Located 85 km north of Bangkok lies a historic area where ruins of war show the country’s period of development on what a true national Thai art is. UNESCO designated the area known as the Ancient City of Ayutthaya as one of the World Heritage Sites. This World Heritage property covers a total area of 289 hectares; and being listed as one, it’s convincing to pay it a visit and be awed of its archaeological and architectural splendor.
How to Get There
- Public Transport — Take the BTS Skytrain and get off at Motchit Station. From the station, walk around 20 mins or take tuk-tuk, cab or local bus to the bus terminal. Ask around or from the counters on where to wait for the minibus bound for Ayutthaya.
P.S. I can’t state the specifics and/or details on commuting around the city since we took a group tour and the latter is what I can recommend.
- Group Tour — We booked the Ayutthaya tour through our Bangkok hostel upon arrival. They contacted a local travel agency called Paradive Travel and the booking went smoothly even we arrived late at night and our desired schedule for Ayutthaya was on the next day. Our group had a friendly driver and knowledgeable English-speaking guide. We paid 1,100 Baht for the whole tour, including lunch. Hotel pick-up and drop-off were also included.
The advantages on taking group tours were gaining new friends, convenience on the transpo from and back to Bangkok, and the information and facts you can directly acquire from a local guide.
- Wat Phu Khao Thong (Monastery of the Golden Mount). A 50-m chedi which is an active monastery situated off the city island in the northern area of Ayutthaya.
- Wat Phra Si Sanphet (Temple of the Holy, Splendid Omniscient). The holiest temple on the site of the old Royal Palace until the city’s destruction in 1767. It was the grandest and most striking temple in the city and served as a model for Wat Phra Kaeo (Temple of Emerald Buddha) in Bangkok.
- Wat Lokaya Sutha (The Temple of the Earth). Highlighted by a 42-m long Reclining Buddha.
- Wat Phra Maha That (Monastery of the Great Relic). One of the oldest and most significant temples in the history of Ayutthaya era where the holy relic of their Buddha was housed. You can see the remains of pagodas, royal hall, small temples and murals. This is where a-head-of-the-Buddha-in-a-tree-trunk is located as you can see in Thailand’s postcards.
- The Royal Palace at Bang Pa-in (Summer Palace). A great stop on the way/ from Ayutthaya, a palace complex that comprises iconic buildings dotted around a large park area. Proper dress code is strictly imposed.
Flourishing for about 4 centuries, Ayutthaya was the 2nd capital of the Siamese Kingdom. During such time, it became one of the world’s largest international urban areas, being the center of global relations and trade. The former Kingdom was advantageously located on an island surrounded by three rivers: the Chao Phraya River, Lopburi River and Pa Sak River. The location prevented attacks by warships of other nations and helped to protect the city from seasonal flooding. Unfortunately, the city was attacked and razed by Burma in 17th century that burned the city and forced the residents to leave the area.
Never miss a chance to visit Ayutthaya if you’re up to historical background on how Thailand’s Kingdom evolves through time.
Enjoy and have fun!