Outside of Bangkok, there’s an array of trips to discover the wonders of Thailand. From the jungles of the north to the beaches of the south, Thailand never ceases to amaze. For history lovers though, nothing quite beats a jaunt over to the ancient capital city of Ayutthaya! This journey can be easily done in a day for those crunched on time, or spread out over the course of a week, depending on how much local, authentic flavor you really want to experience. Think temples, ruins, elephants, and great food. It’s also far from the party scenes of other tourist destinations!
Read on for your guide to visiting Ayutthaya!
A brief history
In 1350, Ayutthaya was established as Thailand’s capital city after Sukothai. Situated on an island surrounded by three rivers, the strategic decision offered up safe protection from potential attacks. The proximity to waterways also promoted trade, and consequently, Ayutthaya flourished as an international trading port.
However, the Burmese invasion of 1767 left the city in ruins. Thais were forced to abandon their home and move to Krung Thep–known internationally as Bangkok. What is left in Ayutthaya are the remnants that serve as a reminder of a once glorious and prosperous city.
How to get there
Due to its proximity to Bangkok, there are a number of ways to journey to Ayutthaya, including:
- Private transportation / tours (most convenient but expensive)
- Minivan from Victory Monument (cheap and pretty convenient)
- Bus (cheaper than minivan, but slower)
- Train (slow and most scenic)
Most journeys take around 1-2 hours, depending on the choice. Once there, tuk-tuks and motorcycles are often the mode of transportation!
When to go
Ayutthaya is best visited during the winter, when temperatures are lower and there is some reprieve from the blazing sun. The marvelous ruins are also the most gorgeous when lit up by the sunrise or the golden rays of sunset–so plan accordingly!
What to see
Most of Ayutthaya’s tourist attractions revolves around ruins. These include Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Wat Phanan Choeng, and Wat Mahathat.
Take your time to explore! I recommend buying a guidebook or hiring a guide, as knowledge of the city’s past will really help you to appreciate the site more.
Note: though there is no dress code, people are encouraged to wear appropriate and respectful clothing. Shorts are okay, but remember many of these places are still sacred locations.
Things to do
Apart from temple exploration, Ayutthaya also offers up a variety of other activities to experience! Try some (or all) of the following:
- Visit the settlements of traders who set up camp here from Japan, the Netherlands, and Portugal
- Take care of elephants at a local sanctuary at Elephantstay
- Stop by the numerous museums in the area, including the Ayutthaya Historical Study Center and Chantharakasem National Museum
- Try out some of the nationally famous river prawns!
- Go shopping at Chao Phrom Market
- Visit the Ayothaya floating market (open 10am-9am daily)
Things to bring
- Water bottle
- Good walking shoes
- Camera & necessary equipment
- A sense of adventure!
Have a favorite temple in Ayutthaya, or been to other ancient cities? Let me know in the comments below!