Best things to do in Ayutthaya
Find out more about those top places in Ayutthaya
Located just north of Bangkok, lies the enigmatic remains of Thailand’s former royal capital known as Ayutthaya. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, the ruins of hundreds of temples are strewn across a vast area, which is interspersed by pristine jungle. Between the 14th and 18th centuries, Ayutthaya was the dazzling capital of Thailand and the shimmering golden roofs of the temples were said to be visible tens of kilometers away. However, the city’s glorious heyday ended abruptly when in 1767 the Burmese sacked the city so completely it had to be abandoned. Today, the ruined city is best explored by bike or boat to get a full understanding of the vast scale of the former capital. While most visitors simply spend the day in Ayutthaya, it is worth far longer, as it is undoubtedly Thailand’s most magical attraction.
Covering vast swathes of the ruined medieval city of Ayutthaya, touring the Historical Park is one of Thailand’s most enigmatic experiences. Local guides will explain the rapid rise and fall of the grandiose former Thai capital, take you to a plethora of royal complexes that are now partially swallowed by the jungle and let you marvel at the bronze Buddha of Viharn Pra Mongkolborpit.
In the midst of the jungles of Ayutthaya, the temple of Wat Mahathat is testament to the immense wealth of the medieval Thai kingdom. Sprawling over a vast area, the temple complex is the most iconic in the area with numerous sandstone pagodas and Buddha’s heads peeking out of the foliage. For the best experience, explore the temple with a local guide who will tell you its story from its 14th century founding to the sack of the city by the Burmese.
Thanks to its towering central prang, the Wat Chaiwatthanaram Temple is one of Ayutthaya’s most memorable. Built in the 17th century by King Prasat Thong, the temple today stands as testament to the profound influence of Buddhism on Thai society.
Constructed as a cremation site for the first Ayutthaya’s monarch, King Ramathibodi I, the crumbling ruins of Wat Phra Ram ooze historical significance. As one of the ancient city’s oldest landmarks, expert guides are one hand to fill you in on the temple’s twisting history and cultural importance.
Known as the Summer Palace in English, the Bang Pa-In royal complex was first established in the 17th century with Rama IV and V adding much of the Thai infused Victorian architecture that visitors see today in the 1800s. Today a dazzling array of monuments in a hotchpotch of historical styles are spread across a perfectly manicured garden.