The Burmese invaders didn't leave much behind in 1767, but what they missed can be viewed at the 1960s-built Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.
Starting your visit to Ayutthaya here will provide a bit of historical context for exploring the nearby ruins.
Named in honour of the third Ayutthayan king, the museum includes three large exhibition areas displaying solid gold swords; an array of valuables discovered in the crypts of Wat Mahathat and Wat Ratchaburana; a massive bronze Buddha head discovered at Wat Thammasikarat; a complete traditional Thai teakwood house and an accompanying exhibition on how daily life was lived by common people in ancient Ayutthaya.
Another section brings together ancient Buddha images and other relics of Hindu/Buddhist art. Many pieces were found in Ayutthaya, including a European-style seated Buddha image from the Dvaravati period that was placed in the niche of an old stupa at Wat Na Phra Men. Others derive from Srivijaya, Chiang Saen, Sukhothai, Lopburi and Rattanakosin, providing a comparative study in mainland Southeast Asian Buddhist art from the sixth to 19th centuries.
If wanting to explore deeper into the history of Ayutthaya from a more academic standpoint, you might head over to the nearby Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre and Institute of Ayutthaya Studies, both located a short walk across Rochana Road on the campus of Ayutthaya Rajabhat University. You also might check out the Thai Boat Museum off Horattanachai Road, east of Wat Mahathat.
How to get there
The entrance to Chao Sam Phraya National Museum is located on Rochana Rd, just east of Si Sanphet Rd and a 10-minute bike ride south of Wat Phra Si Sanphet.
By David Luekens.
Last updated on 28th February, 2016.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.