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Ayutthaya, UNESCO World Heritage City


Yes, Ayutthaya (full name Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya and sometimes spelled -wrongly- as Ayutthaya) is UNESCO World Heritage City, together with Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet and some other places in Thailand.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet in Aytthaya

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations and that is hardly surprising.

Of all the ruined cities in Thailand, it is probably the largest and best preserved archaeological sites in the country and it shows another side of Thailand's turbulent and magnificent past.

My first visit to the archaeological site 85 north of Bangkok dates back to 1991. I have been back a few times since than, the last time in February 2012.

The city's history goes back to the mid 14th century. Soon it became the second largest city after Sukhothai. The location was ideal for trading with China and the Malaysian Indonesian traders.

Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage City
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Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage City Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage City Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage City Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage City
Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage City Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage City Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage City Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage City

In the 18th century the city became the largest city with about 1 million inhabitants.

The grandeur as largest city was short lived: the Burmese armies invaded Ayutthaya in 1767. They burnt the city almost completely down to the ground.

Nowadays only a few but impressive remains are left from the glorious days. All over the region art and pottery has been found and is now on display in the city and in the National Museum of Bangkok.

 

The Khmer influenced Wat Chaiwatthanaram

The Khmer influenced Wat Chaiwatthanaram as I saw it in 1991

Most of the ruins are to be found on the central island. That said, some of the most beautiful ruins are on the "mainland", particularly Wat Chaiwatthanaram and Wat Yai Chaimongkon.

It's quite easy to see the main ruins in a day, while spending another day exploring the National Museum and a few of the further away ruins as Wat Phu Khao Thong (Golden Mountain) and the monument for King Naresuan the Great, a few kilometers out on the road to Ang Thong and worth a visit (free).

Many of the ruins on the island require an entrance fee of B100.

Ayutthaya World Heritage City Ayutthaya World Heritage City

Must visits on the island are:
  • Phae Ram Park
  • Wat Phra Si Sanphet
  • Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit
  • Wat Ratchaburana
  • Wat Thammikarat

Must visits around the island:

  • Wat Chaiwatthanaram
  • Wat Phu Khao and the monument for King Naresuan the Great
  • Wat Yai Chaimongkon

King Naresuan the Great
King Naresuan the Great near Wat Phu Khao

There are plenty more temples to visit and once you cycle around, you will find many smaller complexes in different stages of preservation.

Ayutthaya

Other activities include elephant riding. There are several elephant in the coral on Pa Thon Road. Get a ride along town and feel the gentle power of the elephants below you. If you have never done elephant riding before, it's IS quite an experience ...

Elephant coral Ayutthaya

Elephant coral on Pa Thon Road

Another popular way to explore Ayutthaya is to take a roundtrip by boat.

At the riverside on the western bank of the island, there are the remains of the Phet Fortress. The fortress was build in the late 16th century and is considered to be the most important of the 16 fortresses of city due to it's important strategic location. Still, apart of a few walls there is little left of the fortress.

The Phet Fortress in Ayutthaya

Accommodation

As a popular travelers destination for locals and international travelers alike, there is plenty of accommodation in all price ranges available.

When I visited Ayutthaya in February 2012 I stayed in Prom Tong Mansions. On arrival I heard there was only one room left. All the others were taking already by internet bookings. I had a very nice and cheap room, see photo below.

My room in the Prom Tong Mansions
My room in the Prom Tong Mansions

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More Thailand related pages:

North Thailand To and from Bangkok

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