Part 3 of our Thailand itinerary. Out of Bangkok there are a few interesting places to visit for one day or longer.
We visited Ayutthaya for one day. It’s the old capital of Thailand with a lot of interesting temples to visit.
Also, Kanchanaburi can be visited for one day, but here we decided to try the floating river hotel and relax for two nights.
Ayutthaya was once one of the world’s richest and most beautiful cities. It was the third biggest city of the Siamese Kingdom, where you could find a lot of golden temples and palaces. It was the center of civilization for almost 400 years. In 1767 all the gold was stolen by the Burmese. Nowadays there are still very interesting ruins and I will highlight the best to visit.
How to get there?
As it’s only 80 km drive from Bangkok you can easily access it by car. If you choose to stay for two days, you can see the sunset and the lightened temples.
Another way to get there is by boat from Bangkok across the Chao Phraya-river. You can do this in one day. A great alternative is to board the Mekhala Cruise which takes two days.
Going by train or bus will take about 1,5 hour and is the cheapest way.
Most beautiful temples to visit in Ayutthaya Historical Park.
1) Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
This temple was built in 1357 and was one of the most important of Ayutthaya. You can visit inside if you are willing to climb the steps. Next to the entrance you can find a 7-meter-long reclining Buddha.
Entrance fee: 50 bath, open daily from 9 am till 6 pm
2) Wat Phra Mahathat
This temple is famous because of the head between the roots of the Bodhi tree. No one knows how it got there, some say it was left behind by the Burmese, others that it got stuck there during one of the floodings.
Entrance fee: 50 bath, open daily from 8 am till 5pm.
3) Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Another temple worth a visit, this one was built within the walls of the Grand Palace in 1491 and was used as the Royal chapel.
Entrance fee: 50 bath, open daily from 8.30 am till 5 pm
4) Wat Chaiwatthanaram
The style of this temple is comparable to Angkor Watt in Cambodia as it has been built in Khmer-style. Near the Chao Phraya River and especially beautiful at sunset.
Entrance fee: 50 bath, open daily from 8 am till 6 pm.
5) Wat Phanan Choeng
This temple is totally different than the other ones. Inside you can find a 19 meters high golden Buddha. You can find a lot of locals here that come to pray.
Entrance fee: 20 bath, open daily from 8 am till 5 pm.
!Tip: rent a bike or scooter to take you from one temple to another.
From Bangkok to Kanchanaburi you can take the train, bus or car. There are tours that take you for one day, we went by car and stayed for two nights.
First stop was at the River Khwae Bridge (known from the movie from 1957 with Sir Alec Guinness). This bridge was part of the Death Railway and prisoners had to build it for the Japanese during WWII. These days it’s a thriving backpacker scene. It’s nice to cross the bridge by foot as it’s transformed into a walkway with side platforms.
Another interesting place to visit nearby is Prasat Muang Singh Park. You can find two Khmer temples here, the central element are the ruins of the temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
Entrance fee: 100 bath, open daily from 8am till 6 pm.
As we were visiting Kanchanaburi during Songkran (Thai new year) it was quite crowded with local people at the Sai Yok waterfall. It’s the most popular attraction of Sai Yok National Park. It consists of limestone cliffs and is about 15 meter high.
Our visit to the Hell Fire Museum had to be cancelled as it was not open because of Songkran. A perfect reason to go back because this place is absolutely worth a visit.
After visiting the North of Thailand and Bangkok, we needed some days to relax. The perfect way to do this in Kanchanaburi is a stay at the Jungle Rafts. This impressive floating hotel has a very special ecological conservation concept, the entire floatel does not use electricity. Only kerosene lamps are used at night, which makes this a true eco hideaway in nature.
We were picked up from the pier and had a 30-minute speedboat ride to the hotel. They have to use a speedboat as it’s upstream. Upon arrival at the hotel, we received a welcome drink and a key for our cabin. The cabins are made of bamboo, have a mosquito net, a small bathroom with toilet and shower (which is quite dark as there are no windows or lights) and shutters to close the windows. It’s a quite basic room but the way it’s decorated it feels very romantic. Every room has a balcony in front and at the back, a terrace with some loungers and a hammock. As you can cool down in the river there are also life jackets available. It’s nice to float from the beginning of the raft till the end but a life jacket is obligated as the stream is very strong.
Breakfast and dinner are both included as you cannot leave the raft without taking the speedboat back to the pier. If you want you can but you have to pay 1600 bath, it’s only included in the price for check-in and check-out.
The restaurant is good, and we got different plates to choose from. Breakfast is served between 7 - 9 am and dinner from 7-8.30 pm.
Besides floating in the river, you can also do some activities like: bamboo rafting, canoeing, sup boarding or making a boat trip.
In the morning you can visit the nearby Mon village with a guide and learn everything about the culture and habits of this Thai tribe.
Every morning you can feed the local elephant that comes from the Mon village.
As our main purpose here was to relax, a Thai massage cannot be missed. We had a great experience here at a reasonable price.
I would recommend staying at the Jungle rafts but no longer than two nights (by then your phone is running out of battery)
Do you have any questions about Ayutthaya or Kanchanaburi please ask in the comments.