A couple of months ago, I had planned to go to Ayutthaya and Sukhothai for a few days (by myself in each city) but those plans went up in smoke when my back gave out but it wasn't all bad, I guess. I posted about that HERE. My original plan was to take the bus to Ayutthaya, disembark at the bus station, hop on the ferry to cross the river and rent a bike to ride at any venue that offered bikes. Then grab/tuk tuk in between venues. I was told that it was better to rent bikes after taking the ferry because you have to pay extra to bring a bike onboard.
Whilst planning my 2 day trip I was wishing I had more time to explore Ayutthaya but alas as luck/fate would have it, my plan now included my family and since my kid couldn't get any time off work that week, we only get one day in Ayutthaya. Well, since one of kids can't cycle and the other one is ok but rather 'green' we decided biking was out of the question (since I couldn't find any info on the availability of tandem bikes). For some reason, I couldn't book bus tickets online from Singapore, either there were no tickets or the payment page wouldn't work. At this point I'm just purely frustrated so I just booked a tour package.
I booked the one day Ayutthaya tour from Klook, I've booked tours (in Japan) before and the tours were well organized and on time, but really, really rushed. So that's what we were expecting. Our tour included these places: Bang Pa-In Summer Palace, Wat Chaiwatthanarm, and Wat Yai Chai Mongkol with Night Market at a cost of $48 SGD per person. The drop off point was Icon Siam mall (different from the pickup point) which none of has had been to so that was a bonus, I guess.
The meeting point was easy to find (Siam Paragon Mall) and the instructions given on the website were precise. Departure time was accurate and the bus was large and spacious (2 seats on either side). Having said that, they don't allow large bags/suitcases, so for those who didn't know, there are lockers around the corner for people to lock up their luggage. Backpacks are ok though but you'll have to sacrifice some leg room which isn't a problem as there's plenty. I had my backpack and waist pouch (that fits 2 dslrs) on the floor and still had plenty of leg room.
The bus was an older one with lumpy seats but the aircon worked well, some people had to put on jackets while others closed the aircon vent. The seats looked clean and overall the entire bus looked well kept. Oh, there isn't a toilet on board and no scheduled toilet breaks (although the trip is only an hour or so). Included in the tour was a complimentary bottle of water and a bun with some sort of filling (assorted flavors).
The tour had two guides, one did all the talking and spoke in both English and Mandarin. The two guides did great in making sure everyone was taken care of both in getting photos at all the venues as well as making sure everyone was able to order their lunch. The lunch venue was a strip of local "mom and pop" style restaurants outside one of the venues. Although we were free to choose where we wanted to eat, the one they recommended was really, really good! I had TWO portions of whatever it was, I think it was pork. I'm not in the habit of taking food photos, so yeah, regrettably I have none.
If you're travelling by yourself (as in not part of a tour), you really should take into account transport because the venues we were taken to are pretty far apart. Although, if you knew where you were going, I suppose you could bike it but I wouldn't want to (I carry a buncha camera gear, lol), plus a lot of the biking would be done on the roads, not so great for little ones or those not fully confident riding in traffic.
Overall, this tour and our guides were awesome! We weren't rushed at all and my family and I found that although we could have spent way more time at each venue, we did have enough time to get the images we wanted in the allotted time. This included me setting up the tripod for family shots at each venue which is rare when we are on a tour. Although tips weren't mandatory, we unanimously agreed that our guides and driver deserved it. Plus at the drop off point, Icon Siam mall, they got us an envelope full of discount coupons, not sure where they got them from but it was nice.
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