Head out of the city to the ruins of Ayutthaya, once the Thai capital, to learn the fascinating history of a lost Siamese kingdom. View the towers of the temples, monasteries and palaces and admire the bronze Buddha statues that make up the ruins in the historical park. You can also spend hours in the museums perusing the archaeological finds.
Founded circa 1350, Ayutthaya was the second capital of the Kingdom of Siam. It was built where three rivers meet, giving it a strategic connection to the ocean. By 1700, Ayutthaya was a sprawling urban area of economical, religious and political importance. A Burmese invasion destroyed the city in 1767 and its hundreds of thousands of inhabitants were forced to abandon the city.
Walk around, rent a bike or tuk-tuk near the ferry port or take an elephant ride. You will notice that the main part of the city was an island, encircled by a wall. Just a few sections of the wall remain including Phet Fortress.
The majority of the ruins are located in the northwestern corner. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the largest temple of the complex. Don’t miss the headless statues of Buddha that line the walls of Wat Phra Mahathat and large bronze Buddha in Wiharn Phra Mongkol Bopit. To get a better picture of the historic significance of this place, visit the Chao Sam Phraya Museum to view the largest collection of archaeological finds.
You can take the train to reach Ayutthaya or book a day tour. It’s 56 miles (90 kilometers) from Bangkok, so consider spending the night here. There is a wide range of guesthouses to suit all budgets. Many offer sunset tuk-tuk tours to see the old city when it is lit up at night.