How to Visit Thailand’s Ancient Capital Ayutthaya

The rich culture of Ayutthaya City began when it was founded in 1350. It became the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom after Sukhothai. The historic city flourished during the 14th and 18th centuries and became one of the world’s largest diverse urban areas with a growing economy. Ayutthaya City is strategically located, surrounded by three rivers that connect it to the sea, and is situated above the tidal bore of the Siam Gulf, preventing attacks from other nations, and protecting the city from seasonal flooding.  In 1767, however, the Burmese army attacked Ayutthaya City, leaving it burnt to the ground and forcing its residents to flee and abandon the city. Now, the city has become an archaeological site as it was never rebuilt in the same location. A new capital was built near the ruins in a conscious attempt to replicate the beauty of Ayutthaya through its architecture and urban designs.   It’s a great place to explore and these are the best things to do in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

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Where to Stay in Ayutthaya

There are a host of places to stay in Ayutthaya – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Ayutthaya, mid-range places to stay in Ayutthaya, and budget accommodation in Ayutthaya.

Siri Guesthouse, Ayutthaya, Thailand: The luxury Siri Guesthouse is located in the best-classified area of Ayutthaya. This luxury Ayutthaya guesthouse has a shared lounge, a garden, and a terrace, along with free WiFi in all areas. All the rooms in this top hotel in Ayutthaya, have air conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a desk, a private bathroom, bed linen, towels, and free toiletries. Each room here in the Siri Guesthouse also has a seating area.  This is a perfect place to start the day with breakfast on the patio with a garden view. This Siri Guesthouse books out quickly, so you’ll need to reserve early.

T&N Home Ayutthaya, Ayutthaya, Thailand: This mid-range hotel in Ayutthaya. Has air-conditioning and internet access in all of its rooms, as well as private bathrooms. Toiletries, towels, and slippers are also provided. The rooms at this Ayutthaya mid-range hotel include flat-screen TVs with cable, minibars, and a seating area. This lovely Ayutthaya hotel also has a patio with a garden. Check availability of this great hotel option in Ayutthaya here.

Zleepinezz Hostel, Ayutthaya, Thailand: Zleepinezz Hostel is a great budget hostel located in the heart of Ayutthaya. All of the rooms at this budget Ayutthaya hostel have air conditioning, WiFi, and bed linen included. This budget hostel in Ayutthaya has both a shared lounge and room service. The hostel offers a continental breakfast and there is a shared kitchen and a terrace too.  The Zleepinezz also has a snack bar, a child-friendly buffet, and a coffee house on-site. You can check the room rates here.

The majority of the old city can be found “on the island”.  You’ll probably want to stay there too.  However, there are some temples that are worth visiting off island, depending on how long you have to spend in the city.

The Top Things to do in Ayutthaya

With the internet, it’s definitely easier to explore the world with one click, but some places are better explored when you go there. One of them is the historic city of Ayutthaya. The city now stands as an archaeological ruin displaying the rich history and colorful culture of Ayutthaya. Take yourself back in time as you stroll through the remaining temples among the ruins of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.  At the height of its popularity, Ayutthaya had 400 temples. Now, just a few remain in the center of the old city.  You will, however, find ruins of walls, denoting the layout of temples throughout.

What better way to appreciate the historic city of Ayutthaya than to visit the spectacular temples bearing the marks of its glorious past? While the center of the city is where you’d most likely want to focus, the areas outside the center are also worth exploring with plenty of other attractions for you to visit. With history, rich culture, meaningful explorations, and delightful local delicacies, the city of Ayutthaya is a perfect place to explore.

As I mentioned, Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam between 1350 and 1767. It was the next capital after Sukhothai  (read about our trip to Sukhothai here).   And it was a busy old capital.  33 kings took part in 70 wars during the just more than 4 centuries that they ruled here. The final battle was in 1767 – when the Burmese invaded, grabbed the loot, and left. Ayutthaya then crumbled until restoration began. The restoration worked and UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site in 1991.

Take a Cruise to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

Your adventure in exploring       Ayutthaya can start with actually getting there from Bangkok – and taking a cruise to get there up the Chao Phraya River is a fabulous way to see more of the country too.

You’ll get an all-around experience of Thailand by cruising down the largest river in the country, the Chao Phraya River. Located on both sides of the river are important landmarks for you to watch as you motor past. You can also enjoy lunch as you cruise along the river. The cruise will then take you to Ayutthaya, where a professional guide will accompany you as you explore the temples and other significant sights of the area. This 10-hour day trip is a round trip tour from Bangkok to Ayutthaya which will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel and you’ll get to see all the important sites, complete with your guide to explain what you’re seeing.

Visit the Temples of Ayutthaya

A visit to Ayutthaya is definitely not complete without visiting its magnificent temples; they are the highlight of your trip! These temples carry the rich past of Ayutthaya; they give you a glimpse of what it was like during the years when Ayutthaya was the center of the country. When visiting the temples, however, you’ll need to be aware of the entry fees; most of the temples have entry fees which cost around 20 Bhat to 50 Bhat, while active temples are free of charge. You can also buy a temple pass which can get you into the more popular temples. Here are the temples of Ayutthaya you should not miss!

Wat Phra Mahathat, Ayutthaya

This was one of the royal temples of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The Wat Phra Mahathat is considered one of the oldest temples of the kingdom and has held many of Ayutthaya’s royal ceremonies of the past.  One of its significant temple’s prized attractions is a sandstone Buddha head wrapped in the thick roots of a banyan tree.  The most iconic image of Ayutthaya is to be found here, at Wat Phra Mahathat, and this is what most people come here to see and photograph. (It’s just after the entrance, you’ll head into the ruins and then turn right, or follow the lines)

There are many stories as to how the head came to be here.  Abandonment following the Burmese sacking of the city, to being dropped by thieves because it was too heavy. Whatever the reason, it’s where everyone wants their photo taken. Us included.

You should follow the rules though.

You’re not supposed to be above the Buddha. So be respectful, crouch, and do your best!

We found the rest of this temple site to be mostly deserted, most folks run in, take photos with the Buddha’s head and then scram. Take your time and head around to some of the most evocative sights of Ayutthaya.

You can also explore pagodas, octagonal pagodas, a royal hall, and murals under a Bodhi tree located around the area.

You’ll find rows upon rows of broken Buddha bodies.  Headless, armless, but still simply quite beautiful.

  • Opening Hours of Wat Phra Mahathat: Wat Phra Mahathat is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except on holidays. 
  • Entry Fees for Wat Phra Mahathat: The entrance fee for Wat Phra Mahathat is 50 Bhat for adults. This fee is included in the temple pass.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet / The Grand Palace, Ayutthaya

Considered the largest temple during Ayutthaya’s prime, Wat Phra Si Sanphet served as a spiritual center for Thais. This temple with its three stupas or chedi is also an iconic image of Ayutthaya.

It also served as a place to conduct royal ceremonies such as drinking rituals for allegiance. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is known for its three restored chedis containing the ashes of three Ayutthaya kings. During the reign of Ramathibodi II, a 16-meter high Buddha image was built and was coated with 143 kilograms of gold and was located inside the assembly hall. When Ayutthaya fell in 1767, the Burmese invaded and then melted the golden Buddha.

This temple was the largest to be found in the city and it’s certainly a big site to walk around.  You can’t go into the chedi, but you can climb to the top of one of them and take photos.  The chedi are quite lovely, and best in the earlier morning or late afternoon light.

Also, situated at the heart of Wat Phra Sanphet are three adjacent Ceylonese pagodas. Now, the temple stands as a symbol of the Ayutthaya province.

  • Opening Hours of Wat Phra Si Sanphet: Wat Phra Sanphet is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except on holidays.
  • Entry Fees for Wat Phra Si Sanphet: The entrance fee for Wat Phra Si Sanphet is 50 Bhat. This fee is also included in the temple pass.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Ayutthaya

Wat Chaiwatthanaram was built as a meaningful way to honor King Prasat Thong’s mother and was a replica of the Angkor Temple. This glorious temple is considered one of the most visited historical sites of Ayutthaya and features a large, central Khmer-style pagoda surrounded by other smaller pagodas. You can climb to the top if it’s not roped off and get the best view of both the city and the sunset. If you can stay longer, the temple is even more magnificent and exotic at night due to the lighting.

This part of Ayutthaya was empty when we visited and it was even more glorious for that.

  • Opening Hours of Wat Chaiwatthanaram: Wat Chaiwatthanaram is open from 8 a.am to 6:30 p.m. every day except holidays.
  • Entry Fees for Wat Chaiwattharam: The entrance fee for Wat Chaiwatthanaram is 50 Bhat. This fee is also included in the temple pass.

Wat Phutthaisawan, Ayutthaya

The Wat Phutthaisawan, located on the west bank of Chao Phraya River was once considered the most important royal monastery during King U-thong’s time as it was where the king and his subjects first settled before Ayutthaya was established as the capital city. Now, this temple is known for its spectacular reclining Buddha. A dozen of pagodas, an assembly hall, murals of deities, hermits, and the worship of Buddhapada are also accessible for you to explore.

  • Opening Hours of Wat Phutthaisawan: Wat Phutthaisawan is open from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except on holidays.
  • Entry Fees for Wat Phutthaisawan: Since Wat Phutthaisawan is an active temple, entrance is free of charge.

Wat Ratchaburana, Ayutthaya

When you visit this temple in Ayutthaya you’ll want to try and time your visit to avoid the crowds, and you can wander around the edges of the temple until the hordes have disappeared because this temple has an underground crypt that is simply beautiful.  It is, though, tiny and the stairs are steep.

This is the oldest temple in Ayutthaya province, Wat Ratchaburana. Built in 1424, the temple has a crypt where a large number of treasures were stored. The crypt holds relics of Buddha, swords, crowns, golden attires, images of Buddha made of gold and copper, royal regalia, and hundreds of thousands of votive tables; later on, the contents of the crypt were sold to collectors, and the proceeds were used to build the Chai Sam Phraya National Museum.

You can climb up to the Prang – there are reasonable brick stairs up – and a small display on the main floor.

It wasn’t until 1957 that the crypt was discovered following well-publicized looting.  It was at this time that rare Buddha images were uncovered.  The tiny staircase that leads down into the crypt is narrow, dark, and with the smallest of steps. It’s well worth the wait if there’s a crowd, as there’s no room for more than two people either down in the crypt or trying to get there

A line of bell-shaped chedis also surrounds the main prang, while a large oblong-shaped viharn can be found at the front.

Outside most of the major temples, you’ll find a model of what the temple would have looked like in its heyday.  It’s a great tool for envisaging how things might have been.

The temple itself was built on the cremation site of two would-be kings who died while fighting each other for the throne. The remaining brother, Borom Rachathirat II became King and subsequently built the temple.

  • Opening Hours of Wat Ratchaburana: Wat Ratchaburana is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day except on holidays.
  • Entry Fees for Wat Ratchaburana: The entrance fee for Wat Ratchaburana is 50 Bhat. Fee is also included in the temple pass.

Wat Na Phra Men, Ayutthaya

The Wat Na Phra Men now stands as an active temple that escaped the destruction of the Burmese army during Ayutthaya’s fall. The temple became the main base for the army and a storehouse for weaponry. The Wat Phra Men boasts a 6-meter high Buddha image clad in royal attire, surrounded by octagonal columns. The temple also has an assembly hall that houses a Dvaravati-era sandstone Buddha and a Bodhi tree behind it with a Buddha head entwined in its roots similar to that of the Wat Mahathat.

  • Opening Hours of Wat Na Phra Men: Wat Na Phra Men is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except on holidays.
  • Entry Fees for Wat Na Phra Men: The entrance fee for Wat Na Phra Men is 20 Bhat for adults.

Wat Phu Khao Thong, Ayutthaya

Situated northwest of Ayutthaya, Wat Phu Khao Thong was built in 1387 by King Ramesuan. The high point of the temple, the tall chedi was built later on in 1584 with a mixture of two architectural styles which makes it unique from other temples. The tall chedi immediately catches your eye with its splashes of gold and statues of Buddha decorating the white stone. You can also climb up to better see the chedi along with a wider view of Ayutthaya.

  • Opening Hours of Wat Phu Khao Thong: Wat Phu Khao Thong is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for Wat Phu Khao Thong: The entrance to Wat Phu Khao Thong is free of charge.

Wat Phanan Choeng, Ayutthaya

Get inside one of Ayutthaya’s significant temples, Wat Phanan Choeng, and experience its mystical atmosphere. This Ayutthaya temple has a 19-meter tall seated Buddha image which is considered one of the most beautiful images in the country. Legends say the image shed tears just before the fall of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Within its ordination hall, three old Buddha images are seated and its walls are filled with murals.

  • Opening Hours of Wat Phanan Choeng: Wat Phanan Choeng is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except on holidays.
  • Entry Fees for Wat Phanan Choeng: The entrance fee for Wat Phanan Choeng is 20 Bhat.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Ayutthaya

The Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is considered to be one of the most important temples of Ayutthaya. It was first established as a royal temple when Ayutthaya became the capital city in 1350. After a Burmese invasion in 1593, the temple was restored, and it was during this time which was believed to be when the main chedi was enlarged. During the fall of Ayutthaya, the temple was abandoned after being looted, it wasn’t until the 1950s that the temple was re-established and major restorations have been undertaken since then. Now, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon stands as an active temple and Thais visit the temple to pay respect to Buddha and pay homage to what they consider one of the most respected kings in their history, King Naresuan the Great. The temple’s main attraction is its tall main bell-shaped chedi where you can climb the steps and view the city and the temples. You should also check out the replica of the reclining Buddha.

  • Opening Hours of Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon: The Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
  • Entry Fees for Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon: The entrance fee for Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is 20 Bhat.

Things to do in Ayutthaya that AREN’T temples

The Ancient part of Ayutthaya is filled with temples telling the great history of the kingdom, and the temples are indeed the pride of the historic city. But Ayutthaya isn’t just temples, this great city is also filled with plenty of other attractions which showcase their rich culture! Here are some of the places you can visit in Ayutthaya (that are not temples!)

Wihan Mongkhon Bophit, Ayutthaya

Right next to Wat Phra Si Samphet you’ll find the sanctuary hall with the most splendid Thai-style roof

The Wihan Mongkhon Bophit of Ayutthaya boasts one of Thailand’s largest Buddha images. Built around the 15th century, this Buddha image stands at 12.5 meters high, is made of bronze, and is coated in gold. A fire caused by lightning during the 1700s damaged the image and it was also damaged during the fall of Ayutthaya. Repairs occurred at different points during the 20th century and now it stands as one of Ayutthaya’s popular must-see attractions.

The Buddha is located in such a nice building because of the Burmese, those folks who ran off with treasures back in the 1700s. A “donation” or perhaps reparations of 200,000 THB from the then Burmese Prime Minister in 1955 helped to restore the building.

  • Address of Wihan Mongkhon Bophit: Wihan Mongkhon Bophit is located at Pratu Chai Sub-district Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province South of Phra Sri Sanphet Temple.
  • Opening Hours of Wihan Mongkhon Bophit: Wihan Mongkhan Bopit is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for Wihan Mongkhon Bophit: The entrance fee to the Ayutthaya Historical is 50 Bhat, once you’re inside, visiting the Wihan Mongkhon Bopit will be free of charge.

The Reclining Buddha of Ayutthaya

Head next through the market stalls to the side of the Wihaan Mongkhon Bophit and across the small stream – where rickety bridges abound, we headed to the reclining Buddha.

The magnificent Reclining Buddha located at Wat Lokkayasutha, aka Wat Lokoya Sutha, may not be considered one of the popular historic sites like the others, it is one of the most impressive Buddha images. The Buddha image stands, or rather lies, or reclines at 8 meters high and 42 meters long, it depicts Buddha at the time of his death and as he entered Nirvana. Spaces in front of the image are accessible for devotees who have offerings. 

Nigel visited this Buddha more than 24 years ago and says it looks exactly the same, apart from the Orange cloth now covering its modesty.

  • Address of The Reclining Buddha (Wat Lokkayasutha): The Reclining Buddha (Wat Lokkayasutha) is located at 199/29 U Thong Road Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
  • Opening Hours of The Reclining Buddha (Wat Lokkayasutha): The Reclining Buddha (Wat Lokkayasutha) is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except on holidays.
  • Entry Fees for The Reclining Buddha (Wat Lokkayasutha): When we visited it was free to visit the Reclining Buddha

Baan Hollanda, Ayutthaya

In 1601, the Dutch arrived and established trade with Ayutthaya. The Dutch then settled on a piece of land given to them by the King after their assistance during the war. Now the Dutch Village, or Baan Hollanda, stands as a historical site you can visit. Baan Hollanda has a museum where you can learn more about the Dutch’s history in Ayutthaya during the 17th century. There is also a quaint coffee shop that sells Dutch coffee and other Dutch delicacies, where you can sip your coffee while enjoying a view of the river.

  • Address of Baan Hollanda: The Baan Hollanda is located at the riverside of Chao Phraya River, beside a large shipyard, Suan Plu Sub-district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province.
  • Opening Hours of Baan Hollanda: The Baan Hollanda is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday, and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  • Entry Fees for Baan Hollanda: The entrance fee for Baan Hollanda is 50 Bhat.

The French Settlement, Ayutthaya

The French also had a settlement within the locale of Ayutthaya. However, apart from trade relationships, the French also had a mission to spread Christianity. The King during that time gave the French a piece of land where they could settle and build their Catholic church and school. During the Ayutthaya and Burma wars, the church was destroyed. It was, however, restored and the current church now is a place of worship for local Christians.

  • Address of The French Settlement: The French Settlement is located at 30 Mu 11 Tambon Samphao Lom, Amphoe Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
  • Opening Hours of The French Settlement: The French Settlement is usually open every day, while the church is usually locked and opened only on Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings for mass.
  • Entry Fees for The French Settlement: Entrance to the French Settlement is free of charge.

The Portuguese Town, Ayutthaya

The Portuguese were the first of the Europeans that came to Ayutthaya. Aside from trade relationships, the Portuguese also lent a hand with defense and were hired by the King to help Ayutthaya during the war with Burma. The Portuguese were then given a piece of land to settle in at the Chao Phraya River.

  • Address of The Portuguese Town:  The Portuguese Town is located at Samphao Lom Sub-district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, 13000 Samphao Lom Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
  • Opening Hours of The Portuguese Town: The Portuguese Town is open from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Entry Fees for The Portuguese Town: Entrance to the Portuguese Town is free of charge.

The Japanese Town, Ayutthaya

The Japanese Town is situated on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River. The Japanese were considered some of the earliest foreigners to arrive in Ayutthaya and had built a trade relationship and also been hired by the King of Ayutthaya to fight alongside them during the war against Burma. Now, the Japanese Town has become an impressive riverside historical location. You can visit their two museums which tell the Japanese history with Ayutthaya. You can also relax and take a stroll in the garden, visit the shrine, and admire the tori gates.

  • Address of The Japanese Town:  The Japanese Town is located at Chedi-Wat Dusidaram Road Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
  • Opening Hours of The Japanese Town: The Japanese Town is open from 8 a.am. to 5 p.m. every day except for holidays.
  • Entry Fees for The Japanese Town: The entrance fee for the Japanese Town is 50 Bhat for both adults and children.

Museums to see in Ayutthaya

There are several museums to visit in Ayutthaya, which provide more insight into how the historic Ayutthaya City and its people thrived and lived during its prime.

The Thai Boat Museum, Ayutthaya

You can learn more about the ancient Thai way of life as you explore the Thai Boat Museum. The museum has three areas: the first area is where you’ll find exhibits of different traditional Siamese boats most of which are over a century old, made from either Teak or Malabar wood. Through the second area, you’ll be able to find a collection of boat miniatures. And the third area is the garden where the larger boats are displayed such as the rice barges and a scorpion-tailed boat.

  • Address of Thai Boat Museum: The Thai Boat Museum is located at Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, opposite Wat Mahathat.
  • Opening Hours of Thai Boat Museum: The Thai Boat Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 12 n.n.  and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day.
  • Entry Fees for Thai Boat Museum: The entrance to the Thai Boat Museum is free of charge, but donations are welcome

The Million Toy Museum, Ayutthaya

True to its name the Million Toy Museum is packed with lots of both old and new toys. First opened in 2008, the museum showcases toys dating back to the Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, and Rattanakosin periods. The oldest toy in the collection is an 1880 toy. Apart from toys, however, other items are 30 to 100 years old and depict the way of life of Thai children. Be sure not to miss some of the life-sized statues of some famous pop culture characters.

  • Address of The Million Toy Museum: The Million Toy Museum is located near the Pratu Chai Intersection on U Throng Road, Tha Wasukri Sub-district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
  • Opening Hours of The Million Toy Museum: The Million Toy Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday and even on public holidays.
  • Entry Fees for The Million Toy Museum: The entrance fee for The Million Toy Museum is 50 Bhat for adults and 20 Bhat for children.

Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, Ayutthaya

Get to know more about Ayutthaya’s two significant temples, Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Mahathat, at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum. Founded in 1961, the museum was built to house treasures from these two temples, and now these treasures have become the highlight of the museum. A special room is dedicated to the relics of the two temples which includes relics of Buddha, jewelry, gifts made from gold, and votive tablets. Since its establishment, the museum added more to its collection such as large statues of Buddha, wooden gables and doors from the temples, ceramics, some painted cloths, and other spectacular artworks.

  • Address of Chao Sam Phraya National Museum: The Chai Sam Phraya National Museum is located at Tum Bon Pratoo Chai, Rojana Road, opposite Phranakhon Si Ayutthaya Rajabhat University.
  • Opening Hours of Chao Sam Phraya National Museum: The Sam Phraya National Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday. The museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and national holidays.
  • Entry Fees for Chao Sam Phraya National Museum: The entrance fee for the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum is 150 Bhat.

Ayutthaya Floating Market

One of the must-see places when visiting Ayutthaya is the Floating Market! Floating markets are set up along the river and also by its banks. You’ll find both hot culinary delicacies available from moving boats and also various non-food items available at Ayutthaya’s floating market. And this isn’t just a tourist market, you’ll find locals here too.

  • Address of Ayutthaya Floating Market: The Ayutthaya Floating Market is located at 65/19 Phai Ling, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
  • Opening Hours of Ayutthaya Floating Market: The Ayutthaya Floating Market is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.

What & Where to Eat in Ayutthaya

A trip to Ayutthaya is not complete without tasting some of the local delicacies! Local delicacies of a historic city like Ayutthaya give a glimpse of its rich past along with its culture and traditions. Phad Thai, fried tofu, noodle soup, and small sweat desserts are local delicacies you should definitely try. Here are some of the places and food you should check out when visiting Ayutthaya!

Eat Roti Sai Mai

You can’t miss Roti Sai Mai when visiting Ayutthaya. The Roti Sai Mai is one of the most loved desserts of Ayutthaya. A Roti Sai Mai is recognizable for its colorful appearance; a colorful rice flour crepe wrapped around a cotton candy like candy floss. This sweet delight is available in many stalls across Ayutthaya.   Most of the stalls where you’ll find Roti Sai Mai in Ayutthaya are on the streets opposite the hospital. 

These are rice flour pancakes. Made in lurid colors. While you watch.  Then they’re filled with candyfloss or spun sugar.

Think candy floss (cotton candy) in a pancake. I dare you to try only eating one. Two is heaven. Three indicated overindulgence. We bought a stock and continued to enjoy it for the next few days.  After all, it’s all sold in BIG plastic bags.

Eat Kuay Teow Reua aka Boat Noodles

Kuay Teow Reua are tasty noodles that were first mostly sold in boats rowing the river of the floating market. Now, this local delicacy is sold in many stands across Ayutthaya. Kuay Teow Reua is a noodle dish with broth tempered with pig’s blood and then garnished with pork liver, pork balls, deep-fried pork skin, and other greens. While this noodle is available almost everywhere, try them from Jaymoui Restaurant at U-Thong Soi 12 for the best experience.

Chao Phrom Market, Ayutthaya

Craving for some local delicacies at midnight? Ayutthaya’s got you! Head to Chao Phrom Market, a market that never closes so you can always have something to buy. Fresh produce such as fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats are available. Cooked food and cool drinks are also available. Some stalls are only open during the day, while some are open until night, and then others are only open during the night.

How to Get Around Ayutthaya

It’s easy to take a tour around the city and temples – whether it’s in an air-conditioned car, minivan, or tuk-tuk. You can also get around the city by foot but some of the attractions are too far from each other to reach comfortably by foot. You can also rent a bike if you want to be more independent in your exploration. You can also get on covered pickup trucks or songthaews to easily get from one place to another.

 But this is Thailand, someone will always help.

Where is Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Bangkok, in the Central Plains of Thailand.  Ayutthaya is at the center of three rivers the Chao Phraya River, the Lopburi River, and the Pa Sak River.  The historical ruins are on an island at the center of where the rivers join.  Most of the ruins to visit are in the west of the island and places to stay, eat and drink are in the northeast of the island. If you arrive on the train, then you won’t be on the island, but it’s just a matter of walking to the bridge or getting one of the small ferry boats over.  If you arrive in a minivan, then you will be on the island.

How to get to Ayutthaya

There are plenty of ways to get to Ayutthaya especially if you’re coming from Bangkok. Our full guide on how to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok is here.

The main part of the historical Ayutthaya is on an island, and then the new part isn’t.  The trains arrive OFF the island and minivans arrive ON the island.

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You can get on a train from Hualamphong Station in Bangkok and get to Ayutthaya in 80 to 150 minutes. But it could take you a while to get to Bangkok’s Train station (it took us over an hour in a taxi!) 

To Ayuthaya it’s easy. Turn up, buy a ticket, go.

The Man from Seat61 said go on the local cheap one.  I guess I am getting soft, we opted for the 10:50am train.  It was a bit more expensive at 690 THB for two tickets (make that a LOT more expensive) – but it was scheduled to leave sooner, had air con and comfortable seats.

Only there was a delay. We got comfy seats and air con and we even got an edible included meal.  We did, however, sit on the platform for an hour plus before leaving.  The cheap seats train arrived before we did. Ho hum. Next time I know to go for the cheap seats.

And once you reach Ayutthaya the train station isn’t near any of the ruins so you can either walk to reach them or take a ferry or tuk-tuk. You can also head to Ayutthaya via a mini-van where you will be joined by 11 more passengers. The mini-van will make several stops before it reaches Ayutthaya.

Take a Tour to Ayutthaya

Check prices for mini-van trips to Ayutthaya here. But if you don’t want the hassle of taking the train or the mini-van by yourself, you can also book a tour! You can check out this full-day tour which will take you to Ayutthaya to explore the temples. Tours allow you to visit iconic sites such as Wat Mahathat, Bang Pa In Royal Palace, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, and Wat Yai Chai Mongkol; a professional guide will be there to give you an even more in-depth view of Ayutthaya’s history. This tour will also take you back to Bangkok. You can book a tour here

Popular Routes in Thailand

Want to know more about different forms of transport in Thailand? Our guide to Thailand transport is here. And here’s how to travel some of the popular routes around Thailand, your options, and how we did it.

Travel Tips for Exploring Thailand

Final Words on The Best Things to do in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya contains some magnificent historical ruins filled with many legends and plenty of its temples carry significance to the locals and now they will share them with you. 

You can marvel at paintings and golden images of Buddha, step on the same floors past kings and royals have stepped on, and most importantly, see how the ruins once stood as significant infrastructures that witnessed the greatness of Ayutthaya. But aside from temples, Ayutthaya also offers other attractions which showcase the rich culture of the city. You can visit Ayutthaya’s museums which will give you better insights into the way of life here In years gone by; you can also explore the floating market and immerse yourself in the color and bustle of the city. You can also visit the foreign settlements where Ayutthaya built relationships and gained allies. Ayutthaya is is a fabulous place to visit to explore the history and culture of the ancient kingdoms of Siam.

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