Ayutthaya is located about 85km north of Bangkok and was an ancient capital.
It was founded in 1350 and was a massive bustling city thanks to its location between India, China and the Malay peninsular. In the 1700s, Ayutthaya is reputed by some to have had a million inhabitants, making it the largest city in the world at that time. It was supposed to have been filled with gold palaces, temples and ships from all around the world.
Unfortunately, in 1767, the Burmese army invaded and nearly burnt Ayutthaya to the ground. Today, you can see what remains, which is still a decent amount of ruins. The historic city is a UNESCO world heritage site, and it is popular with day trippers from Bangkok. We decided to stay in Ayutthaya, as a day trip would be too much for the kids (and thus, for us!).
S wasn’t well in the morning, so I spent the morning exploring by myself. The thing to do in Ayutthaya for non day trippers is to hire a bike to ride around the sites. The sites I wanted to visit were not far though, so I instead decided to walk. I had no reason to rush and most of the walking was to be through parks, so I hoped it would be quite pleasant. It was, although it did get quite hot and I was quite sweaty (although it is not that humid here at the moment).
I picked what seemed like the top 4 sites from the guide book that were also located near each other.
Temple built in 1384. It’s full of large crumbling stupas and rows of headless Buddhas. This site was a good place to start as it was quite extensive, and it got me quite excited!!
This temple was built in 1424, but I can’t say it did much for me. Apart from a big tower in the middle of the site, it seemed to my very untrained eye, to not be much different to the previous site, just not as good or extensive.
For me, this was by far the highlight. It was everything the other ruins were and then more 🙂 This was built in the 14th century for private royal use and was the largest temple back in the city’s heyday. The three big chedis you can see in the pics below, house ashes of three Ayutthayan kings.
This is a reconstructed religious site housing one of Thailand’s largest seated bronze Buddhas. Interestingly, it was reconstructed with funding help from the Burmese (who destroyed the original three centuries ago).
Here you can ride an elephant around part of the historic park. J was disappointed S wasn’t well as he had been looking forward to doing this with her.
There are many many more temples, museums and ruins in Ayutthaya, but this was enough for me. A couple of hours was plenty to do this on foot. If I didn’t have very young children, I would definitely just do this as a day trip from Bangkok either independently or in a tour group.
S wanted to go on a boat. You can hire boats for quite cheap, but I don’t think she would really be up for an hour long boat ride, so we just caught the ferry across the river and back again 🙂
Except the temple with the sitting Buddha, the other sites all had a 50 baht entry fee. I think elephant rides were 400 baht for 15 minutes. You can walk, ride or tuk tuk around the sites easily. I wouldn’t take a pram, but you could probably get away with it if you are happy not walking through the ruins. Ferry was 4 baht per adult.