Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
Once considered the most spectacular city on Earth, the ruins of the capital of the Kingdom Ayutthaya are now a major tourist attraction easily accessible from Bangkok by car, train, or boat as either a daytrip or overnight excursion.
Ayutthaya is one of Thailand’s historical and majestic highlights. The capital of Thailand, then known as the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya was a glorified as one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia and a regional power for 417 years.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya reached its apex in terms of sovereignty, military might, wealth, culture, and international commerce in the 16th century, when the Kingdom’s territory extended into and beyond present-day Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Ayutthaya had diplomatic relations with Louis XIV of France and was courted by Dutch, Portuguese, English, Chinese and Japanese merchants.
During the 17th century, most foreign visitors to Ayutthaya, traders and diplomats alike, claimed Ayutthaya to be the most illustrious and glittering city that they had ever visited. The map of Ayutthaya published in 1691 by Simon de la Loubere in Du Royaume De Siam is proof of such recognition.
Visitors can explore and appreciate Thai history in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, which is only 86 kilometers north of Bangkok. Visitors to Ayutthaya can marvel at its grandeur reflected through numerous magnificent temples and ruins concentrated in and around the city, which is located upon an “island” surrounded by the Chao Phraya, Pa Sak and Lopburi Rivers.
Although there are numerous attractions, the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park in the heart of Ayutthaya city, is a UNESCO’s World Heritage site and a wonder to behold.
Once the capital of the Thai Empire, Ayutthaya was a truly impressive city; with three palaces and over 400 temples, located on an island threaded by canals, it attracted traders and diplomats from both Europe and Asia. In 1767, 417 years after it was founded and 15 months after the siege began, the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was conquered and the city’s magnificent structures were almost completely destroyed by Burmese invaders. When King Taksin the Great finally liberated the Kingdom, a new dynasty was established and the capital was moved to Thonburi, across the river from modern-day Bangkok.
The ruins that now remain, many of which have been painstakingly restored, have been granted World Heritage status by UNESCO. The architecture of Ayutthaya is a fascinating mix of Khmer and early Sukhothai styles. Some cactus-shaped obelisks, called prangs, denote Khmer influence and look something like the famous towers of Angkor Wat. The more pointed stupas are ascribed to the Sukhothai influence.
Ayutthaya is only located about 90 kilometers from Bangkok and can be visited on a daytrip; however, if you appreciate history and religious and historical monuments, an overnight stay will allow for two full days of sightseeing, including a dinner cruise on the Chao Phraya, past the illuminated Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, and a visit to only of the city’s many other attractions, including the nearby Bang Sai Folk Arts and Craft Center.
Getting to and from Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya By Other: Getting Around Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Songtaew and tuk-tuk will go anywhere around Ayutthaya for 10 to 30 baht/person depending on the distance, destination. A tuk-tuk from the train station to any point in the old Ayutthaya zone is approximately 30 baht. Note that the trip on the island (old Ayutthaya city) itself costs 20 baht/trip maximum.
Trains to Ayutthaya leave Bangkok's Hua Lumphong Station approximately every hour between 4.20 a.m. and 10.00 p.m. Train schedules are available from the information booth at Hua Lumphong Station. Alternatively, call 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020, or 1690 or visit www.railway.co.th for reservations.
There are a variety of routes to drive from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.
1: Take Highway No. 1 (Phahonyothin Road.) and then Highway No. 32.
2: Take Highway No. 304 (Chaeng Watthana Road.) or Highway No. 302 (Ngamwongwan Road.); turn right onto Highway No. 306 (Tiwanon Road.), then take Highway No. 3111 (Pathum Thani - Samkhok - Sena) and turn right at Amphoe Sena to Highway No. 3263.
3: Take Highway No. 306 (Bangkok - Nonthaburi - Pathum Thani Road.) and then take Highway No. 347
Ordinary busses depart from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) for Ayutthaya's main terminal on Naresuan Road every 20 minutes between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. The fare is 30 baht and the trip takes around 2 hours. Air-conditioned busses operate the same route every 20 minutes from 5.40 a.m. to 7.20 p.m. (departing every 15 minutes between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.) at around 50 baht; the trip takes 1.5 hours when traffic north of Bangkok is light, otherwise it takes two hours.
Traveling by boat to Ayutthaya is popular among foreigners since it both reveals the lifestyle of the people living along the Chao Phraya River and reflects the life in history at the time of Ayutthaya Kingdom when the Chao Phraya River served as the primary means for trading with foreign countries.
Cruise to Ayutthaya
There are no scheduled or chartered boat services between Bangkok and Ayutthaya. However, several companies in Bangkok operate luxury cruises to Bang Pa-In with side trips by bus to Ayutthaya for approximately 1,500 baht to 1,800 baht per person, including a sumptuous luncheon. Longer two day trips in converted rice barges start at 4,800 baht. The luxurious cruises are operated by:
1. Chao Phraya Princess Tel: 0 2860 3700
2. Horizon Cruise Tel: 0 2236 7777
3. River Sun Cruise Tel: 0 2266 9316
4. Manohra Tel: 0 2476 0021-2
5. Grand Pearl Tel: 0 2862 0255-60
6. Ayutthaya Boat&Travel Tel: 0 2746 1414, 08 1456 9862, 08 9456 3700, 08 1733 5687
To tour the ruins, the most economical and ecological option is to rent a bicycle from one of the guesthouses (40 to 50 baht/day). Walking is also an option, but not recommended during the hot or rainy seasons.
It is possible to charter a samlor, tuk tuk or songtaew by the hour or by the day to explore the ruins but the prices are relatively high by Thai standards (150 baht/hour, or 500 baht for the entire day).
Another interesting way to explore the area is to charter a boat from Tha Chan Kasem (Chan Kasem Pier, next to Hua Ro Market) for a semicircular tour of the island that allows visitors to see some of the less accessible ruins. A long tailed boat with a capacity of up to 8 people can be hired for 400 baht for a 2 to 3 hour trip with stopovers at Wat Phutthaisawan, Wat Phanan Choeng and Wat Chai Wattnaram.
Minibus services operating from the railway station into the city are also available. Hiring a minibus within Ayutthaya costs 250 - 300 baht/day. If you wish to travel between Ayutthaya and Bang Pa - In, minibuses regularly leave Chao Prom Market (on Chao Prom Road). Daily schedules start from 6.30 a.m. with a fare of 30 baht. The trip takes approximately 50 minutes.
Getting to and from Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
Getting Around Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
Songtaew and tuk-tuk will go anywhere around Ayutthaya for 10 to 30 baht/person depending on the distance, destination. A tuk-tuk from the train station to any point in the old Ayutthaya zone is approximately 30 baht. Note that the trip on the island (old Ayutthaya city) itself costs 20 baht/trip maximum.
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