Introduction to Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya, located just 80km north of Bangkok, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Siamese kingdom. Established in the 14th century, Ayutthaya served as the capital of Siam for over 400 years, and was once one of the most prosperous and cosmopolitan cities in the world. Today, the ruins of this ancient city provide a fascinating glimpse into the past, showcasing the grandeur and architectural achievements of the Siamese empire.
One of the main attractions of Ayutthaya are the impressive temples and ruins that are scattered throughout the city. Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Mahathat, are some of the most important temples that you can visit. Each one of them has a unique history and architecture that will transport you back in time. The Ayutthaya Historical Park is also a must-see destination, where you can see the remains of the royal palace, monasteries, and other important buildings.
Ayutthaya also offers a rich cultural experience. Visitors can discover the traditional way of life of the people who once lived in this ancient city. You can also learn about the history of Ayutthaya through the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, which houses a collection of artifacts and artworks from the this important period. The Ayutthaya Elephant Palace & Royal Elephant Kraal, is another interesting place to visit, where you can learn about the cultural significance of elephants in Thai history.
For those who appreciate history, culture and architecture, Ayutthaya is a destination not to be missed. With its well-preserved ruins, rich cultural heritage and fascinating history, Ayutthaya offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience.
The History of Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya, also known as Ayudhya, was founded in 1351 by King Uthong, who established the city as the capital of the Siamese kingdom. The city quickly grew in prosperity and power, and by the 17th century it was one of the most cosmopolitan and prosperous cities in the world. It was a center of international trade and diplomacy, attracting merchants and diplomats from all over Asia and Europe.
During its time as the capital, Ayutthaya was known for its grand temples, palaces, and other architectural achievements. The city was also a center of Buddhism, and many important Buddhist temples were built during this period. The Siamese kingdom was a powerful empire that controlled much of Southeast Asia, and its culture and society were heavily influenced by Buddhism, Hinduism and the neighboring cultures.
The society of Ayutthaya was divided into three classes: the nobility, the commoners, and the slaves. The nobility were the ruling class, and they held the most power and wealth. The commoners were the farmers, artisans, and merchants, while the slaves were mostly prisoners of war or people who were born into slavery. The society was also characterized by strict laws and punishments, as well as a strong tradition of warfare and expansion.
In 1767, Ayutthaya was conquered by the Burmese, and the city was burned and destroyed. Many of its inhabitants were killed or taken as slaves, and the city was left in ruins. Today, the ruins of Ayutthaya are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and they offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the Siamese kingdom.
Travel to Ayutthaya Essentials
If you’re planning a visit to the ancient city of Ayutthaya, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your trip. In this article, we’ll cover when to go, what to bring, and how to get there from Bangkok by bus or train.
When to go
The best time to visit Ayutthaya is from November to February, when the weather is cool and dry. This is also the peak tourist season, so expect crowds and higher prices for accommodation and transportation. If you don’t mind the heat, March to May is also a good time to visit, but be prepared for temperatures that can reach up to 40 degrees Celsius.
What to bring
When visiting Ayutthaya, it’s important to dress appropriately. The temples and ruins in the city are sacred sites, so it’s important to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Also, bring a hat and sunscreen, as the sun can be quite intense during the day. Comfortable walking shoes are also recommended, as you will be doing a lot of walking to explore the different temples and ruins.
Getting there from Bangkok
There are two main options for getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok: by bus or by train.
Buses to Ayutthaya depart from the Mo Chit Bus Terminal in Bangkok. The journey takes around 1.5 hours and costs around 40-60 baht. You can also take a minivan from the Victory Monument, which takes around 1 hour and costs around 80-100 baht.
Trains to Ayutthaya depart from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station. The journey takes around 1 hour and costs around 15-40 baht. There are also more comfortable options like the rapid and special express trains, which cost more.
Once you arrive in Ayutthaya, you can explore the city by tuk-tuk, bike or even by boat, along the river. The city is relatively small, so it’s easy to get around and see the main sites in one day. However, if you want to see everything in more detail, it’s best to stay overnight and spend at least two days in the city.
By following these tips, you’ll be well-prepared for your visit to Ayutthaya and able to make the most of your time exploring this ancient city. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or just looking for a unique travel experience, Ayutthaya is a destination that is sure to impress.
The Main Temples
Ayutthaya is home to many ancient temples and ruins, each with its own unique history and significance. Here are some of the main sites to see while visiting the city:
Wat Phra Sri Sanphet
This temple was the most important temple in the Ayutthaya kingdom and served as a royal temple for the kings of Ayutthaya. It was built during the 15th century and is known for its three large chedis (stupas) which are adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures. The temple also contains a large golden Buddha statue, which is believed to have been made of solid gold. Wat Phra Sri Sanphet was also used for coronation ceremonies and for the storage of the kingdom’s religious relics.
Wat Ratchaburana was built by King Borommarachathirat II in the 15th century, as a memorial to his two brothers who died in a battle for the throne. The temple is known for its large central prang (Khmer-style tower) which is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures. Inside the prang, there is a large stone statue of the Buddha, which is considered one of the most beautiful and important statues in Ayutthaya. The temple also contains many other important Buddha statues and a number of smaller prangs.
Wat Mahathat is one of the most famous temples in Ayutthaya, and it is known for the iconic image of a Buddha head entwined in the roots of a tree. The temple was built in the 14th century and was a major center of Buddhism in the Ayutthaya kingdom. The temple also contains a number of important Buddha statues, including a large golden statue of the Buddha and a number of smaller statues of the Buddha in various poses. Wat Mahathat also has a large collection of ancient religious texts and manuscripts.
All these temples are significant historical sites that offer a glimpse into the rich culture and history of the Ayutthaya kingdom. They are also great examples of the architecture and art of the time, which reflects the influence of different cultures such as Khmer, Mon and Sri Vijaya. Visiting these temples is an opportunity to learn more about the city’s past, its culture and its religious beliefs
Other Tourist Attractions
Ayutthaya is not only famous for its ancient temples, but also for other points of interest that offer a glimpse into the rich history and culture of the city. Here are some of the other must-see sites in Ayutthaya:
Ayutthaya Historical Park
The Ayutthaya Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that covers the ruins of the ancient city of Ayutthaya. The park contains the remains of many important temples, palaces, and other structures that were built during the Ayutthaya kingdom. Visitors can explore the ruins and learn about the history and culture of the city. The park is also home to many important Buddha statues, chedis, and other architectural elements that are unique to Ayutthaya.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
The Chao Sam Phraya National Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in the history and culture of Ayutthaya. The museum is located in the heart of the city and contains a large collection of artifacts, including sculptures, ceramics, and other objects that date back to the Ayutthaya period. The museum also contains many valuable historical documents and manuscripts that provide insight into the culture, religion and lifestyle of the Ayutthaya people.
Ayutthaya Elephant Palace & Royal Elephant Kraal
This is a unique attraction in Ayutthaya that offers visitors the opportunity to see and learn about the history of elephants in Thailand. The palace was built in the 18th century and served as a royal residence for elephants. Visitors can see the living quarters and learn about the training and care of the elephants. There are also elephant shows and elephant rides available for visitors to enjoy.
Where to Stay
Ayutthaya offers a wide range of accommodation options for tourists, from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxury hotels. Many hotels and guesthouses are located near the historical park, which is convenient for visitors who want to explore the ruins. If you want to stay close to the city center, there are also many hotels and guesthouses located near the river, which offer great views of the city. Another option is to stay in a traditional Thai-style house or a riverside bungalow.
Sala Ayutthaya Hotel
This is a luxurious hotel located in the heart of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This hotel is perfect for those looking to explore the city’s rich history and culture. The hotel’s location is very convenient, it’s just steps away from the main tourist attraction such as Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Mahathat.
The hotel has a modern and elegant design, with a blend of traditional Thai architecture and contemporary style. The rooms are spacious, well-appointed and equipped with all the modern amenities one would expect from a top-rated hotel, including comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel’s restaurant serves delicious Thai and international cuisine, and the hotel’s bar is a great place to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing.
The hotel staff is friendly and helpful, they can provide guests with information on local tours and transportation, and they are happy to help with any requests. The hotel also has a large outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center, which are great places to relax and rejuvenate after a day of sightseeing.
Classic Kameo Hotel Ayutthaya
A charming 4-star hotel located in the heart of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This hotel offers a perfect blend of traditional Thai architecture and modern amenities, making it a great choice for both leisure and business travelers.
The hotel’s location is great, it is within walking distance of many of the city’s main tourist attractions, such as Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Mahathat. The hotel is also close to the night market and many restaurants, making it easy to explore the local culture and cuisine.
The hotel’s rooms are spacious, well-appointed and equipped with all the modern amenities one would expect from a 4-star hotel, including comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi. The hotel’s restaurant serves delicious Thai and international cuisine, and the hotel’s bar is a great place to relax and unwind after a day of sightseeing.
The hotel staff is friendly and helpful, they can provide guests with information on local tours and transportation, and they are happy to help with any requests. The hotel also has an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center, which are great places to relax and rejuvenate after a day of sightseeing.
Baan Rim Nam Homestay
This traditional Thai-style house is located just outside the historical park and offers a unique and authentic experience for visitors. It is also close to the night market and many restaurants, making it easy to explore the local culture and cuisine.
The homestay has a traditional Thai-style design and it is decorated with local handicrafts and artwork. The rooms are clean, comfortable, and equipped with all the basic amenities for a comfortable stay. The homestay’s owner, who is a local resident, is very friendly and welcoming, and they are happy to share their knowledge and insights about the city and its culture.
One of the best things about staying at Baan Rim Nam Homestay is the opportunity to experience local life and customs. The homestay offers a chance to see how the locals live and work, and to learn about the history and culture of Ayutthaya. Breakfast is served every morning and it’s included in the price, it’s usually a traditional Thai breakfast which is delicious.
Where to Eat
Ayutthaya is known for its delicious traditional Thai food. There are many street food vendors and local restaurants that offer a wide range of dishes at affordable prices. Visitors can try traditional Thai dishes such as tom yum goong, pad thai, and green curry. There are also many local seafood restaurants that offer freshly caught river fish and shellfish. If you’re looking for something more upscale, there are also many western restaurants and cafes in the city. These are a couple of our favourite restaurants:
Krua Rim Nam
A must-visit restaurant in Ayutthaya for anyone looking for delicious and authentic Thai street food-style dishes. The restaurant is located in the heart of the city and its casual atmosphere makes it a perfect spot for a quick and satisfying meal.
The menu at Krua Rim Nam is extensive and features a range of traditional Thai dishes, including soups, curries, stir-fries, and noodles. Some of the most popular dishes include Tom Kha Gai (coconut milk soup with chicken), Pad Thai (stir-fried rice noodles with vegetables and meat), and Green Curry (spicy coconut milk curry with vegetables and meat). The portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable.
The restaurant’s atmosphere is cozy and intimate, with traditional Thai decor and a warm and welcoming ambiance. You can enjoy your meal while looking at the traditional art pieces, making it an enjoyable and cultural experience. The outdoor seating area is particularly lovely and offers a great view of the surrounding area.
Summer House is a fantastic restaurant located in Ayutthaya that offers a great dining experience for tourists and locals alike. The restaurant serves a fusion of Thai and Western cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients and bold, flavorful dishes.
The menu at Summer House is diverse and offers something for everyone. The Thai dishes are particularly noteworthy and include classic favorites like Tom Yum soup, green curry, and Pad Thai. The Western dishes are also delicious and include options like steak, pasta, and sandwiches. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable.
The atmosphere of the Summer House is lovely, the restaurant is decorated with a mix of modern and traditional Thai decor, creating a warm and inviting ambiance. The outdoor seating area is particularly nice in the evening.
The service at Summer House is excellent. The staff is friendly and attentive and always happy to help with menu recommendations or to accommodate any special requests.
Why Visit Ayutthaya?
Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved ruins of temples, palaces, and monasteries. But aside from the historical sites, Ayutthaya also offers visitors the opportunity to visit local markets, take boat trips and cycle around the old city.
When planning your visit to Ayutthaya, it is important to keep in mind that the best time to visit is from November to February, when the weather is cool and dry. Additionally, many of the historical sites are open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, with some staying open until 6:00 pm.
Overall, Ayutthaya is a fascinating destination that offers visitors the opportunity to learn about Thailand’s rich history and culture. With its well-preserved ruins, beautiful temples, and traditional lifestyle, it is a must-see destination for any traveler visiting Thailand. Plus its location, within easy reach of Bangkok, makes it ideal for a short stay.
So, pack your bags and head to Ayutthaya for an unforgettable trip.
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