Ayutthaya, once upon a time was a great empire in its time. Found by King Ramathibodi I (also known as King U-Thong) in 1350, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya rose, conquered Sukhothai, and even defeated the Khmer Empire, becoming the leading empire at its peak in the 17th Century.
Ayutthaya is said to be the second capital city of Thailand after Sukhothai. In the 17th Century, the kingdom was one of largest kingdom in world, home to millions of people, and was one of the important trading hubs in the world. They allowed foreign traders to set up villages outside the wall of the capital.
The fall of Ayutthaya began after the 17th Century when the Burmese-Siamese war that began in the middle of the 16th Century became worse. In 1767, the Burmese succeed to enter the capital city of Ayutthaya and the city was burned down.
How to Go to Ayutthaya Historical Park?
Ayutthaya is located around 85 km to the north of Bangkok. Getting to Ayutthaya from Bangkok is possible by bus, train and boat.
Bus from Bangkok to Ayutthaya
Air Aran Patthana is the bus operator that provides the express bus service from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. The bus from Bangkok will depart from Mo Chit 2 at 8AM and estimated to arrive in Ayutthaya by 9.10AM. In total, the journey will take around 1 hour and 10 minutes.
However, Air Aran Patthana bus will terminate in Wang Noi, Ayutthaya. The drop-off point is not really convenient as it is located around 30-40 minutes away from the historical park.
Book Bus Ticket from Bangkok to Ayutthaya Online »
Train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya
There is train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya that departs frequently from Hua Lamphong Train Station. Train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya takes around 1.5 hours depending on the type of train you choose.
Boat from Bangkok to Ayutthaya
It is also possible to go by boat if you prefer a different experience to go to Ayutthaya. The boat will go along the Chao Phraya River from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. However, the boat from Bangkok to Ayutthaya usually takes a longer time compared to bus and train and the cost is more expensive. Hence, many would drop this option.
Best Time to Visit Ayutthaya Historical Park
The weather in Thailand, as usual, is hot throughout the whole year. However, it will be slightly cooler from November to January. Many recommend going in December, but expect more crowd as December is the high season to travel in Thailand. Nonetheless, the weather will still be hot and humid.
Apply your sunscreen; bring your hat and other necessities to protect you from the scorching heat of the sun.
However, do note that Thailand will have a wet season from July to October. If the weather is bad, it might tamper your plan to visit the historical park. Still, most of the time the weather should be fine.
Best Way to Visit Ayutthaya Historical Park
Bike can be rented from many locations in the park. If you stay in any hotel nearby, they might also offer this service for their customers. Renting a bike would cost around 50-100 THB per day.
If you plan to hire a tuk tuk to visit Ayutthaya Historical Park, haggle for a one-day trip and decide which temple you want to visit to the driver. The cost should be around 200THB per hour.
Entrance Fee to Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya Historical Park entrance fee is free. However, some of the temples and sites in the historical park would ask for an entrance fee separately, ranging from 20 to 50 THB. Below is the list of some of the famous temples and its entrance fee:
|i.||Wat Mahathat : 50 THB|
|ii.||Wat Ratchaburana : 50 THB|
|iii.||Wat Phra Si Sanphet : 30 THB|
|iv.||Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol : 50 THB|
|v.||Wat Chaiwathanaram : 50 THB|
|vi.||Wat Panang Choeng : 20 THB|
Temples and Sites in Ayutthaya Historical Park
There are more than 10 temples and up to 365 historic ruins available for visiting in Ayutthaya Historical Park. At most, it would take 2 to 3 days to visit everything. Here are the highlights, or the must-go-to temples that you should visit even if you have limited time in the Ayutthaya Historical Park.
You can use the map below as your orientation guide.
Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya
Entrance Fee : 50 THB
Open : Daily, 8AM-5PM
Wat Mahathat (not to be confused with another Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai), is a one of the Temple of the Great Relics. The temple was believed to be built in the 14th Century, and was the center of religious activities during the Ayutthaya period.
Having the Buddha relics enshrined here, Wat Mahathat was one of the most important monasteries in Ayutthaya Kingdom and was home to the Supreme Patriarch; the leader of Thai Buddhist monk.
Based on the large dimension of the base area, Wat Mahathat seems like a huge temple back in the day. However, since the Burmese burned down the temple in 1767, we can only imagine the greatness of the temple by seeing what is left and restored of Wat Mahathat.
The architecture of Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya is slightly different from Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai. The design of Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya follows the temple design from the Khmer Empire. It consist of a big and tall central prang, surrounded by four smaller prangs, forming a quincunx. The center of Wat Mahathat where the quincunx of the prangs is located, is surrounded by a courtyard and gallery.
To the east of the central prang is the Royal Assembly Hall (vihara). Meanwhile, to the west of the central prang is where the ubosot –ordination hall, is located. Surrounding the ubosot is the boundary stones or sima, found to be similar to the one in Sukhothai.
Other structures you can find around these main buildings are smaller viharas and chedis.
Famous in Wat Mahathat: Buddha Head in Bodhi Tree Roots
When the Burmese attacked Ayutthaya, many Buddha images became headless. This Buddha head was found entwined between the roots and has become Wat Mahathat’s highlight for the tourists.
No one sure of how it happened. Some said that it was abandoned by the thief and after years gone by, the tree naturally grew around the head and entwined it.
Entrance Fee : 50 THB
Open : Daily, 8AM-5PM
Wat Ratchaburana is located just beside Wat Mahathat, on the map –to the north of Wat Mahathat. It is also called the Monastery of the Royal Repairs.
According to the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya, Wat Ratchaburana was built in the 14th Century. In that year, when King Intharacha I (r. 1409-1424) became ill and passed away, two of his sons fought for the throne. They fought on an elephant and both died in the battle leaving the throne to another son of Intharacha I named Chao Sam Phraya.
Chao Sam Phraya, also known as King Borommarachathirat II, later ordered to build two chedis on the site where his two brothers died. The site then became Wat Ratchaburana.
The site of Wat Ratchaburana is in a better condition compared to Wat Mahathat. The central prang still stand tall until today and the walls of the Royal Assembly Hall is preserved. Just like Wat Mahathat, the Royal Assembly Hall in Wat Ratchaburana is located to the east and the ordination hall to the west.
Even more, special thing about Wat Ratchaburana is that there is a crypt accessible by a staircase leading you down to see the inside of the main prang. During the digging and restoration of the ruin, they found relics and other precious stones and items in crypt. The restored items are now being displayed in Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
The original location of the Grand Palace is located on the current location of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. In 1448, when King Borommatrailokanat built a new palace further to the north, the Grand Palace is turned into a religious site.
History of the Famous Three Chedi in Wat Phra Si Sanphet
After King Borommatrailokanat passed away, his son King Boromracha III took over the throne and ruled for three years. He too, passed away shortly after and his brother King Ramathibodi II took over the throne.
When King Ramathibodi II took the throne, he cremated the ashes of his father and his brother. King Ramathibodi II built two huge chedi, the most west one for his father King Borommatrailokanat, and the second one in the middle for his brother King
King Boromracha III. Later, when King Ramathibodi II passed away, his son King Boromracha IV built another chedi next to the two earlier chedi to keep the remains of King Ramathibodhi.
The structure in Wat Phra Si Sanphet kept on being added over the years. More Buddha images made of gold and other precious stones were installed in the Royal Monastery. In addition, the number of chedi to keep the remaining of the royal family also increased.
A Royal Vihara was built to the west of the three main chedi in Wat Phra Si Sanphet, accompanied by two smaller vihara on each side of the Royal Vihara. Being part of the Royal Palace, Wat Sri Sanphet is considered the most important religious site in Ayutthaya period.
Wat Lokaya Sutha
Entrance Fee : 50 THB
Wat Lokaya Sutha is located to the west of the Old Grand Palace. The base of the temple suggests that the ruin once upon a time was a huge monastery. The highlight of this temple is the massive image of the reclining Buddha on the western part of the temple. The reclining Buddha image in Wat Lokaya Sutha is the largest one in Ayutthaya, with height of 8 meter and width of 42 meter. The Buddha image is facing the west.
Behind the reclining Buddha image is what remain of the rest of the monastery. A prang with Khmer style design stood tall in between the base of the ordination hall (ubosot) on its west side and three assembly halls (vihara) on its east side. There are boundary stones surrounding the ordination hall to distinguish it from the assembly hall.
Festivals and Events in Ayutthaya Historical Park
Date : 13 April
Location : Wihan Phra Mongkot Bophit
Songkran is an annual festival in Thailand to celebrate Thai’s New Year. This festival usually takes place every year from 13 April until 16 April and celebrated all over Thailand. In Ayutthaya, Songkran festival usually involve offering foods to the monks in Wihan Phra Mongkot Bophit located nearby the Wat Phra Si Sanphet. After that, the water festival also includes the elephants in water splashing activity.
Date : Not fixed, usually in November
Location : Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Center
Experience Loy Krathong, a lantern festival in Thailand with your friends or family. Join the locals to light up the Krathong and release it to the Chao Phraya River.