sydney

Champagne at the Opera House

Champagne at the Opera House

On a tipsy night out in Cirencester a couple of years ago, Jeni, Jonny and I agreed to emigrate to New Zealand together, and whilst I’m sure none of us took it too seriously at the time – our plan had finally materialised!

Arriving into Christchurch, we spent a day shopping for winter clothes (mainly me and Jen) and watching the sun set over the city, before boarding an eight hour bus southwest to our new hometown of Wanaka.

View over Christchurch at sunset

View over Christchurch at sunset

Christchurch Mountains

Christchurch Mountains

Sugarloaf Reserve, Christchurch

Sugarloaf Reserve, Christchurch

The last month or so has passed in a total blur. We were very lucky with securing a gorgeous 4-bed house during the first week, and have gradually since all started working.

Sheep!

Sheep!

I’ve tried to fill my spare time exploring the area, and whilst Wanaka is quite possibly the most beautifully located town, the surrounding villages, lakes and hiking trails have all literally taken my breath away. New Zealand has, simply, the most outstanding scenery. Here’s just a taste of my first month:

Walks around Wanaka…

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

The Infamous Wanaka Tree

The Infamous Wanaka Tree

Wanaka Road

Wanaka Road

A house hike up Mt Iron…

View from Mt Iron

View from Mt Iron

View of Wanaka from Mt Iron

View of Wanaka from Mt Iron

Hiking to Diamond Lake and around Rocky Mountain…

Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake

View of the lakes from Rocky Mountain

View of the lakes from Rocky Mountain

Wine Tasting…

Rippon Winery

Rippon Winery

A short visit to Cromwell (for an interview)…

Cromwell Heritage District

Cromwell Heritage District

Lake Dunstan, Cromwell

Lake Dunstan, Cromwell

Cromwell Heritage District

Cromwell Heritage District

A day at Tekapo Hot Springs…

Tekapo Hot Springs

Tekapo Hot Springs

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

A very icy hike in Hooker Valley, Mt Cook…

Hooker Valley

Hooker Valley

Mt Cook Glacial Lake

Mt Cook Glacial Lake

Swing Bridge at Hooker Valley

Swing Bridge at Hooker Valley

What’s next?
In terms of travel plans, my main one for now is to stay put in this incredible location and work work work until I’ve saved enough to take a few more months off. In the meantime I’ll be out hiking when possible and taking a few short trips away – Jen and I have our hearts set on Fiji later in the year!
For my blog, I have a zillion stories and photos from Asia still to share, so expect a mix of New Zealand and Asia over the next few months.

Snow Bunny

Snow Bunny