Nestled along the banks of the Chao Phraya River lies Ayutthaya, a city steeped in rich history and cultural heritage. Once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, Ayutthaya is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination for travellers seeking to immerse themselves in Thailand’s captivating past. Let’s embark on a journey through time and discover the top attractions and experiences that Ayutthaya has to offer.
Ayutthaya Historical Park
A visit to Ayutthaya is incomplete without exploring its magnificent historical park. Spanning an area of 289 hectares, this vast archaeological site is dotted with awe-inspiring temples, statues, and crumbling ruins that serve as a testament to the city’s former glory. Here are some of the key attractions within the park:
One of the most iconic and visited temples in Ayutthaya, Wat Mahathat is renowned for its enigmatic Buddha head nestled within the roots of a sprawling banyan tree. Explore the temple’s extensive grounds, adorned with intricate stone carvings, towering prangs (reliquary towers), and atmospheric ruins. The serene atmosphere of Wat Mahathat makes it a perfect spot for reflection and photography.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Originally serving as the royal temple within the grounds of the former royal palace, Wat Phra Si Sanphet showcases three impressive chedis (stupas). These chedis once housed the ashes of Ayutthaya’s kings and are considered symbolic of the city. The grandeur of the temple and the serene atmosphere of the surrounding area make it a must-visit site for history enthusiasts.
Built in the 14th century, Wat Ratchaburana is a captivating temple known for its distinctive prang and the opportunity it offers to explore its crypt. Descend into the underground chamber to witness intricate murals and discover ancient artifacts that have been carefully preserved. The temple’s central prang offers panoramic views of Ayutthaya, making it a worthwhile climb.
Wat Phra Ram
Located near the Grand Palace, Wat Phra Ram is a picturesque temple surrounded by lush greenery and tranquil ponds. It provides a serene ambiance ideal for leisurely strolls and contemplation. Admire the intricate stucco designs on the temple’s exterior and take in the views of the surrounding parkland.
Situated on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Chaiwatthanaram is a breathtaking temple complex with Khmer-influenced architecture. Its towering prang and picturesque setting make it one of the most visually stunning sites in Ayutthaya. Explore the intricately adorned galleries and terraces, and take a leisurely walk along the riverbank to capture the temple’s reflection in the water during sunset.
Wat Phu Khao Thong
As you explore Ayutthaya Historical Park, you will encounter numerous other smaller temples, ancient statues, and archaeological remains. Renting a bicycle or hiring a local guide can enhance your experience and help you navigate the vast park, allowing you to immerse yourself fully in the wonders of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While it is true that elephant rides may be offered within Ayutthaya Historical Park, we strongly discourage participating in this activity. Although it may initially seem like an alluring experience, it is important to consider the welfare and treatment of the elephants involved.
Elephant rides often involve practices that can be detrimental to the well-being of these majestic creatures. Many elephants used for rides endure long working hours, are subjected to unnatural living conditions, and may be subjected to abusive training methods. These activities can have a negative impact on their physical and mental health.
Ayutthaya, with its timeless beauty and cultural treasures, provides an enchanting escape into Thailand’s past. Explore the ancient temples, absorb the serene ambience, and engage with the warm-hearted locals. Whether you’re a history buff, a food enthusiast, or an animal lover, Ayutthaya offers a truly unforgettable experience. Prepare to be captivated by the remnants of a glorious era and create lasting memories in this fascinating city.