The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya is 76 km (47 miles) north of Bangkok, and a must-see attraction for the tourists on the Thailand tours and holidays interesting in exploring the ruined cities in Asia. This island of ruins is ringed by the Pasak, Lopburi and Menam rivers. The old relics throughout the city make it seem like you have stepped back in time. To get a view and appreciation of the local attractions, a traveller should plan to stay in the region of at least two days. But a little longer might be appreciated by the history buffs that don’t wish to feel rushed. This is one of the popular regions in Thailand that is full of history and well worth visiting.
A visit to Ayutthaya is among a travel highlight in Thailand with a lot of tourists make it a day trip from Bangkok, which can give just enough time for a quick tour of the major attractions in the Historical Park. But an overnight stay is more practical to get a better view of the archaeological ruins.
Even though many of the temples are in a ruined state they are still quiet awe-inspiring to see and explore and creates a very memorable time.
The relics and architecture throughout the city is a complete mix of styles. Architecture can vary from the Sukhothai style for many of the pointed stupas while other ornate spires seen to have taken a Khmer influence and appear much like the temples like Angkor Wat, in Cambodia.
The climate in Ayutthaya is quite consistent which makes it possible to travel to this region on the Holidays to Thailand year-round. The average temperature is 28.4° C with the warmest months, including April and May. The rainy season lasts from June to October but the rainfall is rarely enough to put the tourist of exploring the sights.
How to get there
The closest airport to Ayutthaya is located in Bangkok with plenty of options to make the onward journey via bus or train.
The local train station is located near the Prasak River on the east bank and receives regular trains from Bangkok's Hualamphong Station throughout the course of the day. The journey takes in the region of two hours to complete and costs in the region of $1-$2 (varies with the class of seat).
Where to stay
Ayutthaya has plenty of places to stay throughout the city on the Thailand tour holiday packages for the low-cost backpackers to the mid-range and high-end accommodation. There are a variety of great places to stay along the riverfront, which give great access to the local ruins, while it is also possible to visit Ban Lan Khe for the traditional Thai homestay.
A stay at the family-run Chantana House is great for the traveller in search of the quiet accommodation with well-kept and affordable rooms. The cost per night is in the region of $15 and is located in a decent spot away from the noisy bars. Most of the rooms are a good size with simple furnishing and en-suite bathrooms with hot water. But, there aren’t that many services available – although it is able to offer free Wi-Fi.
The Ayutthaya Guest House is similarly priced to the Chantana House and located near the more peaceful end of the backpacker strip. The rooms come in different sizes with most available with a shared bathroom and cooled only by fans. There are a few rooms with air-con on the ground floor that are slightly more expensive, but are also complete with en suite bathroom. The lounge area includes free Wi-Fi and travellers can also get help with onward bookings.
A visit to the Baan Kong Homestay makes it possible to stay at one of the newer places and located relatively close to the Historical Park. The wooded bungalows for guests are quite spacious with a classic Thai design and include free Wi-Fi, fridges, TVs, firm beds, high ceiling and soft curtains. Plus, the location is great with easy access to nearby Chikhun and Naresuan roads which are close to a few decent restaurants. This is more of a traditional guesthouse than an authentic homestay. This guest house gets quite busy so it may be necessary to reserve a bungalow if planning to visit the city.
Eat and drink
One of the finest places to eat in Thailand is in Ayutthaya. This region has a long history of serving some of the finest culinary traditions, such as sticky rice noodles, dry spices from India, and unleavened breads, as well as rice-flour sweets from Japan and baked goods from Europe. This is a great place for the food enthusiasts to really try out country’s local dishes and cuisine.
Ayutthaya has a variety of skilled craftsperson with the ability to work on stone masonry, clay pottery, wicker weaving, whether ironwork and other specific crafts. It is possible to buy plenty of locally produced goods in the open-air markets that are scattered across town. A great place to visit on the Thailand tour packages for the crafts is the Bangsai Arts and Crafts Centre, which includes a varied range of specific crafts. Also, the Ayodhaya Floating Market is great to get a real authentic feel of the local cultures.
Things to see and do
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
One of the most historically important temples in the region is Wat Phra Si Sanphet (also called the King's Temple) with several large and small chedis to create a truly impressive sight. Two of the main chedis, the central and eastern ones, were built in 1492 on behalf of King Rama Thibodi II to accept the ashes of his elder brother and father. Also, many of the original Buddha statues that started out in this temple have been relocated to the National Museum in Bangkok for safe keeping.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum was built in 1961 on behalf of King Bhumibol Adulyadej and is one of the most modern structures in the city. There are several pieces of work in the museum that relate to the country’s early history, including Buddha related sculptures.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
The fascinating Wat Yai Chai Mongkol is located close to the eastern outskirts of the city, and includes a large chedi that rises from a square base that has several smaller chedis that surround it. Originally built in 1957, the wat was given to monks who followed a very strict order. It is easily located about 300 meters pass the railway station.
Wat Ratchaburana was commissioned for construction by King Boromracha II (1424-48) who used the temple as a place of remembrance for his elder brothers Ay and Yi. There are still parts of the ruins standing, including walls and columns, as well as certain parts still being well preserved. Plus, the two crypts are rich in fascinating wall paintings that are likely completed by skilled Chinese artists.
Wat Mahathat is a further ruin nearby that was built in 1384 on behalf of King Ramesuen. It has one of the finest structures in the old city and has seen some renovation work over the years, including replacing the top portion.
Bang Pa-in Palace
A visit to the Bang Pa-in Palace gives the tourist on the Thailand family tour a chance to get a break from seeing the ruins. This royal residence dates back to the 17th century and one of the finest preserved structures in the area. It is built in multiple architectural styles, such as traditional Chinese and Thai. Other structures to explore include Ho Witthunthassana and Phra Thinang Utthayan Phumisathian.
A visit to the Elephant Stay is certain to appeal to those travellers that want to learn more about Thailand's revered animals, such as the elephant. By staying at Elephant Stay it is possible to care for an assigned elephant which includes rides, bathing and feeding. The minimum stay at this reserve is a period of three days. It is intended to give support to retired elephants and a non-profit dedicated to conservation of this species. In addition to caring for the retired elephants, this reserve has a successful breeding program in place. The cost per person is about $325 for the three-night package on the Thailand private tours.
Wat Na Phra Men
A visit to Wat Na Phra Men makes it possible to explore a temple that had not been destroyed by the Burmese. The date of oringal construction is unknown, although it did received restoration work on behalf of King Boromakot (1732-1758). This is a quite imposing structure with stunning wood carvings that appear on the door panels and gable. Plus, there is a large Buddha figure that is clothed in royal garb.
Wat Suwan Dararam
Surrounded by three lakes, the Wat Suwan Dararam was first built in the 1700s and further extended and restored over the years. Plus, the temple is well decorated inside with plenty of paintings. This temple is still inhabited by monks and the only one that is on Ayutthaya Island.