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If you are in Bangkok an Ayutthaya day trip should be on your agenda. After I woke up in the Sukhothai (review here) hotel, named after another old capital in Thailand, my car for the day already arrived to take me to Ayutthaya. A private luxury car (3000 BAHT) probably is not the cheapest option but for sure the most efficient one and to see the most. The area has so many sights that a good efficient plan on what to see is a must. I saw most, if not all, of the places in Ayutthaya worth visiting. I take you to the best ones which must be seen during an Ayutthaya day trip itinerary.
Ayutthaya, capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom
The Ayutthaya Kingdom was a Siamese Kingdom in the Far East from the mid-14th century to the mid-18th century. The capital Ayutthaya was one of the biggest cities during that time in the region. A lot of trading was going on with the west and made Ayutthaya one of the wealthiest cities in the area. The remains are declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its outstanding value. The UNESCO part is only on the main island and not all the temples are part of it. Depending on traffic you can reach the site north of Bangkok in less than 2 hours by car. To get from site to site you could do this by bike but because of the extreme heat I just loved to get back to the air-conditioned car every 45-60 minutes or so. The main sights and a few smaller take around 6-7 hours to explore. See the map below to get an impression of the site. Every single place is amazing and has something unique.
Wat Phra Ram
The first stop of my Ayutthaya day trip was at Wat Phra Ram. This temple complex has a large prang (a tower rich with sculptures) and a chedi (a stupa) remaining amongst some other smaller ruins. Wat Phra Ram was built by King Ramesuan on the cremation site of his father. It was King Borommarachathirat I who completed the temple. The location is close to the palace of Ayutthaya and therefore it was restored several times in ancient times. The pond in front of the temple is as old, if not older as the temple. The entrance fee is around 50 baht and you probably spend 45 minutes at this temple. Walk around it starting on the right and come back through the middle, this gives the best views. Do not forget to take enough water in the extreme heat.
Wat Phra Sri Sanphet
Wat Phra Sri Sanphet was the central place in the old Ayutthaya capital. The location of the temple was inside the royal palace grounds and served as the royal monastery for many years. King U-thong constructed the royal palace at this location but his successor moved the royal palace up north converting the temple into a sacred ground. Unfortunately the 16 meter gold-plated Buddha is gone but you can admire the three chedis and remains of various other buildings. This sight is probably the largest you will see and with the newly build temple next door it will probably take you an hour to explore. The chedis can be climbed (I did not see anyone wanting to stop me) for a great view of the park. At the nearby market I suggest to take a small snack for lunch and stock up on water.
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Wat Phra Mahathat
My next stop during my Ayutthaya day trip was at Wat Phra Mahathat. This complex is famous for its Buddha head entwined in a tree. Only to see the Buddha head is worth a visit to this complex. The name Wat Phra Mahathat is translated to the place where the relics of the Lord Buddha were kept. It was built in the early days of the Ayutthaya kingdom. During several excavations and restorations artifacts were found, but many stolen. Amongst the Buddha head in the tree you find a pagoda, prangs, Buddha sculptures and other buildings. The prang has beautiful mural paintings of which you can unfortunately only see a photograph and not the original. I decided to walk this site quickly taking in only the most important parts and finished in just over half an hour. It is well worth the 50 baht entrance fee! This site concludes my list of 3 sites pretty much clustered together.
I continued my Ayutthaya day trip to the Wat Lokayasutharam which is famous for its giant reclining Buddha. The 37 meter long and 8 meter high Buddha is resting with its head on a lotus flower. The legs show the feet with the toes in equal length each. The temple and surrounding buildings have not much remains and you will be quickly finished at this site. It is however for sure worth to visit it because of its outstanding value and to get away from the crowds. You can meet some local people here and buy some souvenirs at the stalls. After 30 minutes I continued onwards to my next destination of my Ayutthaya day trip itinerary.
Wat Chai Watthanaram
Wat Chai Watthanaram is located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River and is not part of the UNESCO Ayutthaya Historical Park. It is however a beautiful temple complex to explore. It was built early 17th century and it is therefore a lot newer as the other temples in the historical park. The central prang is 35 meters high and is surrounded by 4 smaller prangs located together on a square platform. Around the central prangs there is a wall with eight chedis. Inside these chedis and along the passage way you find a lot of Buddha statues. Outside of the complex there are some smaller structures to explore. In ancient time this royal temple was used for a wide variety of religious ceremonies. Now it is a nice area to end your day and relax in the grass fields surrounding the complex until heading back to Bangkok’s busy streets.
Two more sights you should not miss on your Ayutthaya day trip
One more sight on the main island close to the first three mentioned above is Wat Ratchaburana. It was founded early 15th century and is mainly interesting for the original stucco works on the central prang. Beautiful sculptures of creatures and lotuses. Inside the crypt you find frescoes which you do not see in any of the other places.
If you are with a car the Wat Phukhao Thong can easily be reached in 15 minutes. It lies outside of the Ayutthaya main center and sights. It is a 50 meter chedi tower build in the 18th century after the original one from the 16th century was beyond repair. Next to the chedi you find a temple still in use today. Here you can get into contact with local people. If you climb the chedi you have a great view over the surrounding countryside.
During my Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok I actually saw a few more small sights and drove by a lot more. These are of interested if you are really into the history of Ayutthaya but could be skipped easily as the ones above give the best impression possible. If you are in Thailand, Bangkok an Ayutthaya day trip should be on your agenda! A visit can be added easily in a 3 week Thailand itinerary too. It’s worth your time for sure and gives a good understanding of Buddhism in the time of the Siamese Kingdoms.
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Gallery Ayutthaya day trip
Click an image for a full screen gallery of more photos taken during this trip. If you like to use any photo for commercial, private or editorial use please contact first for permission and/or pricing.