Many travelers feel compelled to travel to Thailand’s old capital, Ayutthaya, after arriving in Bangkok. The Ayutthaya temples are stunning and distinctive, and the city is currently made up of open-air ruins. Ayutthaya in Thailand is one of the highlights of a trip there due to its proximity to Bangkok and historical significance.
A brief introduction to Ayutthaya, Thailand
Since its founding in 1350, Ayutthaya has served as the capital of the Thai Kingdom. The city has had more than thirty kings pass through it and has withstood several invasions by Burmese neighbors from what is now Myanmar. The last one, which occurred around the year 1767, was abandoned since there was no resistance.
The city experienced a flood in 2011, which submerged the majority of its remains. However, Ayutthaya was always going to fight back, and today it has fully recovered, and tourism is once again booming.
Since Bangkok is only 45 minutes away by train, many tourists decide to travel there for the day and explore the ruins of Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya has everything to entice you to spend longer than one night, even though it is easy to visit and return on the same day and see much of what the city has to offer.
Things to do in Ayutthaya
Many travelers who are traveling between Chiang Mai and large and busy Bangkok stop here. The serene Ayutthaya might be the ideal getaway, even for those who dislike ruins. An area where you may unwind, go biking, eat ice cream, spend the day at an archaeological site, and stroll along the bridges that span the city’s canals.
It is completely secure and serene to explore Ayutthaya alone, at any hour of the day, without being afraid. Despite being so close to Bangkok and having once been one of the largest and most populous cities in Asia, it has the charm of a tiny village. Ironic, no?
There are many ruins in the Ayutthaya complex, some little and unnamed and others huge and imposing, but each has its own appeal. The most well-known are:
Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and Grand Palace
Renowned for having three white buildings next to each other. We can see numerous structures there that are now nothing more than ruins. One of these is the Grand Palace, which formerly held a massive gold-covered Buddha but was destroyed when the city was abandoned.
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bopit
Here, a more contemporary and refurbished structure stands out from the surroundings and draws several devoted Buddhists. A golden statue of a seated Buddha is present, and it has already burned down twice. The latest invasion that led to the destruction of the previous capital was the second instance. The renovation wasn’t finished until the 1990s.
The well-known Buddha head is imprisoned within this temple, wedged between the roots of a banyan tree. The most widely accepted theory is that a looter left her there on the city walls to be found later after hiding her there. However, when he went back to seek for her, he was unable to exit the gates of Ayutthaya and was forced to leave her behind. Whatever led her there, it is a breathtaking depiction of the interaction between man and environment.
If you want to sit near to the action for a picture, be ready to wait in a big line. However, the temple has features beyond its amazing head that are well worth exploring.
The history of this temple sets it apart from others. In honour of his two older brothers who lost their lives in a struggle for the Thai kingdom after the death of their father, King Chao Sam Phraya constructed it in 1424.
For those who don’t know, the majority of temples are constructed by kings or other influential people, frequently as a means of enhancing their karma. Therefore, if a location contains a lot of temples, the kings who lived there most likely had a poor conscience. The city of Bagan in Myanmar, which is home to more than 4,000 temples, serves as an illustration of this. The kings there are renowned for having the hungriest appetites in Southeast Asia, and they were in charge of all the invasions of Ayutthaya as well as other assaults on surrounding countries.
This is the renowned Ayutthaya temple with the enormous statue of the Buddha in a reclining position. There are restaurants and clothing stores close by. You can purchase flowers and incense to gift Buddha in this temple as well. On occasion, the statue is dressed in garments that are yellow or orange. Because it serves as the background of Street Fighter video games, this statue is well-known.
Wat Chai Wattanaram
The renowned and magnificent Wat Chai Wattanaram temple complex is located outside the Old Town, across the Chao Phraya River.
One may observe that the architectural designs of the temples vary slightly from one another. The central tower of this temple is more rounded than the Wat Phra Sri Sanphet temple, which is more pointed. Since Ayutthaya served as the capital for a considerable amount of time, it was inspired by various styles of architecture from various regions. Wat Chai Wattanaram’s architectural design was influenced by the Khmer civilization, which originated in Cambodia.
Despite being beyond the Historic Center, this temple complex is most likely the largest in the entire city. The passageways leading to the buildings that contain the larger artworks are lined with hundreds of Buddha statues that are missing their heads.
Other attractions in Ayutthaya in Thailand
There are certain boat cruises that transport visitors around the Chao Phraya River at dusk. There are historical museums like the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum and unique ones like the Thai Boat Museum in addition to all of these ruins. The city’s Dutch (Baan Hollanda) and Portuguese (Portuguese Village) villages, two of the first countries to come in Thailand, can also be visited.
The Chao Phrom Market, which is on Naresuan Road and perhaps close to where you will be staying, offers an additional choice.
How to get around the Ayutthaya temples in Thailand
All of these attractions are easily accessible by bicycle, but you can also arrange a tuk-tuk tour with your hostel to split costs with other travellers. The flexibility to roam around the archaeological site and explore additional tiny ruins that aren’t usually on the map, or even a crocodile or two emerging from the river, makes the bike my top recommendation. There is also an elephant ride through the Historic Center, however because to the abuse these animals get, many people are opposed to it.
These trips are also available at night, when the ruins are all lit up and the weather is a little cooler. And take advantage of the Night Market, the Bang Lan Night Market, to sample the delectable and inexpensive street cuisine in addition to the exquisite traditional Ayutthaya coconut ice cream that is available there after the conclusion of the fair (or literally eat cockroaches and other insects ).
Depending on where you are staying, you may have to endure the music till daybreak, but you can also spend the evening in one of the pubs in the shopping centre that features live music until dawn or stay in your hostel and read a book.
How to get to Ayutthaya in Thailand
The easiest and most popular method is to go from Bangkok via rail. You might either go on a tour with other tourists or arrive in a private tuk-tuk. If you land at Don Muaeng Airport in Bangkok, simply go to the train station, where trains depart for Ayutthaya every 40 minutes. Go to Hua Lamphong Railway Station if you are already in the city.
Additionally, Ayutthaya has direct bus and train service to Chiang Mai. Tuk-tuks are required to go to and from the Ayutthaya train station because it is located across the Chao Phraya River.
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