Ayutthaya, a Thai city located about 64 km north of Bangkok, is the former capital of the Siam kingdom founded in 1350. Named after Ayodhya, the Indian city which was the birth place of Lord Rama, it was strategically located on an island surrounded by three rivers connecting the city to the sea. It is estimated that Ayutthaya once had a population of about 1,000,000 making it one of the world's largest cities at that time, when it was also known as the Venice of the East. The city was attacked and razed by the Burmese army in 1767 who burned the city to the ground and forced the inhabitants to abandon the city. The city was never rebuilt in the same location and remains known today as an extensive archaeological site with most parts recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site.
Ayutthaya is a perfect day trip from Bangkok and there are various tour companies to choose from. During our recent trip to Bangkok, we booked a tour with the Grand Pearl Cruise tour company suggested by our hotel. We found the itinerary to be adequately paced, the guide was knowledgeable and the food offered on the cruise was quite good. The intricate architecture of the temples indicates how technologically advanced the ancient kingdom was and how grand the city would have been before the Burmese burnt it down. The ruins reminded me of Siem Reap! While there are many temple ruins to explore, Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Si Sanphet are the most impressive ones.
Wat Mahathat combines Khmer, Ceylonese and Thai architecture and is famous for its iconic 'Buddha head amidst tree roots'.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet was the grandest and most beautiful temple of ancient Ayutthaya which was used exclusively for royal ceremonies. Its a very well preserved one with its stunning Chedis or bell shaped towers influenced by Ceylonese architecture. There is a temple with a gigantic Buddha statue made of gold. Unfortunately, we could not see it since it was closed for restoration.
After exploring the temples, we boarded the cruise boat and enjoyed a nice lunch while cruising the Chao Phraya river to go back to Bangkok.
The trip costed us 2500 THB per head which includes transportation, entry tickets for the temples, lunch and an english speaking guide. Loved Ayutthaya and would definitely recommend if you are staying in Bangkok for more than 2 days. Have any questions? Let me know in the comments.