The ruins of what was once the epicentre of the Kingdom of Siam can be found 53 miles north of Bangkok at a place called Ayutthaya.
In its heyday the city was home to one million people and was revered around the world for its beauty and prosperity. It was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767 after 400 years of sovereignty.
Now a UNESCO world heritage site, the temple complex is a popular day trip from Bangkok or can be combined with an onward journey to Chiang Mai.
If you have the money, the best way to approach the city is by boat however those on a budget can visit the historic site incredibly cheaply by train. Our train ticket from Bangkok to Ayutthaya was just 20 baht (less than 50p). Prices depend on the type of train you are travelling on and the time of day.
We took the Skytrain to Silom, transferring on to the metro line for Hua Lamphong railway station, where we booked third-class tickets for the two-hour journey. More expensive options were available but we were perfectly comfortable and managed to grab a seat near a window for fresh air.
We arrived at Ayutthaya shortly after 10am. The train station is east of the island and you will need to take the ferry across the Pa Sak river, which costs just five baht each, and is very straight forward. At the other side you can hire bikes, which is a popular option, and costs just 50 baht for the day, but we decided to save even more money and walk around the sites instead.
The major temples charge an admission fee of 50 baht, which is well worth paying, and there are combined tickets available. The smaller sites are free to enter. We went around three temples, at 50 baht each, which meant the entire trip cost us just 200 baht* (£4.75). Compared to the price of tours, this was an absolute steal!
The various temples that make up the complex are all in walking distance from each other and you can climb some of the prangs (towers) to get impressive views. Wear sturdy shoes, not flip-flops, and don’t forget to take sun cream and plenty of water as the temples are pretty exposed. It is worth downloading a map before you go and prioritising which temples to see as there are far too many to cover in one day and temple fatigue will soon set in.
• The Buddha’s head encased in the roots of a banyan tree at Wat Mahathat.
• Beautiful frescos in the crypt of Wat Ratchaburuna.
• Statues of mythical creatures at Wat Phra Ram, one of the oldest temples in Ayutthaya.
• The huge reclining Buddha at Wat Lokaya Suthoram.
We spent around four hours walking around the ruins, by which time we were too tired and hot to appreciate any more. We left the city and returned by train at around 3.30pm.
• The cheapest option by train is a third-class ticket, but upgrade if you want some comfort on the journey.
• Take sun cream, a hat and sturdy shoes.
• Buy a combined ticket if you want to save money on admission fees.
• Be wary of the stray dogs that roam the site. By day, they are docile enough, but apparently, they can become aggressive as the sun sets.
• Buy or take a map and prioritise the temples you want to see.
Prices correct for January 2018