Kanchanaburi and Ayuthaya
11th July, 2006
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Hello everyone, im just at the planning stage for my trip and wanted to ask you guy's for your opinion. My plan is to head to Ayuthaya and kachanaburi from bangkok then make my way to the border crossing at vientiane at laos. From there i will head south into cambodia. I was just wondering if Ayuthaya is worth the trip and how long would you suggest being there and also how long would you suggest spending in kachanaburi. Whats the best way to travel to these places and in which order should i do them if i plan to head to the border with laos. Is there anywhere you think is worth a stop on the way to the border, thats about it, any help or feedback is really appreciated. cheers, Gordon
#1 Posted: 14/7/2006 - 21:27
I'd go to Kanchanaburi first. There are a couple of 3rd. class trains that go there twice a day (I think), and buses are going there all the time. It doesn't take very long. How long to stay depends on what you want to see and do. Personally, I'd give the place at least two nights. One day to check out the town (the day of arrival), and another day or two to check out the beautiful countryside and possibly head up to Erawan (recommended if the weather is good) or Huay Khamin Falls. If you're going to see the bridge, go very early in the morning on the day you leave. You'll beat the tourist buses (and the heat) and will be able to get back to Bangkok in time (if you want) to head straight up to Ayuthaya without having to spend another night in Bangkok or even leave the train station. If time's an issue, this might be your best option.
Lots of ways to get to Nong Khai so, again, it depends on what you are interested in and what your timelines are like. If you're really into temples, then you might want to consider blowing through Ayuthaya and go up to Sukhothai instead for a couple of nights. From Sukhothai you can go (via Phitsanulok) to Loei and then by songthaew to Chiang Khan for a night or two. It's a lovely town on the Mekong. From there you can travel along the Mekong to Nong Khai through Pak Chom, Sangkhom and Si Chiangmai. It's a great part of the country. Beautiful, slow-paced, scenic with lovely people and excellent food.
If Ayuthaya is a must for you, and if you are coming back to Bangkok on the train from Kanchanaburi, then you could hop on the 3rd. class train from Bangkok going north, spend a night in Ayuthaya, then take an sleeper from Ayuthaya up to Nong Khai. If you decide to take the train to Nong Khai, there's no reason for you to make Ayuthaya into a day trip from Bangkok since the Nong Khai train goes through Ayuthaya anyway. Also, if you decide that this is the route you want to take, then you should buy your sleeper berth before you go to Kanchanaburi to ensure that you have your place. If it's not important to you, then you can always get there by bus and keep your options open.
Hope this gives you some ideas and/or direction.
#2 Posted: 15/7/2006 - 01:25
You've already received good suggestions from Tilapia (that's a fish, right?) Anyway, let me second some of that by recommending you visit Kanchanaburi first too. I'd give it at least two nights as well, to give you a chance to see the town, including the allied war cemetery (there are two, actually), the bridge, etc., and, as Tilapia suggests, to take a day trip out of town to the waterfall or to see the tigers, etc. Almost any guest house or travel agency will have several of those day trips you can take.
The 3rd class train to Kanchanaburi does run twice a day. It leaves from a small station on the Thonburi side of the river, and costs 100 baht. Check the State Railways of Thailand for the latest info on departure times. The Kanchanaburi trains are listed under the Southern Routes on that website, if I am remembering correctly.
For getting from Kanchanaburi to Ayutthaya, you can either head back to BKK then up to Ayutthaya, or take the special minivans that go directly to Ayutthaya for 350 to 450 baht. You could also take a regular bus to Suphanburi and then transfer to Ayutthaya too. Keep in mind that if you do take the train back to Bangers, the terminal station will be in Thonburi and not the main Hualamphong station, which is where the trains to Ayutthaya depart. There are also minivans that go to BKK from Kanchanaburi for about 130 baht too, depositing you in the Khao San Rd area, so you have lots of choices there.
For Ayutthaya, you could actually do it as a day trip, arriving whenever during the day, seeing the sites, and then catching the overnight train up to Nong Khai. If you do that, just get a day room (there are a few inexpensive places right near the train station on the side street heading towards the river for less that 150 baht/day) where you can drop your pack and have a place to rest and clean up.
I personally think Auytthaya is worth an overnight. In addition to visiting the ruins during the day, several are lit up a bit at night and quite beautiful to see. We took the riverboat trip offered by most guesthouses and travel agents too for about 200 baht per person. It departs at about 4 pm, and goes around the entire island of Ayutthaya. It was really great. There's a fun traveller's scene at night too in the main backpacker ghetto area.
The ruins are actually pretty far from the modern city, so you'll either want to sign up for a tour, hire a driver (flat rate of 200 baht per hour per vehicle), or if you are up to it, rent a scooter or bicycle and head out to see them yourself. That gives you time to see everything at your own pace.
Like Tilapia says, the train to Nong Khai goes right through Ayutthaya, so if you take the overnight sleeper train to Nong Khai, you'll have the better part of your second day to see the sights before getting on the train. Check the State Railway of Thailand website for times and fares, or have a travel agent sort out that ticket for you. That bit about getting your train ticket sorted ahead of time is a good tip too, since the trains do tend to fill up more often these days. Have a good trip.
#3 Posted: 15/7/2006 - 09:33
Thanks Exacto. It slipped my mind that the train didn't go all the way to the main terminal.
Good point about the illuminated temples in the evening. By the way, how long does that twilight boat trip last?
Yep ... it's a fish. The cod of the south. Cheap, too.
#4 Posted: 15/7/2006 - 20:48
Cheap, but really good, right?
The boat trip we took departed at 4 pm and lasted about two hours. That's pretty much the same schedule that we saw advertized all over town too. The travel agent had us show up at his shop a few minutes early, then got a fish head (Ayutthaya-style tuk tuk) to take us to the pier. We travelled clockwise around the island, and got dropped off near one of the night markets. The travel agent would have gotten us a ride back too, but we opted to walk.
The tour is supposed to make three stops, but since we had the boat all to oursevles, we skipped the first two stops and spent the extra time at the third stop, which is one of the ancient temples on the left bank as you head clockwise around the city (to the west). Sorry, I can't remember its name exactly, although Rachaburana comes to mind. Anyway, at that time of day (this was in early July), the sun is just right for some spectacular photos. Plus, it was cooling down too, and we had the place almost all to ourselves.
#5 Posted: 16/7/2006 - 14:09
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