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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

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces – a Photo Blog

Yuanyang was my final stop in China, and sadly due to time constraints I only had a full day and two nights there. Yuanyang is an area, rather than an actual town or village. Buses arrive and leave from the largest (and only) town, Xinjie, and from there I took a bumpy, 30-minute minivan ride to my guesthouse in Duoyishu village.

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

The following morning I was awake unnaturally early so I could make it to the closest ‘viewing platform’ for sunrise. This, luckily, was only a ten minute walk from my guesthouse; however it was still done in darkness, through a tiny village and past several wild dogs and pet buffaloes. I made it in time but my efforts were wasted as I stood in the cold waiting for a non-existent sun to rise.

Baby Water Buffalo

Baby Water Buffalo

Realising at around this time that I had run out of money and that the nearest ATM was back in Xinjie village, I worked out the fastest walking route from Duoyishu through the rice fields – a relatively lengthy hike of five hours. The rest of my day continued as my morning started, and I found myself lost in amongst over 2,000 square kilometres of crops. The fields I wandered through were clearly not made for tourists – I battled through long grass and large spider webs, across a small (but pretty deep) river, past angry guard dogs and up and down muddy rocks, and after the first couple of hours ran out of path entirely. With only an hour left until sunset (and having been hiking for several hours longer than expected) I finally found my exit through a local village, where I was met by curious children and farming animals.

Local Girl

Local Girl

The photos below are from my utterly scary, but definitely worth it, hike (literally) through Yuanyang Rice Terraces.

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Ducks in a Row at Yuanyang

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Blue Sky over the Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Market Ladies in Xinjie

Market Ladies in Xinjie

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Red Dragonfly

Red Dragonfly

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces

Yuanyang Rice Terraces