Ayutthaya Guide – Best Temples & Attractions
Ayutthaya is located only 70 km in the north of Bangkok, and it is well known for being one of the most beautiful temple cities in Thailand. In its heyday there had been three royal palaces, over 375 temples and 29 forts that shaped the cityscape. Until today you will find a large number of ancient temples, old ruins and spectacular historical attractions inside the Historical Park of Ayutthaya. Also the city is well-known for the famous Buddha Head grown into a tree, which is probably the most photographed sight of this historic city. But not only that, the city has many other highlights to offer. Probably that’s why Ayutthaya is one of the most popular stops on any Thailand trip. A temple tour will allow you to explore all of the Historical Park’s most interesting ruins and temples, while soaking in Thailand’s long history.
In this travel blog guide we will show you all about a visit to Ayutthaya, the best activities, attractions and most beautiful temples. In addition, we give you lots of information about how to get there, bike tours & bike rentals and where to stay.
Temples & Attractions
During a temple tour through Ayutthaya many spectacular highlights are awaiting you. Here, we have summarized the best things to do in Ayutthaya and where are the most beautiful sights that shouldn`t be missed.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkon
The Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon definitely belongs to the most beautiful temples of Ayutthaya. Particularly amazing is the approximately 8 meters high chedi, which is flanked by 4 smaller chedis. From the top you have a breathtaking view over the entire temple grounds and the beautiful gardens. There are many attractions to explore during a walk in the grounds: the seated Buddha statues adorned daily with the typical orange robes, and the Reclining Buddha from the time of King Naresuan the Great.
- Hours: The opening hours of the temple are from 08.00 am – 05.00 pm.
- Price: The entrance fee is 20 Baht per person.
The view from the upper terrace is gigantic. A real highlight for photographers who want to get some breathtaking pictures of Ayutthaya.
Tip: A visit in the morning is definitely worth it, because at that time you will have almost the whole Wat Yai Chai Mongkon temple for yourself!
In the temple complex you can admire a huge number of stone Buddha statues built around the big chedi. During the day, believers wrap them in yellow robes. The large pagoda in the middle was made out of 28,144 tons of stones and is therefore one of the top attractions of Ayutthaya.
Wat Chai Watthanaram
Also the Wat Chai Watthanaram temple in Ayutthaya is really worth a visit. Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, southwest of the old town of Ayutthaya, the large temple is a highlight of the region. Built in 1630, the temple features a central, 35-meter-high Prang in Khmer style flanked by four smaller prangs. Steep stairs lead up, which could still get climbed a few years ago. Although that’s forbidden today, the visit to Wat Chai Watthanaram is a highlight of any Ayutthaya sightseeing tour. Like many of Ayutthaya’s attractions, this site is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Price: The entrance fee to Wat Chai Watthanaram costs 50 Baht per person.
- Opening hours: 08:00 am to 05:00 pm
The temple complex was once a royal temple. Here, the royal families held their ceremonies and so among other things, the cremation of the noble families were carried out there. During a walk through the area one can only guess how impressive this complex must have been at former times.
Tip: Even today, the temple is still a very sacred place, and therefore a strict dress code can be expected.
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
The Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit is another temple that is worth seeing in Ayutthaya. The ultimate gem of this temple is the 12-meter-tall bronze Buddha figure – one of the largest in Thailand. It dates back to the early period of the empire of Ayutthaya (14th century) and was only gilded in 1990. Since this temple is located next to the famous Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, you can combine the two sights for a visit.
- Price: Entry to Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit is free.
- Hours: Open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
The Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is one of the most beautiful temples of Ayutthaya. It was the royal temple and stood on the site of the old royal palace before the city was completely destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. The whole complex is really marvelous and that’s why the 3 chedis are the symbol of Ayutthaya. Also this temple is a highlight and a must see for every visitor to the Historical Park.
- Price: The entrance fee to Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is 50 Baht per person.
- Hours: Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is open from 08:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya & the Buddha Head
Wat Mahathat is for sure one of the best places to visit! In addition to the beautiful grounds and the 46-meter-high Prang, the Buddha’s head in the tree is an extraordinary motif for breath-taking beautiful Ayutthaya photos. This popular temple is located in the center of the Historical Park, east of Rama Park. Because of its popularity you have to expect a number of visitors. Anyway, don`t miss it, because the whole area is gorgeous and an ultimate highlight of each Ayutthaya temple tour!
- Price: Entry to the temple is 50 baht.
- Opening Hours: Wat Mahathat opens from 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Many visitors come mainly because of the famous Buddha head, which has grown into the roots of a tree. For believers, this place is most sacred and should therefore be treated with a huge amount of respect. But not only is the Buddha-Head worth seeing, in this temple complex there is still a lot of other ruins to discover.
Wat Phanan Choeng
The Wat Phanan Choeng is best known for its imposing sitting Buddha. This truly impressive statue is about 19 meters high and so one of the largest Buddha statues in all Thailand. You can also admire many beautiful details and enjoy a unique ambience, a visit to this temple is highly recommended. The complex is located on a beautiful river and when visiting this temple you can also check out the shrine of the Chinese princess Soi Dok Mak.
- Price: The admission fee for Wat Phanan Choeng is 20 baht.
- Opening hours: Open from 08:00 am to 5:00 pm
Wat Phu Khao Thong (White Temple)
The Wat Phu Khao Thong temple is one of the hidden temples of Ayutthaya. This white temple is located about two kilometers outside the old town and is not as busy as other sights. The chedi itself can be climbed over a steep staircase. Once at the top you will be rewarded with an excellent view of the surroundings. The temple itself houses some Buddha statues.
- Price: Entry to Wat Phu Khao Thong is free.
- Opening Hours: No official opening hours.
Wat Lokayasutharam (Reclining Buddha)
Wat Lokayasutharam is also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The temple complex itself is not as impressive as many others in Ayutthaya, but the Buddha statue is really spectacular: it is about 40 meters long and about 8 meters high. The head is placed on a lotus, and the legs overlap squarely to show the equalized toes. This statue is great for places to visit to get some great pictures. If you’re doing a temple tour in Ayutthaya, it’s definitely worthwhile stopping by!
- Admission is free and the statue can be visited at any time.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
If you have time and you want to get to know more about the history of Ayutthaya, then you should definitely visit the National Museum. It consists of 3 buildings where you will get interesting facts about the earlier time and the wealth of the former temple city. A highlight of the collection is the gold treasure of Borommaracha, which was hidden under a Prang and discovered in 1957.
- Price: The tour of the National Museum costs 150 Baht.
- Opening hours: Open from Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Summer Palace Bang Pa In
The summer palace Bang Pa In is located 20 kilometers south of Ayutthaya. The palace is one of the most beautiful attractions in the region and both Bangkok and Ayutthaya day-trippers love to visit this wonderful place. The whole complex is really huge. All the area is enclosed by walls and inside you are going to find some beautifully decorated palaces, towers and even a royal observatory.
- Price: The entrance fee to Bang Pa In Palace is 100 Baht per person.
- Opening hours: The Summer Palace is open from 08:00 to 15:30.
Restaurants in Ayutthaya
At the temple city you will find some really good restaurants and cafes. Our recommendation for the most delicious food is to eat out at the Coffee Old City, a very lovely restaurant just opposite the Historical Park and the famous Wat Mahathat. The food here is just yummy, the papaya salad is awesome and the refreshing juices are so good.
Bike Rental & Bike Tours
Ayutthaya is best explored by bicycle or on foot. Of course, there are also tuk tuks at the old town, who are more than happy to drive you from one temple to the next. Around the Historical Park and at many shops & accommodations are possibilities for bike rentals. Usually a bike costs 50 baht per day. If you love to do a guided tour, here are some fantastic trips.
Tours & Packages
Due to its proximity to the capital, the Ayutthaya is a popular destination for day tours from Bangkok. Therefore most of the excursions are offered from Bangkok. The advantage of such a guided tour is that you learn a lot about the history of Ayutthaya and you will get some great insight about the Thai culture. Often even the pick up from the hotel, entrance fees and lunch are included in the price. We have summarized the best tour here:
Getting to Ayutthaya by train
Getting to Ayutthaya by train is easy, perfect if you prefer traveling on your own. Most travelers take the train, a few also choose to get there by bus. Actually, a great option if you have enough time and want to stay in Ayutthaya. Trains run from Bangkok, Hua Lamphong Central Station, to Ayutthaya almost every hour. You can find the train schedule and further transport possibilities from Bangkok to Ayutthaya here:
Getting to Ayutthaya by boat
The boat from Ayutthaya to Bangkok costs around 1350 baht and it’s a 5 hours driving time. The city is completely enclosed by the water of the Chao Phraya and other rivers, so you can also do river tours on site.
Where to stay?
Many are wondering how long to stay in Ayutthaya and how many days to plan for a trip. Due to the many attractions we recommend, if you have enough time to stay at least one night in the city. Because of the cozy atmosphere, some travelers even stay for several days.
Whether backpacking, individual travelers or high-end luxury tourists, in Ayutthaya everyone will find their perfect accommodation. The offers of hostels, guest houses and hotels is amazing. Here are our top picks of accommodations in Ayutthaya:
- Hostel: The Fun Dee Hostel Ayutthaya – a really cozy and lovingly designed hostel with a small adjoining cafe. It is wonderfully close to the main temples and for only 50 baht you can rent a bike here.
- B&B: The Baan Keang Chol is a real highlight and is one of the best accommodations in Ayutthaya. Located right on the river and close to the Historical Park, it convinces with a fantastic location but also with the large rooms.
- Hotel: The Sala Ayutthaya offers stunning views while having breakfast and dinner. The pool is gorgeous and the food is delicious. So you can spend a few cozy days in this great hotel.
Conclusion: Ayutthaya is with the temple city Sukhothai one of the most important cultural sites in Thailand. The impressive temple city delights with a multitude of spectacular sights, ancient ruins and fantastically beautiful temples. Taking a trip to Ayutthaya, or staying for several days is both absolutely recommendable!
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