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Ayuthaya is one of those famous tourist destinations in Thailand that every traveller visiting Bangkok shouldn’t miss. The ancient city’s close proximity to the capital of Thailand is one of the reasons why it has become one of the favourite destinations of those seeking to know a little about Thailand’s history. Its popularity shouldn’t be treated as a turn off though for there are so many sights to see and places to explore when you book your Ayuthaya day tour. You may be spared from the influx of tourists who wish to see this beautiful wonder depending on the season, day and time. Voyagin became instrumental in making our trip to Ayuthaya as seamless and comfortable as can be.
one of the Buddhas in Wat Mahathat
The historic city of Ayuthaya was once Thailand’s capital. Ayuthaya became the largest city in the world back in the 1700s and many trading merchants from different parts of the globe were awestruck with its beauty. However, when the Burmese invaded the city in 1767, they ransacked the city and looted its treasures leaving Ayuthaya burning completely to the ground. This was the reason why the seat of Thailand’s capital got transferred to Bangkok. For decades, the city of Ayuthaya was left abandoned. Up until 1969, major restoration took place and by 1991 Ayuthaya’s ruins were recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site paving way for tourists to go back in time to see what’s left of this once beautiful place.
Looking for Ayuthaya Day Tour Packages
I had the privilege of visiting this historical city back in 2012. I went looking for cheap deals for an Ayuthaya day tour around Soi Rambuttri and found one. It was a guided tour that I had to share with strangers. I didn’t mind this setup at first but when we reached the area, it was only then that I realised that I will be competing with other tourists for our guide’s attention if I had to raise a few questions about the sights we went to see. So I ended up not paying attention to the whole tour and just wandered off on my own and came back when it was time for the group to leave.
what’s left of the ruins in historic Ayuthaya
The plan of visiting Ayuthaya was not originally on my itinerary before I left the Philippines for Bangkok. I was to meet a good friend, Ar-jay of RJdExplorer.com, in Chiang Mai to witness the lantern festival then head over to Chiang Rai before we part ways. But knowing that it was his first time to visit Thailand, I thought it best to join him in exploring the city and show him some of my favourite hangouts in Bangkok including travelling back to historic Ayuthaya. It was a good thing that I found Voyagin online and their tour options perfectly matched our needs.
tourists having a selfie with the beautiful bridge as a backdrop
When I saw that Voyagin was offering an Ayuthaya day tour package that included a river cruise, I immediately knew we need to be on that trip. I’ve been to one of those dinner cruises along the Chao Phraya River once and wondering what it would be like to cruise that famous river in broad daylight had been on my mind since. So when I discovered that we could hit two birds with one stone without wasting too much of the little time left we had in Bangkok, we decided to get Voyagin’s Bangkok to Ayuthaya Historical Tour with River Cruise.
Why You Need to Book a Private Tour with Voyagin to Explore Ayuthaya
In the past, I’ve always made it a point to find cheap ways to travel and explore new destinations. However, you get to a point where you realize that you would also want a break from that and have a little bit of comfort and convenience. After all, you travel to a place to enjoy your much needed vacation, right?
Finding tour operators in Bangkok could be a daunting task. You will never know what’s included on every tour package. When you step inside travel agencies, they will show you these clear folders filled with photos of different destinations along with a few text of what’s included in the packages but what they don’t show are testimonials from people who’ve joined the tours. You start asking why these packages are cheap and hesitate at some point.
At Voyagin’s website, you’ll get a comprehensive list of everything that you need to know on each tour package and the descriptions are pretty much on point. You will also read testimonials from people who have joined the tours giving you an idea that what this company is offering is legit.
Ayuthaya’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites
You no longer need to go through the hassle of finding reputable travel agencies when in Bangkok. You can do everything online and book your tour dates even before you fly to Thailand. Once you book your Ayuthaya Day Tour + River Cruise with Voyagin, all you have to do is tell them where you will be staying and they will pick you up at a specified time. The rate you’ll pay includes entrance fees to temples and attractions too leaving them in charge of everything. What’s only expected of you is to show up at your meeting place and you’re all set.
After roaming the streets of Chiang Mai and Bangkok, we reserved our last day in Thailand to explore the historical city of Ayuthaya. Having your own private car to transport you from different sites was really convenient.
our private van and our guide, Nuddy
I was expecting to be picked up by a car. What I didn’t expect was for a van to show up on our doorsteps and that surely was way too cool. It was a beautiful way to kick start our day as we travelled in comfort and style.
love how spacious our van is; photo by Ar-Jay
Professional Local Guide
Before this Ayuthaya Day tour with Voyagin, we’ve already explored different temples in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Bangkok. Although it was great to explore these sites on our own, it would have been awesome if we had a local to guide us and share a little history of the places we visited.
Ar-jay and Nuddy engaged on an insightful chat about this temple’s history
During our quick stop over in Chiang Rai, we decided to do an impromptu booking at a travel agency in order to explore the city for half a day. We were surprised to learn that the female travel agent whom we booked our tour would be our driver slash tour guide. And as we walked to where our ‘transportation’ was parked, we discovered that we’d be riding a really old car. It was a good thing that the air-conditioning was still functioning. It was kind of amusing to be put on the spot there but we were left with no choice so we gave in. And to make matters worse, our driver-guide had nothing much to say about the tourist destinations we checked out. We went to see the White, Blue and Black Temples and when we asked her a few questions about the sites we visited, she just shrugged her shoulders and couldn’t give us any proper response.
trying to photograph the two while Nuddy shared info on the ruins of the Ordination Hall in front of us
So it was really a breather that we get to have a professional tour guide during our Ayuthaya day tour. Not only did our guide, Nuddy, give us her undivided attention but she carefully took her time to explain to us the history of the places we visited. When we have a question, we get a thorough response. We asked her unlimited questions and she didn’t mind at all. She was very knowledgeable with Thailand’s history. Her English is perfect too.
Since local guides have first hand information of the do’s and dont’s in the area, advising Ar-jay to bring a spare pants was much appreciated since we would be visiting the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace where strict dress code is required. Knowing too well how important it is to wear comfy clothing on that humid November day, our guide advised him that he can change back to his comfortable clothes once we’re done exploring the palace.
Going Above and Beyond Duty
Our call time was 6:30 in the morning but we noticed a van was parked outside our hostel already. It turns out our tour guide and driver arrived earlier than scheduled. They just gave us ample time to finish our breakfast before they let their presence known.
Nuddy walking us to the pier where we’ll ride a ferry boat to get to the Grand Palace
When our guide learned that we’d be heading to the Grand Palace after the tour, she went above and beyond the stipulations of the tour package and helped us find our way to the Grand Palace. It would have been enough for us to be given directions on where to go but she made sure we didn’t lose our way along the busy river.
the scenic ferry boat ride going to the Grand Palace
She accompanied us all the way to the Palace even if it meant riding a ferry boat and walking with us a few meters to point us to the right direction. Our assigned private car was supposed to wait for us at the end of our river cruise to send us back to our hotel but since we didn’t find the need to go back immediately as we’d drop by the Grand Palace first, there was no point in keeping him tied to our tour so we told him not to wait for us anymore.
Bangkok to Ayuthaya Day Tour + River Cruise
Voyagin offers different tour packages to cater to every traveller’s needs. In our case, we chose the private tour from Bangkok to the historical sites in Ayuthaya plus a lunch buffet while on the river cruise. If you are travelling with friends or want exclusivity on your trip, the private tour would be ideal. But if you are keen to meet other travellers, the join-in Ayuthaya day tour would be a great alternative too since Voyagin offer the regular full day join-in tours by van only, join-in tours + river cruise, and a private tour by van only.
the posh interiors of our mini cruise ship; photo by Ar-Jay
Take note that for the river cruise, you will join other tourists in riding a big boat heading back to Bangkok. The boat is a mini cruise liner with a restaurant setup where tables are scattered and two Thai buffet spreads will be waiting for you.
Here are the highlights of our Ayuthaya Day Tour package with Voyagin.
Bang Pa-In Summer Palace
Our first stop on this Ayuthaya Day Tour was the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace where we get to see the place where Thailand’s royalty used to spend their past summers. Despite how massive the whole property is, you can explore the summer palace on foot. Manicured gardens will greet your eyes and beautiful architecture lies within.
the elegant Thai-styled pavilion called Aisawan Thiphya-Art, otherwise known as the Divine Seat of Personal Freedom
What’s amazing here is you’ll get a visual treat as you pass through different buildings with designs inspired from different countries. There’s a European-styled building, a Chinese-styled one and then there’s also traditional Thai pavilions and at the centre, a lighthouse stands tall allowing anyone to have an aerial view of the entire property when you reach the top.
the brightly painted lookout tower – Ho Withun Thasana or the Sages’ Lookout and on its back, the Chinese-style royal palace and throne room called Wehart Chamrunt or Heavenly Light
After our visit to the summer palace, we headed to the historical sites. Our first stop was the Wat Mahathat world heritage site. This place is famous for the iconic image of a Buddha’s head entangled within the roots of a Banyan tree.
the iconic head of the Buddha entwined in this Banyan tree
When the entire kingdom was left to ruins, looters beheaded all the buddhas in the temple and they believe that one of the thieves must have left one hidden in the trees to be retrieved at a later time. The rest of the buddha heads were smuggled and sold in the black market.
Wat Mahthat is considered as one of the most important temples in the kingdom. Aside from royal ceremonies being held here, it is believed that the main chedi holds the relics of the Buddha. We were told by our trusted guide that one of the ruins used to be where monks where ordained.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
After visiting Wat Mahathat, we then proceeded to see the heritage site of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. What makes this site remarkable is that this was considered as the holiest temple in ancient capital Ayuthaya.
the three chedis of Wat Phra Si Sanphet
It became the model for the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (commonly known as Wat Phra Kaew) which can be found within the confines of the Grand Palace in Bangkok. The ashes of the three past kings of Thailand are housed on the three main chedis. The smaller chedis surrounding the big ones houses the ashes of the members of the royal family.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet in ruins
Wat Lokaya Sutha
This heritage site is home to an enormous reclining Buddha, which is 37 metes long and 8 meters high. Its head is resting on a lotus flower.
the reclining Buddha resting on a lotus flower
Tiny gold leaves can be seen plastered on some parts of the Buddha. This reclining buddha used to be placed inside a viharn or an assembly hall but all can be seen when you visit this are the ground foundation as it has collapsed too.
the reclining Buddha named Phra Buddha Sai Yat
What’s probably noticeable when you visit these UNESCO World Heritage Sites is that red bricks were widely used in the temples and are evident by what’s left of the ruins. Our guide has mentioned that all the structures that we see in the Ayuthaya Historical Park are supposed to be made of red bricks.
exploring more of Wat Mahathat’s ruins
So the smooth looking stupas were once made of bricks too. But with repairs done to preserve the structures, the stupas had to be cemented, including the reclining buddha. It was even debated that the three pagodas at the Wat Phra Si Sanphet be covered in gold leaves but it wouldn’t make sense to cover those in gold and make it look brand new when the rest of the site looked ancient.
Just before we left the heritage sites, we were given the chance to look around one of the markets beside Wat Phra Si Sanphet and if not for our guide, we would have not sampled the unique food offerings sold in there.
Roti Sai Mai also known as Thai Cotton Candy Burrito
So far, we all agreed that the fried crispy catfish skin was a winner that we end up buying 2 packs – regular and spicy. The spicy version was my favourite but I also liked the regular one too.
crispy fried catfish skin, yum!
Ayuthaya to Bangkok River Cruise
It was past noon when we finished the Ayuthaya day tour so dropping by the market was a huge help to feed our almost grumbling stomach. We never bothered bringing in food to snack on as we completely forgot about that bit so while our van drove us to the pier where the boat was docked, we just munched on the fried catfish skin. We were careful no too get full though since we wouldn’t want to miss out on sampling all the food served at our Thai lunch buffet, which was one of the things I was looking forward on this tour.
our river cruise ride
The drive to get to the pier was quite a long one to be honest. When we got there, we realised we were the first to arrive. To get the best seats, we immediately hopped on board the cruise ship and found us a nice spot at the front part of the boat. After setting down, we headed to the buffet area, started filling our plates and enjoyed our authentic Thai lunch.
authentic Thai lunch buffet spread
Soon, more tourists came. Once everyone was on board the boat silently soared to life and left for Bangkok. While we were busy gorging in our food, two local guides took turns in speaking to us via the boat’s PA system whenever we passed an important site along the river banks.
tourists enjoying the afternoon sunbathing while cruising the Chao Phraya River
After eating, other tourists stepped outside the boat to work on their tans. Some of us remained inside in the comforts of the air-conditioned cruise ship. And as if we haven’t had enough of the delightful lunch buffet, coffee and tea were served after some time.
the scenic view of Chao Phraya River cruise from Ayuthaya
The river cruise was a great way to cap off our Ayuthaya day tour. It was the best and most comfortable way to get back to Bangkok. For first timers in the city, it’s a great way to experience what it’s like to see the busy Chao Phraya river up close. The overflowing authentic Thai food was just a bonus.
sights along the Chao Phraya River
FULL DISCLOSURE: Voyagin handled the Private Ayutthaya Historic Tour + River Cruise. But what you have just read is my sincere and honest opinion of the entire tour. Our guide’s professionalism and the convenience this trip offered will have me booking at Voyagin in a heart beat most especially when I travel back to Thailand bringing my family with me.