The ancient capital is just an hour to two hours away from Bangkok, so it’s an easy place to get to from the newer capital city.
Here there are some of the most important historic ruins in Thailand
- archaeology from a bygone era, when Ayutthaya was its own kingdom and the region was ruled from the this centre of power and commerce.
The city goes back to the 1300’s and the name comes from the Indian name of Ajodhya, the birth city of the Indian God, Rama.
What can be seen today are the ruins of a city which exerted tremendous influence, not only in Thailand but across the region from Laos to Burma.
Its position meant it controlled the crucial trade routes making for a prosperous era for the Ayutthaya Kings.
The city grew into a dynamic cultural and commercial centre according to foreign visitors who came to Ayutthaya in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Many of the main temples are described as ruins but amongst these old buildings are some fantastic statues, chedis and wall murals. There is also one of the most important museum collections in the country, in the central inner city.
Getting to Ayutthaya
Every transport option is available for the short trip from Bangkok.
There is a regular bus service from Mochit (Northern) bus terminal.
The journey time is between one and half hours to two hours depending on the traffic in Bangkok.
The buses leave every 20 minutes starting at 4.30 am up to 7pm in the evening.
The better air con (blue and white) buses costs 60 Baht for the journey.
From Victory Monument there are mini vans seating about 12 passengers.
The vans have no stops, but even for a short journey, it can feel cramped for larger people.
There is far more room on a regular bus.
International companies have rental cars available at both at the airport and in Bangkok city centre although many prefer to rent a car with a driver in preference to self drive.
Understandably a local driver is far more familiar with the oddities if driving in Bangkok traffic.
The route is to leave Bangkok on Highway 1 to Highway 32 and then onto the 309 for Ayutthaya.
There is an expressway route on No 9 (the Si Rat Expressway and then onto Hiughway 1.
The rail service to Ayutthaya is regular.
easy and leaves from the main line station at Huang Lamphang, which is connected through Bangkok by the MRT underground.
The train takes between and hour and half and two hours depending on the stopping schedule.
The very best 1st class tickets are just 66 baht one way, and if on a really tight budget then a non air con third class seat will cost 20 baht one way.
This is a good relaxing way to get to Ayutthaya without having to worry about traffic jams.
The Chao Phraya River runs through Bangkok and onto Ayutthaya, making a boat journey probably the nicest way to the ancient capital.
Boats leave from the river banks at River City pier with one day ad two day cruises.
They will also pick up from hotels from 6.30am. The boat leaves at 7.30am and returns around 3.30pm.
Costs are in the region of 1.900 Baht and this includes meals on board the boat.
The overnight trip is made on a traditional boat and these are described as luxury cruises This is a very special experience and one to remember. The boats are converted Thai rice barges, and very nicely fitted out.
Departures can be 2pm and a stop on the river en route or at 8 am. Meals are taken on board.
The costs are anything between 5,000 and 12,000 Baht per person for the cruise.
What to See - Attractions
The main inner city is on an island and what we see today is the remains of the 200 monuments which at one time were adorned with gold, such was the wealth of the city.
The major Wats (temples) are:
This was the sacred spiritual centre of the capital, built in the 14 Century in the reign of King Borommaracha. The ruins have revealed many treasures which are on display in the museums of Ayutthaya and Bangkok.
*Head of a Buddha statue that a tree’s roots grew around in Wat Mahathat
The temple was established in the 15th century and was built to house the ashes of the brothers of King Borommaracha II. In 1957 archaeologists uncovered a host of Buddha images and stone tablets in the temple crypts, during restoration. Also discovered were mural paintings which showed a strong Chinese influence.
Wat Phra Ram
Maybe the most picturesque of the old temples is this one, set in a garden alongside the central lotus pond. The temple was founded in1369 and restored in the 15th century.
*Wat Phra Ram
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
The temple was built in an original style within the compound of the Royal Palace, and goes back to the very first period of the establishment of the city The three Chedi at this Wat are some of the more complete remains in Ayutthaya and were the Royal Tombs for King Bormmatrailokanat and his sons.
*Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Also on the inner city island there is the Ayutthaya Historical Studies Centre
, and the Chandra Kasem Museum.
The Chanrdra Kasem was a palace built in the 17th century, but was destroyed by the Burmese and abandoned until restored by King Rama IV.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum:
The museum is very close to the Wat Phra Ram at the heart of the city.
Here visitors will find the evidence of the prosperity of the Ayutthayan Kingdom.
Artistic, religious and architectural artifacts which reflect the visions of the sovereigns who created these items to glorify their reign. The museum houses the most important finds of the ruined city in a collection displayed on two floors of the building.
In the outer city, that is, off the island, there is a myriad of temple ruins, and one of the pleasures of Ayutthaya is to simply wander amongst the structures of the old city and imagine what it was like during its most influential period.
Elephant Ride in Ayutthaya
Getting Around Ayutthaya
The choices of getting to see the temples are varied and dependant on whether a visitor wants a guided tour, or is happy to just make their own way around.
The guided tours cost about 300 baht per person and should be led by someone who can speak your language and knows he history of the city.
Independent travelers may want to rent a Bike. It’s a pleasant way to get around, and bikes can be rented from guest house and shops near the inner city. Maps show the bicycle routes.
The inner city is laid out in a very easy grid like format, so again, it is not difficult to get about. Bear in mind the bikes are local Thai versions, so they can be quite small for a big European or American.
It’s also as well to check the brakes and the general repair of the bike before heading off. The rental costs should be around 30 to 50 Baht a day, so its not an expensive option.
Like all paces in Thailand, it will be warm to hot, and maybe humid as well, making the need to carry water something of a priority. It will be warm water after 30 minutes but it is still water!
*Head of a Buddha statue that a tree’s roots grew around in Wat Mahathat
Staying in Ayutthaya
Those really interest in Thai culture and history may want to spend more time visiting the historic sites.
Here plenty of choices when it comes to accommodation from budget guest houses through to convention hotels.
The costs are still very reasonable even at the bigger places, and 1200 baht a night for the room will get a decent place to stay.
There are budget guesthouses for 300 - 600 baht a night with the option of fan or air con rooms.
The Lima Place
- The Lima Place is a modern stylish hotel in Ayutthaya which is located in city near Ayutthaya railway station around 2.5 km. within 5 minutes by driving. The hotel offers 75 rooms with another one function room.
The town is quite quiet in thee evenings with just a few restaurants around. There are plenty of the Thai style eating places with simple amenities and food.