The closest airport is Bangkok’s Don Muang, a hub for regional budget carriers. An elevated walkway connects Terminal 1 to the Don Muang Train Station, where you can catch one of the Ayutthaya-bound trains that regularly roll through.
Ayutthaya’s classy old train station is located just east of the island, on the east bank of the Prasak River. When exiting the station, cross the main road and walk down the soi directly opposite to find a clearly signposted pier at the end. It costs six baht for a ferry across to another soi off Uthong Road, from where it's a 10-minute walk to the Soi Farang backpacker strip and 20 minutes to the Historical Park. There are also plenty of tuk tuks available at the station.
More than 30 daily trains depart for Ayutthaya from Bangkok's Hualamphong Station between 04:20 and 22:25, and the trip takes around two hours. Hard third-class seats go for 20 baht while a cushioned seat in second class costs 65 baht. These trains can also be caught at Bang Sue and Don Muang stations in Northern Bangkok.
In Ayutthaya, trains depart for Bangkok at least once an hour from 02:30 to 19:15, with the last train coming through at 21:40. These stop at Bang Pa-In and Don Muang on the way to Hualamphong.
Trains, rather than buses, provide the widest range of options for heading north or northeast from Ayutthaya. Options include:
Chiang Mai: Departs at 09:50, 15:20, 19:45, 21:05 and 23:35, and takes around 12 hours. Fares range from 220 baht for third class to 360 baht for second class and around 600 baht for a sleeper, up to over 1,000 baht for a first-class compartment. Sleepers on overnight trains often fill up in advance. Chiang Mai-bound trains stop at Lopburi, Nakhon Sawan, Phitsanulok, Uttaradit, Lampang and Lamphun, among others.
Phitsanulok: In addition to the Chiang Mai-bound trains, other trains depart for Phitsanulok at 08:40, 11:30, 12:15, 21:45 and 22:25. If heading to Sukhothai, transfer to a bus in Phitsanulok.
Lopburi: In addition to all northbound trains, ordinary local trains depart for Lopburi at 06:00, 18:30, 19:15 and 11:30.
Nong Khai: Departs at 09:40, 20:00, 21:40 and 22:20, and takes around nine hours. Fares range from around 200 baht for third class to 470 baht for first class and 630 baht for a sleeper. Nong Khai-bound trains stop at Pak Chong (Khao Yai), Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen and Udon Thani, among others.
Ubon Ratchathani: Departs at 07:00, 08:25, 17:00, 20:25, 21:50 and 23:55, and takes around eight hours. Fares range from around 200 baht for third class to 310 baht for second class and 620 baht for a sleeper. Ubon-bound trains stop at Pak Chong (Khao Yai), Nakhon Ratchasima, Buriram, Surin and Sisaket, among others.
Surin: In addition to all Ubon-bound trains, other trains depart for Surin at 11:25, 13:05 and 23:10. The 11:25 train continues on to Si Saket.
As of 2016, regular big buses no longer run between Ayutthaya and Bangkok. You can still buy a ticket for Ayutthaya at Bangkok’s Morchit (Northern) Bus Terminal, but it will be for a minibus (van). These depart every 30 minutes from 06:00 to 17:00 for 60 baht and take around 1.5 hours (longer during rush hour).
In Ayutthaya, minibuses depart for Morchit from the corner of Naresuan Road and Naresuan Soi 1 (Soi Farang) from 06:00 to 17:00. Minibuses also depart for Sai Tai Mai (Southern) Bus Terminal from a parking area found further east up Naresuan Road, just east of Khlong Makharm Riang Road.
Tourist minibuses run between Ayutthaya and Bangkok’s Khao San Road as well. These cost around 200 baht and include pick up at your guesthouse in Ayutthaya.
Note that some minibuses terminate at Rangsit in far Northern Bangkok, so be sure to ask exactly where the van is heading before jumping on.
Unless you’re heading to Bangkok, Ayutthaya has one of the more confusing public bus systems of any Thai city, explaining why so many travellers pay more to book through travel agents.
Several minibuses and a few old regular buses depart from Naresuan Soi 2, across Naresuan Road from the Soi Farang backpacker strip. There are no English signs so you’ll probably need to ask for help finding the right van. Fares from here include:
Sena: Minibuses depart every 10 minutes from 06:00 to 18:30 for 20 baht.
Lopburi: Minibuses depart every half-hour from 05:30 to 16:00 for 80 baht.
Suphanburi: Minibuses depart at least once an hour from 06:00 to 17:00. If heading to Kanchanaburi, taking one of these and transferring in Suphanburi would be cheaper than booking a direct tourist minibus.
Bang Pa-In: Large songthaews pick up in front of Chao Phrom Market on Naresuan Road, around the corner from Naresuan Soi 2, from early morning to around 16:00.
Buses to North Thailand depart from a terminal known locally as Sai Siea (or Sai Nuea) located far to the east of town off Highway 32. Tickets can be purchased on on the island, at a conveniently located booth marked with the 999 Public Transport Company’s logo on Naresuan Road, just west of Horattanachai Soi 4 and across the road from the largest parking area for minibuses to Bangkok. It opens daily 06:30-17:00. If buying tickets here, you’ll need to take a tuk tuk (100 baht) or motorbike taxi (60 baht) to the Sai Siea Station to catch your bus. Unless it says otherwise, the fares listed below were quoted from the Transport Company booth. Booking through a travel agent will cost around 300 baht more but will include pick up at your guesthouse.
Chiang Mai: Second-class buses depart at 06:40, 08:25, 11:30, 13:30, 15:30 and 20:50 for 389 baht. First-class buses depart at 19:30 and 22:40 for 500 baht. VIP buses depart at 10:00, 20:20 and 22:00 for 778 baht. The trip takes around 10 hours. Chiang Mai-bound buses may also stop in Tak, Kamphaeng Phet, Phitsanulok and Lampang; there are two main routes so ask to be sure.
Sukhothai: Second-class buses depart at 08:45, 09:30, 12:00, 15:00, 17:00, 19:50 and 21:40 for 248 baht. First-class buses depart at 07:10, 11:30, 13:00 and 20:30 for 319 baht. The trip takes around seven hours.
Phitsanulok: Second-class buses depart at 09:10 and 21:00 for 220 baht. First-class buses depart at 10:10, 11:00, 13:30, 14:00, 21:00 and 22:30 for 270 baht.
Chiang Rai: First-class buses depart at 18:30 and 20:30 for 850 baht. A VIP bus departs at 20:40 for 1,150 baht. The trip takes around 12 hours. A private bus company operates this route and tickets are not available at the Transport Company booth; you’re best off booking through a travel agent.
Nan: Second-class buses depart at 07:00, 08:45, 19:00, 20:20 and 21:20 for 600 baht. First-class buses depart at 09:30 and 21:30 for 750 baht. A VIP bus departs at 21:00 for 1,050 baht. The trip takes around 12 hours. The booking situation is the same as Chiang Rai.
In addition, designated tourist minibuses that can only be booked through travel agents run to the following destinations and include pick up at your guesthouse:
Kanchanaburi: Departs at 09:00 for 400 baht and takes around three hours.
Hua Hin: Departs at 09:00 for 750 baht and takes around six hours.
Pattaya: Departs hourly from morning to late afternoon for 700 baht and takes five hours.
Aranyaprathet (Cambodia border): Departs at 08:00 and 13:00 for 500 baht and takes four hours.
If heading to islands like Ko Samui and Ko Pha Ngan in South Thailand, your best bet is to take a minibus to Bangkok’s Sai Tai Mai (Southern) Bus Terminal or train to Hualamphong Station and make a transfer.
If heading to Ko Samet, Ko Chang or other points in East Thailand, transfer at Morchit (Northern) Terminal in Bangkok or take the BTS Skytrain to Ekkamai (Eastern) Bus Terminal for more options. The Transport Company ticket booth on Naresuan Road posts timetables from Bangkok to the jumping off points for these islands and can sell tickets, but you’ll need to get to Bangkok on your own to find your bus.
Some Ayutthaya travel agents sell all-in tickets to several islands that combine train, bus and ferry -- we’d approach these with caution.
There are no public boats between Bangkok and Ayutthaya. A few companies operate river-cruise boats running day or overnight tours between Bangkok and Bang Pa-In. If you book a boat ride to Bangkok through a travel agent in Ayutthaya, it will most likely include a minibus ride to the pier in Bang Pa-In.
If you want to skip the slow trains and cramped minibuses, taxis can take you straight from Bangkok to Ayutthaya for around 1,500 baht -- less if coming from Don Muang Airport and more if from Suvarnabhumi Airport. Expect to pay around 3,000 baht for a full-day return trip with stops at the attractions of your choice.
In Ayutthaya, private taxis can be arranged through travel agents to places like Suvarnabhumi Airport, Khao San Road, Kanchanaburi, Ko Samet, Ko Chang, Hua Hin, Sukhothai and Aranyaprathet. Depending on where you’re going, expect to pay from 1,500 to 4,500 baht for the whole car (not per person).
Bicycle is best for exploring around the island, which is fairly spread out between the Historical Park and Chao Phrom Market area. Basic pushbikes can be rented at all guesthouses and travel offices for 40 to 50 baht per day. A shop located on the lane running between the train station and cross-river ferry pier, just east of the island, rents out Trek mountain bikes for 100 baht per day. Baan Lotus also advertises mountain bikes for the same price.
Motorbikes are also readily available -- especially on Soi Farang and the sois accessing the train station ferry piers on both sides of the Prasak River. Prices range from 150 to 300 baht a day. Otherwise you’ll find an extreme number of tuk tuks offering tours to the outlying ruins; expect to pay 200 to 300 baht for an hour and 500 to 600 baht for three hours. These prices are for the entire tuk tuk, not per person, though shifty drivers sometimes say otherwise. Ayutthaya also has its share of motorbike taxis.