On our journey south from Chiang Mai to Krabi, we decided to break up the journey by spending a day in Ayutthaya. We arrived in Ayutthaya in the evening after a long train journey and after a quick visit to the night market for dinner, we went to bed ready to wake up early the next day for a full day of exploring…
In 1350, Ayutthaya was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam until it was viciously attacked by the Burmese in 1787, resulting in the fall of the kingdom. The ruins of this ancient city are now preserved as the “Ayutthaya historical park” and are recognised as a UNESCO heritage site. The expanse of the ruins certainly show how magnificent this city once was and we had a great day exploring some of the temple complexes and historical sites.
We decided it would be best to rent some bicycles and explore the sites that way. This was definitely the best way to get around and see everything in a day as it immensely cut down our travel time, and we couldn’t complain given the bike rental was a mere 50 baht. The entrance fee for all the temple complexes we visited was free in honour of the late king so it ended up being a very cheap day out. I think usually they are something like 50 baht per temple to enter.
First off, we entered Phra Ram Park where the ruins of Wat Mahathat (translating to Temple of the Great Relic) were contained- a complex particularly famous for its Buddha head entwined in a tree. The Buddha was being relentlessly photographed by tourists so I didn’t manage to read much about it, but the rest of the temple was pretty uncrowded so it was great to casually wander and enjoy the ruins. We spent a good while exploring this complex as the temple was amazing and is probably my favourite I’ve seen in Thailand so far. Phra Ram Park itself was really pretty so we spent a good hour or so cycling around it as it contained ruins of other smaller temples too such as Wat Nok.
Later on, we navigated our way to one of Ayutthaya best known temples- Wat Chaiwatthanaram. This temple was constructed in 1630 by the king Prasat Thong as a memorial to his mother (Chaiwatthanaram translates to long reign and glorious era). Unfortunately, floods in 2011 caused a fair amount of damage and many of the statues of Buddha within the temple complex are beheaded, presumably by the Burmese when they attacked Ayutthaya. Regardless, this was a seriously impressive site and well worth the mission to get there (my map reading is below par so it took us a while to get there).
These pictures definitely do not do Ayutthaya’s ruins justice. They are stunning in real life and you get a real sense of awe when walking round them. As Ayutthaya is only an hour and something like 20 baht on the train from Bangkok, I would seriously recommend doing Ayutthaya as a day trip if you’re in Bangkok. If you’re really temple mad, you could spend 2 or 3 days exploring the temples but a day trip was perfect for us.