King Prasat Thong ordered the magnificent Wat Chaiwatthanaram to be constructed along the south bank of the Chao Phraya River after returning victorious from an invasion of Khmer lands in 1630. If you’re going to hit only one of Ayutthaya’s outlying sites, this is arguably the best choice.
Set up in a traditional Khmer-style square plan, the central Khmer-style prang represents Mount Meru and is surrounded by four spires sporting an unusual slender design.
All of the towers are in remarkably good shape, coming together for one of the most stunning pictures in Ayutthaya when viewed from some distance — especially when late-afternoon sunlight brings out the rich tones of beige stucco and red brick. It’s believed that relics of the Buddha are encased somewhere inside the main prang.
The outer walls feature 120 stucco seated Buddha images in various states of disrepair. Wander into the rooms at all four corners to check out larger Buddha images displaying regal headdresses resembling the one that crowns Wat Na Phra Men’s principle Buddha image. These are placed below high ceilings that have protected them from the elements over the centuries.
The grounds are atmospheric, with jackfruit trees growing between the ruins and the Chao Phraya within sight to the northeast, just beyond a seated Buddha placed atop what’s left of an old wihaan.
The off-the-island location means that fewer people make it here, though Wat Chaiwatthanaram does get fairly busy when boat tours arrive around sunset.
How to get there
From Uthong Rd, take the only bridge that runs across the Chao Phraya from the west side of the island and then take the first left, following signs for Wat Chaiwatthanaram, which comes up on the left after less than a half-km.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 29th February, 2016.