Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya (อยุธยา), full name Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya (พระนครศรีอยุธยา), is an ancient capital and modern city in the Central Plains of Thailand, 85 km north of Bangkok.

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Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Founded around 1350, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai. Throughout the centuries, an ideal location between China, India, and the Malay Archipelago made Ayutthaya the trading capital of Asia and even the world. By 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Many international merchants set sail for Ayutthaya, from diverse regions as the Arab world, China, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands, and France. Merchants from Europe proclaimed Ayutthaya as the finest city they had ever seen. Dutch and French maps of the city show grandeur with gold-laden palaces, large ceremonies, and a visiting flotilla of trading vessels from all over the world. All this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city to the ground.

Today, only a few remains give a glimpse of the impressive city they must have seen. Its remains are characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and big monasteries. Most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stone at that time. The great cultural value of Ayutthaya’s ruins was officially recognized in 1991, when the historic city became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its proximity to Bangkok make it a popular day-trip destination for travellers from that city.

Ayutthaya is an island at the confluence of three rivers: the Chao Phraya river, the Lopburi River, and the Pa Sak River. As the train station is on the east bank off the island, most visitors will need to cross the river by ferry boat. Navigating your way around the island is not particularly hard: U Thong Rd is a ring road that circles the island completely. Most temple ruins can be found at the northwest corner of the island, while accommodation and night life is clustered around the northeast. As non-Siamese peoples were not allowed to live inside the city walls, the remains of foreign nations can be found off of the island.

Map of Ayutthaya

From Bangkok, one can get to Ayutthaya by various routes:

  • Take Hwy 1 (Phahon Yothin) via Pratu Nam Phra In and turn onto Hwy 32, then, turn left to Hwy 309 to Ayutthaya.
  • Take Hwy 304 (Chaeng Watthana) or Hwy 302 (Ngam Wong Wan), turn right onto Hwy 306 (Tiwanon), cross Nonthaburi or Nuanchawi Bridge to Pathum Thani, continue on Hwy 3111 (Pathum Thani–Sam Khok–Sena) and turn right at Sena onto Hwy 3263 to Ayutthaya.
  • Take Hwy 306 (Bangkok–Nonthaburi–Pathum Thani), at Pathum Thani Bridge intersection, turn onto Hwy 347 and 3309 via Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, Bang Pa-In, to Ayutthaya.
  • Take Expy 9 (Si Rat Expressway) via Nonthaburi–Pathum Thani and down to Hwy 1 to Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, turn left onto Hwy 3469 towards Bang Pa-In and turn right at Worachet intersection to Ayutthaya.

One can also contact a taxi company for pick up at either Bangkok airport. For example: Car Service, phone: +66 2 8195390, email: raksacharoen@hotmail.com. Advance booking possible. ~1,200 baht one-way.

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