For many travelers, Ayutthaya serves as a convenient starting point for an epic itinerary exploring ancient ruins in Southeast Asia… not for me though. Not having seen Ayutthaya yet was a bit odd considering that I had already explored many of the major ancient cities and temple ruins in Southeast Asia like Angkor, Bagan, Borobodur, Prambanan, and even Sukhothai.

I finally had my chance when I traveled to Thailand on my way to India. I was about to spend one month each in India and Nepal, and wasn’t up for a crazy itinerary just yet. I knew traveling to these two countries could potentially be too overwhelming for me (and it was!). So, my gameplan in Thailand was to spend a relaxed stay in Bangkok and somewhere else nearby.

Ayutthaya was the perfect fit.

Journey to Ayutthaya

After my arrival in Thailand, I got on a local bus to Ayutthaya from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal. Getting to popular destinations like Ayutthaya was easy even for non-Thais, like me, because of its popularity and omnipresence of government tourist information booth at transport terminals.

The ride only took around two hours, and made its last stop beside Ayutthaya’s Chao Phrom Market, which was within an easy walk to many guesthouses and hotels.

Mo Chit BTS and Bus Stop

Waiting at the bus stand across Mo Chit BTS Station for the city bus to Bangkok-Chatuchak’s Northern Bus Terminal

Riverside

Saffron Robed Monk at the River Ferry Crossing near Chao Prohm Market

I stayed in Ayutthaya for six days, which was more than enough time to see the major sights. One day was probably enough to explore Ayutthaya’s old city but I didn’t mind staying longer because I enjoyed exploring the ancient ruins and it was very cheap to travel there.

The ruins of the ancient city were some of the most impressive I had seen throughout Southeast Asia and because it was interwoven almost seamlessly with the “new city,” a visit provides an excellent immersion to Thai culture … including awesome Thai food.

Pad Thai

My sublime welcome meal in Thailand — Pad Thai with a scenic riverside view at Bann Kun Pra Guesthouse and Restaurant

Chao Phrom Market

Buddhist shrine at Chao Phrom Market

Chao Phrom Market

One of the many meals I ate at Chao Phrom Market. They were delicious and only cost US$1-2.

Ice Cream Stick at Wat Na Phramane

Ice Cream Stick sold at the sidestreet.

Ancient Ayutthaya

Founded in the year 1350, Ayutthaya served as the second capital of the Kingdom of Siam. It was widely known as the “Invincible City” because of its strategic location on an island bounded entirely by three big rivers.

By the 16th century, Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with over 1 million inhabitants and a trading capital in Asia. Its decline came abruptly when the Burmese (Royal army of present-day Myanmar) invaded the city and almost completely burnt the city down to the ground.

What’s left today are the monumental ruins that serve as remnants of its former glory. UNESCO had listed the Historic City of Ayutthaya as a World Heritage Site.

Ayutthaya Historical Park

Getting around town by bicycle was easy and popular since most of the sights were clustered in a relatively small area. Renting a bicycle for a whole days costs B40 only.

The admission fee to the major temple ruins costs up to B50 per site. I bought a composite ticket for B220, which included admission to these five sites: Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratcha Burana, Wat Phra Ram, Ancient Royal Palace Complex, and Chantharakasem National Museum.

City Center and Southern Outskirts

Wat Phra Ram

Exploring Ayutthaya Historical Park by Bicycle. The seat also served as a convenient tripod :)

Elephants at Wat Phra Ram

Elephants at Wat Phra Ram

Ayutthaya

Cute Baby Elephant. Haven’t really gotten any urges to ride these majestic creatures during my travels.

Ayutthaya

Small temple ruins surrounded by a moat

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya City Pillar Shrine

Ayutthaya

Beautiful teak wood house (Kum Khun Phaan) in a peaceful spot at the park

Ayutthaya
Wat Jao Prahm

Wat Jao Prahm. Lots of these temple ruins scattered around town.

Ayutthaya
Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, the first major site and most impressive ruined temple that I visited in Ayutthaya.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

The inner parts of the temple complex was closed off for conservation works. So, visitors could only see the towering spires from a distance.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Closer view of the chedi and (central) prang at Wat Chaiwatthanaram.

Saint Joseph Catholic Church

Saint Joseph Catholic Church, a reminder of the wide variety of people that settled in Ayutthaya.

Wat Phutthaisawan

Old prang and cloister hidden inside the temple complex of Wat Phutthaisawan

Wat Phutthaisawan

View from the towering prang.

Wat Phutthaisawan

Main inner chamber inside the prang of Wat Phutthaisawan.

Wat Phutthaisawan

Reclining Buddha sparsely covered with golden leaves.

Wat Phutthaisawan

Viharn of the Reclining Buddha.

Wat Phutthaisawan

Sitting buddha-lined cloister at Wat Phutthaisawan

Wat Phutthaisawan

Me at Wat Phutthaisawan

Wat Phutthaisawan
Local Ferry Ride

Aboard a local ferry crossing with two school children and my rented bicycle.

Wat Phanan Choeng

Massive sitting Buddha at Wat Phanan Choeng

Wat Phutthaisawan

Taking advantage of the empty prayer hall.

Wat Phanan Choeng

Chinese influences at Wat Phanan Choeng

Wat Phanan Choeng

Intricate stone boat sculpture at Wat Phanan Choeng

Ayutthaya

Found this shipyard full of traditional wooden boats beside Wat Phanan Choeng. I could not resist stopping by to take photos.

Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya

Waiting for the sunset, which didn’t appear during my whole stay at Ayutthaya.

City Center and Eastern Outskirts

Ayutthaya

Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon, the largest functional temple that I visited in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

Local devotees putting a golden cloth over the reclining Buddha.

Ayutthaya

Most of the Buddha images surrounding the towering chedi were covered with these vibrant colors.

Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya

Buddha images covered in gold leaves.

Ayutthaya

Inside the chedi at Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon.

Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya

Elephant tour passing by Wat Khueedao, located at the eastern outskirts of Ayutthaya.

Ayutthaya

Ruined chedi at Wat Khudeedao

Ayutthaya

Taking a long rest under the shade.

Wat Maha That

Wat Maha That, probably the most popular site in Ayutthaya.

Ayutthaya
Wat Maha That

Most Buddha statues at Wat Mahat That were beheaded, when the Burmese invaded the city

Wat Maha That

More headless Buddhas.

Wat Maha That

Surviving Buddha.

Wat Maha That

The famous Buddha head surrounded by tree roots at Wat Maha That

Wat Maha That

Me at Wat Maha That

Wat Maha That
Wat Ratcha Burana

Wat Ratcha Burana, located next to Mahat That.

Wat Ratcha Burana

Wat Ratcha Burana had the best-looking central prang among the ruined temple complexes in Ayutthaya

Wat Ratcha Burana
Wat Ratcha Burana

View from the central prang at Wat Ratcha Burana

Wat Ratcha Burana

Faded frescoes found inside the central prang of Wat Ratcha Burana

City Center and Northern Outskirts

Wat Tummickarat

Reclining Buddha at Wat Tummickarat

Ancient Royal Palace

Massive pagodas at the Ancient Royal Palace

Ancient Royal Palace

Much of the Ancient Royal Palace was already in ruins.

Phra Mongkhon Bophit

Phra Mongkhon Bophit located beside the Royal Palace ruins.

Phra Mongkhon Bophit

Massive sitting Buddha at Phra Mongkhon Bophit

Phra Mongkhon Bophit

Gold-left and coin covered Buddha at Phra Mongkhon Bophit

Wat Kasatrathirat Worawihan

Spiffy-looking Wat Kasatrathirat Worawihan

Wat Pakkran

Wat Pakkran, located at the northern outskirts of the city and was seemingly abandoned.

Queen Suriyothai Monument,

Queen Suriyothai Monument, not really worth the long bicycle ride.

Wat Phu Khao Thong

Wat Phu Khao Thong, which looked very similar to the towering pagodas of Bagan in Myanmar.

Wat Na Phramane

Wat Na Phramane

Wat Na Phramane

Inside Wat Na Phramane

Chantharakasem National Museum

Chantharakasem National Museum. I wasn’t able to explore the museum because I arrived after closing time.

Chantharakasem National Museum
Wat Phra Ram

Wat Phra Ram’s central prang and ruined structures.

Wat Phra Ram
Wat Phra Ram

Ayutthaya-Bangkok Train

On my way back to Bangkok, I traveled by train. It was my first time to experience the railways in Thailand … a very sane intro to what I would experience weeks later on the Indian railways.

Ayutthaya to Bangkok Train

Ayutthaya to Bangkok Train

Ayutthaya, Thailand
Ayutthaya to Bangkok Train
Ayutthaya to Bangkok Train

Ayutthaya to Bangkok Train

Ayutthaya to Bangkok Train

Hua Lamphong Railway Station in Bangkok