Ayutthaya - About Ayutthaya in Thailand

Between China to its east and India to its west, Ayutthaya is ideally situated for its former position as a major international trading center in the region. Once upon a time, this was considered one of the most outstandingly beautiful cities in the world. In written descriptions about Ayutthaya as it once was, European visitors of long ago sang its praises as a lovely city with golden buildings. Renowned for its elaborate architecture, this provincial capital was unfortunately almost completely destroyed when a fire was set by Burmese invaders three and a half centuries ago.

Such was the artistic atmosphere in Ayutthaya that an entire art form has been named after this ancient city. Travelers to the area these days can only stare at the remains of the ancient city and imagine the grandeur that used to exist. If you would like to explore the ruins and get to know the spirit of this famed city, but do not want to stay there overnight, you can always plan a day trip from Bangkok – it’s only about 80 km away.

Thailand, Ayutthaya Tempel Ayutthaya, Thailand
 

Getting there

You have a choice of transportation to Ayutthaya. Probably the best way to get to the city is to board a train from Bangkok’s central station. The journey of 80 km takes only about 2 ½ hours, and along the way you can get a preview of the local scenery. For a very inexpensive third class ticket, you do not have to make an advance reservation. To actually get into Ayutthaya, you will need to take a short ferry ride from the train stop.

You can also travel by bus from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal. There are quite a few buses scheduled throughout the day; the last one leaves at about 6:00 PM, though, so plan your day carefully. Actual travel time is much faster by bus than by train, but line ups and frequent stops make the journey drag out to about 2 hours. For the fastest and most efficient way to get to Ayutthaya, take a mini bus. Of course it will cost you more, but it’s the quickest means of transportation to the city. In general you will be surprised at how convenient travel is within Thailand, with the various forms of transportation and a modern system of roads. For a picturesque trip, arrange to arrive in Ayutthaya by boat on the river from Bangkok. You will have to reserve your place on the boat ahead of time. If you’d like to be even more adventurous, you can take an overnight boat trip.

Thailand, Ayutthaya Ayutthaya in Thailand
 

Activities

There is plenty to do and see in a city so filled with history. In order to squeeze all the most interesting ruins and monuments into your itinerary, especially if you’ll be in the city just for a day trip, it’s a good idea to read up about Ayutthaya before you come to Thailand and plan what you would most like to see. However you don’t have to micro manage every detail of your visit. Just walking around the city will let you breathe in the atmosphere and excitement. Hiring a guide to show you around and recount the history of each site is another way to ensure a memorable visit.

Temples dominate the city and most are in such excellent shape that they seem to have been unchanged for hundreds of years. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the main temple, open from the early morning hours until 6:00 in the evening. It costs a small admission fee to visit. The temple of Wat Phra Mahathat is a different sort of experience. The many headless Buddha statues serve as a reminder of the violence of the Burmese invasion. If the weather doesn’t allow for long walks outside, check out some of Ayutthaya’s many museums. A good place to begin is the Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre, where you can orient yourself in the long and colorful history of the area. Baan Hollanda is an interesting museum built on the site of a former Dutch village, which commemorates the long and amicable relationship between Holland and Thailand.

Accommodation

This central Thai city is generally hot and humid, so it’s important to find comfortable accommodation. Air conditioning in your room can the factor that makes or breaks your trip, so be sure you know what you are getting when you make your reservation. Often hotels have two price lists for rooms with air conditioning and rooms with only fans. There are a number of interesting sites surrounding the island, so it is a good “base camp” from which to travel around. Worth seeing are the remains of the Dutch, Portuguese and Japanese communities in Thailand. You can find plenty of very comfortable guest houses and hotels, so choose according to your travel budget. Food – which tends to be local, fresh and delicious – and drink in Ayutthaya are also quite reasonable. Except for a few stray dogs and an occasional pickpocket, you can feel good about Ayutthaya – travel is generally quite safe and pleasant.

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