King Uthong established Wat Phutthaisawan in 1353 to memorialise the campsite where he lived while his new city was being built on the island. The riverside complex features both a modern working temple and an ancient Khmer-style prang rimmed by picturesque cloisters, with plenty to distract you in between. This is one of our favourite sites in Ayutthaya.
After arriving at the car park next to a modern-built Khmer-style prang, you’ll pass five statues of Thai kings gazing across the Chao Phraya. Then comes an ancient building that once served as the head monk’s residence.
Beyond that is a late-Ayutthaya period ordination hall graced with a beautiful bronze seated Buddha image along with intricate lai Thai designs painted on the pillars. There are also a bunch of electric fans, making this a good spot to cool off.
Continuing north along the river, dozens of Thai dancer figurines are placed on a few overgrown chedis.
Then comes the main event: a white stucco Khmer-style prang that’s in far better shape than just about any other in Ayutthaya.
Walk upstairs and into the crypt to find a pair of ancient Buddha footprint images and a reclining Buddha along with the main reliquary and some badly faded murals. Keep your shoes on if you don’t want your feet covered in bat guano.
A square-shaped cloister surrounds the prang and contains 105 seated Buddha images under a ceramic roof held up by ancient wooden rafters.
Though not as impressive as similar cloisters found at places like Bangkok’s Wat Pho, the Buddha lineup is the only one of its kind in Ayutthaya and makes for some great photos.
After checking out Wat Phutthaisawan, you might relax beside the river before taking a wander through the neighbouring Muslim Quarter.
How to get there
Wat Phutthaisawan is located off Route 3469 on the south bank of the Chao Phraya River. From Wat Chaiwatthanaram, head south and take a left at the next intersection, then another left shortly after. A large red sign marks the entrance on the left if heading east. Note that what appears to be a second entrance a bit further east is set up with a brown info sign, but there’s no way to enter the complex from here.
If wanting to take a boat back to the island, keep north up the road for a short distance and take the first left after the school, down a narrow soi. The small ferry allows bicycles onboard, but if it’s crowded or you have a motorbike, just go one km further to where a larger ferry runs 24 hours a day. Wat Phutthaisawan is also hit on many of the sunset boat tours.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 28th February, 2016.