If you go to Thailand, you'll want to see some temple ruins. The two main sites to visit are Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, Thailand's two former capitals. What to expect? Loads of beautiful buildings, Buddha and elephant statues, gorgeous landscapes and, well, yes delicious Thai cuisine.

Especially popular with tourists is Ayutthaya, Thailand's capital from the 14th century through to its destruction by an invading Burmese army in 1767: only an hour's journey North of Bangkok, it can be visited on a day-trip, but we chose to stay the night. Ayutthaya's most famous landmark is a Buddha head tangled in the roots of a banyan tree amid the ruins of Wat Mahathat, but Ayutthaya Historical Park actually consists of twenty-odd separate sites which are all worth seeing.

We visited it during the monsoon season, still tuk-tuks proved to have no difficulties getting people from one part of the town to another. You may indeed want to use this charming if sometimes alarming local form of transport in any season, as the different sites are quite far apart.

If you go to see the big reclining Buddha at Wat Lokayasutharam, you might be asked to buy a few charms or candles to pay respects.

When you're done sightseeing, you can grab dinner at Ayutthaya's impressive night market. It offers enough choice, even a few vegetarian dishes, the food is prepared on the spot and served steaming and fresh.

Night market in Ayutthaya

While both sites are worth visiting, if you can only see one, then we would recommend going for Sukhothai, the capital of the first Thai kingdom from the 13th to the 15th century. Though a bit more of a hassle to get to (Sukhothai is in a fairly remote part of the country, about 6 hours North of Bangkok and away from major transport routes), Sukhothai's Historical Park is more compact, more stylistically homogeneous and less crowded than Ayutthaya. We found it more peaceful and atmospheric: it is breath-taking. Many of the ruins and statues are surrounded by lotus ponds, which adds to the gorgeous factor. 

Most hotels offer bikes to see the sights. If you're lucky you might catch some of the local wildlife and less wild (but no less cute) cats.