Established in 1350, Ayutthaya served as the ancient capital of Siam when it was an important trade hub between China, India and the Malay Archipelago. By the early 18th century, it was home to the world’s largest population before being destroyed by the Burmese. Today, the remains of its prangs, monasteries and palaces are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Things to do in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya’s grandest temple is Wat Phra Si Sanphet, which features three reconstructed chedis that have become a symbol of the ancient city. At Wat Phra Mahathat, you’ll find a series of headless Buddha statues, as well as a Buddha head that has been enveloped by a Banyan tree. Wat Lokayasutharam is famed for its Reclining Buddha, which stretches 37 metres in length.
One of Ayutthaya’s more modern temples is Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, which is home to a large bronze seated Buddha believed to date from the 15th century. Also not to miss is Wat Naphrameru, a beautifully decorated temple opposite the Grand Palace. On the outskirts of the city is Bang-Pa-In Palace, which served as a summer residence for Thai kings.
If you want to pick up keepsakes to take home, board a long-tail boat to tour Ayutthaya’s floating market. Alternatively, you can cruise along the Chao Phraya River to soak up the comings and goings. After dark, head to the Ayutthaya Night Market, which is packed with vendors cooking up pad thais, curries and locally caught fish.
Getting around Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is around an hour’s drive from Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi Airport, which has flights to destinations across the globe. Regular trains connect from the Thai capital to the Ayutthaya railway station and tuk-tuks are readily available for getting around. Renting a bicycle is one of the most popular ways to explore Ayutthaya.