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Ayutthaya

3.4 / 5 33 votes

Country rank: 26 out of 31 Places To Visit In Thailand

Sub-Region: Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province


Weather:

Ideal duration: 1-2 days

Best time: November - February (Read More)

Nearest Airport: BANGKOK (Check Flights)

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"Land of Wats"

Ayutthaya Tourism

Ayutthaya, short for Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, is a small city in Thailand containing archaeological sites like temples, monasteries, palaces, etc. It lies just 80 kilometres north of Bangkok and hence is an ideal destination for a day trip from Bangkok.

Often referred to as Krung Kao or 'ancient capital', Ayutthaya was a significant centre of trade, economy, art and culture during its time and successfully flourished for over 400 years. It is a beautiful city oozing history and culture and a UNESCO world heritage site. It derives its name from the Sanskrit word for the place Ayodhya of Ramayana, the birthplace of Lord Ram.

Architecturally rich, it is a magical land for photographers. Ayutthaya offers a lot of Wats and monasteries like Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana and many more where tourists usually go for sightseeing. It is a popular day trip choice for travellers who are in Thailand and want to see something different that has visually more heritage. Today, in comparison to ancient times, a lot of modern Thai culture is evolving in this place. A lot of guesthouses and cafes have been built for tourist recreation.

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Hotels in Ayutthaya

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Ayutthaya is a temple and monastery city. Hence respectful dressing is required. While visiting temples, both women and men are expected to cover themselves appropriately. If the weather is humid, capris or knee covering shorts can be worn. General etiquettes and manners like not touching the Buddha statue, not pointing your feet at anyone, are to be followed. Thai people are known to be extremely polite and go out of their way to be kind to visitors. Therefore it is advisable never to lose face in public. Tipping at high-end restaurants can be done, but local vendors usually don't expect tips. However, if you particularly appreciate someone's services, you can definitely tip them.

Thai is the most spoken language in Ayutthaya, and a lot of the locals don't know English. Managers of a few hotels will know English, but the local vendors do not speak it. Hence, to be on the safer side, you can either opt for a tour guide or learn a few Thai phrases or carry an English to Thai dictionary.


How was Ayutthaya Formed?


Prince U Thong founded the city of Ayutthaya, or later known as Ramathibodi in 1350. He named it 'Ayutthaya' after the kingdom of the same name in the Thai national epic, the Ramakien.

The city, which was the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom, flourished from the 14th to 18th centuries and grew to become one of the largest and wealthiest centres of trade and commerce. It enjoyed an ideal location as an international trading centre, being close enough to China, India and the Malay Archipelago. It was built on an island surrounded by three rivers: the Chao Phraya, the Pa Sak and the Lopburi river and was also connected to the Gulf of Siam.

By 1700, Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Based on maps and other sources, it is known that the city of Ayutthaya also had an extensive and developed plan, including roads, canals and even an advanced hydraulic system. People from all over the world, such as China, India, Japan, Portugal and France, were taken with Ayutthaya' s grandeur and beauty. Foreign influences were visible in the art and architecture of the city, as well as in its trade and economy. The buildings and architecture of the city consisted of a unique and vibrant mixture of styles and borrowed from various cultures and art forms like that of China, Japan, Persia and India. Some surviving architects from Ayutthaya even attempted to recreate Ayutthaya' s architectural form in the newly chosen capital of Bangkok.

Fall of the City of Ayutthaya

In 1767, the Burmese attacked Ayutthaya and burnt down the entire city, forcing the inhabitants to flee. Most of the buildings in Ayutthaya were made of wood and could not hold out after the fire. The attack also destroyed a majority of the art, literature and historical records of the city, indicating the end of the kingdom. Many of the survivors were forced into slavery. Following the downfall of the empire, General Phraya Taksin established a new capital at Thonburi.

Ayutthaya Today

The city of Ayutthaya was never rebuilt or restored until the 1960s when the Thai Fine Arts Department began to restore some of its ruined monuments and temples. Today, Ayutthaya remains as archaeological ruins in the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province. Its remains include 'prangs' (or the reliquary towers), monasteries, temples, ancient statues, shrines, stupas and palaces.

The ruins of the historic city of Ayutthaya found in the Ayutthaya historical park was officially recognised for its historical importance and cultural value, and was marked as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991.

Ayutthaya has very little to offer when it comes to nightlife. Exploring the city at night is fun, but drinking at bars and clubs is rare here. Sometimes, some local vendors roadside set up drink stalls. On the outskirts of the city, there is Grand street market area where there are bars with bar girls, karaoke clubs and massage parlours where travellers can go in the night to experience an interesting nightlife. One of the best of these bars is the Cowboy Bar.

When it comes to shopping, Ayutthaya is has a variety of unique products to offer at its markets. The most famous are the handicrafts made by the skilled local men and women. It includes pottery, jewellery, weaving. The Bang Sai is well known for its authentic hand-made products that travellers can buy as souveniers. The floating market of Ayutthaya is another one that this city boasts about, and you can buy beautiful wooden toys here. The night market also offers local delicacies.

Credit and debit cards are commonly accepted in hotels and restaurants, but at street shops and stalls, only cash is accepted.

There are plenty of banks where currency can be exchanged. Besides that, ATMs are spread all over the city for people who prefer carrying the plastic cards over huge amounts of cash.

Travellers should ideally go for a day trip to Ayutthaya from Bangkok. Ayutthaya is cheaper than many other cities of Thailand. An estimate of THB 600 - 700 would be enough to have an eventful day here. This would include travelling within, food, entry fees to various temples, shopping and drinks.

Ayutthaya has a decent number of restaurants and road side eateries. This city is most famous for its boat noodles, river prawns and a sweet dish called Roti Sai Mai. These local delicacies can be found at almost all the restaurants and market stalls for a very inexpensive price. Some popular places are Pa Lek and Roti road. There are several restaurants serving extremely fresh sea food, one of the best being Ban Mai Lim Nam. The street stalls at the night market offer some tasty Khao Mok Gai which is a Muslim-Thai biryani.


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How to Reach Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya's easy distance of 80km from Bangkok means that the most convenient way to reach here is from Bangkok. Once in Bangkok, you can take a train to Ayutthaya. (Read More)

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