Thailand’s former capital Ayutthaya is renowned for its temple ruins and historical sites
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Thailand’s former capital Ayutthaya is renowned for its temple ruins and historical sites. Most visitors head first to Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the centre of the city, for a comprehensive overview of the city’s history and past glory. Surrounded by these ruins, it’s not difficult to imagine the grandeur that once was the kingdom of Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya Historical Park comprises four temples – Wat Phra Ram, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana – the Royal Palace and Wiharn Phra Mongkol Bophit. Outside the park itself, historical sites are randomly peppered along the west, south and eastern parts of the outer island. Many of the archaeological finds from the ruin sites around Ayutthaya are exhibited at Chao Sam Phraya National Museum, so this is a good place to visit if you are interested to learn more about Ayutthaya’s heritage.
For those who drive, Ayutthaya’s urban grid layout may seem simple enough, but it’s easy to become lost if you make a wrong turn. From Highway 309, the Chao Sam Phraya roundabout is the main intersection before you cross the bridge to the inner city. Continuing west of here, Highway 309 turns into Rochana Road, the main thoroughfare that cuts through the island from east to west. From Rochana Road, turn right at Srisanphet Road, which soon turns into Naresuan Road, and you’ll find yourself inside Ayutthaya Historical Park. U-Thong Road encircles the inner city and runs parallel to the rivers.
If you don’t drive, it’s easy to get here from Bangkok by train, and hire a tuk-tuk from the train station to take you around the inner city . Negotiate a price for one-day or half-day hire and discuss all the sites you would like to visit with the driver before hopping on one.
Lots of local tour operators also offer a day tour from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, with many of them travelling one way by boat along Chao Phraya River and one way by car. There are many ruins and temples along the way so the cruise is usually relaxing.
To tour around Ayutthaya Historical Park, cycling is quite easy as the land is flat and the roads are well signed.