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Amazing Thailand: visiting ancient temples in Ayutthaya and adventuring in Kanchanaburi

Updated: Jun 17

Part 3 of our Thailand itinerary explores the fascinating destinations outside Bangkok. Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi offer a glimpse into Thailand's rich history and natural beauty, making them perfect for unique destinations and affordable luxury travel enthusiasts.

visiting ancient temples at Ayutthaya, Thailand

Ayutthaya: the Ancient Capital


Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand, is a treasure trove of ancient temples. It was once one of the world’s richest and most beautiful cities, with golden temples and palaces. Though much of its grandeur was lost in 1767 to the Burmese, its ruins remain an incredible sight.


How to get there?


Ayutthaya is only an 80 km drive from Bangkok and can easily accessed by car. If you plan to stay for two days, you can enjoy the sunset and see the temples illuminated at night. Alternative transportation options include:


  • Boat: A scenic journey from Bangkok along the Chao Phraya-river. the Mekhala Cruise is a great two-day option.


  • Train or Bus: Both take about 1,5 hours and are the cheapest way to travel.

  • If you like to book a tour for a day from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, you can do that here.


Must-Visit temples in Ayutthaya Historical Park.


1. Wat Yai Chai Mongkol


reclining Buddha at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol in Ayutthaya
  • Built in 1357, this was one of Ayutthaya's most important temples. Climb the steps to explore inside and see the 7-meter-long reclining Buddha.


  • Entrance fee: 50 THB

  • Hours: Daily from 9 am till 6 pm












2. Wat Phra Mahathat

Buddha head near the temples in Ayutthaya
  • Famous for of the Buddha head entwined in Bodhi tree root, this temple's origing is shrouded in mystery.


  • Entrance fee: 50 THB

  • Hours: Daily from 8 am till 5pm.














3. Wat Phra Si Sanphet


  • Built within the Grand Palace walls in 1491, this temple served as the Royal chapel.

  • Entrance fee: 50 THB

  • Hours: Daily from 8.30 am till 5 pm


4. Wat Chaiwatthanaram


  • this temple Khmer-style architecture is reminiscent of Angkor Wat and is stunning at sunset near the Chao Phraya River.


  • Entrance fee: 50 THB

  • Hours: Daily from 8 am till 6 pm.


5. Wat Phanan Choeng


  • Distinct from other temples, it houses a 19-meter-high golden Buddha and is a popular site for local prayers.


  • Entrance fee: 20 bath

  • Hours: Daily from 8 am till 5 pm.


!Tip: rent a bike or scooter to easily navigate between temples, you can book bikes here.


Kanchanaburi: A Blend of History and Nature

the bridge over the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi, Thailand

From Bangkok to Kanchanaburi, you can travel train, bus, or car. While many opt for a day trip, we chose to stay for two nights to fully experience the region.


Historical and Natural Attractions

standing on one of the platforms on the bridge over the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi

1. River Khwae Bridge

  • Known from the 1957 movie "The Bridge on the River Kwai", this bridge was part of the Death Railway built by WWII prisoners. It’s now a popular spot for tourists and backpackers, and you can walk across it on side platforms.











2. Prasat Muang Singh Park
  • Home to two Khmer temples, the park's central feature dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.


  • Entrance fee: 100 THB

  • Hours: Daily from 8am to 6 pm.

beautiful Erawan waterfalls near Kanchanaburi

3. Sai Yok waterfall

  • Located Sai Yok National Park, this 15-meter high limestone waterfall is a popular attraction, especially during Songkran (Thai New Year).


4. Hellfire Pass Museum

  • Though closed during our visit due to Songkran, this museum dedicated to WWII history is a must-see. If you like combining Kanchanaburi and Hellfire Pass Museum, you can book a tour here.







Staying at the Jungle Rafts


For relaxation, we stayed at the Jungle Rafts, a floating hotel with an ecological conservation concept. The entire floatel operates without electricity, using kerosene lamps at night, which making it a true eco hideaway.


Arrival: We took a 30-minute speedboat ride from the pier to the hotel. On arrival , we received a welcome drink and the key to our bamboo cabin, equipped with a mosquito net, a small bathroom with toilet and shower (which is quite dark as there are no windows or lights) and shutters for the windows.Each room has a front balcony and a back terrace with loungers and a hammock.


Our room in Jungle Rafts, floating hotel in Kanchanaburi

Meals: Breakfast and dinner are included, as guests cannot leave the raft without speedboat.

The restaurant offers a variety of dishes, with breakfast served from 7 - 9 am and dinner from 7-8.30 pm.














Activities: Besides floating in the river (with mandatory life jackets due to the strong current), guests can enjoy bamboo rafting, canoeing, paddleboarding, or boat trips.

A morning visit to the nearby Mon village provides insight into the local Thai tribe's culture. Feeding the local elephant and getting a Thai massage are also recommended.



Local elephant visiting the Jungle Rafts for food.

Recommendation: Stay for no more than two nights, as there is, no electricity to charge your devices.


Conclusion


Ayutthaya and Kanchanaburi offer a perfect blend of historical exploration and natural beauty, making them must-visit destinations in Thailand. Whether you're exploring ancient temples in Ayutthaya or relaxing in the eco-friendly Jungle Rafts in Kanchanaburi, these destinations provide a unique and luxurious travel experience.

If you have any questions about Ayutthaya or Kanchanaburi, please ask in the comments.


 *Disclaimer: This post contains affiliated links which means that purchases made through these links reward Destination Explorer a small commission without any additional charge for the purchaser. 



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Wandering Wren
Wandering Wren
Nov 12, 2022

Stunning photos Inge, it has been fun to read your well researched Itinerary, You always pick out the best spots, We stayed next door at The Float House which has the same experience but more mod cons, electricity an air con. I loved that boat ride down and floating down the river. This is an epic must do in Thailand.

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Thanks Jenny! We really loved Thailand and hope to go back sometime. I agree the boat ride is a lot of fun!

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