Founded in 1350 by the king U-Thong, Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam for more than 400 years. Over these four centuries, 33 kings sat on the throne.
When the city was at its peak, at the beginning of the 18th century, the city had more than a million inhabitants, making it one of the largest cities of the period. It was an important commerical port, trading in products like woods, sugar, leather, ivory and silk.
In 1767 the the city was invaded by the British army, who raided the houses, destroyed the temples, and decapitated the statues of Buddha. It was at this point that the capital of Siam was forced to be moved to Thonburi.
Getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
If you don't want any complications, the best way of getting to Ayutthaya is by reserving an excursion from Bangkok. Our excursion includes a guide, hotel pick up, transport in a minibus and with entry to the various temples included, as well as return travel by boat and food on board.
Or, if you would prefer to visit on your own, these are your options:
- Train: The trains to Ayutthaya leave from the Hua Lamphong station. The estimated dutation of the journey is 90 minutes. You can check prices and schecules online.
- Minibus: Buses leave from the Mo Chit station, also known as the Northern Bus Terminal, and the journey time is usually less than the train. Cost is normally 60 THB (US$ 1.80) reutrn.
- Bus: These buses cost about the same as the minibus, and take longer, so aren't a great option.
- Boat: The slowest, but most scenic option. Sailing between Ayutthaya and Bangkok takes about 3 hours, and one of the companies that runs them is called River Sun Cruise.
Getting around Ayutthaya
If you reserve a guided tour you don't have to worry about this, but if you're visiting on your own, you should know that the city is quite large, and that you'll need to take some means of transport to visit it. Near the bus station you can rent bikes and motorbikes, or hire a tuk tuk for 200 THB (US$ 6) an hour.
What to see in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is home to tens of ancient temples and palaces. Given that normally tourists don't have more than a few hours in the city, we'll focus on the 4 must-see temples.
- Wat Maha That: dating from the end of the 14th century, the Buddha's head trapped between the roots of a tree make this temple the most famous in Ayutthaya.
- Wat Chai Watt Hanaram: built in the beginning of the 17th century, this temple has a 35-metre central tower built in the khmer style, and four smaller pagodas around it. Historians class this temple as the most influential structure in Thai Buddhism.
- Wat Phra Si Sanphet: found in the gardens of the ancient palace, this temple was only used for royal ceremonies and as home to the Buddha's relics. It's believed that its three chedis (stupas) were built to hold the ashes of the three kings of that period.
- Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon: Founded in 1357 by Buddhist monks taught in Sri Lanka, this still-functioning temple is well known for its seven-metre long statue of the reclining buddha. It's thought that this temple may pre-date the Ayutthaya kingdom.
Daily from 8 am to 6 pm.
Entry to each temple: 50 THB (US$ 1.50)
Combined entry to the 6 main temples: 220 THB (US$ 6.60)
Ayutthaya Day Trip & River Cruise 2,500 THB (US$ 75.30)