Ayutthaya, Thailand: The Ultimate Travel Guide!
Ayutthaya is located only 80 km north of Bangkok, and is probably the most famous temple city in Thailand. In its heyday, no less than 3 royal palaces, over 375 temple complexes and 29 forts characterized the cityscape, and even today there are numerous ancient temples and spectacular historical attractions to explore in Ayutthaya. Really famous and the landmark is Wat Mahathat with the famous Buddha Head in the Tree Roots, a picturesque stone statue grown into an ancient fig tree. But not only that, there are more things to do in Ayutthaya, and plenty of amazing temples to explore! But what are the best attractions in Ayutthaya, what are the real insider tips, and which places should not be missed on any visit?
In this travel guide we give you all the important information and tips about Ayutthaya in Thailand. We show you amazing pictures, the best things to do in Ayutthaya and the most beautiful temples, and where to find fantastic accommodations.
General info about Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is a city of 50,000 inhabitants in Thailand and is located just north of Bangkok, making it a desirable destination for excursions. It is the former capital of Thailand, and like Sukhothai, is especially famous for its impressive historical sites. There are said to be over 400 temples in Ayutthaya! The absolute centerpiece is the Ayutthaya Historical Park, which includes several large temple complexes, including Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat and Wat Ratchaburana. One day is enough to visit the most important attractions. However, if you also want to explore the highlights of the surrounding area, then it is definitely worth staying longer.
The history of Ayutthaya dates back to 1351, when the city was named the capital of the Kingdom of Siam and remained so for 400 years, until 1767. After that, the city was looted and destroyed during the Siamese-Burman War. Since 1991, Ayutthaya Historical Park has been on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. In its heyday, Ayutthaya had over a million inhabitants, and on a tour or bicycle ride through the historical park, one can still sense the splendor of that time.
The Best Things to Do in Ayutthaya
On a trip or excursion to Ayutthaya in Thailand, you can look forward to a whole range of attractions worth seeing. Most of them are located directly in and around the historical park, which you can explore wonderfully on your own. So that you don’t lose the overview, we have summarized the best temples and things to do in Ayutthaya at a glance:
Wat Yai Chai Mongkon
The temple Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Ayutthaya. This huge complex from the year 1357 is located on the outskirts of the city and is also a popular stop on day tours and roundtrips. Particularly impressive is the approximately 8 meter high Chedi, which was made of 28,144 tons of stones and is surrounded by 4 smaller Chedis. Walking around the grounds, there is also much worth seeing to discover. You should not miss the sitting Buddha statues, which are decorated daily with the typical orange robes, and the reclining Buddha from the time of King Naresuan the Great. The view from the upper terrace is also breathtaking. A real highlight for photographers who want to take great pictures of Ayutthaya.
Tip: A visit in the morning is worthwhile because at this time you often have almost the whole complex to yourself!
Opening Hours: 08:00 am to 5:00 pm | Admission: 20 baht per person
Wat Chai Watthanaram
The Wat Chai Watthanaram is one of the most important temples in Ayutthaya and, like many of the historic sites, it is on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list. Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, southwest of the old city, this ruined city is a true highlight of the region. Built in 1630, the temple has a central 35-meter Khmer-style tower flanked by four smaller prangs. Steep stairs lead up to it, which you could even climb a few years ago. The temple complex was once a royal temple. Here the royal families held their ceremonies, and so among other things the cremations of the noble families were performed there. Walking through the area, one can only imagine how imposing the complex must have been in its time.
Tip: The temple is still a very sacred place today, and therefore the correct dress code is strictly observed here as well.
Opening Hours: 08:00 am to 5:00 pm | Admission: 50 baht per person
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
A visit to the Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit is certainly one of the best things to do in Ayutthaya. The ultimate gem and the most important attraction inside the temple complex is the approximately 12.5 meter high bronze Buddha, one of the largest golden Buddha statues in Thailand. It dates back to the early era of the Ayutthaya Empire, from the 14th – 15th centuries, but was gilded much later, in 1991 on the occasion of the Thai King’s birthday. Since this temple is located right next to many historical sites, including the famous Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, it is easy to combine visits.
Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm | Admission: Admission is free of charge
Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya
One of the most famous attractions in Thailand is Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya. This fascinating temple is located in the heart of the Historical Park, to the east of Rama Park. The entire complex is gorgeous and an ultimate highlight of Ayutthaya! The temple complex dates back to 1374 and has been expanded and embellished many times. When visiting the area, you will discover the 46-meter-high tower and the famous Buddha head in the tree roots, one of the most important landmarks of Ayutthaya. This statue is a true celebrity in Thailand, and so you can expect large numbers of visitors at any time of day. For believers, this place is highly sacred, and should therefore be treated with great respect.
Tip: During excavations in Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya a box with numerous Buddha statues and treasures was discovered. Today you can visit them in the Sam Phraya Museum.
Opening Hours: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm | Admission: 50 Baht per person
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Also worth a visit is Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, one of the landmarks of Ayutthaya. In the past, this temple complex was one of the most magnificent in Ayutthaya. Built as early as 1448, this sacred site has been steadily expanded over the years. It was once the royal temple and stood on the site of the old royal palace before the city was completely destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. Even today, the entire complex is a dream and during a walk through the area, one is amazed by 3 imposing chedis, which have been excellently preserved thanks to several restorations. This temple is a real gem and a must for every visitor of the history park.
Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm | Admission: 50 baht per person
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
The Chao Sam Phraya National Museum is one of the most important museums in Ayutthaya. If you have time and are interested in the history of Ayutthaya, you should definitely visit this fascinating exhibition. The museum consists of 3 buildings, where you can take a tour and learn plenty of interesting facts about the former times and the wealth of the old temple city. You can see finds from different eras, which were found during archaeological excavations in Ayutthaya between 1956 and 1957. A highlight of the collection is the gold treasure of Borommaracha, which was hidden under a prang and was discovered in 1957.
Opening Hours: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm | Admission: 150 baht per person
Wat Phanan Choeng
Wat Phanan Choeng is a historical gem in Ayutthaya because the history of this temple dates back to 1324. Especially worth seeing the imposing, cross-legged sitting Buddha statue, which is located directly inside the temple. This impressive golden statue is about 19 meters high and thus one of the largest Buddha statues of Thailand. A visit to this temple is especially recommended because you can marvel at numerous beautiful details and murals in addition to this main sight. Absolutely romantic is also the location on the river, and when visiting this temple you can also admire the shrine of the Chinese princess Soi Dok Mak right away.
Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm | Admission: 20 baht per person
Wat Phu Khao Thong (White Temple)
The Wat Phu Khao Thong, also known as the White Temple, is one of Ayutthaya’s insider tips. This snow-white temple is located about two kilometers outside the old town and is not as busy as other temples in the center. It was built as early as 1387. The Buddha statues located in the bell-shaped tower are also interesting. An unforgettable experience, however, is the climb up the steep stairs to the Chedi. Once at the top, you are then rewarded with an outstanding view of the green surroundings of Ayutthaya from the terrace.
Opening Hours: No official opening hours | Admission: free of charge
Wat Lokayasutharam (Reclining Buddha)
Wat Lokayasutharam, also known as the Temple of the Resting Buddha, is a highlight in Ayutthaya. This temple complex is especially well-known for the huge, reclining Buddha. With a length of about 42 meters and a height of about 8 meters, it is the largest of its kind in Ayutthaya. His head, which is supported by his right hand, rests on four lotus buds and thanks to its spectacular appearance, this statue is a fantastic tip to take some great pictures. If you are doing a temple tour in Ayutthaya, then it is definitely worth visiting this stunning attraction!
Opening Hours: No official opening hours | Admission: free of charge
Summer Palace Bang Pa In
The Bang Pa-In Summer Palace is located 20 kilometers south of Ayutthaya and is one of the most stunning attractions in the area. The entire complex with the park is a highlight of the region, and both excursionists from Bangkok, as well as from Ayutthaya pilgrimage to this attraction. This wonderful place is located on the Chao Phraya River and was built there by King Prasat Thong on an island. In the huge area, which is enclosed by high walls, you can visit a beautiful garden, some fantastically decorated palaces, as well as towers, pavilions, statues and even a royal observatory.
Opening Hours: 8:00 am – 3:30 pm | Admission: 100 baht per person
Guided excursions from Bangkok
Thanks to its proximity to Bangkok, Ayutthaya is an excellent choice for a day trip. If you don’t want to explore Ayutthaya on your own, you can join a guided tour from Bangkok. On the online portal GetYourGuide you will find great offers for this. There are also guided temple tours, bicycle tours through Ayutthaya or boat trips on the river. Some trips to Ayutthaya are even in combination with the famous floating markets.
Also really great are the reviews, which you can compare before booking.
Getting to Ayutthaya
Getting from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is easy to organize. Those who like to explore Ayutthaya without a tour should take the planning for the trip into their own hands. Many travelers choose the train because they run almost every hour from Bangkok’s main station Hua Lamphong to Ayutthaya.
But also the journey by taxi, bus or minibus is possible and effortless to organize. Departure times, prices and tickets for the journey can be found on 12Go.Asia.
The best way to explore the center of Ayutthaya is on foot or by bike. There are also local tuk tuks that will take you from one temple to the next at a reasonable price. Possibilities to rent a bike can be found around the history park and at many accommodations. Mostly, the bike costs 50 baht per day.
Where to Stay in Ayutthaya
In Ayutthaya, you will find a small but very good offer of fantastic accommodation. From cheap backpacker hostels to stylish guesthouses and hotels with pools, you’ll find it all. If you are looking for recommended places to stay in Ayutthaya, then we can give you these tips on the way…It’s worth a look!
- Hotel with Pool: The Sala Ayutthaya inspires with a breathtaking view of the temples. The pool is also gorgeous and the breakfast delicious.
- Backpacker Hostel: The Plus Hostel Ayutthaya is a real insider tip for backpackers. Guests love the fabulous location, the hospitality and the exceedingly delicious food.
- Beautiful Guesthouse: The Baan Keang Chol is located directly on the river and close to the history park, it convinces with a dreamlike location, but also with the great rooms.
- Villa on the River: The Cattani’s Riverside Home offers beautiful villas directly on the river in a quiet location. The perfect accommodation for an exceptional stay.
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