Escaping the bustling capital for a day’s recharge
Story/Photo Credit: Ttent Thanarojpradit
Ayutthaya province is the old capital city of Thailand during the years 1350 to 1767. The golden age of Ayutthaya is during the 18th century when art, literature, and learning flourished.
The ruins of the historic city of Ayutthaya and ‘associated historic towns’ in the Ayutthaya historical park have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city of Ayutthaya was founded near the old city which is now the capital of Ayutthaya Province.
From Hua Lamphong Train station, there are trains leaving daily for Ayutthaya and the ticket is priced from B20-200 depending on the type of trains. The ride takes approximately two hours.
Once arrived, one can choose to employ one of the waiting Song Thaew or Tuk-Tuk to get to the next destination. There are also numerous bicycle and motorcycle rental shops in the area.
Where to visit:
Straying off the known route, the first destination was the Wat Phra Ngam, also known as Wat Cha Ram located in Khlong Sa Bua Sub-district or Si Pho Temple. The temple is believed to have been built in the early Ayutthaya era due to the layout of the temple. Famed for the ‘Gate of Time’ (Pratoo Haeng Kal We-la), an archaic ruin with a tree arch covered by an old tree.
Nearby is the Golden Mount or Wat Phu Khao Thong or the Monastery of the Golden Mount built by King Ramesuan in 1395. The name of the temple refers to the high Chedi on its northeastern side. The location is quite popular with tourists. After the most recent renovation, the white Chedi stands centre stage with parts that started to be covered in gold sheets, lending one a better representation of how it possibly looked like during its hay day centuries ago.
The adjacent temple, founded by King Ramesuan in 1387, is still in use today. The whole complex is surrounded by an outer wall and a moat.
Next destination is the Chan Kasem Palace or Chan Kasem National Museum, west bank of the Front City Canal, is a former royal palace accessible via U-thong Road. Between the reigns of King Rama I to King Rama III, bricks from Ayutthaya were transported to Bangkok to build the city walls and temples.
Later, King Mongkut ordered the reconstruction of the Chan Boworn Palace to use as his residence when visiting Ayutthaya and thereby changing its name to Chan Kasem Palace (the word ‘Kasem’ meaning ‘happy’ or ‘joyous’). The construction was finalised in 1857.
Finally, a rest stop at the Ayutthaya Central Prison’s very own Cook & Coff café. Located a short distance from the Chan Kasem Palace. It is run by the current inmates with outstanding behaviour as part of the job training programme prior to their releases.
Visitors here can enjoy choices of coffee, tea, delicious treats and superb services amidst the unique decor of prison-issued bits and bobs including cells and other rather interesting items such as the prisoner’s old hands and legs restraints.