Located just 85 km north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is a must-visit destination for those looking to immerse themselves in Thailand’s rich past.
The ancient capital of the Kingdom of Siam, offers visitors a fascinating journey through Thailand’s rich history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to an impressive collection of temples, palaces, and ruins that once formed the heart of a thriving civilization.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet: This iconic temple, known for its three large chedis (stupas), was the holiest site in the ancient city. It once housed a 16-meter-tall, gold-covered Buddha statue, which was destroyed during the Burmese invasion in 1767.
Wat Mahathat: Famous for the stone Buddha head entwined in tree roots, this temple is an essential stop on your Ayutthaya tour. Wat Mahathat also features a central prang (tower) surrounded by smaller chedis and Buddha statues.
Wat Ratchaburana: This well-preserved temple features a distinctive central prang and offers a chance to explore its ancient crypt, which contains beautiful frescoes and intricate stucco work.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram: Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, this temple complex is known for its striking Khmer-style architecture and is a perfect spot for sunset views.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon: This active temple is famous for its towering chedi and rows of seated Buddha statues. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Getting There and Around
Ayutthaya is easily accessible from Bangkok by train, bus, or private car. Trains depart frequently from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station, while buses leave from Mo Chit Bus Terminal. The journey takes around 1.5 to 2 hours.
Local transportation: Bicycles are an excellent way to explore Ayutthaya at your own pace. Bike rentals are widely available, and the flat terrain makes it easy to navigate the city. Alternatively, you can hire a tuk-tuk or a songthaew (shared taxi) to visit the various attractions.
Activities and Experiences
- Ayutthaya Historical Park: Rent a bicycle and spend a day cycling through the historical park, taking in the unique atmosphere and discovering lesser-known ruins.
- River Cruise: Experience Ayutthaya from a different perspective by joining a boat tour that takes you around the island and past various temples.
- Ayutthaya Floating Market: Soak up the vibrant atmosphere at this reconstructed market, where you can shop for local handicrafts and sample traditional Thai snacks.
- Chao Sam Phraya National Museum: Learn about Ayutthaya’s rich history by visiting this museum, which houses artifacts recovered from the ruins, such as gold treasures and Buddha statues.
- Thai Traditional Massage: After a long day of exploring, indulge in a relaxing Thai massage at one of the many massage parlors around the city.
Ayutthaya offers an array of local culinary delights, including boat noodles, roti sai mai (Thai cotton candy wrapped in a thin pancake), and freshwater river prawns. For an authentic dining experience, visit The Street Ayutthaya or Baan Kun Pra, both of which are popular among locals and visitors alike.
Ayutthaya has a wide range of accommodations to suit various budgets, from affordable guesthouses and hostels to boutique hotels and luxury resorts. Consider staying at Sala Ayutthaya for a boutique experience, or book a room at Baan Thai House for a more budget-friendly option.
Tips for Visiting Ayutthaya
- Dress appropriately when visiting temples, as a sign of respect. Wear modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.
- Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as exploring the ruins can be hot and tiring,especially during the day.
- Plan your visit during the cooler months (November to February) to avoid extreme heat and humidity. The weather is more pleasant, making it more comfortable for exploring the ruins.
- Arrive early at popular sites to beat the crowds and enjoy a more peaceful experience. Morning light also provides great photo opportunities.
- Consider hiring a local guide to gain more in-depth knowledge about Ayutthaya’s history and the significance of each site. They can provide valuable insights and answer any questions you may have.
- Stay at least one night in Ayutthaya to fully appreciate its beauty and explore the ruins at a leisurely pace. Many tourists visit as a day trip from Bangkok, but an overnight stay allows you to experience the city’s unique ambiance more thoroughly.
- Be respectful of the ancient ruins and refrain from touching or climbing on the structures. This helps preserve the site for future generations to enjoy.
- Visit the Ayutthaya Tourist Center near the Historical Park to gather maps, brochures, and additional information to help you plan your visit.