The ancient capital of Thailand Ayutthaya
No trip to Thailand is complete without visiting the humming capital city of Bangkok. If you read my previous post, you know that Bangkok is one of my favorite cities in Asia and I can go on and on about how cool the city is. However, Thailand’s capital was not always Bangkok. This post, is about the second capital of Thailand, Ayutthaya.
Let’s start with a little bit of history
Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and was the second capital of Thailand (then Siam). After the fall of Angkor, Ayutthaya consolidated its power and became an important connecting point between the East and the West. The city became the center for global diplomacy and commerce. The Royal Court of Ayutthaya exchanged ambassadors with many countries, even reaching as far as Europe. Foreigners were welcome in the court and served in the employ of the government. What is most interesting is the foreign influences that can still be seen in the surviving architecture of the ruins today.
The city fell in the 18th century after it was destroyed by the Burmese. After the fall of Ayutthaya, the capital was moved to Bangkok.
Ayutthaya was classified as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991. Most buildings that remain today are monasteries and palaces, as these were the only buildings made out of stone at the time.
The total area of the World Heritage property is 289 ha and it contains over 400 temples. Before heading there, I suggest you do a little research and jot down the names of temples you absolutely want to see. Trust me, it will make getting around easier.
I chose the following temples to see: Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Chaiwathanararm, Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon, Wat Si Sanphet, Wat LokyaSutharam, Phra Mongkhon Bophit Chapel.
1. Getting there (from Bangkok):
A. Train – The cheapest way to get to Ayutthaya.
- Timeframe: Around 2 hours
- Departing location: Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station
- Departure time: Daily between 04:20 and 22:25
- Price: Second-class seats cost 65 TBT, third-class seats 20 TBT
- Important note: The railway station is not on the island but across the river a short ferry ride away
- Where to book: You can book on www.12goasia.com
- Timeframe: 1,5 hours
- Departing location: Bangkok’s northern bus terminal Moh Chit. Getting to Moh Chit – Take the BTS to Moh Chit station and grab a taxi (no more than 50 TBT or walk 20 minutes to the bus station)
- Price: 60 TBT
- Departure time: Every 30 min between 06.00 and 17.00
- Watch out: The minivan makes several stops along the way, make sure you stay in the van until the last stop, Naresuan Alley
C. Boat – There is no standard boat trip. For more info please book via a local tourist office.
2. Getting around: Rent a bicycle for a day. The bicycle costs 50 TBT for a day and you will need to leave some form of ID (passport or credit card) as a deposit. Alternatively you can grab a Songthaew (oversized Tuk Tuk). The Songthaew sits 6 people comfortably and will charged a fixed price of 300 TBT per hour.
3. Entrance fees: Most large temples charge 50 TBT for foreigners
4. Opening hours: Mon-Sun 08:00-18:00 (note these hours are only applicable to sites that require a ticket)
5. What to wear: There is no specific dress code as the temples are usually in ruins. Please bear in mind the Thai culture is more conservative than the West.
6. Additional activities:
- Catch the ruins at sunset or even at night when they are lit up.
- Mid December Ayutthaya holds the World Heritage Fair