Probably the easiest way to get from Bangkok to Chaing Mai in the north of Thailand, is by flying. There are lots of budget airlines that cover the route and you can normally obtain a flight for around £25. A much more interesting way to do this journey is by the overnight train. This isn’t a great deal cheaper at £18 but if (to quote the cliche) you are more about the journey then the train is much more fun. An added bonus is that the train also stops at Ayutthaya en route to Chaing Mai. If you get a morning bus there from Bangkok, you can have about eight hours in Ayutthaya before picking up the train.
A few hours is perfect for getting a bit of an overview of Ayutthaya. It’s an ancient city dating back to the 1300’s. By 1700 Ayutthaya was the largest city in the world with over one million inhabitants. Much of the city has since been destroyed by invading armies but there are plenty of ruins left, as well as some impressive temples. With the ancient city being set on an island a boat tour is a good way to see Ayutthaya. I found a boat that stopped off at some of the main temples. In addition to a large Buddha, the other main attraction at Wat Phanan Choeng is the thousands of nearby catfish. Feeding them is a popular activity. A stall selling fish food seems to be coining it in. It’s quite a sight to see such huge fish climbing over each other to get fed. Other stops of note included the Buddha image within a tree at Wat Mahathat, the beautiful Wat Ratchaburana and viewing Wat Chaiwattanaram from the river.
Back off the island and in the modern city I had some tea. I didn’t really fancy dragging my luggage around Ayutthaya so found a guesthouse that would store it for the day on the proviso that I ate there later.
After the nightmare overnight journey in India I was keen to avoid night trains. However after reading the excellent seat61.com website, I discovered that the Thai Railways have put into service a new fleet of modern trains which have received excellent reviews. They are only six months old. The train pulled into Ayutthaya station on time and just after I got on board the conductor converted the seats in my bay into a bunk bed. It was all nice and comfy with clean sheets, a curtain and even a light and power socket. Despite being taller than average I could almost lie straight in the bed. This made for an excellent night’s sleep through to the arrival in Chaing Mai at around 6am.
I managed to lose my camera in Laos and unfortunately hadn’t backed up any photos for a week or so. Therefore I’ve borrowed some photos from Instagram of pictures taken as close as possible to when I was in a location. I did consider asking permission to use these photos but communicating with around 50 people would have got complicated. I’ve credited all of the photos used and in some occasions cropped them to maintain a matching size ratio. If by chance anyone whose photo is used finds this blog and would like me to remove the photo please let me know and I apologise in advance.