Ayutthaya is the Venice os East and an island of palaces and pagodas. There are many things to see in Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand. And that’s why we wrote this quick guide!
Ayutthaya is ancient capital city of Thailand situated about 80km north of Bangkok. The city itself is surrounded with 3 major rivers. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya had been the capital of Thailand for 417 years between 1350 – 1767 with 33 kings of 5 dynasties ruling the successive kingdom.
For many centuries Ayutthaya was an important international center of commencements, arts and politics. Interaction and trade with foreigners thrived, and Ayutthaya became one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities in the world.
It had a great wealth, and attracted foreign expatriates, who worked as navigators, architects, royal bodyguards, even prime ministers, etc. By 1685 the city had a population of one million people, double of London in that time.
The Burmese invades the Kingdom in 1767 and the golden age of prosperity ended and the city was devastated. Many structures were destroyed and most Buddha were decapitated.
There are many temples to see in Ayutthaya, and here a quick guide for the most important ones:
Phra Mongkhon Bophit is one of the largest Buddha Image, over 12 meters in height. The image was probably built in the reign of King Chairacha in 1538 for Wat Chi Chieng. During the fall of Ayuthhaya in 1767, Wihara Phra Mongkhon Bophit was fired. The right arm and the knot of the Buddha image were broken. The restoration of the current image was concluded in 1990.
The royal chronicle says that Wat Mahathat was built in the reign of King Boroma- Rachathirat I in 1374. The temple is the most popular tourist attraction in town because of a Buddha’s head entangled within the roots of Bangyan tree. Also it was the most important temple in the kingdom, because royal ceremonies were held there, and according to beliefs, the main chedi holds the relics of Buddha.
Wat Ratchaburana was built in the reign of King Boromrachthirat II (Chao Sam Phraya) in 1424 on the cremation site of his two bothers, whom fought a hand-combat on elephant’s back to become king. Both were killed. Today Wat Ratchaburana is known by splendid Khmer style prang and the biggest chedi in town.
Wat Phra Ram was built in 1369 on the cremation site of King Ramathibodi I and faces to a lagoon. The temple is situated near Phra Ram pond which has originally called Nong Sano. In the temple there remains a main Khmer-influenced prang surrounded by Buddha stones images.
Wat Lokkayasutha is a giant reclined Buddha. It’s famous because of the Street Fighter video game. The Buddha is 42 meters in length, made of bricks and covered with plaster. His head is resting on a flower lotus and wears a faith smile.
Wat Chai Watthanaram was build in 1347 by Jing Prasat Thong on the bank of Chao Phraya River to celebrate his cronation and the victory over the Khmer. That’s why it was built in Khmer style. The temple has for chedis around the prang and 120 seated Buddhas made of stucoo.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet was situated on the premises of the royal palace, which had been established in the reign of King Ramathibodi I (King U-Thong). In 1448 King Boroma-Tri-Loka-Nat dedicated the site of the palace to the construction of the temple. It was a royal temple of the kingdom of Ayutthaya, used for such important royal ceremonies as swearing allegiance and it also served as the royal family’s private chapel. No monks resided here though they were occasionally invited for particular rites. This temple has housed a 16 meters tall Buddha covered in gold. When the old Thai capital had fallen in 1767, the Buddha image was destroyed and melted down into 160kg of gold.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol was built by King Ramathibodi I (King U-Thong) in 1357. This monastery was dedicated to the monks who had dedicated to the monks who had gone to study practical Buddhism in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Later the temple was rebuilt in memorial of King Naresuan The Great for his victory over the Burmese.
If you plan spend more time in town, there are many other attraction to see in Ayutthaya:
This museum display excavated artifacts, ornaments, art objects, items the reflect lifestyle in the past and many Buddha heads from the Burmese invasion.
A Ducth Museum built in 1608 that dyplays information about the Dutch settles, theirs, lives and the first Dutch Trading post in Ayutthaya.
The Portuguese, among the first Europeans to arrive in the Kingdom, made up one of the major communities. Today this settlement represent the most significant remnants of the Portuguese presence.
A traditional Thai wooden house was build in 1894 on the site where a prison and public execution area used to be. The house is completely made of golden teak and was built on the reign of King Rama V, who abolished torture in Thailand.
This house matches the description a house owned by one of the main characters in Khun Chang Khun Phaen, a famous Thai literary epic that recounts the story of two men’s 50-year fight over a woman in the ancient Ayutthaya period.
Ayutthaya is roughly 80km away from Bangkok and it’s pretty easy to get there.
a. Train: It’s the cheaper option and there are trains that go to Ayutthaya regularly. The journey will take around 2 hours and trains leave from Hua Lamphong Station. You don’t need to book ahead of time, so just buy your ticket on the spot. The cheapest ticket cost 20bath for seat without air con. If you are at The Yard Hostel, you can take the train from SamSen station.
b. Bus: There are several buses and mini vans that head to Ayutthaya regularly. They leave from the Mo Chit Northern Bus Terminal (far from Mo Chit BTS station) and the journey takes less than 2 hours.
c. Private taxi: The fastest and easiest way to get there is by car, and the journey will take a little less than 1.5 hours. A round-trip taxi fare, including waiting time for the driver, will cost about $50. It worth if you are in a big group.
d. Tour: You can book a day trip to Ayutthaya with all included. If you are too lazy to get public transportation, rent a bike or negotiate with tuktuk drivers, this is defnetly the best option. You can book you tour with us at The Yard Hostel.
By yourself: You can rent a bicycle (between 30 to 50 bath) or a scooter (150 to 200 baht) for a day and explore the site by yourself, just following the map whith what to see in Ayutthaya.
Tuktuk: You can take a tuktuk and for a day and negotiate prices, time and how many temples. Usually for 4 hours and 6 temples cost 1200 bath. So If you are in a group, it worth to share the price to check all temples you want to see in Ayutthaya.
You can book your day trip at The Yard Hostel Bangkok.