Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya was the flourishing capital of Siam (later named Thailand) for over 400 years, until the middle of the 18th century. It is said to have been one of the most cosmopolitan global cities during this time period.
Situated on an island surrounded by 3 rivers, Ayutthaya was designed using a grid system which consisted of roads, canals and moats. The hydraulic system used for managing water was considered one of the most advanced of its time.
An important connecting point between east and west, Ayutthaya was equal in distance from China and India. It was perfectly situated at the head of the Gulf of Siam which insured that it was also located upstream from the upcoming powers in the Middle East. This gave it a fair amount of protection and Ayutthaya became a regional and global powerhouse in economics and trade.
Despite its ideal location, Ayutthaya was attacked by the Burmese army in 1767 and the city was burned to the ground. The surviving inhabitants were forced to flee and the city never returned to its former glory.
Bangkok became the capital of Siam in 1782 and Ayutthaya slowly descended into an archaeological ruin, albeit an amazing one, containing many tall prang (tall towers) and massive Buddhist monasteries.
Today, the city of Ayutthaya has been restored and visitors can roam, relatively freely, around what feels like 80 – 150 different temples. It’s a pretty incredible area!
I won’t go into detail on specific temples to visit, as they’re all amazing and have a different feel. Your hotel, hostel, or guesthouse will have plenty of advice so doing a ton of pre-research is not overly necessary.
Some grounds are free to enter but most of them cost 50 Baht ($2 CAD). Visitors can also purchase a day pass for 220 Baht which allows entrance into 6 temples. Personally, I visited 4 different sights over a three-to-four hour timeframe. As a whole, Ayutthaya is fairly bereft of shade and if we’re combining minimal tree coverage with 35+ degree temperatures, 4 temples/ruins are plenty to see!
Can I do a daytrip from Bangkok?
Ayutthaya is just 70 – 80 km from Bangkok, so it is possible to explore the ruins in a daytrip. However, unless you plan on waking up super early, a daytrip would likely result in a midday exploration of the city. I would recommend against this if you have enough time, as the heat plus walking/bike riding around the city will leave you totally exhausted.
Trust me. It will be a much more enjoyable day if you spend one night in Ayutthaya and take your time exploring the ruins!
How can I get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok?
Train: Takes about 2 hours and is the most comfortable option. Trains leave from Hua Lamphong Station which can be reached by MRT (subway). There are about 30 trains leaving throughout the day and a seat costs 20-65 Baht.
Bus: Takes about 1.5 hours and buses leave from the north Mo Chit bus terminal. Buses depart every 30 minutes and cost 60 Baht.
What should I eat in Ayutthaya?
Delicious Thai food….
Ayutthaya was one of my favourite spots in Thailand and I would absolutely classify it as a ‘must see’. It has a similar feel to Angkor Wat (https://canadianglobetrotter.net/2015/05/11/angkor-wat-cambodia/) but it is quite small and manageable in comparison.
Spend a day or two checking this absolute gem out!
Khob – Khun – Krub (thank you in Thai)!