When you want to visit Ayutthaya on a day trip or two, there are few things worth knowing. It’s one of the most stunning and historically significant places in Thailand and a must visit.
However, as it’s jam packed with temples, sites, museums and more, you can easily get overwhelmed and miss out if you don’t plan accordingly. Here is a quick and thorough guide for visiting Ayutthaya in Thailand.
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Why Travel Ayutthaya?
Most travellers to Southeast Asia will spend time exploring Thailand’s bustling cities and pristine beaches, and then hop over to neighbouring Cambodia to get their historic temple complex fix at Angkor Wat.
While Cambodia is amazing, you don’t have to leave Thailand to experience beautiful temple ruins drenched in history. In fact, you GOTTA include Ayutthaya, Thailand into your Southern Thailand trip.
Also known as Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, it’s an UNESCO World Heritage site about 80 km north of Bangkok.
Ayutthaya was built in 1350, and was the second capital of the Kingdom of Siam, before the Burmese destroyed it during the Burmese-Siamese War in 1765. As a result, the city is overflowing with ancient ruins and historical sites.
Since Ayutthaya is less famous than Angkor Wat, this history lovers’ paradise offers all the ancient appeal with less crowds. Here are the absolute must-sees when exploring the historical wonderland of Ayutthaya in Thailand.
Top 15 Sights in Ayutthaya
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
This temple (also called the King’s Temple) is known as one of the holiest temples in Thailand. It was built in 1492 by King Ramathibodi II in order to keep the ashes of his brother and father.
In 1530, his son and predecessor built an additional section of the temple to house the late king’s ashes. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is one of the most beautiful temples in old Ayutthaya city, and should not be missed. Entry is ฿50
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
Also called the Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory, this temple is known for its Buddha statues in saffron robes. Built in 1357 under King U Thong, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon housed monks who had been trained in modern-day Sri Lanka.
It remained important throughout Ayutthaya’s history, as a place where conspirators consulted oracles, and kings died hiding from rebellion. Before you leave, climb the stairs for a beautiful view of the statues and garden. Entry is ฿20.
Wat Phra Mahathat
Also known as the Monastery of the Great Relic, Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya is probably the most well photographed of the Ayutthaya ruins, and for good reason. The face of a stone Buddha in enshrined in the roots of a large tree.
Besides being the home of this iconic image, this temple also contains a secret chamber (discovered in 1956), which held a relic of Buddha, gold jewellery, and other treasures.
The temple is marked by a huge reclining Buddha. At 37 meters long and 8 meters high, it’s a glorious sight to see. It was constructed in the art style of the Middle Ayutthaya Period, and is the largest reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya. Entry is free
Wat Chai Watthanaram
This Khmer-style temple is one of the largest and most impressive temples in Ayutthaya. It was built in 1603 by King Prasat Thong in his mother’s memory. It is rumored that relics of Buddha may live in the main prang.
It further is an amazing sunset spot. The light from here is insane and you can do a boat tour as well, if you want to crank up the romance factor. Entry is ฿50
Wat Phanan Choeng
This temple is most famous for its 19 meter tall golden seated Buddha. According to ancient stories, the figure shed tears when the Burmese took Ayutthaya kingdom in 1767. Built in 1324 (26 years before the founding of Ayutthaya), there is no record of its construction, so only stories remain to tell us its history. Entry is ฿20
Wat Na Phra Men
This temple is a must see because it is one of the few that evaded destruction by the Burmese. The doors and gables are decorated with beautiful wooden carvings. A large crowned Buddha dressed in royal garb, a very atypical depiction, lives inside the temple. Entry is ฿20
This temple is one of the best preserved Ayutthaya ruins, and is most known for its large, central, Khmer-style prang. It was built in 1424 by King Borommarachathirat II as a memorial to his two eldest brothers who killed each other battling over their father’s throne. Entry is ฿50
This temple was built before the founding of Ayutthaya, and is categorized by its towering, intact columns and a chedi surrounded by lion statues. It is a great place to learn about pre-Ayutthaya art and architecture. You’ll also find tons of brightly colored rooster statues, which are offerings from locals. Entry is free.
Wat Suwan Dararam
Built around 1700, this temple is a little younger than the others and is the only temple on Ayutthaya island that is still inhabited by monks. Wat Suwan Dararam is full of beautiful mural paintings depicting scenes from Buddha’s life. Entry is ฿50
Wat Suan Luang Sopsawan
Also known as the Monastery of the Royal Garden, this temple is home to a stunning white and gold tipped chedi dedicated to Queen Suryiothai, who died on the battlefield during the war with the Burmese.
Wat Phuttai Sawan
This temple was one of the first constructed after Ayutthaya was founded. The main Khmer-style prang represents Mount Meru, a sacred 5 peak mountain of Buddhist cosmology. Entry is ฿50
During the Burmese war in 1568-1569, the main army of King Bayinnaung set up camp here. This temple is mostly made up of a typically bell-shaped chedi and an ordination hall. Around it, there are 80 elephant statues.
Sadly, the structures haven’t survived time untouched and a lot of it is damaged. It’s still worth a visit since the wat isn’t far from Ayutthaya Floating Market and you can easily combine your visit. Entry is donation based.
Wat Phra Ram
This monastery was built on the cremation site of the first monarch of Ayutthaya, King Ramathibodi I. It is not entirely clear when it was constructed, some say in the 14th century,
The temple sits in front of a large, peaceful pond and if the early morning is clear, you can enjoy a beautiful sunrise here. The temple grounds will not be open then but you can stand by the moat to is southwest. Entry is ฿50.
Wat Borom Phuttharam
This temple is unlike others in that all the buildings are roofed with yellow glazed tiles. It was erected sometime between 1688 and 1703 and took about two years to complete. What is particularly special about it is the sandstone image of Buddha in meditation pose.
Ayutthaya Travel Tips
How much are entrance fees?
The typical entrance fee to most temples is ฿20 for lesser visited Ayutthaya temples and ฿50 for the popular ones. (Here’s an overview. Note that it might not be entirely up to date but gives you a good idea.)
Some temples are free of charge and others are part of an area with several temples and therefore combined. For instance, Ayutthaya Historical Park includes four temples (Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana).
You can get a multi temple ticket for ฿220, which is great value and can be bought at the entrance of any of the included temples.
What is the general dress code?
Even though most of Ayutthaya temples are no longer actively used and are like outdoor museum exhibits, a dress code is in place. Security guards at the entrance make sure that you are appropriately attired before stepping in. (Yes, even if you already have your ticket.)
As with any temple in Thailand, you need to dress respectfully, which means conservatively. Make sure your shoulders and legs are covered.
Bring a shawl for your shoulders and wear a sarong around your hips if you didn’t dress in long sleeves and pants. Take off your shoes before entering a working temple.
Those can be had cheaply in local stores and there are always some by temple entrances. Don’t forget to negotiate prices.
From what I’ve seen nobody checks your dress code after you’re in, which led to plenty of tourists starting to undress again. That’s just rude and inconsiderate, no matter what you think of the dress code. These are ancient religious sites and being able to witness them is a privilege. Don’t abuse it!
How do I get to Ayutthaya?
An Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok is more than possible, but if you have the time, give yourself at least a few days to explore this diverse city. I learned from my own experience that 1.5 days nearly isn’t enough, especially if you are DIYing your trip.
It would have been so much easier to join an Ayutthaya sightseeing tour so I wouldn’t have had to suss out getting between places and making it before closing time. (And trying to figure out the best Ayutthaya sunset spots).
Is One Day in Ayutthaya Enough?
Definitely not. I thought I could do a DIY Ayutthaya one day tour and see most of it. If you don’t mind rising up super early and then checking out temples that are off limits anyway from afar, then renting a cab for the day, you might be able to rush your way through a lot of the sights.
However, that doesn’t sound like a fulfilling experience. And seeing that these beautiful monuments have such significance and withstood time this far, it feels like not paying appropriate respect and just treating them as a bucketlist item. I am no fan of such travel.
Should you only have very limited time to spend travelling Ayutthaya, definitely make a list prioritizing temples and sights, so you don’t miss out.
How to Get Around Ayutthaya
Many of the Ayutthaya attractions are concentrated in the centre and you can walk to a few but it’s not the most rewarding experience. Plus, there are amazing sights a little further out of the Ayutthaya city centre.
So a good idea is to rent a cab for the day, or at the very least a bike. Getting a Grab ride (it’s like Uber) quickly adds up, so negotiate a daily rate with a cab driver or organise a pre-made tour prior to your trip.
Note: With Get Your Guide you can book your Ayutthaya trip last minute tours online and get a mobile voucher. (No printing!) Tours are with English speaking guides. You can even cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund if you want to secure a tour now but are not sure. Some tours sell out quickly.
Private Ayutthaya Tours
- Ayutthaya & Shrimp Fishing, from Bangkok: Visit the main temples, cook a Thai dessert and go shrimp fishing on a local fisherman boat. Pick up service included. 8 hour duration. Book here.
- Ayutthaya & Lopburi Monkey Temple Trip: Visit the main temples, feed the monkeys at the Phra Prang Sam Yod, enjoy the stunning sunflower fields and see the largest bronze Buddha’s in Thailand. 10 hour duration. Pick up included. Book here.
Ayutthaya Group Tours
- Bangkok to Ayutthaya day trip 1: 5 UNESCO-listed temples, the National Museum, pick up included, 9 – 10 hours, small group tour. Book here.
- Bangkok to Ayutthaya day trip 2: Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, Ayothaya floating market, Wat Phrasri Sanphet and Buddha’s head (admissions included), 8 hour tour, multilingual guide. Book here.
How to Get from Bangkok to Ayutthaya
You have two options. Number one: You can rent a car and drive to Ayutthaya yourself. Or you can hire a taxi driver and negotiate a good deal. Sometimes you can find special deals via the free Grab app, such as 100 THB off one way.
Mini buses operate daily between Bangkok and Ayutthaya. Get to Mo Chit BTS station or Chatuchak metro station in the North of Bangkok (you know, near the famous Chatuchak Market). Close by, you can find the coach station.
Take the metro from Si Lom to Hua Lamphong (2 stops) for 19 baht. You will be right at the train staton, where you can buy your train ticket. Prices depend on coach class and whether it’s an express train.
I paid 345 baht ($9) on my way from Bangkok to Ayutthaya and was seated in class B. It was air conditioned, a simple meal was included (half heated rice, pork in sauce and chicken in sauce with 1 cup of cold water) and seats were decently comfy and for 2 people each.
For the return ride from Ayutthaya to Bangkok I paid a mere 15 baht (40 cents), the coach was overcrowded, hot and humid as there was no air conditioning and the coach had no doors. Which was a good thing because then I could feel some breeze coming in from the outside.
So depending on how fast you want your train ride to Ayutthaya to be and in what comfort you want to travel, the prices are vastly different.
What to Pack for Ayutthaya?
First and foremost, you need to bring cash and coins. Credit cards aren’t commonly used. Next, bring sunscreen with you as you most likely will burn otherwise. Try a light sunspray that doesn’t feel so sticky because it often is very humid and you’ll sweat buckets.
Should you visit during rainy season, a rain poncho or rain jacket is a good idea. Remember to keep them light and airy so you don’t melt underneath.
The same goes for shoes. Flip flops seem like a great idea but are a pain to walk in all day. Streets can be rather uneven and have toe-stubbing potential. Wear walking sandals or airy city shoes.
Are you staying in a hostel? Definitely bring your own towels, a lock and flip flops with you to use in the shower. If you don’t like the idea of walking barefoot around hostels, wear a pair of socks.
Bring an adapter so you can charge your electronics. And never forget to sort out your travel insurance. Even if you’re already set out on your trip, you can always book through WorldNomads, which plenty of travel bloggers use. It’s basically made for travelling. Check best deals here.
Here’s a quick list but you can also download my free tropical packing checklist here.
- Poncho/rain jacket
- After Sun
- Sun hat
- Mosquito spray
- 1 pair of socks
- Quick dry towel
- Flip flops
- Water bottle
- External charger
Where to Stay in Ayutthaya?
There are hostels as well as hotels in Ayutthaya Thailand if you want to stay overnight. (And you really should, I’ve learned.)
Best Ayutthaya Hostel
Ayutthaya Place Youth Hostel
- Hi Hostel membership discount
- Free shampoo, towels & linens
- Lockers & luggage storage
- Ceiling fan and air conditioning
- Outdoor terrace
Mid-Range Ayutthaya Hotel
Baan Luang Harn
- Outdoor pool & terrace
- Express check-in and out
- continental or Full English/Irish breakfast
- Room service
- Shared lounge and luggage storage
Budget Ayutthaya Hotel
Slowlife House Ayothaya
- Outdoor pool & terrace
- Private bathroom
- Air conditioning
- Free Wi-Fi in public areas and parking
Luxury Ayutthaya Hotel
Classic Kameo Hotel & Serviced Apartments
- Kitchenette and a seating area
- Outdoor pool, fitness centre and sauna
- Free Wi-Fi and business centre
- Air-conditioning, safety deposit box
- 24-hour front desk
What Else to See in Ayutthaya
You can add Bang Pa-in Palace to your itinerary for a little taste of luxury, or check out the Chao Sam Phraya Museum, which is a great place to see jewellery and other artefacts that escaped the Burmese raids.
When your brain needs a history break, visit the 70 acre Ayutthaya Floating Market to get your fill of authentic Thai food and local shopping, or the Chao Phrom Market where you can find anything and everything for cheap local prices, at any time of day or night.
Photography Warning for Ayutthaya
I get why you would want to take a gazillion selfies around Ayutthaya and its ruins. However, that should not come at the cost of preserving the ruins for future generations. (No matter whether you think global climate change will kill us all pretty soon.)
This means not ignoring the signs EVERYWHERE that forbid you to climb, lean, stand, walk on or in any way mess with the ruins. Yes, you can’t prop your children for the gram either. Come on, use your head. It’s not just you. Others will see it and copy you. The rules are for everyone.
When taking a photo of statues (and bodyless heads) of Buddha, there are rules to follow too. Your head must never be above that of Buddha and you can’t point your feet towards him. It’s a sign of respect.
And no, don’t use your own Buddha prop. It’s distasteful to use Buddha as decoration (and fineable to export images of Buddha.)
I See Elephant Riding? Is it Ethical?
The quick answer is no. There was elephant riding next to Ayutthaya floating market and tourists loved it.
However, looking closer, the animals were kept in small spaces until they were selected for the ride. The animal trainers used sharp pokes with thorns to keep the animals moving. And elephants wore chains around their necks.
Don’t support this!
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