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How To Visit Thailand’s Ancient Capital Ayutthaya


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Luise Rossman



Welcome to Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located just 80 kilometers north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is a city steeped in history and cultural significance. Once a powerful kingdom, Ayutthaya was founded in the 14th century and served as the capital of the Kingdom of Siam until its downfall in the 18th century.


Today, Ayutthaya’s historical park presents visitors with a captivating glimpse into the city’s glorious past. Its sprawling ruins, magnificent temples, and ancient artifacts tell stories of a bygone era and offer a unique opportunity to explore Thailand’s rich heritage. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a cultural explorer, or simply looking for a day trip from Bangkok, Ayutthaya is a must-visit destination.


Getting to Ayutthaya is convenient and hassle-free. From Bangkok, you can take a train, bus, or even a river cruise to reach this ancient city. Train rides are particularly popular as they offer scenic views of the countryside along the way.


Once you arrive in Ayutthaya, you’ll find yourself immersed in the beauty of its historical park. The park is home to numerous temples, palace ruins, and statues that have withstood the test of time. Exploring these sites is like stepping back in time and witnessing the grandeur of the ancient capital.


Getting to Ayutthaya

There are several convenient options for getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok. No matter which mode of transport you choose, the journey to this ancient capital is a memorable experience in itself.


By Train: Taking a train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is a popular choice among travelers. Trains depart regularly from Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok and the journey takes approximately one to two hours, depending on the type of train. The train ride not only offers a comfortable and scenic journey, it also gives you an opportunity to witness the lush countryside landscapes along the way. Once you arrive at Ayutthaya Train Station, the historical park is just a short tuk-tuk or bicycle ride away.


By Bus: Buses are another convenient option for reaching Ayutthaya. There are direct buses that operate from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) to Ayutthaya. The journey usually takes around one to two hours, depending on traffic conditions. Buses are a cost-effective mode of transport, and you can easily catch a bus to Ayutthaya throughout the day.


By Boat: For a unique and picturesque journey to Ayutthaya, you can opt for a river cruise. With a leisurely pace, a river cruise allows you to admire the scenic landscapes along the Chao Phraya River while making your way to Ayutthaya. River cruises are usually full-day trips that include stops at attractions along the way, such as the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace. This option is ideal for those looking to combine a boat ride with a visit to Ayutthaya.


By Car: If you prefer the flexibility of driving on your own, you can also rent a car and drive from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. The journey takes around one hour, depending on traffic conditions. It’s important to note that parking near the historical park can be limited, so it’s advisable to park your car near Ayutthaya Train Station and use alternate modes of transport to explore the park.


No matter which mode of transport you choose, once you arrive in Ayutthaya, you’ll find yourself surrounded by the magnificent historical sites and cultural treasures that this ancient capital has to offer.


Exploring Ayutthaya’s Historical Park

Ayutthaya’s Historical Park is the main attraction in the city and is a treasure trove of ancient ruins and temples. Spread over an expansive area, the park is divided into different zones, each showcasing its own unique set of historical landmarks.


One of the must-visit sites in the park is Wat Mahathat, also known as the Temple of the Great Relic. This iconic temple features the famous Buddha head entwined in the roots of a banyan tree, a sight that has become an iconic symbol of Ayutthaya. Take your time to explore the temple’s intricate architecture and discover the various Buddha statues and remnants of ancient stupas scattered throughout the compound.


Another significant site in the park is the Ayutthaya Historical Study Center. This informative museum provides visitors with valuable insights into the city’s history, displaying artifacts and exhibits that depict life in Ayutthaya during its golden age. From ancient ceramics and sculptures to interactive displays, the museum offers a comprehensive understanding of the city’s rich cultural heritage.


If you’re interested in delving deeper into the history of Ayutthaya, a visit to the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum is highly recommended. This museum houses a remarkable collection of artifacts recovered from the ancient capital, including intricately crafted gold jewelry, ancient weaponry, and stone sculptures. The museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the people who once thrived in Ayutthaya.


For an enchanting visit, head to Wat Chaiwatthanaram, one of Ayutthaya’s most photogenic temple ruins. This grand structure was built as a homage to King Prasat Thong and showcases a mix of Khmer and Ayutthayan architectural styles. As you explore the temple grounds, you’ll be captivated by the impressive prang towers, intricate carvings, and serene ambience that surrounds this historical landmark.


No visit to Ayutthaya is complete without experiencing the vibrant atmosphere of the Ayutthaya Floating Market. Located along the banks of Khlong Mueang, this bustling market is a feast for the senses. Explore the numerous stalls selling local handicrafts, sample delicious street food, and enjoy traditional cultural performances. Floating along the canal on a boat while immersing yourself in the lively atmosphere is truly an unforgettable experience.


Ayutthaya’s Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers a captivating journey through time. From ancient temples to informative museums and cultural experiences, Ayutthaya is a destination that will leave you in awe of its rich history and cultural heritage.


Wat Mahathat: The Temple of the Great Relic

One of the most iconic and significant temples within Ayutthaya’s Historical Park is Wat Mahathat, also known as the Temple of the Great Relic. This ancient temple dates back to the 14th century and holds immense historical and cultural importance.


Wat Mahathat was not only a place of worship but also a center of power and influence during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. It served as the main temple of the royal family and housed relics of the Buddha, making it a revered and sacred site.


Perhaps the most famous feature of Wat Mahathat is the iconic Buddha head entwined in the roots of a banyan tree. The head has become an iconic symbol and a popular subject for photographs. The sight of the stone Buddha head being cradled by the encroaching roots creates a captivating and mystical atmosphere that draws visitors from all over the world.


As you explore the temple grounds, you’ll discover various architectural structures and ancient stupas. The temple’s main prang (tower) stands tall, showcasing the distinct Khmer-influenced architectural style. Adorned with intricate details and carvings, it is a testament to the exquisite craftsmanship of the Ayutthaya period.


While exploring the temple complex, keep an eye out for a fascinating feature called the “Buddha’s Footprint.” This stone carving depicts the imprint of the Buddha’s foot and is considered a sacred and revered artifact.


Wat Mahathat is not just a historical site, but it is also an active temple where Buddhist rituals and ceremonies still take place. Visitors can witness the serene ambiance and observe monks going about their daily activities. It’s important to dress respectfully and maintain a quiet demeanor as a sign of respect for the religious significance of the temple.


If you’re interested in delving deeper into the spiritual teachings of Buddhism, you can also participate in meditation and mindfulness retreats organized within the temple complex. These retreats provide a unique opportunity to connect with your inner self and learn about the principles of Buddhist philosophy.


A visit to Wat Mahathat is a mesmerizing and spiritual experience that showcases the rich cultural heritage of Ayutthaya. Whether you’re captivated by the mystical Buddha head entwined in roots or in awe of the majestic architecture, this temple is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Ayutthaya Historical Study Center: Unraveling the Past

For those seeking a deeper understanding of Ayutthaya’s rich history and cultural significance, a visit to the Ayutthaya Historical Study Center is a must. Located within the Ayutthaya Historical Park, this educational museum offers a comprehensive exploration of the city’s glorious past.


The Ayutthaya Historical Study Center is a treasure trove of artifacts, exhibits, and informative displays that provide insights into the vibrant life and customs of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The museum aims to unravel the mysteries of this ancient capital, offering visitors a glimpse into the daily lives, traditions, and achievements of its inhabitants.


Upon entering the museum, you’ll be greeted by an array of well-curated exhibits that showcase archaeological discoveries, ceramics, sculptures, and other relics unearthed in Ayutthaya. The artifacts are carefully preserved and accompanied by informative descriptions that provide valuable historical context.


One of the highlights of the museum is the scale model of Ayutthaya during its peak, giving visitors a sense of the grandeur and architectural splendor of the ancient city. As you walk through the various sections of the museum, you’ll find interactive displays that depict scenes from Ayutthaya’s past, showcasing the city’s trading activities, agricultural practices, and artistic achievements.


The Ayutthaya Historical Study Center also incorporates multimedia presentations, including audio guides and visual documentaries, to enhance the visitor experience. These multimedia elements bring the history of Ayutthaya to life, providing a deeper understanding of the city’s significance in shaping Thailand’s cultural heritage.


The museum also hosts temporary exhibitions that focus on specific themes or aspects of Ayutthaya’s history. These temporary exhibits offer fresh perspectives and new insights into various aspects of the ancient city, ensuring that there is always something new to discover, even for repeat visitors.


Visiting the Ayutthaya Historical Study Center is not just an educational experience; it’s an opportunity to appreciate the importance of preserving and honoring the cultural heritage of Ayutthaya. The museum plays a crucial role in protecting and showcasing the historical treasures of the ancient capital, ensuring that future generations can connect with and appreciate the legacy of Ayutthaya.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about the origins of this enchanting city, a visit to the Ayutthaya Historical Study Center will enrich your understanding of Ayutthaya and deepen your appreciation for its historical significance.


Chao Sam Phraya National Museum: Treasures of Ayutthaya

Located within the historical grounds of Ayutthaya, the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum is a treasure trove of artifacts that provide a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of the ancient capital. This museum is a must-visit for those who wish to delve deeper into Ayutthaya’s past and explore its rich heritage.


The Chao Sam Phraya National Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts recovered from various archaeological sites within Ayutthaya. These artifacts include intricately crafted gold jewelry, ancient weaponry, exquisite ceramics, stone sculptures, and religious relics.


As you explore the museum, you’ll encounter exhibits that highlight different aspects of Ayutthaya’s history. One of the notable sections focuses on the daily life and customs of the Ayutthaya period, showcasing household items, tools, and utensils that were used by the ancient inhabitants. The displays offer a glimpse into the social and cultural practices of Ayutthaya’s society.


Another significant display showcases the impressive collection of gold ornaments and jewelry worn by the royalty and nobility of Ayutthaya. These exquisite pieces of craftsmanship reflect the wealth and opulence of the kingdom. The intricate detail and delicate designs demonstrate the skill and artistry of the artisans of that time.


In addition to the displays of artifacts, the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum also houses a wealth of historical information. This includes detailed descriptions, maps, and illustrations that provide a comprehensive understanding of Ayutthaya’s rise and fall, as well as the kingdom’s significant contributions to art, architecture, and culture.


For those interested in the religious aspect of Ayutthaya, the museum also showcases religious artifacts such as Buddha images, stucco carvings, and other religious items used in temples during the era. These artifacts offer a glimpse into the spiritual practices and beliefs that were prevalent during Ayutthaya’s reign.


Visiting the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum is not merely an educational experience; it is an opportunity to appreciate the cultural treasures of Ayutthaya and gain a deeper understanding of its historical significance. The museum’s well-curated exhibits and informative displays make it a must-visit destination for history buffs, scholars, and anyone with a genuine interest in the captivating past of Ayutthaya.


Step into the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum and embark on a fascinating journey back in time, where you can marvel at the intricate craftsmanship, immerse yourself in the rich history, and gain a greater appreciation for the enduring legacy of Ayutthaya.


Wat Chaiwatthanaram: The Majestic Ruins

One of the most striking and majestic temples within Ayutthaya’s Historical Park is Wat Chaiwatthanaram. This ancient temple stands as a testament to the grandeur and architectural splendor of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.


Wat Chaiwatthanaram was built in 1630 by King Prasat Thong as a homage to his mother. The temple’s design is heavily influenced by Khmer architectural styles, with towering prangs (towers) and intricately carved details that are characteristic of this period.


As you approach Wat Chaiwatthanaram, you’ll be greeted by an awe-inspiring view of its majestic ruins. The temple’s central prang, reaching up to the sky, immediately commands attention. The detailed carvings and decorative motifs adorning the structure showcase the skilled craftsmanship of the period.


The temple grounds feature a number of smaller prangs and chedis, along with galleries and walkways that offer panoramic views of the surroundings. Stroll along the promenade and admire the intricate stucco reliefs depicting scenes from Buddhist mythology and the daily lives of the people of Ayutthaya.


One of the highlights of Wat Chaiwatthanaram is the central courtyard, where the viharn (assembly hall) once stood. Though now in ruins, the remnants of the viharn still provide a glimpse into the temple’s former glory. Imagine the vibrant ceremonies and gatherings that took place within its walls, adding to the cultural and spiritual significance of the temple.


Wat Chaiwatthanaram’s strategic location along the banks of the Chao Phraya River adds to its charm. The temple was built as a symbolic representation of Mount Meru, and the river served as a symbolic moat. The serene atmosphere and beautiful views of the river create a sense of tranquility, providing a peaceful backdrop for contemplation and reflection.


Visiting Wat Chaiwatthanaram during sunrise or sunset offers a truly magical experience. As the golden rays of the sun wash over the temple’s ruins, the intricate details and carvings come to life, casting a warm glow over the ancient stones.


Wat Chaiwatthanaram is not merely a historical site; it is a testament to the grandeur and beauty that once existed during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The temple’s majestic ruins continue to captivate visitors, transporting them back in time to an era of artistic excellence and spiritual devotion.


As you explore the temple’s grounds, take your time to appreciate the architectural marvels, soak in the serene ambiance, and marvel at the intricate details that make Wat Chaiwatthanaram a true gem within Ayutthaya’s Historical Park.


Ayutthaya Floating Market: A Unique Cultural Experience

Immerse yourself in the vibrant sights, sounds, and tastes of Ayutthaya’s floating market, a unique cultural experience that should not be missed. Located along the banks of Khlong Mueang, this bustling market offers a glimpse into traditional Thai life while providing an opportunity to indulge in local delicacies and shop for unique souvenirs.


The Ayutthaya Floating Market brings together an array of vendors selling a wide variety of goods, from farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to mouthwatering street food. As you stroll along the canal, you’ll be greeted by colorful boats filled with vendors showcasing their products. The lively atmosphere is infectious, with vendors calling out their wares and bargaining with buyers.


The market is not just a place for shopping; it’s also a cultural showcase. Traditional performances and cultural shows are often held throughout the day, giving visitors a chance to witness traditional Thai music, dance, and martial arts displays. These performances offer a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Thailand and add to the lively atmosphere of the market.


One of the highlights of the Ayutthaya Floating Market is the cuisine. With numerous food stalls and floating kitchens, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to trying local delicacies. Sample aromatic curries, savory grilled meats, flavorful noodles, and sweet treats like mango sticky rice. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor authentic Thai flavors and indulge in a culinary adventure.


Exploring the market is not just about shopping and eating. You can also participate in hands-on activities, such as traditional Thai cooking classes or boat rides along the canal. These activities provide a deeper connection to the local culture and allow you to learn more about the traditional way of life in Ayutthaya.


The Ayutthaya Floating Market is not as large or touristy as some other floating markets in Thailand, which adds to its charm and authenticity. It offers a more intimate and immersive experience, allowing visitors to interact with locals and get a glimpse into their daily lives.


Whether you’re looking for unique souvenirs, delicious food, or a cultural experience like no other, the Ayutthaya Floating Market has something for everyone. It’s a delightful and vibrant destination where you can immerse yourself in Thai culture, indulge in delicious flavors, and create lasting memories.


Plan your visit to the Ayutthaya Floating Market and get ready to embark on a journey of sensory delights and cultural exploration.


Local Cuisine in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is not only famous for its historical sites but also for its delectable local cuisine. Exploring the flavors of Ayutthaya is a must-do for every food lover, as the city offers a diverse range of dishes that showcase the unique blend of Thai culinary traditions.


One of the iconic dishes of Ayutthaya is “Khao Niao Mamuang” or mango sticky rice. This sweet and fragrant dessert combines perfectly ripe mangoes with sticky glutinous rice drizzled in a rich and creamy coconut sauce. It’s a heavenly treat that is not to be missed when visiting Ayutthaya.


Ayutthaya is also known for its boat noodles, a hearty and flavorful noodle soup typically served with pork or beef. Traditionally, boat noodles were sold from boats along the canals, hence the name. These noodles are accompanied by a robust broth, tender meat, and a range of toppings such as bean sprouts, Chinese kale, and beef or pork balls. The rich combination of flavors makes boat noodles a favorite among locals and visitors alike.


Another local favorite is “Hoy Tod,” a crispy oyster omelette. This dish features fresh oysters mixed with a batter made from rice flour and eggs, fried until crispy and served with a tangy dipping sauce. The combination of textures and flavors, with the succulent oysters contrasting with the crispiness of the omelette, makes Hoy Tod a delightful street food delicacy.


For those seeking a spicy kick, “Pad Thai Ayutthaya” should be on your must-try list. This version of the popular Pad Thai dish features a balance of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. Thin rice noodles are stir-fried with tamarind sauce, dried shrimp, tofu, eggs, bean sprouts, and peanuts, creating a delicious medley of flavors and textures.


If you’re in the mood for grilled delights, Ayutthaya’s “Moo Ping” or grilled pork skewers won’t disappoint. Marinated in a flavorful combination of herbs and spices, the pork is grilled until tender and served with a spicy dipping sauce. Moo Ping is a popular street food snack that can be enjoyed any time of the day.


Ayutthaya is also famous for its seafood dishes, thanks to its proximity to the Chao Phraya River. From freshly caught river prawns to grilled fish and crab dishes, there’s an abundance of seafood options to tantalize your taste buds.


To truly experience the local cuisine, don’t miss a visit to the Ayutthaya Floating Market. Here, you can savor an array of street food delights, from succulent grilled meats and seafood to noodle dishes and traditional desserts. The market is a food lover’s paradise, offering an immersive culinary experience that showcases the flavors of Ayutthaya.


No visit to Ayutthaya is complete without indulging in the local cuisine. From sweet desserts to flavorful street food, the city’s culinary offerings will delight your taste buds and provide a memorable culinary journey through the rich flavors of Ayutthaya.


Accommodation Options in Ayutthaya

Whether you’re visiting Ayutthaya for a day trip or planning to stay longer and explore the historical sites at a leisurely pace, you’ll find a range of accommodation options to suit your preferences and budget. From luxurious riverside resorts to budget-friendly guesthouses, Ayutthaya offers a diverse range of accommodation choices.


If you’re looking for a luxurious and upscale experience, consider staying at one of the riverside resorts that offer stunning views of the Chao Phraya River. These resorts often feature spacious rooms, lush gardens, and swimming pools where you can relax and unwind after a day of exploring. Some resorts even offer private boat tours along the river, allowing you to soak in the beauty of Ayutthaya at your own leisure.


For a more immersive and authentic experience, opt for a boutique hotel or guesthouse in the heart of Ayutthaya’s historical area. These accommodations are often housed in traditional Thai-style buildings, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich cultural heritage. The proximity to the historical sites allows you to easily explore the ruins and temples on foot or by rented bicycle, immersing yourself in the historical atmosphere of Ayutthaya.


If you’re traveling on a budget, Ayutthaya also has a range of budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels that provide comfortable and affordable accommodations. These accommodations often offer clean and cozy rooms, communal areas for socializing, and helpful staff who can provide recommendations for exploring the city on a budget.


Another unique accommodation option in Ayutthaya is the opportunity to stay in a traditional Thai-style house. Some homeowners in Ayutthaya have opened their doors to visitors, allowing them to experience the charm of staying in a local home. This homestay experience not only provides a comfortable place to stay but also allows you to interact with locals and gain insights into their way of life.


Regardless of where you choose to stay in Ayutthaya, you’ll be surrounded by the city’s historical sites, cultural attractions, and vibrant atmosphere. Don’t forget to check the amenities and facilities offered by the accommodation, such as Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and breakfast options, to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.


Booking in advance is recommended, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your preferred accommodation. Whether you’re seeking luxury, authenticity, or budget-friendly options, Ayutthaya has something to cater to every traveler’s needs.


Plan your stay in Ayutthaya and immerse yourself in the historical and cultural wonders of this fascinating city.



Ayutthaya, with its rich history and cultural heritage, is a destination that offers a unique blend of ancient ruins, spiritual sites, and vibrant local experiences. As the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam, Ayutthaya presents visitors with a captivating journey back in time, allowing them to explore the remnants of a glorious era.


From the sprawling ruins in the Ayutthaya Historical Park to the majestic temples like Wat Mahathat and Wat Chaiwatthanaram, every step in Ayutthaya is a step into a bygone era. The historical sites offer a glimpse into the architectural grandeur, intricate carvings, and remarkable craftsmanship that defined Ayutthaya’s golden age.


A visit to Ayutthaya is not just about exploring the past; it’s also about immersing yourself in the vibrant local culture. The Ayutthaya Floating Market provides a unique and energetic atmosphere where you can indulge in delicious street food, witness traditional performances, and experience the bustling ambiance that has been a part of the city’s heritage for centuries.


Another highlight of Ayutthaya is its local cuisine. From the famous mango sticky rice to the flavorful boat noodles and mouthwatering street food delicacies, Ayutthaya offers a diverse range of culinary delights that will satisfy even the most discerning food lovers.


For accommodations, Ayutthaya caters to all types of travelers. Whether you prefer luxury riverside resorts, intimate boutique hotels, budget-friendly guesthouses, or the unique experience of a traditional Thai-style homestay, Ayutthaya provides a range of options to suit every preference.


In conclusion, Ayutthaya is a destination that effortlessly combines history, culture, and culinary delights. A visit to this ancient capital allows you to step back in time, explore magnificent ruins, savor local flavors, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of a city that was once at the center of a powerful kingdom.


Plan your visit to Ayutthaya and embark on a journey of discovery, where you can witness the grandeur of the past while experiencing the warm hospitality and cultural richness that define this enchanting city.