October 13, 2014
Full Steam Ahead for Ayutthaya
A nostalgic steam train ride from the present capital to an ancient former capital
When: 26th March 2017
Where: Hua Lamphong railway station, Bangkok to Ayutthaya
Why not take a nostalgic steam train journey from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, sedately winding gently through many old towns and villages of rural Thailand.
These somewhat pensionable steam trains only make 4 trips per year, in March to celebrate the anniversary of the State Railway of Thailand, then on 12th August (Queen’s Birthday), 23rd October (Chulalongkorn Day) and 5th December (late King’s Birthday).
The new city of Ayutthaya is approx. 40 miles (64 km) north of Bangkok and the normal journey time is approx. 1 hour and 20 mins at a cost of 15 baht per person while the express train is a whole 20 baht per person, by taking the steam train the journey time is slightly longer by approx 30 minutes and the fare is 250 baht return, or 999 Baht inclusive of a tour.
The timeless Steam Train pulls out of Hua Lamphong, Bangkok at 8 am. Arriving at Modern Ayutthaya around 10.00 am. You can choose to travel in the air-conditioned carriages or elect to ride in those that only have pull down windows, for my point of view the purpose of riding a steam train. is you get to feel, see, smell and hear the noise of these huge iron horses, and not be screened behind thick glass.
Once at your destination you will be able to choose between a traditional Tuk-Tuk and a tram as a means of exploring the nearby ancient city of Ayutthaya. (Modern Ayutthaya was re-founded a few kilometres to the east of the Ayutthaya Historical Park) For those of you with a little more puff you can also hire push bikes for as little as 30Baht.
The ruins of this ancient city, are recognized internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site are preserved in the Historical Park. The park is characterized by the many ‘prang’ (tall tower-like spire, usually richly carved) and gigantic monasteries, which combined provide an impression into the cities past splendour.
The original city was founded in 1350 by King U Thong, who went there to escape a small pox outbreak, he later proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom. It is estimated that Ayutthaya by the year 1600 CE had a population of about 300,000, with the population perhaps reaching 1,000,000 around 1700 CE, making it one of the world’s largest cities at that time. It was and is still sometimes known as the ‘Venice of the East’, a crown that Bangkok was later to wear. Modern Ayutthaya has a population of only 58,888 people (as of 2006)
If you get the chance why not try the afternoon 2 hour river cruise for 200 baht per person, a great way to see more of this once thriving city. With so much to do in the Historical Park why not stay over for a night, there are all levels of accommodation in the new city, with the most basic at a few hundred baht per night.
The Stream return train journey departs for Bangkok at 17.25 pm and arrive at approximately 19.20 pm.
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