Founded in 1350 Ayutthaya was once the capital of Siam and grew to become one of the largest trading posts in Southeast Asia with over one million people at the height of its 400 year reign. As an island surrounded by the Chao Phaya river and it’s favorable position between China, India and the Malay peninsula it was a popular hub of Thailand until a Burmese army ransacked the city in 1767 leaving most of it in ruins. Today only ruins are left of this once great city, but it is still a magnificent day trip from Bangkok and visitors to this city will be treated to some magnificent temple ruins, places of religious significance and rich culture . Only 85km outside of Bangkok, you can hit the main spots of Ayutthaya in a day but in my opinion it’s worth dedicating two days to explore the ancient city as it sprawls across a significant area.
Getting There– Situated about 2 hours outside of Bangkok it’s incredibly easy to do as a day trip from Bangkok as you can get a train from Hualamphong Station every half an hour for ฿20 in second class. I traveled from Lopburi which was just as easy, it only costs ฿20 and takes less than 2 hours.
Once you’ve arrived at the train station in Ayutthaya it can be a little confusing to figure out where to head. You can take the easy option and grab a motorbike taxi, or you can go the slightly more adventurous way and take the boat across the river. To take the boat head straight over the street from the train station, follow the signs to the marked pier at the end and jump on a boat across the river. ฿6 for one way, it drops you on the other side of the river which is now on the island and depending where your hostel is it’s a 10-15 minute walk.
Where to Stay- I stayed at Allsum Hostel and would definitely recommend it, it’s one of the best backpacker choices available in the area. Set on a quieter road in the center of the island Allsum Hostel is about a 10 minute walk from the biggest attraction Wat Mahathat. The rooms are spacious and clean, with A/C and there are decent common areas to meet other travelers. The dorms start from ฿250 which also includes a basic breakfast of tea or coffee, toast and jam. The staff are always smiling and on hand to help with directions and giving suggestions on how to get around. They also offer bicycle rental for ฿50 but if you can try to get a motorbike as the city is fairly well spread out.
Where to Eat- Ayutthaya is one of the more cosmopolitan cities of its era with an eclectic mix of nationalities, foods, and cultures. As a result the Thai cuisine found in this area is every foodies dream. The food scene here is pretty insane and if you are a foodie you could easily lose yourself for a few days just exploring the variety of local dishes on offer. For me the best place to head for dinner was the night market, situated at the end of Bang Ian Road; here you’ll find an array of stalls offering seating to people watch while you dine. The pick for me was the snacks and appetizers available like the pork skewers (muu ping) for ฿10 are incredible, sweet juicy sticky pork on a stick. You can get all the Thai classic curries including Massaman or a Pad Thai for ฿30.
Things to Do
Inside Ayutthaya Historical Park: Wat Mahathat with the iconic Buddha face set within a Banyon Tree is among the iconic things to see within the park. You can easily spend a day exploring the various temples inside the historical park.
Outside the Historical Park: outside of the Historical park my two favorite temples to explore were Wat Chaiwatthanaram Temple and Wat Yai Chaimongkhon. The first has a 35 meter high prang (tower) surrounded by 4 smaller prangs, the second has an enormous bell shaped Stupa with well over a hundred statues of Buddha.