Ayutthaya has seen its glory days. Once the capital of Siam, it was among the world’s wealthiest cities, flaunting ornate temples and lavish palaces, minting its status as a seat of power in ancient Indo-China. Today, it stuns with a massive collection of mesmerizing ruins—the remains of Burma’s attack in the 18th century and testaments of its exuberant heyday.
About one and a half hours’ drive to the north of Bangkok, this gem of a city makes for a perfect day tour destination if you’re staying in the Thai capital.
Looking for sights to discover in Ayutthaya? Here are the locations you mustn’t miss:
Ayutthaya Floating Market
A trip to Thailand won’t be complete without the quintessential floating market experience. So for your tour’s first stop, head on over to the Ayutthaya Floating Market. Much of the shopping happens at a charming marketplace built by the river, but you can also take a boat ride to get around. While you’re at it, savor local delicacies or put your bargaining skills to good use with local merchants.
Founded in 1374, Wat Mahathat (the Temple of the Great Relic) used to be the Ayutthaya Kingdom’s most important temple that also served as the seat of the supreme patriarch. Now a major attraction in the city, its most iconic feature is a sandstone Buddha head wrapped in the embrace of a bodhi tree’s roots.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
One of the most defining landmarks of Ayutthaya, Wat Phra Si Sanphet (the Temple of the Buddha Is Sanphet) was the most important temple of the Kingdom that’s situated within the Grand Palace grounds. It is recognizable for its three intact stupas that date back to the 15th century. Its most treasured feature was a 16meter-high standing gold-coated Buddha, but it was melted down during the Burmese attacks.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
Best known for its 62-meter, bell-shaped Chedi (Buddhist stupa) and lying buddha, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon (the Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory) is an active monastery. On your visit, wish for some luck after dropping coins into a bucket situated in the crypt of the Chedi, then head out to the gardens to take in the picturesque views.
Established in 1630, this breathtaking temple complex on the West Bank of the Chao Phraya River is a restored ruin that has seen decay prior to its rehabilitation in the late 1980s. At present, it draws tourists for its marvelous appearance when it bathes in early morning light at sunrise and as it enjoys the remaining daylight at sunset.
Also known as the Summer Palace, Bang Pa-In showcases an eclectic collection of architectural styles that range from traditional Thai to European. Take a leisurely stroll around the well-maintained gardens, and marvel at the Thai pavilion that seems as though its floating on a lake.
Ratchada Rot Fai Night Market
Cap off your day at the Ratchada Rot Fai Night Market, a bustling outdoor market with a festive atmosphere. Here, vendors sell a plethora of regional goods and fare that will suit any shopaholics’ and foodies’ cravings. Have a go at authentic pad Thai after scoring cheap souvenir deals.