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Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya Province (Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Thai | พระนครศรีอยุธยา) a province (changwat) Central of Thailand. The neighboring provinces (from North in a clockwise direction) are Ang Thong, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom and Suphan Buri. The name Ayutthaya's Ayodhya named Ramayana.
Ayutthaya Overview

About 80 km north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is one of Thailand’s historical highlights. Many travelers take a one-day trip from Bangkok, which provides approximately 3 hours on the site, but for people with an interest in archaeological ruins, one or several overnight stays in Ayutthaya are necessary.

The architecture of Ayutthaya is a fascinating mix of Khmer, ancient Cambodian style, and early Sukhothai style. You will experience cactus-shaped obelisks (tall, 4-sided monuments which end in a pyramidal top), the Khmer influence makes it look like one of the famous towers in Angkor Wat. The more pointed stupas are ascribed to Sukhothai.

Ayutthaya History

Ayutthaya is the second period in the history of Thailand

It is named after Ayodhya, India, the birthplace of the hero Rama and also known as “Pra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya”, which was the capital city of Thailand for 417 years from the mid-1300s to the mid-1700s.

The Ayutthaya period can be considered the golden age of the Siamese people under the governing of 33 kings. By the year 1700, the city of Ayutthaya had become one of the world’s largest cities at that time with the total of 1 million inhabitants.

Not only did the kingdom get along well with the neighboring countries but it was also a major trading hub for international traders from Eastern and Western nations. However, Ayutthaya could not stay clear of frequent invasion. In 1758, the country was in total chaos because of the competition of Royal succession in the Royal Family. This lead to the catastrophic defeat in the war against the Burmese in 1767 after several conflicts provoked between the two realms.

The Burmese decided to burn down and demolish almost all magnificent structures belonging to the Ayutthaya Kingdom. This is the origin of the ruins that we can see nowadays.

Ayutthaya climate and best time to visit
The ideal time to visit Ayutthaya is from November to February. It is the hottest between March to May and the weather is rainy from June to September.
Ayutthaya Transportation

Getting to Ayutthaya:

Located about 80 kilometers to the north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is not hard to get to. Depending on your budget, you can opt for taxis, trains, bus, minivans or tour groups.

Taxi: If you do not have much time and want absolute convenience, a taxi can serve you well with approximately 1,000 baht. You can also negotiate with the driver to take you there, drive you around, and then back to Bangkok for roughly 2,500 baht.

Train: The train leaves from Hualamphong Station in the city center. It takes around 2 hours a half and costs 300 THB for first class, or 35THB for the third-class carriage. When you reach Ayutthaya, you can jump on a tuk-tuk to go around the city for 60THB.

Although this can be the most time-consuming of options, your breath will be taken away at the sight of green rice paddies, pure fresh ponds, and peaceful herds of water buffalos chewing grass.

Public bus: There is a half-hourly bus that leaves from Mo Chit Station. It takes about 90 minutes to get to Ayutthaya. First, take an MRT or BTS skytrain to Mo Chit Station. After that, take a taxi or motorbike taxi or jump on bus number 26, 77, 96, 104, 136, 145, or 509 to get to the right bus section to Ayutthaya. The bus ticket price is 60 baht per person.

Minivan: Minivan is the fastest option, only taking about 75 minutes. Go to Victory Monument, take Exit 2 and turn at the bottom of the stairway. The van loading station is on your right between the mall and a 7-Eleven convenience store. At the station, prepare 100 baht and get on a van directly to Ayutthaya.

 

Things to do and see in Ayutthaya

1. Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Restoration efforts starting in 1987 transformed Wat Chaiwatthanaram from a looted ruin to one of the most visited attractions in the Ayutthaya Historical Park. This large complex on the west bank of Chao Phraya river is one of Ayutthaya's most impressive temples and offers insight into the influence of Buddhism on the Thai community. Built in the traditional Khmer style, the complex consists of a central prang or spire perched atop a rectangular base amid four smaller prang and eight chedi-like temples or merus. Reliefs portraying scenes from the life of the Buddha once adorned the exterior of the merus, but only fragments now remain. Sunset is an especially beautiful time to visit, when the buildings glow in the late light.

2. Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the loveliest but also the most historically important temple in old Ayutthaya. Its three large chedis and numerous smaller ones make this wat - also known as the King's Temple - one of the most impressive sights in the ruined city. Two of the large chedis, the eastern and central ones, were built in 1492 by King Ramathibodi II to house the ashes of his father and elder brother. His own ashes are interred in the third chedi, built in 1530 by his son and royal successor, King Boromaraja IV.

3. Wat Ratchaburana

King Boromracha II (1424-48) had Wat Ratchaburana built in memory of his elder brothers Ay and Yi, who were killed in a duel over the succession to the throne. Columns and walls of the wiharn still stand, as do some ruined chedis. The large prang, with its fine figured stucco portraying nagas supporting garudas, is exceptionally well preserved.

4. Wat Mahathat

Immediately across the road from Wat Ratchaburana stands Wat Mahathat, which tradition claims King Ramesuan built in 1384. Its most famous feature is the face of a stone Buddha peeking out from among the roots at the base of a tree. The central prang here is one of the old city's most impressive edifices. In about 1625, the top portion broke off, being rebuilt in 1633 some four meters higher than before. Later, it collapsed again and only the corners survived. In 1956, a secret chamber was uncovered in the ruins. Among the treasures found inside were gold jewelry, a gold casket containing a relic of the Buddha, and fine tableware.

5 Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

On the eastern outskirts of Ayutthaya stands the exceptionally striking Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (or Mongkhon), its huge chedi rising from a square base surrounded by four smaller chedis. One of its most notable features is the massive reclining Buddha near the entrance. The wat, built in 1357 under King U Thong, was assigned to monks of a particularly strict order trained in Sri Lanka, members of which still live there. Before you leave, climb the stairs of the chedi for views over the statues and gardens.

6 Wat Na Phra Men

Opposite the Grand Palace, Wat Na Phra Men (also called Wat Na Phra Meru) is one of the few temples to have escaped destruction by the Burmese. It is not known when the temple was built; existing records show merely that it was restored under King Boromakot (1732-58) and again during the early Bangkok period. The bot (largest room in the temple) is large and imposing, with beautiful wood carvings on the gable and door panels. Strangely, a large figure of Buddha found here is dressed in royal garb, which is highly unusual.

7 Wat Thammikarat

Just outside of the Ayutthaya Historical Park, this large working temple has long been overgrown, but the ruins are still considerable. You can see sections of the terrace, the pillars of the portico, and a chedi encircled by lion statues. A curiosity here are the dozens of brightly colored rooster statues, thought to be offerings brought by locals. Other highlights include the large bronze Buddha head and the golden reclining Buddha hidden in one of the buildings to the right of the chedi.

8 Chao Sam Phraya National Museum

Set in several buildings surrounded by lily ponds, Chao Sam Phraya National Museum was founded by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1961. It houses a number of sculptures and works from different periods throughout Thailand's early history, including several superb golden Buddha statues; gold jewelry and utensils, and ornate teak friezes. Highlights are a seated Buddha and a huge bust of the Buddha in the U Thong style.

9 Wat Suwan Dararam

Wat Suwan Dararam stands proudly surrounded by three small lakes. Built around 1700 by the grandfather of Rama I, it was extended by the rulers of the Chakri dynasty, who also carried out a considerable amount of restoration work and decorated the temple with numerous paintings, which are now among its best known features. Murals in the temple depict subjects such as Buddha's struggle against Mara while obtaining enlightenment, as well as battles with mythical figures and a dramatic battle scene between King Naresuan the Great and the Burmese army. Wat Suwan Dararam is the only temple on Ayutthaya island still inhabited by monks.

10 Bang Pa-in Palace

If you tire of seeing ruins and are looking for a little more modern regality, head to Bang Pa-in Palace, dating to the 17th century. Also known as the Summer Palace, this royal residence is one of the best-preserved compounds in the area. The buildings feature several architectural styles, including traditional Thai and Chinese structures, and there's also Phra Thinang Uthayan Phumisathian - a two-story Victorian style mansion. Another interesting spot is Ho Witthunthassana, the three-story, tower-style building used for scoping out the countryside and watching for royal elephants.

11 Foreign Quarters

In its glory days, Ayutthaya drew settlers from all over the world, making the city a diverse and cosmopolitan one. As you'll see from a map, many of these foreign quarters lie quite close to one another, so you can visit the old French, Portuguese, British, and Dutch quarters by taking a sightseeing bike ride through the area. The European influence is responsible for the number of Catholic churches in the area, including St. Joseph's Church, which still stands today. Located in the French quarter, the church was built in 1666 and is a testament to the French settlers, who left home to settle in what was formerly Siam.
Ayutthaya also had a strong Japanese presence, and you can still explore an old Japanese quarter here. The riverside Japanese settlement was separate from the European ones, divided by the Suan Phlu Canal.

12 Elephant Stay

Tourists can bond with one of Thailand's most revered animals by spending a few days at the Elephant Stay. The minimum booking is three nights and includes an elephant you'll care for under the watchful eye of experienced mahouts throughout the duration of your stay. Guests feed, bathe, and ride their assigned elephants. This organization is a non-profit devoted to conservation and supporting retired elephants. It also operates an active breeding program and rescue and rehabilitation program.


Ayutthaya Travel Tips
  • A local guide is in your best interest. It is more or less impossible for you to learn about the history and the meaning of every temple on your own.

  • Bring along a hat and a bottle of water with you since you may be wandering around temples under the sun for a long period of time.

  • You have to dress formally when it comes to visiting the sacred temples.

  • When buying train tickets, it is advised to directly go to the ticketing booth. There are several locals around the entrance, dressed in uniform who would pretend to sell you tickets or tell you that the trains are cancelled.

     

 

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