Whenever I will visit one country, there is always the most thrilling and anticipated part of it. Here in Thailand, it is in the ancient city, Ayutthaya. There are many wonderful places to explore in “The Land of Smiles” but being a history buff, glimpsing Ayutthaya’s former glory and splendor completed my Thai journey. This is my second day in Thailand and I can’t contain my excitement with new travel buddies, Jhen and Julie.
In getting to Ayutthaya, you may do the DIY way (ride a train in Hua Lamphong or bus in Bangkok Tara Travel), hail a tax, join a group tour through Klook, or rent a van from a local. We chose the latter and split the cost. This is much cheaper, time-saver and we have our own itinerary to follow. Time travel from Bangkok City to Ayutthaya is one and a half to two hours.
If you haven’t read yet the first part of our Thailand Trip, click: Bangkok, Thailand City Tour: Day 1
There’s a lot of known temples in Ayutthaya. However, we only have one day to explore, so we chose the famous and exciting ones. Julie (who is based in Thailand) contacted a local that owned a van for hire. The rate was 2,500 Baht for a whole day tour. Meals and entrances to the temples are not included.
The admission fee for tourists for most of the temple is 50 Baht except for Wat Chaimongkhol.
Ayutthaya is the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. It was founded in 1350 but was attacked by the Burmese army in the 18th century bringing its Kingdom to end. Most of the city was destroyed by fire and what was left are the relics and temples which are found in Ayutthaya today.
Being an archaeological ruin, Ayutthaya is no doubt rich in history and culture. What you can see are the important remnants like chedi (conical-shaped Buddhist monument), tall prang, huge monasteries, temples, and Buddha images. Whether you are a history buff or not, surely you will be amazed by these wonderful sights.
These are the temples/places we visited in our Ayutthaya tour:
Wat Yai Chaimongkhol
The Wat Yai Chaimongkol or the “Great Monastery of Auspicious Victory” is located in the southeastern area of Ayutthaya. It is a monastery constructed by King U-Thong in 1357 AD to accommodate monks trained in Sri Lankan meditation. The Temple’s main attraction is the huge bell-shaped principal chedi (conical-shaped Buddhist monument) erected on top of the monastery. It has two small chedis on each side and two gigantic Buddha images on the side of the first entrance. The chedi was constructed in 1592 as ordered by King Naresuan the Great to commemorate their victory over the Burmese Army.
We took the steep stairway leading to the first entrance and later to the interior where visitors can see several images of Buddha wrapped in a yellow sash. Devotees flock in this area to offer prayer. To the courtyard, there is the Reclining Buddha covered by a yellow sash facing East towards the rising sun. The devotees offered gold leaf and put it on its feet. Other interesting statues to see in this temple are the two large mondops (square pavilions) with gigantic Buddhas and the rows of identical Buddhas.
It is best to be early in this Temple as it gets crowded nearing noontime.
Location: Phai Ling, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya,Thailand
Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Entry Fee: 20 Baht per person
Wat Phra Maha That
The Wat Maha That or “The Temple of the Great Relic” is a royal temple that houses Buddha’s relics and where important ceremonies were once held. This is another famous and one of the most significant temples in Ayutthaya, Central Thailand. Its main attraction is the stone Buddha head entwined in the roots of the Banyan tree.
It was so wonderful to roam around in the entire courtyard seeing huge chedi, towering stupas, and other ruins. I felt we were back in the olden times. Every ruin is so impressive to look at and is perfect for IG-worthy snap. This is a must-visit temple and has been one of the visited temples in Ayutthaya. Expect that it gets crowded from morning till sunset.
Location: Corner of Chi Khun road and Naresuan road on the historical island
Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Entry Fee: 50 Baht or $1.51 per person
Wat Ratcha Burana
Located in the island section of Ayutthaya, the Wat Ratcha Burana or the “Temple of the Royal Restoration” is another worthy temple to visit. This was founded in 1424 by King Borommarachathirat II in memory of his two elder brothers who fought and died in a power struggle for a royal succession to their father.
It was pretty amazing getting inside the temple because of its Khmer design concepts. Its main draw is the central prang that was recently restored to its original form. It is surrounded by four small towers with sculptures of mythical creatures such as Garuda and Naga.
There are three steep staircases in getting inside the prang. The main staircase is no longer accessible because the last few steps are already damaged. I took the stairs on the side and went inside to see the little exhibit. From the window, I enjoyed looking at the front views of ruins scattered in the courtyard. The temple is small compared to Wat Yai Chomongkol and Maha That but it was nice to see up close different kinds of ruins.
Location: Amphoe Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Chang Wat Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Entry Fee: 50 baht per person
Lunch Time at Ruean Rojjana Thai Restaurant
After touring the temples, it’s high time to try Thai famous cuisines. We had our lunch at Ruean Rojjana Thai Restaurant a stone throw away from Wat Racha Burana.
I ordered Pad Thai, a stir-fried noodle dish made with rice noodles, shrimp, chicken, beef or tofu, bean sprouts, scrambled egg, crunchy peanuts, and a lime. When I tasted Pad Thai in Soi in SM Mall of Asia, I vowed that I will try this too in Thailand to see what’s the difference. Surprisingly, both have the same delicious taste. The crunchy peanut made it more flavorful. Both satiated my hungry tummy. Yummy!
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Of all the temples we visited in Ayutthaya, my heart went for the charm and uniqueness of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Also known as the “Temple of the Buddha Si Sanphet” this temple is part of the Royal Complex and is one of the holiest and most important temples in Ayutthaya.
The three-large bell-shaped chedis are the highlight of the temple. The complex was wide and it was so surreal to see other kinds of ruins. There are walkways shaded by trees perfect for resting during the scorching heat of the sun. It may be so hot as it was a tropical country, but we enjoyed walking and touring the whole courtyard. It was wonderful and awe-inspiring.
They say, its best to wait till late in the afternoon to have a sunset picture-perfect snap over the three chedis.
Location: Pratu Chai Sub-district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Thai: 10 Baht
Foreigner: 50 Baht
Opens every day: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm
Wat Lokaya Sutha
Another famous temple to visit in Ayutthaya is the Wat Lokaya Sutha or the “Temple of The Earth”. It is located in the northwest corner of the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Its main attraction is the Giant Reclining Buddha image where it had a major restoration in 1954. From its head to toe, the Reclining Buddha is 43 meters in length. It was draped with yellow cloth. Devotees offer flowers and incense.
The invasion of the Burmese army had destroyed the entire complex leaving only the basic layer of the Ubosot (Ordination Hall). This is located at the back of the Reclining Buddha. When I went to this area, I felt a bit sad because the complex had the Ubosot and some small ruins only compared to the previous temples we visited where it was packed by different remnants. It seemed like I was walking into the unknown.
Anyway, it was nice to visit this too.
Opening Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Entry Fee: 50 baht per personThe Elephant Village and Ayutthaya Floating Market
This is the last leg of our Ayutthaya tour. In the Elephant Village, visitors may ride an elephant for a certain fee. But since we are not in favor of riding in the elephant’s back, we just immersed ourselves watching these poor animals walking slowly on the premise and outside the village.
Sorry guys, but this tourist attraction saddened my heart. I can’t stand seeing those elephants with two to three people at their backs and under the scorching heat of the sun.
There are retails shops in the village selling food, clothing, and souvenir goodies. There are insects too. We bought food for our loved ones way back home. We skipped riding the boat in getting to the Flea Market for it was already late in the afternoon. We just took a glimpse of the pond and the boat on the small port.
Opens Daily: 5:00 pm to 1:00 am – Sunday to Friday; 8:15 am to 2:15 am-Saturday
I can’t contain the excitement and happiness seeing the grandeur of Ayutthaya’s past. I was glad the weather was good and my travel buddies were so nice to be with. If given the chance to go back to Thailand, I will surely visit again this Ancient city.
You may also like: