7 things to do in Ayutthaya that have nothing to do with temples

Photo: Nontimuk/IG
Photo: Nontimuk/IG

Ayutthaya is beautiful, ancient, full of temples, and hot as hell. Most people are enticed to visit thanks to its high density of temples and its historical park, all of which can be managed within a day trip from Bangkok.

Some say there’s nothing else to do in this tourist town a few hours outside of the city — we beg to differ. Here are our top 7 things to do on a chilled out getaway to Ayutthaya after you’ve seen all the temples.

 

Rent bikes and visit the city’s cafes

Photo: Cafetrifecta/IG
Photo: Cafetrifecta/IG

Ayutthaya has a vibrant cafe culture, from streetside coffee counters to upscale hotel outlets. Visitors can rent bikes and try some of the city’s coffee drinks and treats such as waffles, crepes, and cakes. Coffee Old City is a classic with vintage style to spare that also serves up a mean pad thai. Busaba offers more modern feels, and Hunsa Coffee’s latte is good — but their mango soda with golden pearls is better. Those aiming for zero waste should head for Cafe Trifecta, where they serve heady cold brew drinks in glass beakers and use only metal straws.

If you like your dranks with a different kind of kick, roll up to Cheewa Cafe. Sure, they do coffees and trendy brown sugar boba milks, but they also offer up oversized cocktail frappes for groups and cocktails using somtam and other Thai flavors.

Photo: Cheewa Cafe/IG
Photo: Cheewa Cafe/IG

Burn off those calories — and use up the caffeine and sugar buzz — by taking an extended sunset ride through town.

 

Lie in a hammock

Photo: Kanluenghome/IG
Photo: Kanluenghome/IG

Many of the owners of the chill guesthouses in the temple town are hip to the fact that people come to the small, quiet town to feel peace and chill out. Whether they are weekend escapees from Bangkok or refugees from the nearest full moon party, people come to Ayutthaya to relax, not rage.

It makes sense that many of the accommodations push the weekend vibe with floor cushions, small ponds, and lounge beds galore. Places like Kanlueng Home, Tamarind, and Old Place Guesthouse rate highly with guests. Reviewers praise Kanlueng for their outdoor bar with hammock seating, perched beside a pond, and overlooking green rice fields. That’s a quadruple play of relaxing amenities. Though the location is a bit out of the way, the staff whips up a tasty breakfast — we’d still call that a win.

 

Enjoy drinks, seafood, and merriness on a mini pub street

Photo: Bonboki/IG
Photo: Bonboki/IG

If you think there’s not much to do by day when you’re templed out in this town — there’s even less happening at night. Naresuan Road is where it’s at, though. A bit like a baby version of Saigon’s Walking Street or Siem Reap’s Pub Street, this place comes alive after sunset. Expect to hear cover bands doing reggae versions of Top 40 tracks, fresh whole fish stuffed with lemongrass, giant river prawns caught locally, and drinks galore at very reasonable prices.

Though most bars do fun, frozen, brightly colored, and tiki-style cocktails, in our experience the drinks are weak AF and taste like they contain more sugar than booze. We strictly stick to beer and wine here.

The quality of people watching improves as the night wears on, though — and some of the little bars that dot the street even get people dancing after 10pm. Check out Chang House and Jazz Bar for people watching while Junk House has a good house band that always draws a crowd.

 

Check out the Million Toy Museum

Photo: Million Toy Museum/FB
Photo: Million Toy Museum/FB

Privately owned by a toy enthusiast, this unusual museum on the outskirts of town does exactly what it sounds like — it has lots and lots of toys for THB50 entry. Though possibly not a hit for superhero nerds, this place houses everything from antique playthings to a large collection of Godzilla merch to Supermans, Yodas, Japanese toys, and more.

Photo: Million Toy Museum/FB
Photo: Million Toy Museum/FB

The Million Toy Museum is also housed in a gorgeous two-story vintage house with an assortment of Thai antiques to look at, a cafe, and a pretty garden behind it on Uthong Road.

 

Eat boat noodles

Photo: princess_greenbean/IG
Photo: princess_greenbean/IG

Ayutthaya is well known for a few particular Thai dishes. One of the most delicious is boat noodles. A nuanced, flavorful dish, those that are picky eaters might just want to start slurping before they hear the ingredients. The noodles, traditionally served from a boat at a floating market — hence the name — have pork, beef, meatballs, and soy sauce and resemble beef noodles. No big deal. Before they’re served vendors add pickled bean curd, pig’s liver and animal blood. The blood is what gives the soup its telltale viscous consistency.

The best boat noodles in Ayutthaya supposedly come from roadside stalls near Pratuchai Road.

 

Visit a sweet night market

Photo: Veerachatchalermpol/IG
Photo: Veerachatchalermpol/IG

Insiders say to skip the small floating market and hit up a night market instead, which is where the locals snack, shop, and gather. Though there are three, the best is the one that’s only held on weekend evenings, the Krungsri Night Market. Lined with bamboo tables for eating and oversized fairy lights, this place feels a bit magical and, like all night markets, the prices are pretty low.

The stands, which go heavy on food and souvenirs, ring a pond called Bueng Phraram. They also have a stage showing traditional Thai dance, theater, and Muay Thai.

 

Scratch a sugar itch with roti sai mai

Photo: slavikovastanislava/IG
Photo: slavikovastanislava/IG

The city’s traditional sweet is sometimes calledAyutthaya cotton candy.” It’s developed from Indian roti concepts and has been dubbed “dessert burrito” by many a foreigner. Do you see where we’re going with this? So, tri-colored cotton candy strings — usually in pink, white, and green — are rolled up in a sweet roti and eaten with your hands.  The satisfying chew of the roti is heightened by the sugar crunch as you bite into the flossy innards.

And, if you’re really nuts for roti sai mai, you can even learn how to make it at classes in Ayutthaya. How’s that for sweet?


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