Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Ayutthaya.
All of the key sites plus a few intriguing diversions in the central Ayutthaya Historical Park can be hit in a single day by bicycle. This do-it-yourself tour allows plenty of time to explore each site if setting out by around 09:00, but you can also bail out half way if you just want to see the top sites or can’t be bothered to get up early. Take sunscreen and stop often for water ... Read more about Ayutthaya Historical Park by bicycle .
In 1448, King Borommatrailokanat ordered that a temple be added as a centrepiece to his glittering palace complex. A wihaan was built in 1499 and, a year later, a 16-metre-tall Buddha image known as Phra Buddha Chai Sri Sanphet was cast and covered in gold. For over two and a half centuries, it sat as a spiritual and geographical anchor of the entire kingdom. Used mainly for ceremonies that ... Read more about Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and the Ancient Palace .
This large and eye-catching assembly hall shelters Phra Mongkhon Bophit, one of the most revered Buddha images in Ayutthaya. Streams of Thai visitors line up to pay homage to it all day, every day, kneeling and bowing while perhaps asking for wishes to be granted. Seated in the Subduing Mara (or Touching the Earth) posture, the image is 12.45 metres tall, not including the base, and reaches ... Read more about Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit .
Construction on the massive Wat Mahathat complex is though to have begun in the 1370s, shortly after Ayutthaya was founded. For centuries it stood as the city’s largest and most important temple. Though the 1767 Burmese attack reduced it to rubble, the Great Chedi Temple contained so much brick and stone that, even today, it’s easy to get an idea of its ... Read more about Wat Mahathat .
One of the most striking monuments in Ayutthaya Historical Park, the central Khmer-style prang at Wat Ratchaburana stands as Ayutthaya’s tallest stupa. A convenient location, breathtaking frescoes and quirky history all help to make the sizeable complex another of the city’s must-see sites. In 1424, the death of King Intharacharthirat left the throne open to one of three sons. Two of the ... Read more about Wat Ratchaburana .
Despite its central location within the Historical Park, Wat Phra Ram is often skipped as most of the tour groups hone in on nearby Wat Mahathat and Wat Phra Si Sanphet. In our opinion this is all the more reason to go. The central Khmer-style prang is impressive and the leafy grounds considerably more tranquil than Ayutthaya’s more popular ruins. The temple was established in 1369 by King ... Read more about Wat Phra Ram .
Stretching along the western edge of the Historical Park beyond the Ancient Palace grounds, the highlight of Wat Lokkayasutharam is a 42-metre-long reclining Buddha made of brick and finished with white plaster. The image of Buddha serenely smiling at the moment of his bodily extinguishment into Nirvana stands eight metres tall at the head, which rests on the image of a lotus flower. Long ... Read more about Wat Lokkayasutharam .
Located midway between Wat Phra Si Sanphet and Wat Ratchaburana and with entrances from two of Ayutthaya’s best-known roads, Wat Thammasikarat is somehow overlooked by most visitors. Those who give it a chance are rewarded with impressive lion sculptures and a reclining Buddha image that ranks among Ayutthaya’s finest. One of the few large sets of ruins in Ayutthaya that are now part of a ... Read more about Wat Thammasikarat .
Khun Phaen’s Residence is a traditional Thai house crafted entirely out of golden teak in 1894. It was inspired by the descriptions of a house owned by one of the main characters in Khun Chang Khun Phaen, a famous Thai literary epic that recounts the story of two men’s 50-year fight over a woman. While you won’t find any info about this poetic story, the house certainly harks back to ... Read more about Khun Phaen's Residence .
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 ... Read more about Chao Sam Phraya National Museum .
The Chantharakasem National Museum would be more accurately described as a palace thanks to the old royal pavilions, which are the main draws. It’s worth the stop if you’re also hitting Hua Ro Market or otherwise find yourself in the northeast corner of the island. Also spelt “Chandrakasem” and sometimes shortened to “Chan Kasem”, the original palace was built in 1577 as the crown ... Read more about Chantharakasem National Museum .
Born in Ayutthaya in 1900, Pridi Panomyong was among the most influential and controversial Thai figures of the 20th century. The stilted wood house where he grew up has been painstakingly restored and now stands as a memorial to a man who helped to shape the face of modern Thailand. Born into a wealthy Chinese-Thai family and educated in France, Pridi was instrumental in Thailand’s 1932 ... Read more about Pridi Panomyong Memorial .
The site of Chedi Phra Sri Suriyothai was first established as Wat Sopsawan by King Maha Chakkraphat to honour the queen who died defending him in battle. The most prominent female figure to emerge from Ayutthayan history, Suriyothai was a queen during the 16th century when war was commonplace in the region. In a battle on elephant back during the Burmese-Siamese War of 1548, she was ... Read more about Chedi Phra Sri Suriyothai .
Oddball of Ayutthaya’s mainly historical attractions, the privately owned Million Toy Museum occupies a gorgeous two-floor building on the northwest side of the island. Travellers with kids in tow will probably want to factor in a visit. The collection includes several Godzilla’s along with every monster that fought him; a life-size Superman and Yoda; vintage dolls and a bunch of toys ... Read more about Million Toy Museum .
Beyond the most popular ruins found in the central Historical Park, Ayutthaya boasts a bunch of outlying temples and other sites that can be equally rewarding — but require more effort to reach. If you can swing more than one day in the ancient Thai capital, there’s plenty to ... Read more about Exploring Ayutthaya's outlying temples .
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 ... Read more about Wat Chaiwatthanaram .
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 ... Read more about Wat Phutthaisawan .
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is one of the more widely visited sites off the island, and for good reason. Established as a meditation and study centre by King Uthong shortly after the founding of Ayutthaya, the monastery became more closely associated with King Naresuan after he erected a massive stupa here in commemoration of a pivotal Siamese victory over the Burmese in ... Read more about Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon .
Covering a large area at the confluence of the Prasak and Chao Phraya rivers, Wat Phanan Choeng boasts one of the largest, most beautiful and most highly revered Buddha images in Ayutthaya. The often-crowded complex also stands as a centre of a Chinese community that predates the city. It’s agreed that Wat Phanan Choeng was established at least 25 years prior to the 1350 founding of ... Read more about Wat Phanan Choeng .
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 ... Read more about Wat Maheyong .
An active temple with a potent history, Wat Na Phra Men was built some time around the turn of the 16th century across the Lopburi River (now the Mueang Canal) from the north side of the island. It’s worth the side trip to see a rare early Ayutthaya-style temple that was preserved when most of the others fell. During the siege of Ayutthaya in the 1760s, the Burmese found Wat Na Phra Men to ... Read more about Wat Na Phra Men .
Now a mere shadow of its 17th-century glory, Wat Choeng Tha was once situated in front of the royal boatyard, directly across the Lopburi River from the Royal Palace. Though not worth going out of your way for, it makes for a mildly interesting visit if you’re already hitting nearby Wat Na Phra Men. Probably established before the founding of Ayutthaya, the temple has had a bewildering ... Read more about Wat Choeng Tha .
Rising high above rice paddies in the countryside just outside of Ayutthaya, Chedi Phu Khao Thong is an impressive chedi whose name translates as “Golden Mount” -- if you're curious why a blazing white chedi is labeled as “golden”, read on. A monastery was first established here by order of King Ramesuan in 1395, but it wasn’t until some time later that a human-made hill was added ... Read more about Chedi Phu Khao Thong .
Surrounded by a large green space, the Queen Suriyothai Monument is set on the battlefield where this beloved queen’s death supposedly rallied the Siamese troops to repel an invading Burmese army in 1548. Set atop a large gold-tinted base, the statue shows a fierce-looking Suriyothai clutching clubs from atop a bull elephant as a team of foot soldiers protects her down below. It depicts the ... Read more about Queen Suriyothai Monument .
In work, warfare and spirituality, elephants played important roles in ancient Ayutthaya. The Royal Elephant Kraal was moved to its current location in the 16th century and used for elephant roundups as late as 1905. Restored in 2007, it’s now a centre for the care, breeding and training of more than 90 elephants. Visitors can stop by for a quick visit or hang around for the Elephant Stay ... Read more about Elephant Stay at the Royal Elephant Kraal .
In the 17th century, some 1,500 Japanese lived in a village that stretched for a kilometre along the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River, just south of the Dutch settlement and across from the Portuguese. Now a museum tells the story of how the Japanese influenced the city, and how it changed them. Two exhibition buildings include videos, comprehensive info boards and displays. One exhibit ... Read more about Japanese Village .
First coming ashore at Ayutthaya in 1608, the Dutch East India Company charmed King Ekkatotsarat into allowing the traders to set up a port and exchange ambassadors with The Netherlands. Before long the Dutch had a full-fledged settlement boasting one of the more stately buildings in the city. Using the Thai name for the settlement, a reconstruction of this building was opened in 2013 as the Baan ... Read more about Baan Hollanda .
Arriving in the early 16th century, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to venture into Siam -- one can imagine the stir that the bearded, light-skinned, musket-carrying aliens must have caused in Ayutthaya. They quickly established friendly trade relations and set up the Portuguese Village, or Baan Portuget, now marked by a small museum and spooky graveyard. By 1538 some 120 Portuguese ... Read more about Portuguese Village .
Head east from Wat Chaiwatthanaram to check out St Joseph’s Church with its large amber tower looming over the south bank of the Chao Phraya. Once the Vicariate centre of Siam, the church served as a base for French Catholic missionaries during the later Ayutthaya period. Originally made of wood and revamped with bricks, the church fell into disrepair when, in 1688, French missionaries were ... Read more about St Joseph's Church .
Ayutthaya has a large Muslim-Thai community that traces its roots to the Persian, Arabian, Turkish, Malay and Cham traders who made their homes here over the centuries. While there’s no museum to match the ones found at the former sites of the Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese settlements, you can take a wander through a picturesque Muslim Quarter where the history comes alive. Known locally ... Read more about Muslim Quarter .
Set up specifically for tourism, the Ayutthaya Floating Market covers a considerable stretch of canals just south of Wat Maheyong. You won’t find farmers selling their produce at sunrise, or even many boats at all, but the market will do the trick for a bite to eat if you’re in the area. Most of the vendors occupy stalls on either side of wooden walkways set up directly over the water. ... Read more about Ayutthaya floating market .
Keeping Ayutthaya's pachyderm tradition alive, Ayutthaya has a couple of elephant camps employing some of the animals trained at the Royal Elephant Kraal to provide rides around the ruins. By far the most popular venue is the so-called “Elephant Palace” located within the Historical Park on Pathon Road. Here you can take a 15-minute ride along the roads fronting Wat Phra Ram and Wat Phra ... Read more about Elephant rides .
Surrounded by three major rivers and intersected by a network of canals, Ayutthaya is a great place to do some boating. Practically every travel office can arrange boat tours, or you can head to the pier on your own. Undertaken by noisy longtail boats, the most popular tour starts every late afternoon and costs 200 baht per person, with stops at Wat Phutthaisawan, Wat Chaiwatthanaram and Wat ... Read more about Boat rides .
The Bang Pa-In Summer Palace contains a variety of striking buildings spread among manicured gardens, statue-lined bridges, ponds and fountains. After finding the place well suited to quiet breaks from Bangkok, King Rama V commissioned the palace to include an unusual mix of Thai, Chinese and European architecture in the late 19th century. Near the entrance, a wooden exhibition hall contains ... Read more about Bang Pa-in Palace .