For many tourists, an Ayutthaya day trip is an unmissable stop on their Thailand itinerary, but locals also love to visit this historical wonder.  So, what makes this ancient city so popular and what should you expect? With this guide, you can plan your own trip to Ayutthaya to enjoy sacred temples, Thai history and tasty seafood. 
 

Ayutthaya - a brief history


Ayutthaya was founded around 1350 and became the capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Its success was partly due to its geographical position, set close to the sea and at the confluence of three different rivers. Another major advantage was the city’s acceptance of foreign traders; merchants from all over the world found their way to the city to trade exotic items and goods. 

However, it wasn’t all peace and harmony. Back then, Southeast 
Asia, as we currently know it, was divided into multiple kingdoms and there was a constant flow of conquests and expansions. When the Ayutthaya Kingdom conquered Sukhothai, Ayutthaya became the capital of Siam (Thailand). Its glory years were around 1700 when Ayutthaya became one of the wealthiest and largest city in the world with a population of over a million people. The temples that were built to admire gods and kings were all covered in gold and decorated with the most beautiful diamonds and emeralds you can possibly imagine. 

This all ended in 1767 when Burma attacked and conquered Ayutthaya. The Burmese Kingdom stole all of Ayutthaya’s gold and diamonds, destroying and burning the city to the ground. Nowadays, an Ayuttaya Day Trip with the remaining ruins are one of the highlights for tourists visiting Thailand.



 

Ayutthaya Temples


Today, Ayutthaya is a small city located around 80 kilometres north of Bangkok. As it’s easily accessible by bus, train and car, it has become one of the most popular Bangkok day trip destinations for both tourists and locals. The city is known for its temple ruins and many Thai people come to Ayutthaya to worship, as Buddhists believe praying at nine different temples in one day will bring you great fortune. The beauty of the temples and their close proximity makes them easy to explore. To give you the best insight into Ayutthaya, be sure to visit the following Ayutthaya temples:
 

1. Wat Mahathat

 
Wat Mahathat was built by King Borom Rachathirat I in 1374. This royal temple houses Buddha’s relics, making it the most important temple in the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Back in the day, it had a large monastery and a Prang (cone-shaped tower) 46 meters tall. Unfortunately, the monastery was burned to the ground by the Burmese Army and the Prang fell into decay and collapsed. Throughout the whole temple complex, you’ll see destroyed Buddha statues and Buddha's heads, one of which has become entwined in tree roots. No-one knows exactly how this happened, although it’s likely that the tree grew around the head. What we do know is that it’s one of the most photographed buddha statues in the world and the highlight of Wat Mahathat.

Due to its popularity, Wat Mahathat is always crowded so it’s best to visit this Ayutthaya temple as early as possible. When approaching the Buddha statue in the tree, make sure that you sit in front of the tree. A guard will tell everyone to sit, although not everyone listens to this. 

Entrance fee: 50 THB
 
Ayutthaya Day Trip Buddha Tree
The famous Buddha in the tree, the highlight of the Ayutthaya Day Trip

Ayutthaya Temples Wat Mahathat
Large Prang with destroyed Buddha statues on the sides

Ayutthaya Day Trip Buddha
Burned Buddha with the ruins of the Monastery in the back
 

2. Wat Ratchaburana


Located next to Wat Mahathat is the much less crowded Ayutthaya temple named Wat Ratchaburana. The highlight of this temple is the central Prang which has undergone restoration and is in beautiful condition. The Prang was built on the cremation site of the elder brothers of King Borommarachathirat II. Legend says that the two elder brothers had to duel each other for royal succession, yet both died during the battle, leaving the youngest brother to became King Borommarachathirat II.

Entrance fee: 50 THB

 
Ayutthaya Day Trip Wat Ratchaburana
The restored central Prang of Wat Ratchaburana

Ayutthaya Temples Wat Ratchaburana
The ruins of Wat Ratchaburana

Ayutthaya Temples Wat Ratchaburana Buddha
Beheaded and burned Buddha statue
 

3.  Wat Phra Si Sanphet


With three gigantic so-called Chedis, Wat Phra Si Sanphet is also known as Temple of the Holy. The Ayutthaya temple on the site of the Royal Palace was the largest in Ayutthaya and only accessible for the Royal Family, making it the holiest temple in Ayutthaya. During the attack on Ayutthaya in 1767, the three chedis were destroyed but were later restored.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet is located next to two other temples, Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
and Wat Phra Ram.

Entrance fee: 50 THB

 
Ayutthaya Temples Wat Phra Si Sanphet
The enormous Chedis of Wat Phra Si Sanphet 
 
 

4.  Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit


Inside this fully-restored Ayutthaya temple, you will find a 17-meter-tall Buddha statue. Built around 1538, it’s one of the few statues that survived the Burmese attacks in 1767. After multiple restorations, the statue is now covered in a bronze layer and is a popular temple for locals to visit.

Entrance fee: 20 THB

 
Ayutthaya Temples wihan phra mongkhon bophit
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit seen from Wat Phra Si Sanphet 

Ayutthaya day trip wihan phra mongkhon bophit
17 meter tall Buddha statue

Ayutthaya Temples Praying
Locals praying and worshipping 
 

5. Wat Phra Ram


This small site is an oasis of peace. In the middle of the site, you will find a central Prang that’s surrounded by ruins and a serene garden. When compared to all the other Ayutthaya temples we visited, this one was perfect to enjoy a little bit of quiet time and take some great pictures. As it’s on the route to the famous Wat Phra Si Sanphet, I’d highly recommend stopping for a look.

Entrance fee: 50 THB

 
Ayutthaya Temples Wat Phra Ram
The central Prang at Wat Phra Ram 

Ayutthaya day trip Wat Phra Ram
Another destroyed and burned Buddha statue


 

6.  Wat Yai Chai Mongkon


Wat Yai Chai Mongkon is the Ayutthaya temple with the highest Chedi in Ayutthaya. The impressive Chedi is 60 meters tall and surrounded by beautiful gardens and statues. Visitors can climb the temple and there’s a well where you can drop a small amount of money for good luck. When you enter the site, turn immediately left to see a striking reclining Buddha.

Entrance fee: 20 THB

 
Ayutthaya Temples Wat Yai Chai Mongkon
The 60 meters tall Chedi of Wat Yai Chai Mongkon
 
Ayutthaya Temples Reclining Buddha
The reclining Buddha 
 
Ayutthaya Temples Buddha Statue
White Buddha statues at the back of the Chedi 

Day Trip Wat Yai Chai Mongkon
The Chedi is surrounded by Buddha statues


These six temples are all recommended for their diversity and while there’s more to explore, keep in mind that after a while, touring the ruins can get exhausting and repetitive. 

 

Transport

 

Bangkok to Ayutthaya

 

Most people visit Ayutthaya on a day trip from Bangkok or stop off on their way to the northern parts of Thailand. Here are the options of how to travel from Bangkok to Ayutthaya:
  • Train: trains leave from Hua Lamphong Station to Chiang Mai every 30 minutes, taking two hours to reach Ayutthaya. From there, you take a Tuk Tuk to one of the desired temples. It costs 20 THB for a third-class train ticket.
  • Minivan: at Victory Monument BTS Station, you’ll find minivans heading to Ayutthaya. Journeys cost you around 80 THB per person and take around an hour.   
     
In case you are visiting Ayutthaya with your backpack planning to go to the north afterward and don't stay there for the night, you can store your backpack for the whole at the train station for 20 THB. The bags are secured and you can enjoy the temple hopping without any worry!

Once in Ayutthaya, temple hopping will be much easier if you rent a bike. It will cost you around 50 THB to rent one or you can hire a 
tuk-tuk for a day for around 500 THB after negotiation.  
 
Bangkok to Ayutthaya
Rented bikes that you can park at every entrance
 

Ayutthaya back to Bangkok


The best way to get back from Ayttuya to Bangkok is by train. There’s a train every 30 minutes from Chiang May to Bangkok that stops at Ayutthaya and terminates at Hua Lamphong train station. You can also take a minivan to Bangkok, but this can take longer as there’s a chance of running into traffic jams once you enter the city. Minivan drivers wait for passengers at Chao Phrom Market in Ayutthaya. 

 

Food in Ayutthaya


Ayutthaya is famous for its wide variety of fresh seafood, especially its gigantic river prawns. We planned our Ayutthaya Day Trip to include plenty of temple hopping followed by the most delicious seafood dinner one can imagine. 

At Ban U-Tong Restaurant, a riverside eatery with excellent views, we ordered four of their signature dishes: Steamed Squid with Spicy Lemon and Lime Soup (250 THB), Deep-Fried Common Sweat Fish topped with Red Curry (450 THB), Deep-Fried Prawns with Crispy Beatle Leaves and Spicy Salad (150 THB) and the River King Prawns (1500 THB). For most dishes, the cost is based on the local seafood market price. Check out our article about the
best restaurants in Ayutthaya to find more amazing restaurants like Ban U-Tong.
 
Ayutthaya Food
Insane seafood and a great way to finish the Ayutthaya Day Trip

Ayutthaya Seafood River View
Riverside view at Ban-U Tong Restaurant

The prawns were served in their pure form with a little seasoning, while other dishes like the spicy salad offered a great combination of fresh seafood and Thai herbs. Even though it was slightly pricey, the flavours and the whole experience was absolutely worth it.

 

Seafood Market in Ayutthaya


On our way back from the Ayutthaya Day Trip to Bangkok, we drove past Talad Klang Pue Kaset Tagon Ayuttaya, a local seafood market located only a few kilometres from Ayutthaya. For a small market, the amount of seafood they sell is insane. Everywhere you look you’ll see large mussels, horseback clams, giant tiger prawns, crab, snails, squid and even shrimps that are still alive. You can either just buy the freshest seafood you can imagine to take away or dine at one of the local restaurants. If you have some extra time or you plan to eat really local, go check it out!
 
Ayutthaya seafood market
Local seafood market "Talad Klang Pue Kaset Tagon Ayutthaya"
 
Ayutthaya seafood market crab
A large amount of fresh crab
 
Ayutthaya seafood market snails
Sea Snails, a real delicacy in Thailand
 
Ayutthaya seafood market bbq prawn
Super fresh prawns, straight from the BBQ


For me, the Ayutthaya Day Trip was an absolute joy, offering the perfect combination of sightseeing, chance to experience the local culture and eat the city’s famous seafood. I would recommend sticking to around six Ayutthaya temples, as it gets exhausting after a while and it's hard to find a spot in the shade. Even though the seafood is pricey, it was a perfect way to finish such an amazing day.

 


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Day Trip Ayutthaya

Joost Beijers
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