Ayutthaya temples

Highlights of Thailand – Part 2 (A Day Trip to Ayutthaya)

On our 2nd day in Bangkok we decided to take a day trip to Ayutthaya Historical Park a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is an incredible set of ruins, covering a large area. Visiting them was almost an afterthought. How crazy of me. It would be a huge mistake to miss this impressive sight on a visit to Bangkok.

Ayutthaya Wat Chaiwatthanaram (13)

A view in Wat Chaiwatthanaram. (Wat means temple). This is one of the temple groupings in Ayutthaya.

The ancient city of Ayutthaya was the original capital of this region of Thailand, and dates back to 1350 AD. It was razed by the Burmese in the 1700’s, leaving behind a wealth of interesting ruins. Ayutthaya is located 85 km north of modern Bangkok, and can be reached via auto, bus, river boat (on the Chao Phraya river) or train. We chose to take the train from the main (Hua Lamphong) Bangkok train station.

Bangkok Train Station

Hua Lamphong Train Station in Bangkok.

This was a convenient way to go since we were planning to take the overnight train to Chiang Mai that evening, and we just stored our bags at the train station during our day trip.

Bangkok Train Station (2)

We had to laugh at this sign in the baggage storage area at the train station – there are rats!! Luckily our bags were intact when we got back from Ayutthaya.

It was about a 1.5-hour journey to the town of Ayutthaya.

Train to Ayutthaya

Our train to Ayutthaya.

Once you exit the small train station, you then take a little boat across the river to the ancient ruins.

Ayutthaya Train Station

The Ayutthaya Train Station.

Ayutthaya River Crossing

The Chao Phraya River crossing the far side is where the ruins are located.

I highly recommend a visit to Ayutthaya – the old temples, palaces and other structures are massive and interesting to visit. We were able to visit 4 major groupings in about 4 hours.

The ruins are spread out, in groupings scattered over a large area and require some sort of transportation to visit – walking would be impractical from site to site, especially in the heat. All kinds of transportation rentals are available, from bicycles, to tuk tuks (motorized rickshaws), to mopeds. Or, you can arrange a day bus tour from Bangkok. Once we crossed the river, we rented mopeds and had a blast zipping from one site to another.

Ayutthaya Mopeds

Our son and daughter on one of the mopeds.

Ayutthaya Wat Maha That (5)

Wat Maha That. Our first grouping of ruins at Ayutthaya.

Ayutthaya Wat Maha That (6)

A main thoroughfare in Wat Maha That.

Ayutthaya Wat Maha That (9)

Another view of Wat Maha That.

Ayutthaya Wat Chaiwatthanaram (4)

Wat Chaiwatthanaram. The second set of ruins we visited, and perhaps the most impressive. They are located the furthest away from the other ruins.

Ayutthaya Wat Phra Si Samphet (5)

What Phra Si Samphet. Our 3rd set of ruins. It was the holiest temple in Ayutthaya (the temple itself was destroyed). These Stupas (or Chedis, as they are known in Thailand) housed the ashes of kings.

Ayutthaya Wat Phra Si Samphet (14)

Buddhist monks at Wat Phra Si Samphet, enjoying a day of touring.

Ayutthaya Wat Phra Ram (8)

Wat Phra Ram, our final temple ruins in Ayutthaya.

Since our visit fell on December 31st, the ruins were open for free. Otherwise, there is an entrance fee to each location.

Ayutthaya New Year

New Year’s Eve at Ayutthaya – a great way to spend the last day of the year.

Our moped rental company provided us with a map of the major sites and suggested a route to follow. There are signs in English at each location giving a short history and explanation.