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Ayutthaya

AYUTTHAYA
DESTINATION GUIDE

The Ultimate Guide Before You Plan for your Next Trip

When we think of Thailand we think of the exotic beaches the palm trees, the beautiful ocean and the sunset. However, it is also important to understand from where it all started. The old capital of the ancient Kingdom of Siam, Ayutthaya gives you a glimpse of the past of this beautiful country. The place is known for its various shrines and a peaceful atmosphere. The river of Chao Phraya runs through the town thereby adding beauty of the destination. That is why it is no surprise that the city is now considered as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to this enchanting city will open your eyes thereby letting you know about how it all started and how the ancient kings had spread their dynasty.

Attractions in Ayutthaya

Ancient shrines, beautiful architectures, fascinating ruins, and old colonial buildings will offer you a marvelous trip of Ayutthaya.

Wat Suwan Dararam

Built around the early 1700's by godfather of King Rama I this temple is an important monument marking the expansion of the Chakri dynasty. This temple is relatively newer when compared to the other shrines of the city of Ayutthaya and the building itself is surrounded by three small lakes. The temple has underwent many restoration works and now it is suitable for the visits by the foreign tourists. You can witness many old paintings which depicts the tales of the dynasty and their relationship with the Buddhist religion. There are certain murals inside the temple which also narrate the tales of Lord Buddha's struggle with Mara in his path of getting enlightenment. There are also paintings of the battles of King Naresuan with the Burmese invaders.

Bang Pa-in Palace

If you are thinking that the city of Ayutthaya is all about wats and shrines then think again. This magnificent 17th century palace is now a major tourist attraction in the old capital of the Kingdom of Siam. Which was once considered as a summer palace for the royals is now an exhibit for the tourists to see the different architectural styles of this palace. In some parts you can see the traditional Thai architecture whilst in others there are visible Chinese influence. However, the most interesting part is the Phra Thinang Uthayan Phumisathian which is a two-story building built in the Victorian style of architecture. The three-story tower known as the Ho Witthunthassana is used for looking at the surrounding countryside and the royal elephants.

Foreign Quarters

Back in the ancient times Ayutthaya used to be quite a cosmopolitan hub with traders from all over the world coming and settling in this ancient Kingdom of Siam. That is why you can still see some significant European influence in this charming Thai city of Ayutthaya. The foreign quarters are very close to one another as you can find the old French, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British buildings lining the narrow alleyway, allowing you to take a leisurely afternoon stroll for exploring the area. The European influences have made way for many churches in the area and one of the most of significant one is definitely the St. Joseph's Church. This church was built back in the year 1666 by the French settlers of that time. On the other side of the Suan Phlu Canal there are also some Japanese quarters and settlements in Ayutthaya.

Elephant Stay

Ayutthaya has this lovely Elephant Stay facility which allows the visitors to spend three nights close to these magnificent beasts. Thailand's love affair with elephants started with the royal families of Ayutthaya and in this stay you can feel the connection between the animal and human beings and see how the elephants are being fed and bathed. There will be supervisors and assistants, helping out throughout your trip as you yourself can come up close to many baby and adult elephants. All the elephants staying here are trained by the royal families and they find a peaceful retirement home in the form of this nice stay. The organization is a non-profit one who is dedicated to the conservation and maintenance of the royal elephants.

Million Toy Museum

In a city which is known for its ancient relics and shrines it is quite odd to find a toy museum. However, no matter how strange it might sound the Million Toy Museum of Ayutthaya has a fine display of various kinds of old and new toys which both the children and the adults can enjoy. Though it is quite evident that the name of the place itself is an exaggeration as it does not actually house a million toys but spread across the two floors the museum do definitely have around few thousands for sure. The toys, stored in this place, are not only from Thailand but also from around the world. So you can find different kinds of cars, some old McDonald's toys, some plush toys among many others. The museum is founded by Thai writer Professor Krirk Yoonpun who still visits the place every weekend to read stories to the children.

When To Reach

The best time to visit Ayutthaya is between the months of November and February. The weather remains cool and dry and the place experiences a maximum influx of tourists during these months. The months between March and May are extremely hot. However, you will have some clothing restrictions whilst you are visiting the wats and the temples and you cannot simply wear a pair of shorts or a skirt. That is why it is much more difficult for a tourist to travel to Ayutthaya during the summer months. The months between June and September experience heavy rainfall and practically no tourists visit the place during these months of the year.

Seasonality

High Season: The winter months of November to February are definitely the pea season as far as Ayutthaya is concerned. The weather remains cool and you can easily abide by the clothing restrictions of the temples.


Shoulder Season: The summer months of March to May can be deemed as the shoulder season for traveling to Ayutthaya but the temperature remains pretty high and it is quite challenging to adhere to the clothing restrictions.


Low Season: The months of June to September witness heavy rainfall here in Ayutthaya and that is why very few tourists actually visit the destination during these months.

How To Reach

There are no international airports there in Ayutthaya. So in order to reach Ayutthaya you need to get down at the Suvarnabhumi Airport of Bangkok and from there you need to make other arrangements. Plenty of direct flights will take you to Bangkok from India. Like for instance the Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air Asia, Emirates are main carriers whilst the Cathay Pacific, China Southern, Korean Airlines, along with Air China, Malaysian Airlines and Shandong Airlines also have regular flights. Once you reach Bangkok you need to come down to the Mo Chit Bus Station. You can also go to the Mo Chit BTS from where you need to come to the bus terminal. There you will find a plenty of buses leaving on regular intervals for Ayutthaya. If you do not desire to wait for a bus you can also hire a minivan which will take you to Ayutthaya.

Why should you go?

Ayutthaya is a city which is rich in history and heritage. It was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Siam and as a result of that it has plenty of ancient architecture and monuments which any history and art lover will adore. The Ayutthaya Historical Park is a marvelous site to visit whilst a trip to the Ayutthaya Island is always a special treat. Then you can also go back to your childhood by visiting the Million Toys Museum with thousands of toys in display. Ayutthaya also gives you a chance to visit the local markets and the handicrafts workshop from where you can buy plenty of souvenirs. Ayutthaya offers much more peace and calm when compared to any other Thai destinations and it is also a very affordable alternative.
10 Reasons to visit Ayutthaya -
  • Ayutthaya is a marvelous historical city which is now considered to be an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • For travelers who seek some relief from the chaotic bustling of Bangkok, Ayutthaya offers itself as a perfect refuge.
  • Ayutthaya is one of the most affordable destinations in entire Thailand and you can really enjoy a lavish trip here without burning a hole in your purse.
  • The city has many ancient relics and wats and knowing the history behind each of them is certainly a special treat.
  • Ayutthaya also has a very multi-cultural vibe as you can find French, British, Dutch, and Portuguese quarters on one side of the river whilst some Japanese quarters on the other.
  • The food scene in Ayutthaya is also quite special as you can taste real fusion food witnessing how the East blends with the West.
  • Ayutthaya also offers a marvelous boat trip down the river to the Ayutthaya Island, which is full of greenery.
  • Ayutthaya is also known for its various handicraft markets where you can find various souvenirs. The city also has quite fascinating floating market from where you can buy some food.
  • The Historical Park of Ayutthaya offers quite a lovely trip as you will get to know all the battles and the internal rivalries that has impacted the ancient Kings of Siam.
  • The colorful Million Toys Museum is also a very nice place to visit as you can see a rare collection of some old toys.

Getting Around

Being a small town, Ayutthaya does well with limited transportation facilities. There are some local buses, minivans, and songthaews which meet the need of all the domestic transportation. There are also some trains which connect Ayutthaya with Bangkok. Some minivans are also available for the tourists to arrive at Ayutthaya from Bangkok. Apart from these there are ferries which take the tourists on a cruise in the Chao Pharaya river. Overall, the domestic commute is reliable, affordable, and it is less of a hassle when compared to some other big destinations of Thailand.

Tuk Tuk

There are plenty of tuk tuks available all around the temples and the major destinations of Ayutthaya. These vehicles are mostly like autorickshaws in India, and are available for hire by the passangers.

Songthaews

Songthaews are open-air trucks which are also efficient in carrying many passengers at a time. As a tourist you can certainly enjoy a trip or two on those lovely vehicles.

Taxis

There are also many cars available for hire taking you from one place to another. If you are looking to go in some obscure destinations then you need to rely on the taxis.

Ferry

Some ferry and boat options are available for the tourists to enjoy a nice and decent river cruise in Ayutthaya.

Weather

Ayutthaya experiences a sub-tropical climate with mildly cold winter and very hot and humid summer. The monsoon is pretty notorious as it is often associated with heavy rainfall for almost four months at a stretch. The summer months between March and May experience a temperature of around 34 to 35 degree Celsius making it extremely uncomfortable for the tourists. The monsoon months of June to September record a temperature of around 32 to 33 degree Celsius but at the same time constant rainfall during those months makes it impossible for traveling. The winter months of November to February experience a average minimum temperature of 21 to 25 degree Celsius with almost no rainfall happening around the city. That is why winter is regarded as the ideal time for traveling to Ayutthaya.

What to pack in your suitcase?

  • You need to carry full-sleeve shirts, kurtis, and dresses if you are traveling to Ayutthaya. Carry plenty of changes because the humidity is likely to make you sweat.
  • Carry loose trousers or leggings because shorts or skirts are not an option if you want to travel the various sites of Ayutthaya.
  • If you are traveling during winter then carry a couple of light jackets or sweaters.
  • You can carry some ethnic dresses in Ayutthaya as it would be comfortable during the winter months and the locals will also love it.
  • Make sure that you keep an umbrella handy with you because it might rain anytime during your stay.
In the Spotlight

The restaurant scene of Ayutthaya is pretty diverse and each of them has a multi-cultural reference. From chic European decor to old traditional set-ups the restaurants of Ayutthaya are incredibly varied in their design and offerings. Whilst some of the eateries here are serving traditional Northern-Thai cuisine from ingredients from the river and the sea, there are other cafes and bars which are presenting themselves in most Westernized fashion possible. So, according to some it is a direct clash of culture but to a tourist it presents itself as a perfect blend. Due to its enormous history the food scene of Ayutthaya is a bit confused but in a happy kind of way.

Ban U Thong Restaurant : Ayutthaya is known for its jumbo sized river prawns and there is no better place to taste those sweet things than this restaurant by the riverside.
It is a basically a riverside terrace kind of an arrangement where you can order all sorts of seafood delicacies. It is a traditional Northern-Thai outlet where you can order many kinds of foods and the menu is written in both Thai and English and they also have added pictures of the items making it easier for the tourists to order. So whilst you are on it you should definitely order the jumbo prawn grill recipe because it is the most popular item on the list.
Coffee Old City : Located just outside the Ayutthaya Historical Park this fascinating eatery is like a heart of all the restaurants in the ancient city.
The moment you enter you will feel the warm and cozy vibe of the place with plenty of locals and foreign tourists hanging out in a relaxed kind of a vibe. Most of the people come here for the scrumptious Pad Thai served in this outlet as you can find various Western items being served here as well. The coffee here is excellent and it is a perfect sip if you have just come out after exploring the Ayutthaya Historical Park on a cold winter evening. Apart from the coffee there are other vary delicious Thai and Western comfort foods.
The Summer House : The name itself has a happy appeal adhered to it and nestled by the banks of the river a visit to the Summer House will definitely make you happy.
This Western-style eatery cum cafe also serves Thai food but with a twist. The menu comprise of both hard-core traditional Thai food and also some cool and delectable fusion food. For instance you can order the Tum Yum spaghetti which is definitely a direct combination of the East and the West. Needless to say that the overall decor of the place is quite charming with various swanky seating arrangements like beanbags and wooden pallets replacing tables.
Bai Plu : The restaurants of Ayutthaya are always a contrasting mix and whilst on one hand you have trendy and Westernized eateries on the other hand you will have places like Bai Plu
which are purely authentic and rigidly traditional. With the view of the shrines and the temples you can sit and relax in this place and feel a glimpse of the life that ancient Siams used to live. The restaurant has a peaceful appeal to it and the traffic noises and the honks will not pester you once you come and grab a seat here. The place serves authentic Thai food from Pad Thai to various pork and seafood recipes which you can enjoy.
Kauy Tiew Pak Wan : With rustic wooden furniture and nice decor, this place is one of the few Muslim eateries at Ayutthaya.
A visit to this place will open your eyes (or shall we say taste-buds) to a whole new culinary experience of Islamic foods influenced blending well with the tangy and spicy Thai food. There are plenty of soup options as you can dig your forks and chopsticks into some of the best noodle recipes with vegetables and tasty meat options. The vibe of the place is pretty authentic and the staffs are super-friendly. You can taste the famous boat noodles in this place which are normally sold in floating sampans.

Like the city itself the cuisine of Ayutthaya has a lot of history and cultural significance. Over the years the Portuguese, the Chinese, the Japanese, and also the French has influenced the overall culinary habits of the people of the ancient Siam and that is why each of the cuisine of Ayutthaya has a unique history adhered to it. Whilst spicy seafood was the core of the Thai delicacies the Europeans have introduced things like eggs, potatoes, tomatoes and other vegetables. Historians argue that the Royals of the Kingdom of Siam were interested to have separate dessert menus mostly due to the Portuguese traders. Overall the cuisine of Ayutthaya is both traditional and unique.

Roti Sai Mai: Thin strands of sugar wrapped in a form of a crepe made from pandan leaf is very popular in Ayutthaya.

Kuay teow Reua: Also known as boat noodles, the Kuay teow Reua is made from pork broth.

Khao Mok Kai: It is the Thai version of Muslim Biriyani, presenting itself as another classic example of inter-cultural influences on food of Ayutthaya.

Grilled Giant River Prawns:This is another delicacy in Ayutthaya. With so many rivers and canals the large prawns are also available in plenty.

Char Siew: Roasted pork specialty with sausages and vegetables.

Just like the food scene the markets and the shopping arena is also quite vibrant here in Ayutthaya. Due to its rich history and background the place has a lot of antique markets along with local artsists selling their handicrafts. The markets are not as bustling like the markets of Bangkok or Koh Samui but nonetheless you will find many sorts of things being sold here. Many artists selling their crafts in these markets are the direct products of the workshops conducted by the Bangsai Arts and Crafts Centre and the moment you enter the markets you can feel the vibrant culture supporting art.

Chao Phrom Market : The Chao Phrom Market is one of the most action-filled market of Ayutthaya with hawkers will keep on pursuing you to buy something or the other from their markets.
From vegetables to fruits, fish and prawns straight from the river to various kind sof meats you will get buy many kinds of things in this market. There are also separate sections selling a whole range of electronic goods and household items and you will find a lot of locals making purchases from those shops. Also at the same time you will find street-side food-stalls selling hot dumplings and noodles. There are also some baristas selling coffees and other drinks for the visitors.
Ayutthaya Park : Housing more than 400 shops this massive shopping complex is one of the most popular shopping destinations of Ayutthaya. The entire market is divided into two zones for the convenience of the buyers.
On one hand we have the Plaza Zone where you can find various kinds of lifestyle products, including all the reputed brands, some leather products, and some fashion accessories. On the other hand you will have the Water Zone which is basically a large pond surrounded by a number of eateries, food-stalls and drink bars. There are also some cultural programs going on round the year, in this zone.
Floating Market : The floating market of Ayutthaya is one of the biggest floating markets in Thailand and it is an absolute opportunity for you a tourist to witness a traditional Siamese culture.
Here you will find a huge number of wooden decks floating on the canals selling various kinds of fruits, vegetables, and seafood. You can also buy some cooked food from some of the boats selling them and it is really an experience to savor. The floating markets is divided into 14 shopping zones and it is located on the north of the Chedi roundabout of Wat Maheyon. The market also hosts various cultural programs and it is operative daily from 10 in the morning to 9 in the night.
Bangsai Royal Arts and Crafts Center : This is an organized marketplace promoted in order to boost the local art and craft scene of Ayutthaya and you can find a diverse array of handicrafts in this market.
Set nicely by the banks of the Chao Phraya River this marketplace is actually a living museum of all the Northern-Thai cultures and traditions which are preserved ever so nicely in this town of Ayutthaya. You can also attend the training workshops which goes on inside the main building of Sala Phra Ming Kwan and the people out there are super-friendly and they will happily show you their work. Just hire a taxi and go to the Bangsai district as overall it would be a satisfying experience for you.
Hua Ro Market : Located just opposite to the Wang Chan Kasem Museum this marketplace is similar to Chao Phrom Market. Like many other Thai markets this market is also divided into two zones.
The first zone is the dry zone where all the dry items are being sold including antiques, household items, fashion accessories, and many other products. This zone occupies a large section in the yellow colored building in which the market is held. The second zone is the food zone where you can find various food stalls and cafes which is just at the west of the building, right upon entry.

The currency accepted in Ayutthaya is Thai Baht and they will not accept any other currency barring this. Ayutthaya is an extremely cash dependent economy and even bigger hotels and malls expect to get paid by cash. There are many FOREX offices in the Bangkok airport or any big hotels in Ayutthaya where you can convert your currency and aquire your desired amount of Thai Baht. However, you should be happy to know that Ayutthaya is one of the most affordable destinations of Thailand and even a leisurely trip to this place will not burn a hole in your purse. The shoppers, the small markets, the tour guides, and taxis do not accept any kind of digital payments making it highly important that you carry enough cash.

Special Tips

  • Ayutthaya is relatively much less expensive than Bangkok or other places in Thailand and you can have a nice time if you are carrying 10,000 to 20,000 Bahts per person.
  • A meal at the local food-stalls will cost you around 60 to 80 Bahts per person, depending on the item you choose whilst a mid-range restaurant will also not cost you around 750 to 800 Bahts per person.
  • The local transportation cost, for a day, will come to around 150 to 200 Bahts per person.
  • Most of the temples and ruins have an entry fee of around 200 Bahts per person whilst the entry to the wats will charge you around 50 Bahts.
  • On average a guide will charge you 30 to 40 Bahts depending on the duration of the trip.
  • A river ferry trip will cost you 20 to 30 bahts per person.

In order to enjoy a holiday at Ayutthaya you need to have a Thai Visa. Now as an Indian you can opt for either of the two options. Firstly you can apply for the regular visa. In that case you need to apply it directly to the Royal Thai Consulate General of either Delhi, or Kolkata, or Chennai. This visa will allow you to stay in Thailand for a stretch of 90 days. Secondly if you want bypass the hassle of pre-applying your visa and you want a short and fun trip at Thailand then you can avail the benefits of the Visa on Arrival. The visa on arrival for the tourists is available in many international airports of Thailand, including the Suvarnabhumi International Airport at Bangkok and you need to bring the proper documents to avail that.

Special Tips

In order to get your Visa on Arrival you need to fill-out the visa application form available in all the immigration check-points in the airport. Along with that you will also require your airline boarding pass during the time of your application. Depending on the length of the queue you will need around 10 minutes to an hour to complete the entire process. Make sure that you passport is valid for at least 6 months or more and do not forget to carry sufficient number of photographs (in pre-specified measurement) of each of the members as you will need them during the time of the visa application.

Ayutthaya is generally considered to be a safe and hassle-free destination for the tourists. The people here are super-friendly and you will not encounter the bustling of the crowd that you normally face in any major Thai destination. That is why the incidents like pick-pocketing or robbery is not as frequent as any beach destination of Thailand. The locals here are very helpful and they are eager to communicate. However, do not take their politeness for granted and consider it to be their weakness. Under no circumstances should you mock or ridicule their culture and heritage. The people of Ayutthaya are extremely sensitive towards their religion and history and insulting those cultural pillars will certainly not make them happy.

  • Police and General Emergency: 191
  • Medical Emergency: 1669
  • Fire: 199
  • Tourist Police: 1155

Entertainment & Event

With rich history and strong traditional bases Ayutthaya is certainly marvelous city to explore.

  • Flora and Fauna

    Ayutthaya is rich in its flora and fauna with lots of national parks and forestation. Regarded as an UNESCO World Heritage Site this place has many evergreen and deciduous forestation which are actually quite dense. The virgin rain forests of Ayutthaya is home to many plant and animal species. It is no surprise that the forests of Ayutthaya is a home to more than 300 elephants and you are sure to encounter a lot once you come to the national parks. However, a majority of the elephants are not wild here in Thailand so they will mostly be accompanied by humans.

    On the other hand what is not tamed is the dwarf deer and the various barking deer. There are also many Sambar deer in these forests. It is likely that you will also encounter these beautiful creatures on your trip to the national parks of Ayutthaya and they are pretty harmless. The forests are also the home to many horn-bills as you can see these crested birds a lot in the area. Apart from that there are many sorts apes roaming around the forests of Ayutthaya. The likes of white-handed gibbons, langurs, thesus monkeys, and Pig-tailed Macaques are found in plenty around here.

  • Festivals

    For a city which is so rich in history and traditions it is unlikely that it will not have a whole bastket of festive offerings for the tourists to enjoy. The Ayutthaya World Heritage Fair is certainly a celebration that the tourists can enjoy. In order to celebrate the recognition of Ayutthaya as an UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1991 an annual festival is being held, every December, for a week. Then there is the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre Fair which is being held at the end of January. This exhibition is quite a good one and plenty of foreign tourists come here regularly to buy some souvenirs.

    The Wai Khru Bucha Tao Ceremony is another unqiue celebration which goes on in Ayutthaya. This is a festival of all the blacksmiths and the Aaranyk knife-makers of the some villages surrounding the city, paying tribute to their masters. Like other parts of Thailand the Songkran festival is also celebrated widely in Ayutthaya and also the Bang Sai Loi Krathong festival is quite a treat for the tourists. A long boat race is being held during the month of November along with many other folk entertainments at the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre.

  • Culture

    The contribution of Ayutthaya in the overall history of Hindu and Buddhist literature and cultural development is immense. That is why the place also has a connection with the development and growth of the Indian culture. It was since the 13th century to the end of 17th century that this city flourished as the capital of the Kingdom of Siam. That heritage is still relevant in the overall culture of the land. Once you reach this place you will get a feel of peace and tranquility as the people here still value the history and the heritage of this city. Unlike any other Thai destination this place is hardly crowded with a noisy crowd of tourists and as a result you can savor some exotic experiences when you come to Ayutthaya.

    The people here are friendly by nature and they are hospitable. Buddhist is still the major religion of the land as you can find many Hindus, Christians, and Muslims staying side by side in harmony. Since its inception the city has welcomed immigrants from all over the world so you will find a whole lot of tolerance and acceptance of new culture in Ayutthaya. Many people from Europe, China, India and Japan has lived here for centuries thereby creating a harmonious environment where you can enjoy peacefully.