When in Bangkok, it is essential that you take a day trip to the historic city of Ayutthaya, around two hours’ drive (give or take some traffic) from the bustling city.
Ayutthaya was founded in 1350, and was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom after Sukhothai. It flourished between the 14th and 18th centuries. The city was built at this location as it was located about the tidal bore of the Gulf of Siam and prevented the attack of the city from other countries sea warships.
Ayutthaya was attacked by the Burmese army in 1767 and it was burned to the ground with the inhabitants fleeing. Now, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, these archaeological ruins are known for the remains of their reliquary towers and Buddhist monasteries. The architecture is quite different to that of the Angkorian temples in neighbouring Cambodia, particularly as most temples were made from small bricks.
The ruins are spread around the town, so unless you are incredibly fit an able to ride a bicycle, it is suggested you hire a driver to transport you around. Some highlights are:
Wat Mahathat – Possible one of the most popular spots in Ayutthaya, due to a Buddha head in the tree. It is thought that this Buddha head fell to the ground in the 1600’s, and the Bodhi tree grew around it, though nothing is certain. It is useful to note that this is a very sacred site, so touching the Buddha is not allowed, and you should kneel when taking photos as a sign of respect.
Ayothaya Floating Market – Even if you don’t purchase anything, this market is great for the atmosphere. You will find local delicacies, Thai fashion and knick knacks. There is apparently now an entrance fee, however when this author visited in October 2016 that wasn’t the case.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet – This site was originally used as a royal chapel. The highlight of the architecture is a line of three tall chedis (stupas) which have a peaceful, rustic feel to them. It is recommended you steer clear of the elephants there, as recently a banana vendor was seriously injured when trying to feed one.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram – This temple is relatively young compared to others, having been constructed in 1630. The size is astounding, and you will want to spend a fair amount of time exploring it. Wat Chaiwatthanaram was designed in Khmer style, which you will see in the temples in Cambodia.
Have you been to Ayutthaya? We would love to hear about your highlights and see your photos! Be sure to tag @templesandmarkets on Instagram so we can see!
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