Is Ayutthaya Worth Visiting? Everything You Need To Know for the BEST Visit
Is Ayutthaya worth visiting? This is the question we hear a lot while traveling through Thailand, and the answer is a resounding yes. Located just north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is a city steeped in rich history and cultural significance that makes it a must-visit destination for travellers seeking a deeper understanding of Thailand’s past.
Located in Central Thailand, the beautiful city of Ayutthaya was once the thriving capital of the old Siamese Kingdom from the 24th to the 28th centuries, making it home to ancient ruins and picturesque temples dotting the city. Today, it stands as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering visitors a glimpse into its glorious past through its awe-inspiring ruins and historical landmarks.
For those who are on a time crunch and are less interested in food and history, there may be better destinations for you like Chiang Mai or Krabi. However, if you can spare a day or two, I think that Ayutthaya is still worth a visit even for good food and historical sightseeing.
How long to stay in Ayutthaya?
Your stay in Ayutthaya depends on how long you have in Thailand, and what activities you enjoy. If you enjoy getting to know the history of a place, you can find yourself spending at least 3 days getting to know the different temples and the different ways to see the city like a boat tour. However, in our experience, one day will be sufficient to see what the city has to offer. In this blog post, we will answer the questions that travellers ask before visiting and learn about some of its unique attractions.
Best time to visit Ayutthaya
The answer depends largely on what type of experience you’re hoping to have while there. Ayutthaya’s weather is very similar to Bangkok’s. If you’re intending to avoid the wet season, November through March are recommended as the best months for visiting due to less probability for rainfall and more moderate temperatures – expect highs in the mid-30s Celsius – which makes it easier and more pleasant to explore this ancient city.
What to pack when visiting Ayutthaya
Here are some tips on what to bring when visiting Ayutthaya:
- Good Shoes. Ancient ruins are everywhere in the city, with some requiring an entrance fee and some that do not. If you’re thinking of visiting them all, it’s best to walk or bike through it and a good pair of shoes will do wonders if you decide to walk.
- Sunscreen. Temperatures can get quite hot during the day, so make sure you have enough sunscreen for your entire stay in Ayutthaya.
- Hat and Sunglasses. High temperatures also mean more sunlight in a day.
- Pants or any clothing to cover shoulders and legs. When visiting the ancient ruins and temples, they do not allow visitors with exposed shoulders and legs.
- Small purse or backpack. It’s a great idea to have a bag small enough to carry your cash and water as you explore the city throughout the day.
How to get to Ayutthaya?
There are multiple options to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok, but the most popular are taking the train or the bus.
Train: Taking the train will be your cheapest option at only 15 baht if you take the third-class fan seat. You have the option to take more comfortable seats but we found the third-class seat to work just fine because it’s only a two-hour train trip. Only train #7 can take you to Ayutthaya from Bangkok so check which platform you need to be at before boarding the train.
1st Class sleeper with air-conditioning
886 to 1,046 THB
2nd Class sleeper with air-conditioning
395 to 715 THB
2nd Class sleeper with air-conditioning
245 to 345 THB
2nd Class sleeper with fan
2nd Class Fan seat
65 to 185 THB
3rd Class Fan seat
15 to 45 THB
The railway station is found within the same building where buses are parked. It can be confusing but once you get to the building, you should see large doors on the left side of the building.
Bus: Another means to get to Ayutthaya is through a bus, and there are multiple spots where you can catch a bus to the ancient city. By taking a bus the journey can be as short as 1 hour and 30 minutes. You can take the bus from Khao San Road, Victory Monument, or from Mo Chit Northern bus terminal. Bus fares will be between 50 THB to 70 THB.
Where to stay in Ayutthaya?
We stayed in PK Hostel. We initially booked in Nakara Hostel but the air conditioning was under repair when we arrived so they sent us to PK Hostel.
Nakara Hostel is a great option for those wanting to meet fellow travellers since they have a nice common area and very good Wi-Fi. It’s fast enough that you can work from here remotely. It can get busy in the hostel though since there are people that sometimes use the hostel just for showering. They also offer good local coffee and snacks throughout the day for free. Unfortunately, they do not offer filtered water. You can, however, boil water if you do not want to buy bottles of filtered water.
PK hostel is a great alternative and they have good beds. Wi-fi is not great and it’s only occasionally working from the common area. However, it is worth noting that they offer free filtered water considering that drinking tap water is not recommended.
Things to do in Ayutthaya
- Biking around the city and all the ruins: The best way to get around the city is with a bike, especially since it’s very hot and biking around will at least give you a warm breeze to combat the hot temperatures. You can do a loop around the old city that will take around two hours with minimal stops.
- Visiting the ancient ruins within Ayutthaya Historical Park: There are around 50 ancient ruins to visit, and among those, six require entrance fees. You can either get one ticket that will take you to the six attractions, which will cost 220 baht. If you think seeing a couple will be enough to satiate your need to see the ruins, individual tickets for each of the six ruins will be 50 baht.
- Eating regional foods: The night market that goes on every evening is the best way to try out the local cuisine, although we found that regional foods are seldom found on the market. To get a taste of the regional foods, it’s best to visit the local shops specializing in each dish such as the many delicious boat noodle shops.
- Boat tour down Chao Phraya River: Sunset is best enjoyed on a boat tour. You’ll get to see the outlines of the ancient ruins that surround the city while floating down the Chao Phraya.
- Visit the Ayutthaya floating market: Here you can find authentic local foods cooked for you directly on the boats.
Notable ruins to see in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya was once the thriving center of Siamese civilization, and its ruins are some of the most awe-inspiring sites in Southeast Asia. Notable ruins to see include Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Phra Ram, Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, and Wat Chai Wattanaram.
Wat Ratchaburana is known for its stunning Khmer-style architecture, intricate carvings, and its historical significance as an ancient temple within the Ayutthaya historical park.
Wat Phra Ram is a temple complex located near the Chao Phraya River. This temple is known for its grand scale, featuring two large pagodas surrounded by smaller chapels filled with Buddha statues and intricate carvings. Visitors can also explore the museum at this site which houses various artifacts from different periods of Ayutthaya’s history.
The most well-known attraction of Ayutthaya is Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, which boasts three majestic chedis that are said to contain ashes from previous kings of the city. This temple complex also includes several other smaller structures including four miniature pagodas set on a terrace and two buildings with beautiful wall murals depicting stories from Thai folklore.
The Wat Chai Wattanaram sits on the banks of Chao Phraya river and can be seen from Wat Mahathat. It stood out from afar because its architectural style that is similar to Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. Like other temples, it is built to honour one of the royals. King Prasat Thong built the temple in 1630 to honour his mother.
Wat Mahathat is a prominent temple within the ancient city. It is most recognized for the enormous headless Buddha statue that sits on top of a stone pedestal near the entrance, and the head of the Buddha engulfed by the roots of a banyan tree. It continues to be known as sacred ground especially since it used to be the previous residence of the leaders of the Thai Buddhist monks.
Unfortunately, these ruins are in rough shape due to a lack of funding from the Thai government. While they look majestic and picturesque, they are in danger of further deterioration if not given the care they require. Some of the prangs are leaning, and the foundations do not look in the best state.
To read more on the history of Ayutthaya, check out the following informative article on the UNESCO website.
So is it worth it?
Ayutthaya is an ancient city with a rich history and culture, perfect to visit for slower-paced days. You can spent two days exploring the city and admiring the ancient ruins by foot, bike, or boat. However, if you prefer more adventurous activities, there may be better places to visit in Thailand.
If you enjoyed this post and plan to visit Ayutthaya, be sure to read our post on the Best Foods to Try in Ayutthaya.