Given the choice between the two cities and the sights to see at each, which would you recommend?
#1 pilinka has been a member since 9/2/2009. Posts: 7
Ahh it's a difficult choice. Ayutthaya is a part of the town while Sukhothai is a "historical part" so the latter feels a little contrived. That said it also has more ruins to see.
Personally I prefer Ayutthaya -- it's easy to bicycle around and there's stacks of good places to eat.
#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,789
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the real beauty of ayutthaya, apart from the ancient city's amazing beauty, is the proximity to bangkok and convenience as a stopover on the way to other places like chiang mai.
you're going to have a great experience either way, so i'd probably choose depending on where else you are planning to go. sukhothai is more of a chore to reach, so if you aren't particularly planning on doing anything else in that region, then ayutthaya might be a better bet. but that's just an evaluation on convenience.
i also think that the ruins at ayutthaya are better restored to look more like they may have looked during their prime, and i particularly like visiting at night when they are all lit up. it is glorious.
where else are you planning on going during your visit to thailand? regards.
Thank you both for the points you made. Ayutthaya sounds like it will probable be my choice. As for the rest of the trip, i will be flying into Phuket directly from Vancouver with a six hour stop in Hong Kong. My original plan was to just hang out in Phuket where my brother is living in Rawai, but then a friend decided to come along for the trip and since she has never been out of Canada i thought it would be nice to take a week or so and travel to see some of the rest of Thailand.
If i had known she was coming when i bought my ticket, i would have flown through Bangkok to have a more central place to set out from.
As it is we will have to either take the bus or fly depending on how our finances look.
Can you recommend a cheap place to stay in Ayutthaya? It would be nice to find somewhere that isn't just concrete box - maybe a more traditional wooden guest house?
This will be an exciting trip for me and a road down memory lane as i used to live in Phuket for about seven years off and on in the eighties and into the early 90's...
#4 pilinka has been a member since 9/2/2009. Posts: 7
I like to recommend Si Satchanalai. It's about 50 km north of Sukhothai. There you get the best of both worlds - it's not contrived AND it's not in a city. There are loads of mostly untouched temples and Buddhas, and you'll hardly see another soul around. Plus, you'll get to see Sukhothai, as well. Highly recommended. Well worth the little extra effort.
I have to admit that Tilapia's suggestions usually trump mine. Tilapia is definitely the master of off-the-beaten-path travel in Thailand. Now I'm thinking of adding Satchanalai to my trip later this year too.
It sounds like you'll have a full week to explore with your friend. I don't know where else you plan to visit in that time, but Ayutthaya won't require an entire week. If pressed, you could get in a good visit during a day trip, and most people find one or two nights more than enough to really get to see the place.
If you've got the time, perhaps you could do Sukhothai/Satchanalai as well and/or Kanchanaburi too.
One accommodation you might want to check out in Bann Kunpra (Baan Kunpra?). It's a cluster of wooden buildings along the river. You'll find it listed in the accommodation section for Ayutthaya. I try to stay there every time I'm in Ayutthaya, but sometimes I haven't been able to get a room. It is a bit of a walk (2 km maybe?) or a short fish head ride to the rest of the backpacker area in the city. Best of all is the restaurant right on the banks of the river for great meals.
You might also want to read my trip report for Ayutthaya. It is unfortunately getting a bit dated now, but there may be some good info in there for you anyway. Cheers.
Cool - what a great site this is! Thanks to you! Tilapia - Is it easy to find a place to stay in Si Satchanalai? By the way, i am not worried about whether or not people speak english, as i have a pretty good vocab in Thai from when i lived there - and i am sure more will come back quickly.
I will have a boo at that trip report too exacto.
#7 pilinka has been a member since 9/2/2009. Posts: 7
Yes, there are places to stay in the village there, on the Yom River. When I was there they were completely empty. The village (at least when I was there) had a real hippy feel to it with a handful of small galleries and homes of artisans, mostly painters. It was really nice and quiet. I can't speak for any of the guest houses, though, as I didn't have time to stay over. I don't know anything about prices, but what I saw looked very nice.
If you go, the best way to get there, in my opinion, is to take the train to Phitsanulok , then hop on a bus or songthaew to Sukhothai , then rent a motorbike for a couple of days. There are two good roads that go fairly directly, and the one that leads north from the Old City of Sukhothai is the most quiet and scenic with almost no traffic except sugar cane trucks. The road is quite rural. You'll see the mountains of Mae Ping National Park rising up to the west and you'll be surrounded by sugar fields and rice paddies. It is also very well signed, and unless you're not looking you cannot miss the signs for the historical park.
You can see these roads and what's around them on Google Maps and Google Earth. Unless you're obsessed by Thai temple architecture and archeological sites, the area is good for a day trip from Sukhothai, or an overnighter if you want to stay in a really nice, very quiet spot. Otherwise, a few days.
Don't miss Sukhothai, though. Especially at sunset. And Wat Yai in Phitsanulok has a "must-see" main sanctuary with one of Thailand's most sacred Buddhas. The temple is right by the main bridge going over the Yom River on the road to Sukhothai. If you are on the bus, and you speak Thai, just ask the driver to let you off on the other side of the bridge when you're coming back from Sukhothai. The temple will be right in front of you. It's an easy, short walk from there to the train station.
I like both cities. In my view, Ayutthaya is more user-friendly due to proximity to markets, lots of guesthouses and midrange options, AND the transportation links to Bangkok. The train station is close.... just across the river. Elephant Kraal has a bunch of baby elephants and they are fun to watch, pet, feed, etc.
#9 scomoore1 has been a member since 30/7/2006. Posts: 33