Ayutthaya is an ancient capital of Central Thailand. Few cities were thought to be as prosperous back in the 17th Century. It is now a modern city 85 kilometres north of Bangkok and capital of Ayutthaya Province. There are limited remains of the ancient city though there are some towers and monasteries, temples and palaces as well. Though the invading Burmese burnt much of the city, only the wooden buildings have disappeared forever; stone structures survived, sufficient to gain the Historic City the status of UNESCO World Heritage site.
How to get there
Ayutthaya is an island surrounded by rivers. Rail travel from Bangkok is easy, quick and scenic but then visitors will have to board a ferry.
The highways from Bangkok are good and travel fairly easy after you are out of Bangkok’s City limits where traffic tends to be congested. Bus services are regular and take a couple of hours once out of Bangkok.
Some opt to come from Bangkok by boat with the added advantage of seeing life on the river banks.
Best time to visit
The rains come in April/May and last the rest of the year. That does not necessarily mean anything prolonged and tourists visit Central Thailand all 12 months of the year. It may be hot and humid at times and those seeking the most comfortable weather should probably take a holiday in Thailand between December and April.
Things to see and do
Three palaces existed in Ayutthaya: Grand Palace, Chantharakasem (Front) Palace and Wang Lang (Rear Palace). There were many other buildings associated with the Royal Family as well.
The temples are usually ruins but those that aren’t require conservative dress. This Thailand travel guide aims to provide a flavour of the highlights of Ayutthaya:
• Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the largest temple in Ayutthaya, known its Thai style stupas. It is within the Royal Palace grounds and was used purely for royal ceremonies.
• Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit holds a large bronze Buddha.
• Wat Phra Mahathat suffered badly when the Burmese attacked but the headless Buddhas remain.
• Wat Ratchaburana has been restored though many of its contents were stolen. What remains are in a museum.
• Wat Thammikarat is a working temple.
• Phet Fortress in the south east originates in the 15th Century, rebuilt from the wooden structure first constructed in 1350.
There are museums worth a visit to tell you more about the Park and the history of Ayutthaya; the Historical Study Centre, Chantharakasem and Chao Sam Phraya National Museums are three to visit.
If you have time you might like to visit the floating market or the areas associated with the foreign traders that spent time here; Portuguese. Japanese among others.
Thailand tour packages provide accommodation for their clients. There is plenty in the modern city and although a day trip to Ayuttaya is possible it will be a long day to do the Historical Park justice.