Did you know that Bangkok wasn’t the first capital city of modern Thailand? The ancient city of Ayutthaya was initially founded as the capital of a fledgling Thailand back in 1350. It remained the capital until 1782 when Bangkok became its predecessor.
Ayutthaya’s rich and historical past makes it one of the most fascinating and exciting places in Thailand. If you want to find out more about the country’s history, Ayutthaya is the place for you.
As mentioned above, ancient Ayutthaya was first founded back in 1350 by King Uthong. It was declared the capital of the Kingdom until it was overtaken by the Burmese again in 1767.
Ayutthaya is located approximately 80 kilometres to the north of modern-day Bangkok in Central Thailand. And in this day and age is like a living museum to the ancient times of Thailand.
Ayutthaya is an island of sorts that sits in the middle of the confluence of three rivers. The Lopburi River, Pa Sak River and the well-known Chao Phraya River that runs through Bangkok. To visit Ayutthaya, you will generally need to cross the river on a ferry or some other form of a boat. The Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park in Ayutthaya listed as a UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1991.
Many tourists flock to the region to see the ancient old temples. The temple that once ran the country and is currently known as one of the top-ranking tourist destinations for real travellers looking to explore real Thailand.
What to see and do in Ayutthaya?
If you are looking for bars and partying, Ayutthaya is not the place to visit. However, if you are a culture vulture or someone who loves history, this is the perfect place to visit. If you are coming here to explore the region’s ancient temples, most of them located to the northwest of the island. Most of the city’s accommodation choices and nightlife options are towards the northeast of the island.
An interesting fact is that non-Siamese people are not allowed to live within the confines of the city walls. Here is a list of some of the city’s most exciting sites that you need to visit.
Ayutthaya’s Grand Palaces
The city is home to three majestic palaces – Wang Lang (the Rear Palace), the Chantharakasem Palace (the Front Palace), and the Grand Palace. These are the main palaces in the city, although there are others outside the city walls in Bang Pa-In and Nakhon Luang.
Temples are one of the main reasons people visit the city. You will find that the temples that charge entry fees are those who are in ruins, which means there is no dress code as the temple are not active places of worship. However, you will need to tread carefully and remember that these ancient buildings are delicate and in ruins.
Working temples in the city do not usually have entry charges, but you have to follow the dress codes. You can buy a 230 THB Temple Pass that will give you access to 6 temples in the city, which is excellent if you are on a budget.
Here are some of the most famous old temples in the city:
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet is 700 years old and is located on Sri Sanphet road and is open from 8 am to 6 pm daily and is known as the largest temple in the city. The temple is also known for its row of chedis. The temple is housed in the former grounds of a royal palace and once housed a 16-meter-tall Buddha that had 340 kg of gold until the Burmese stole it back in the 1700s. The ruins of this temple are fascinating, and with an entry price of 50 THB, it’s a bargain.
Wat Lokaya Sutha (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
This famous temple is the home to a 42-meter-high, 8 meters wide reclining Buddha statue that offers one of the most impressive sights in the city. The temple is located in the Pratu Chai sub-district and is a must-visit temple complex.
Ayutthaya Historical Park
As we mentioned before, the Ayutthaya Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to 67 temples and ruins. It was once the epicenter of the Siamese capital city and is still uber-impressive today with its expansive ruins and mesmerizing architecture. If you are a history buff, this is the ultimate place to visit in Ayutthaya.
Wat Phra Mahthat
We would suggest that you visit the stunning Wat Phra Mahthat temple that is famously home to a colossal stone Buddha head. A perfect place for a photo opportunity. The eerie feeling at this temple with its ancient ruins takes you back to a bygone age and offers some amazing photos chances.
Other popular Ayutthaya attractions
There are so many places to see and things to do in Ayutthaya. Aside from the numerous temples, if you are looking to visit a museum, we would recommend the Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre, Baan Hollanda and Chantharakasem National Museum.
If you are looking to explore the ancient city’s markets, we would suggest that you visit Chao Phrom Market. Chao Phrom Market located near to the Pasak River on U-Thong Rd and home to lots of night market options. If you are looking for something a little more touristy, we would suggest that you take a visit to see the Ayothaya floating market.
Another popular place for tourists in Ayutthaya is the Elephantstay attraction that is a non-profit elephant village that offers an exciting way to interact with those majestic beasts.
Getting Around Ayutthaya
If you are looking for a cheap and friendly way to get around Ayutthaya while you are here, tuk-tuks and taxis are the usual modes of transportation. One of the best ways to explore the city is by bicycle. You can rent bikes throughout the city for as little as 40 to 50 THB per day, and if you are on a budget or have a real adventurers spirit, renting out a bicycle is the ideal choice.
Ayutthaya is one of the most ancient and vital places in Thailand in terms of history and culture. It is essential while you are here that you explore everything the city has to offers. From temples to markets and lots of museums, Ayutthaya is a living and breathing history lesson, and if you are into archaeological ruins, you will have a great time.
Map & More
Area: 14.84 km²
Population: 52,952 (2014)
Province: Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
GPS Location: 14.328841, 100.546754