As our time in Bangkok was coming to an end (for now), we decided to head up to Chiang Mai, but not without a stop in the little town of Ayutthaya first.
We’d only planned to spend a couple of hours in Ayutthaya before getting the overnight bus to Chiang Mai, but we were excited to see a little bit of Ayutthaya, nonetheless.
Anyway, let’s see how we got on with the journey from Bangkok to Ayutthaya!
Gonna get the bus down Khao San Road
Once we’d checked out of our hostel at midday, we took a Grab to the Thai Sriram Transport Office, just off Khao San Road.
If you’ve spent any length of time in the Thai capital city, you’ll have likely experienced a brief glimpse into the chaos that is Khao San Road, but thankfully at lunchtime, the usually hectic street was surprisingly calm.
We arrived at Thai Sriram at about 12:30 pm but our bus didn’t leave until 3:00 pm, so it’s safe to say we were just a little early!
Pro tip: it’s recommended that you arrive at least half an hour before your departure time unless otherwise stated.
As we were so early, we went for food at a nearby Indian restaurant called Rest Inn (it’s also a hostel too), I’d highly recommend eating here if you arrive a bit too early too as it was so delicious.
Just before 3:00 pm, we headed back to the Thai Sriram office and boarded a minivan. We were the only ones on it, so we assumed we’d hit the jackpot and had an entire van to ourselves for the journey!
However, we were soon informed that we were just being taken to the Southern Sai Tai Guo bus station in Bangkok so we could swap over to another van that already had numerous other passengers ready and waiting.
The minivan set off at 3:45 pm, which was technically 45 minutes after our supposed departure time.One thing you should bear in mind when traveling via bus or minivan in Thailand is that the timings are very approximate so even if your ticket says your departure is 3:00 pm, for example, just be aware that you might not actually be setting off for another hour or so.
Strangers or friends?
The journey was relatively smooth and we stopped a couple of times to pick up some more people at another bus station at around 4:00 pm, as well as picking up a few locals on the side of the road.
After taking numerous buses in and around Thailand over the last few weeks, I’ve discovered that these “random” pick-ups happen quite frequently. It’s actually quite impressive that locals know which bus to get on as there are usually lots of minivans seemingly just randomly pulled up at the side of the road.
The minivan had the capacity to fit thirteen people inside (including the driver) and every seat was full for pretty much the entire duration of the journey. [Note: This ride is from before COVID-19]
After lots of intermittent pick-ups and drop offs along the side of the road, we were finally in Ayutthaya.
On our booking confirmation ticket, it said that the drop off point was 7-Eleven in Ayutthaya which was actually very convenient for us because we were getting the bus to Chiang Mai later in the evening.
However, upon arrival in Ayutthaya, the minivan just stopped at the side of the road and the driver got out and began unloading our bags. We told him that this wasn’t our correct drop off point, but he didn’t speak any English whatsoever (another common theme that we’ve discovered while travelling via bus in Thailand) and so we had very little choice but to disembark from the bus and make our own way around the town.
Thankfully, we had a Thai sim card that we’d picked up at the airport upon arrival in Thailand. This way, we could search for a nearby café where we spent a couple of hours eating, drinking and playing cards. I think it’s a good idea to pick up a local SIM card when travelling in Southeast Asia. When we were travelling in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore last year, we didn’t buy a local SIM card once as there was very decent Wi-Fi everywhere.
However, we’ve found free Wi-Fi to be particularly spotty in Thailand so just bear that in mind.
We spent the rest of our time in Ayutthaya at a lovely little restaurant called Kaffa which I would highly recommend if you’re in Ayutthaya. The owner was so friendly and accommodating and he let us stay there for a good few hours before we caught our next bus to Chiang Mai!
Our journey from Bangkok to Ayutthaya was relatively uneventful until we actually arrived there.
My top tip is just be aware that your driver might not follow the rules exactly and drop you off where he sees fit. If you don’t want to get a local sim card, then I’d recommend downloading offline maps so you’ll still be able to see all the places to eat and drink and you can easily navigate your way around a city in Thailand.