Ayutthaya is an UNESCO World Heritage site located around 1 hour and 30 minutes- drive from Bangkok. The city of Ayutthaya served as the capital of the Kingdom of Siam and a thriving international trade hub from 1350 to 1767 before it was destroyed by the Burmese army.
Ayutthaya is home to some of the most ancient and beautiful temples in the world. These temples, built between the 14th and 18th centuries, are a testament to the art, architecture, and culture of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which was one of the most powerful and prosperous empires in Southeast Asia during its time.
You can reach Ayutthaya by train or bus from Bangkok. We took a guided tour which we enjoyed very much (click here for more information). The best time to visit Ayutthaya is during the cool season from November to February, when the weather is mild and pleasant, making it perfect for exploring the outdoor temples.
Another great way to explore the temples of Ayutthaya is by bicycle or tuk-tuk. This allows you to take your time and appreciate the temples, as well as the stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Wat Chaiwattanaram is a temple located in Ayutthaya and known for its central grand tower and large pond. It was built in the 17th century by King Prasat Thong as a memorial for his mother. It’s considered one of the most beautiful temples in Ayutthaya. You can also admire the many Buddha statues and carvings scattered throughout the temple grounds. The large pond at the temple provides a peaceful atmosphere.
Tip: There are many Thai costumes rental shops in front of the temple. You can rent one and wear it to take the most authentic pictures.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet is one of the most important historical temples located in Ayutthaya. It was once a royal temple for the kings of Ayutthaya and a center for Buddhism. The temple is famous for its three large stupas adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures, believed to contain the ashes of three Ayutthayan kings. It also features a large central tower, smaller towers, and many ancient Buddha statues and carvings. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is one of the most well-preserved temples in Ayutthaya and provides a glimpse of the grandeur and opulence of the ancient Ayutthayan court.
Wat Mahathat is famous for its collection of ancient Buddha statues and carvings. It is believed to have been built in the 14th century and it was once one of the most important religious sites in the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The temple is known for its iconic image of a Buddha head entwined in the roots of a Bodhi tree, which has become a symbol of Ayutthaya.
Wat Lokayasutha is known for its grand central prang (a type of tower that is characteristic of Khmer architecture) decorated with intricate carvings and statues, surrounded by smaller prangs and stupas. It holds great historical and cultural importance as it is the home to many ancient Buddha statues including the original giant reclining one. There is a nice local restaurant near the temple where we had a great traditional Pad-Thai.
Overall, visiting the temples of Ayutthaya is, in our opinion, a must-do for anyone interested in history, culture, and architecture. The temples are truly breathtaking and are a testament to the skill and artistry of the ancient Thai people, but also a reminder of the destructive war.
You can check out our 2-weeks itinerary to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai here, which includes, of course, a trip to Ayutthaya.