AYUTTHAYA – TAVELING BACK IN TIME
The ancient metropolis of Ayutthaya
My interest in history and historic sites is not exceptionally high and I wish I knew more about so many historical things. Nevertheless, I’m deeply impressed by ruins that have survived hundreds of years and still give a little insight into a world that looked totally different to ours today.
Ayutthaya is one of Thailand’s most famous ancient ruins. It’s on every ”things to do” list of Thailand and also we wanted to see those incredible looking temples that we just knew from pictures.
A bit of history
Golf ball BoB and the fascinating temples of Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and it was one of the world’s largest cities of its time. Due to its great location at three rivers and the Gulf of Siam, it became a center of economics as well as regional and global trade and connected the Western and Eastern world.
It’s hard to imagine that this place used to have 1 million inhabitants! With so many religious people living on one place a multitude of temples was built. During its golden age more than 400 splendid temples could be found here. However, Ayutthaya was struck by the same fate as many other places and was almost completely destroyed in a war in the 18th century.
Luckily people realized how special Ayutthaya is and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Why Ayutthaya surprised me
Lars and I in front of Wat Chai Wattanaram
Just 50 kilometers from Bangkok the city of Ayutthaya can be easily reached by bus or train. With our rental car it only took us about 1.5 hours from Bangkok’s international airport Suvarnabhumi.
Little golf ball BoB and I were surprised how huge Ayutthaya is as I somehow only expected a small city with some ancient ruins. But seeing this big highway bringing hundreds of cars to Ayutthaya, I couldn’t imagine to find authentic atmosphere or to have the possibility to “feel” the past. I expected to be jammed together with hundreds of other tourists. But Ayutthaya surprised me!
I like good surprises.
Headless buddhas at Wat Phra Mahathat
Although almost all ruins were destroyed the best ones have been restored and shine in new splendor. Most of Ayutthaya’s ruins are located in the historical part that is surrounded by three rivers and therefore called “the island”. Around every corner you find ancient ruins so that it’s easy to go from one to another. Take a taxi or, if you don’t mind being active in the heat of the sun, rent a bike to explore the sites.
Of course, every site attracts many tourists but I expected way more of them. You can easily walk around, take in the view and try to imagine how the atmosphere must have been when 1 million people lived in this place.
The sun can be so damn hot in Thailand and never forget to take drinking water with you!
Ruins you should visit
Every single ruin is somehow interesting and impressive. But these are the temples you SHOULD see:
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
One of the enourlous chedis
This magical “wat” was the biggest temple of Ayutthaya. The three chedis are enormous and very impressive. It’s great to stroll around and to explore the temple. Admission fee: 50 Baht per person
Wat Phra Mahathat
Unfortunately a big part of the temple complex is destroyed but even despite the buddha’s head the ruins are worth to be explored. Admission fee: 50 Baht per person
Wat Chai Wattanaram
Golf ball BoB is impressed by the Wat Chai Wattanaram temple
Compared to the first two temples Wat Chai Wattanaram is not located on Ayutthaya’s island and if you go by bike it’s a bit longer way to get here. But you shouldn’t miss that temple! It’s not just a great scene for a photo, I also liked to wander around the 35 meter high prang that stands in the middle of the complex as well as the headless statues that decorate the aisle. Admission fee: 50 Baht per person
How to plan your stay in Ayutthaya
Around every corner there are hidden treasures
Length of your stay
The three mentioned temples are just a small part of all temples you can visit in Ayutthaya but they are possibly also the most impressive and best preserved ones. While driving through the island you will pass some other sites that you can enter for free.
Depending on how much you are interested in ancient ruins you have to stay at least for one night. If you decide to explore Ayutthaya by bike, you should at least stay for two nights so that you have a full day. That’s what we did and we could have easily spent one or two days more to get an even better insight into Ayutthaya’s history and beautiful temples.
Accommodation in Ayutthaya
As I mentioned before Ayutthaya is a big city that consists of the historical part and a modern part. Everywhere you find accommodation in all price levels.
BoB and we totally enjoyed the ancient beauty of Ayutthaya and could imagine staying here for a few more days. Due to the fact that there are so many different ruins the sites were never too crowded by tourists what I really liked. It was much easier to enjoy the moment and to marvel at these impressive examples of ancient architecture.
Have you been to Ayutthaya? Which temple did you like most? Or did I awaken your interest and you would like to explore it by yourself? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with me.
Thanks for reading and safe travels,