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Ancient Wonders: The Secrets of Ayutthaya, Thailand’s Former Capital

Ayutthaya, a tale from history, is nestled in the center of Thailand among lush scenery and lively canals. It was the Siamese Kingdom’s capital from 1350 until 1767. Today, its captivating remains tell of a period when Ayutthaya was the gem of the East. Ayutthaya is not just a city; it’s a living museum, a testament to the splendor of a bygone era. Nestled in the verdant plains of central Thailand, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a dazzling array of historic ruins and majestic temples, each with its own unique story. Imagine the thrill of discovering secrets hidden for centuries, right there beneath your feet.


As we explore, let’s tread lightly, respect the sanctity of these historical sites, and contribute to their preservation for future generations. After all, isn’t it our duty to ensure these stories continue to inspire for centuries to come? So, are you ready to uncover the secrets of Ayutthaya, the jewel of ancient Thailand? Let’s dive into a world where history comes alive, one monument at a time!


How to visit Thailand’s Ayutthaya Historical Park

Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in the ancient city of Ayutthaya, about 80 kilometers north of Bangkok. This historical park is home to many temple ruins, including Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana, and Wat Chaiwatthanaram. Here are the steps to visit this historical park:


1. Getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

Traveling from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is like time traveling. We’ve created a brief guide to assist you manage this short trip’s transportation options. Each is unique and may be customized to your travel preferences.

  • By Train: The most scenic way to reach Ayutthaya is by train from the Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok. The journey takes about 1.5-2 hours. There are regular departures throughout the day, and the cost varies depending on the class of seat you choose.
  • By Bus: Buses to Ayutthaya leave from Bangkok’s Mo Chit Bus Terminal and take around 1.5-2 hours, depending on traffic. They leave regularly throughout the day.
  • By Taxi or Private Car: If you prefer a more comfortable journey, hiring a taxi or private car service is also an option. This can be more expensive, but it allows you to travel at your own pace.


Each option—a gorgeous train trip, a bus ride, or a cab or private car—has its benefits. Ayutthaya, with its rich history, is accessible by all routes. Choose your method of transportation and experience Thailand’s rich history.


2. Getting Around Ayutthaya Historical Park

Once you’re in Ayutthaya, there are several ways to explore the historical park:

  • By Bicycle: Bicycle rentals are widely available in Ayutthaya. This is a popular choice as the historical park is quite large, and having a bike gives you the freedom to explore at your leisure.
  • By Tuk-Tuk: Hiring a tuk-tuk for the day is another option. The driver can also act as your guide, showing you around the major sites and providing you with historical context.
  • By Boat: Some tourists opt to take a boat tour around Ayutthaya. This is an excellent way to see the temples from a different perspective.


3. Visiting the Sites

When visiting Ayutthaya Historical Park, it’s essential to dress appropriately out of respect for the religious sites. That means covering your shoulders and knees.

Remember to take plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat with you as Ayutthaya can be hot and sunny. It’s also a good idea to bring a map of the historical park to help you navigate the area.

Most of the sites in the park are open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. To avoid crowds, consider arriving early in the morning or later in the afternoon.


4. Entrance Fees

The park is technically free to enter, but most of the major temples charge an entrance fee, which ranges from 50 to 100 Thai Baht per site for foreigners (as of my last update in June 2023). Some places offer a combined ticket for multiple sites.

With its rich history and beautiful temple ruins, Ayutthaya Historical Park is definitely worth a visit for any traveler interested in Thai culture and history.


How many days to visit Ayutthaya?

It is essential to spend at least a full day in Ayutthaya to fully appreciate the magnificence and historical importance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Commencing your exploration at dawn will not only beat the crowds but also allow you ample time to delve into the rich history that the vast park has to offer. With numerous temples dotting the landscape, each more intriguing than the last, a day will be well-spent immersing yourself in this ancient kingdom’s atmosphere.

Culminate your day of exploration with the glorious view of the sun setting behind Wat Chai Watthanaram. Situated by the Chao Phraya River, this temple provides a stunning backdrop for a sunset, creating a picturesque end to your day.


Ayutthaya’s 9 most beautiful temples

Ayutthaya’s history and culture transport you to one of Thailand’s most revered periods. The city, once the booming capital of Siam, is now home to magnificent temple remains that serve as somber memories of its illustrious past. Nine of Ayutthaya’s most beautiful temples reflect its spirituality and architecture.

  1. Wat Phra Si Sanphet: Known as the ‘Temple of the Holy, Splendid Omniscient’, this temple, with its distinctive row of three chedis, was the spiritual heart of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.
  2. Wat Chaiwatthanaram: This riverside temple is one of Ayutthaya’s most famous. Visit at sunset for breathtaking views of the ancient structures against the evening sky.
  3. Wat Mahathat: Known for the iconic Buddha’s head entwined in the roots of a Bodhi tree, this temple was once a religious center of the city and symbolizes the heart of Ayutthaya.
  4. Wat Ratchaburana: This temple, famous for its well-preserved prang (Khmer-style tower), is an excellent example of early Ayutthaya architecture.
  5. Wat Phra Ram: Nestled amidst a park with a large pond, the reflections of this temple’s central prang in the water create a serene and peaceful atmosphere.
  6. Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon: Recognizable for its large reclining Buddha and towering chedi, this temple also offers a wonderful view of Ayutthaya from the top.
  7. Wat Lokayasutharam: This temple is home to the largest reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya, measuring over 42 meters in length. The statue’s serene face offers a tranquil atmosphere.
  8. Wat Phu Khao Thong: Also known as the ‘Monastery of the Golden Mount,’ this temple boasts a striking blend of Thai and Burmese architectural styles and provides panoramic views of the surroundings from its top.
  9. Wat Na Phra Men: A well-preserved temple that survived the Burmese invasion, Wat Na Phra Men is famous for its principal Buddha image in the crowned attire, which is uncommon in Thai art.


Remember to dress respectfully (covering your shoulders and knees) when visiting these sacred sites. Each temple has unique characteristics and historical significance, contributing to Ayutthaya’s rich cultural heritage. Enjoy exploring the ancient wonders of Ayutthaya!


The top 3 things to do in Ayutthaya

Embark on an extraordinary journey in and around Ayutthaya, where history, culture, and unique experiences blend seamlessly. Here are the top three things to do that promise a well-rounded Thai adventure.

The top 3 things to do in Ayutthaya


1. Visit Bang Pa-In Palace

Located in Ayutthaya, the Bang Pa-In Palace is a stunning royal complex that was used as a summer dwelling by the Siamese royalty. This sprawling estate features a fascinating mix of architectural styles, from traditional Thai to Chinese and Gothic. Here, you can explore the beautifully landscaped gardens, walk through elegant pavilions, and enjoy a peaceful boat ride on the surrounding lake. Don’t miss the Aisawan Dhiphya-Asana Pavilion, an iconic structure that seems to float on the water.


2. Day Trip to Bangkok

If you’re based in Ayutthaya, taking a day trip to the bustling metropolis of Bangkok is highly recommended. In Bangkok, you can visit iconic temples such as Wat Arun and Wat Phra Kaew, explore the vibrant street markets, or try delicious street food. A visit to the Grand Palace is a must for any visitor. Also, you can cruise along the Chao Phraya River or explore the city’s modern side with its skyscrapers and luxury malls.

3. Explore Lopburi

Known for its ancient ruins and large population of macaques, Lopburi is a city that combines history with unique experiences. Here, you can visit the Khmer-style Phra Prang Sam Yot and the ancient San Phra Kan shrine. But be aware: the city’s macaques are everywhere and are part of the unique charm of Lopburi!

Each of these places offers a unique perspective on Thailand’s rich history and vibrant culture, providing a diverse range of experiences within a short distance of Ayutthaya. Remember to respect local customs and traditions as you explore these fascinating locations.


Map to visit Ayutthaya in 1 day

Ayutthaya, once the flourishing capital of the Kingdom of Siam, beckons history enthusiasts and explorers with its remarkable assortment of ancient temples and ruins. If you’re planning a one-day trip to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, it might seem overwhelming due to the abundance of sights. To guide your journey, here’s a proposed itinerary that takes you through the city’s key historical marvels. You may adapt this to suit your pace, and use any map application to create your own travel map.


Accommodations in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya accommodations are crucial to your trip. Ayutthaya has lodgings for everyone, from cheap backpackers to luxury travelers. Consider these charming choices for your visit to this ancient city.

  • Early Bird Hostel Ayutthaya: 700-meter-from-Wat Mahathat hostel. €13 dormitory bed with breakfast. Friendly personnel, cleanliness, curtain privacy. For backpackers!
  • Baan Baimai Boutique Room: 1.7 kilometers from Wat Mahathat. Double room from €27. Private parking, décor, peaceful. Affordable Ayutthaya lodging!
  • P.U. Inn Resort: Located 5 minutes from the bus station and 10 minutes from Mahathat temple. Comfortable and colorful double room from €45. Strong points: swimming pool, central location, warm welcome.
  • Baan Thai House: Located 1.4 km from Wat Yai Chai Mongkon. Spacious villa with balcony and garden or lake view from €65, breakfast included. Strong points: swimming pool, outdoors, good meals, setting, calm.
  • Classic Kameo Hotel & Serviced Apartments, Ayutthaya: 5-minute drive from Yai Chai Mongkon Temple. Modern, large double room with kitchenette and sitting area, €75, breakfast included. Facilities, comfort, pool, spa.
  • Sala Ayutthaya: 1.6 kilometers from the historical park and Wat Chai Watthanaram. Modern double room with exposed red bricks, €140, breakfast included. Swimming pool, river view, meal, hotel design. I suggest this Ayutthaya luxury hotel!


Choosing the right accommodation in Ayutthaya can enhance your travel experience in this historic city. Whether you’re looking for budget-friendly options, comfortable resorts, or luxury stays, Ayutthaya has something to offer everyone. Enjoy your stay in this remarkable city of ancient wonders!


Ayutthaya’s Dining Options

While exploring Ayutthaya’s rich history, you may also have a delicious gastronomic adventure. Ayutthaya’s cuisine blends tradition and culture. At night markets like the Ayutthaya Klong Sa Bua Floating Market, street food sellers sell Pad Thai, Som Tam, and Tom Yum Goong. The River Wine and Tony’s Place provide peaceful meals with stunning views.

These restaurants provide great food with a river and historic city view. Ayutthaya’s boat noodles and Roti Sai Mai—cotton candy wrapped in a thin roti—are must-tries. Premium hotels like Sala Ayutthaya and the Ayutthaya Riverside Hotel provide sophisticated Thai and foreign cuisine. Ayutthaya’s restaurants will enrich your visit to this old city.



Ayutthaya’s temples, ruins, and palaces showcase a glorious past. The city has a thriving food scene with crowded night markets, quiet riverfront cafes, and expensive eating alternatives. Hostels and motels suit all budgets. Ayutthaya, easily accessible from Bangkok, invites tourists to spend at least a day exploring, with an overnight stay advised to see the temples illuminated at night. Ayutthaya is more than a destination—it’s an experience that exceeds the traditional tourist path and leaves a lasting imprint.

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