Photo: Seated Buddhas at a Wat in Ayutthaya.

Wat Maheyong

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Wat Maheyong was most likely used as a meditation venue on the quiet eastern fringe of the city after its establishment by King Borommarachathirat II in 1438. Now overseen by an adjacent monastery that itself focuses on vipassana meditation, the atmospheric ruins are a pleasure to wander through.

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A dramatic entrance.

After passing through a brick gate, visitors stroll down a long walkway between brick walls draped in low-hanging trees — a dramatic start. You then reach the remains of a large hall with most of the walls still standing but no roof.


Walls, but no roof.

What’s left of a Buddha image sits exposed to the elements. Monks and nuns from the monastery sometimes use the ruined structure for chanting and meditation.


A fine example of ruins still in active use today.

At the rear of the spread-out grounds, a large bell-shaped chedi made of brick and plaster stands partially intact.


The ridged spire that once topped the chedi lies headfirst on the massive brick base, appearing to have been left exactly as it fell. Ringing the base are dozens of white-plaster elephant statues that are similar to those found at Sukhothai, but in a more damaged state. Bits of detail can still be seen on a few.


Like so many of the ruins, the beauty is often in the details.

The remains of numerous minor chedis and walls dot the leafy grounds, which are conducive to a few minutes of sitting in solitude. As the only visitors on a Monday morning, we found Wat Maheyong to provide a welcome contrast to Ayutthaya’s more popular sites.

One of Ayutthaya's quieter sites.

One of Ayutthaya’s quieter sites.

Once you’ve finished at the ruins, wander across the lane to the ponds and pavilions set amid forested grounds in the meditation monastery. The abbot, Phra Bhavana Khema Khun, is a leading Thai meditation master and Buddhist scholar. The monastery leads retreats mainly for Thais, but all are welcome.

On the way to/from Wat Maheyong you might also stop at nearby Wat Khudee Dao, another large ruined temple that appears to hail from the same era and features similarly spread-out grounds with a few toppled chedis. Just south of that is Wat Samon Phottharam, featuring an ancient brick hall that has a fully intact roof and is still used for Buddhist ceremonies. You could also swing by the Ayutthaya Floating Market while in this area.

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