Thailand // Temple gazing in Ayutthaya
If you happen to find yourself one day in Bangkok, here are the two most important tips on what to do: First, book a couple of days extra and discover this crazy town! The city’s offer of temples, street food, rooftop bars, tuk-tuks, colourful shops, boat rides and massages will keep you spinning for quite some time. Check our top 7 highlights in Bangkok!
Secondly, take the bus up north to Ayutthaya. In less than two hours you’ll arrive at the tranquil ruins of the old UNESCO World Heritage city, including several Buddhist temple complexes. The ancient city was founded by King Ramathibodi I in 1350, and remained the capital of Thailand until 1767. The easiest and most fun way to discover this place is by bike. There are plenty of cheap bike rental shops to choose from.
Of course there’s also the option of doing a (more expensive) tour on the back of an elephant, for a classic Thai tourism experience, photo shoot included :)
Alright… backpack with plenty of water: check! Extra layer of sunscreen: check! Full batteries in camera: check! Hop on your two-wheeler and look out for at least one tuk-tuk cutting you off while you’re cycling away happily.
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
The most impressive stops are definitely Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Ratburana, Wat Lokayasutharam and Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, the last one housing one of the largest bronze Buddha images in Thailand.
Wat Phra Mahathat
At the site of Wat Phra Mahathat there is a Buddha image people have been wondering about for several decades. Namely the iconic Buddha head tangled between the cascading roots of a Banyan tree. Many self-proclaimed detectives have made up their own theory about how this beautiful part of a statue ended up in this bizarre place. The main characters of these stories seem to be the Burmese army, thieves and even nature itself :)
Whatever the cause, the result is a serene and mysteriously looking Buddha smiling very Mona-Lisa-like.
One more tip: you can load up on a huge variety of on-the-road snacks at the food market next to Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit. Deliciousness!