During our visit to Thailand last Christmas, our family signed up for a tour of Ayutthaya. It took us around different historical temples and ended with a nice riverboat cruise buffet along Chao Praya River.
We booked the Grand Pearl Riverboat Cruise, which was recommended by our hotel. A shuttle picked us up and took us to the River City Shopping Complex where the tour bus was waiting.
It took about 1 1/2 hours for us to reach our first stop for the day. On the way there, our guide gave us some background information about Thailand and the royal family. He told us that Ayutthaya was one of the old capitals of Thailand, back in the 16th century. I also enjoyed learning about how the Thai people assign different colors for different days. Our guide explained that most Thai houses and establishments will have a yellow flag displayed next to the Thai flag to honor their king, who was born on a Monday.
I was born on a Wednesday, so according to Thai beliefs, my lucky color is green. (According to Wikipedia, this also means that my unlucky color is pink – which sort of sucks because it’s my favorite color and practically everything I own is pink. Good thing I’m not superstitious.)
Our first stop was Bang Pa In Palace
Our guide put this sign up on our bus and told us to take a picture of it to remind us of our bus number and meeting time
Bang Pa In Palace is the Summer Palace of King Rama V. The guide showed us around and talked more about Thailand’s history. This trip took place 9 months ago so I can’t really remember everything he told us. To make up for it, here are some pictures I took while we walked around:
Lovely pavilion in the middle of the pond
There were many beautiful gardens inside the palace walls
I forgot what this place was, but I think it was the Throne Room
Look at the intricate details on the gate
Outside we saw this little house thing:
I’m not really sure what it was for, but it was open to visitors. It was a little cramped inside and you had to take your shoes off (which is common for most of these places), so my parents decided to skip it.
They had really low ceilings on the first floor
The second floor was more spacious
This is the gazebo where Ezra had her 51st portrait for 2013.
There were a lot of lovely hedge carvings around the palace. Our guide told us that the prince/king likes doing these himself.
This one’s supposed to be a cobra
We found this cute gazebo which looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale
After a exploring the palace grounds, we went back to the bus to head over to Wat Maha That
Quick selfie while waiting for the rest of our group to arrive
On our way to our next location, our guide pointed out these pillars which clearly showed how high waters reached during the flooding of 2011.
When we arrived at the temple, we saw a bunch of these interesting looking tuk tuks 🙂
There were also some locals there selling some yummy looking ice cream
Before we went inside the temple, our guide gave us a bit of information about the place. He also reminded us to be respectful and showed us this sign which contains things that we are not supposed to do while we were there.
Our guide told us that this temple was built around the 14th century. When the Burmese attacked Ayutthaya, the place was destroyed. A lot of tourists come here to see the ruins.
There were several of these Cambodian-style pagodas around the area
The highlight of this place was this tree which contained a Buddha head:
Our guide informed us that they are still not sure how the Buddha head ended up in there. One common theory is that when the Burmese attacked the temple, they chopped off all the Buddha heads in the place to take them back to Burma. People believe that this particular Buddha head fell on the ground or got left behind. Somehow, it managed to make its way into the roots of the tree. Many Buddhist believe that it was a miracle and therefore this place is very sacred.
It is considered rude to sit higher than the Buddha, so they have a bench for tourists to sit on when they want to take photos
After this place, our tour took us to Wat Phra Sri Sanphet
The pagodas in the background contain the remains of three past kings of Thailand. I think they were the 8th, 9th and 10th king, but I could be wrong
My 51st self portrait for 2013 was shot here
We found these merchants selling animals which you can release into the wild for good karma. I remember that the pagodas/temples in Myanmar did something similar, although usually I only saw birds or fish being sold.
There were eels, fish, loaches and even turtles
Visitors can also purchase gold leaf sheets to attach to these statutes.
We saw a cart selling banana pancakes there. Our guide told us it was good so we decided to try them
It tasted a lot like maruya. Yumm.
We spotted this traditional Thai house which the government provides for some of their officials.
This was where Ezra’s 50th self portrait for 2013 was shot.
Outside, we saw some elephants which tourists can ride for a small fee:
This temple was our last stop for the day. After this our guide took us to Chao Praya River where a boat was waiting for us for our buffet cruise
The food they served during the cruise was really good. I especially loved the Tom Yum soup and the desserts
After lunch, I resisted the urge to take a nap, which was very difficult since I was extremely full and sleepy after the delicious meal we just had.
The Tom Yum soup was very yummy and Ezra couldn’t help but eat it despite her seafood allergies. As a result, her eye swelled up a few minutes later.
My dad and I enjoying the cool breeze from the top deck
Ezra was lucky it was sunny so she was able to hide her swollen eye using her shades
The boat ride back to Bangkok was about 2 1/2 hours long. We spent the rest of the afternoon just lounging around the ship and admiring the view.
Rama VIII bridge
Royal Grand Palace
We made it to Bangkok a little past 4pm. A shuttle picked us up from the port to take us back to our hotel.
This ends my blog entries of our Thailand Christmas trip. We were only there for 5 days, but we had an amazing time.
If you’re interested, I wrote two other blog entries about our trip, which you can read here: