There aren’t many places where you can travel by ferry across to a fascinating UNESCO World Heritage listed island for 5-baht which makes a visit to Ayutthaya even more appealing, not to mention an inexpensive, place to visit.
Take a slow train to Ayutthaya
Whether you’re coming from north or south, the most interesting way to arrive in Ayutthaya is by train.
Because Ayutthaya is on the main line linking Bangkok with Issan in the north west and Chang Mai in the north, there are many trains to choose from.
For instance, if you’re planning a day trip from Bangkok its quite easy to take a train in each direction and you can choose from a “Rapid “to a “Sprinter” or my favourite – an all stops, third class, slow train.
No reservations needed
Wander into the Hua Lamphong Railway Station, buy your ticket (no reserved seating) for the princely sum of 15 baht and climb aboard for a relaxing leisurely ride to Ayutthaya.
The scenery changes as you leave the inner city and travel through the suburbs and then on through the rice fields, slowly going from bustling to peaceful. Food sellers join and leave the train throughout the trip that takes about 2 hours. Some of the food is delicious.
Of course, there’s no air conditioning but the open windows mean a cooling breeze and a comfortable trip.
Look for the ferry terminal
After arriving at Ayutthaya station, give the tuk tuk drivers a friendly smile then cross the road, go down the lane and at the end you’ll find the ferry terminal (its signposted).
There are some excellent choices of street food in the lane and if it’s hot (as it is most of the time) enjoy a delicious cooling ga-fae yen (Iced coffee). Then it’s on to the ferry terminal.
The Star Ferry Terminal it’s not. It’s very basic. But the smiles are wide and crowds don’t exist. Pay your 5-baht and join the locals on the pontoon for the next ferry which will be only a few minutes away. Climb aboard for a brief but pleasant (and refreshing) ride across the Pa Sak river.
The busiest river in Thailand
The river is constantly busy with large and noisy tug boats towing long and heavily laden cargo barges (some weighing up to 2000 tonnes each) slowly downriver.
Carrying everything from sugar to building products and with their crew and families living on board they are endlessly moving slowly between northern Thailand and the seaport south of Bangkok.
Adding to the river traffic, Long-tail boats (Water taxis) hit high speeds as they race up and down the river, weaving through the larger vessels.
Taking their name from the long drive shaft that controls both speed and direction and powered by a car engine, in addition to school children, commuters, monks, visitors, and local families, Long-tail boats also carry light cargo.
Joining and leaving these modest wooden ferries causes no problems for people of all ages, and even with luggage will find that it’s easy to get on and off and Thai people are quick to help.
Then it’s a short walk up another lane and you’re on the bustling island of Ayutthaya.