Travel Guide: Ayutthaya, Thailand's Ancient Capital City

Ayutthaya, Thailand’s second capital city, is an archeological gem situated 85 km north of Bangkok. The ancient city showcases remnants of its grandiose past—a lost kingdom filled with Buddhist temples, palaces, and monasteries boasting of rich, ornate designs and impressive construction. In its golden days, it had been the center of trade and politics in Asia before it was attacked and almost completely destroyed by Myanmar in 1767, leaving only the beautiful ruins that we can see today.



In its center is the Ayutthaya Historical Park, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and the most visited part of the city. With Ayutthaya’s proximity to Bangkok (less than 2 hours away), it is a favorite day-trip destination among travelers—especially those looking to explore the many temples of Thailand. However, unlike the glistening structures in Bangkok, the ones here exude a certain feel that transports you to the past, luring people who are fascinated with sites akin to the Angkor Wat. That’s why in spite of the all-too-familiar “temple fatigue” in this part of Asia, travelers still choose to go to Ayutthaya. Read on to find out more about this must-see Thailand attraction!

How to Get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

There are a couple of options in going to Ayutthaya but I highly recommend that you take a train or get a guided tour if you would like a convenient trip. Buses and minivans are available too but there are no specific times (unlike the train), and if you have limited time, you can’t afford to miss a morning departure—otherwise you won’t have enough time to explore Ayutthaya.

By train:

Take the train (Bangkok Mass Transit) and hop off at the Hua Lamphong Station. Alternatively, you can take a tuk tuk or an Uber. If you go via train, you have to exit the station and cross the street to get to the terminal going to Ayutthaya.

From the station, you can purchase tickets; there are “slow” trains and “fast” trains—it means simply that some have more stops than others. I advise you to take the fast one—the fare costs only 5THB more—but make sure you check out the schedules in advance! See below.

Tickets (third class): 15THB ($0.47/PhP25) – slow; 20THB ($.062/PhP33) fast
Travel time: 1.5 – 2 hours


By guided tour:

KKday offers several tours to Ayutthaya—some combining the old and new aspects of the city (Day Tour from Bangkok: Ayutthaya Temples) while some designed specifically for the active traveler (see Ayutthaya Bike Tour from Bangkok). I actually find the former interesting—the only downside is that you can’t choose which temples to check out. The great thing though is that this tour includes the Ratcha Night Train Market, a lively Bangkok night bazaar featuring street food and crafts.

Tickets: book here or here
Tour duration: 10 hours

By bus/minivan:

If you prefer going via any of these options, you can go to the Mo Chit Bangkok Mass Transit Station for the minivan, or cross further to the Northern Bus Terminal. Prepare around 100THB ($3.12/PhP164) one-way for the fare.

Travel time: 1.5 – 2 hours

How Much Money to Bring

Unless you plan to rent a motorbike and explore Ayutthaya on your own, the only choice you have is to hire a tuktuk to take you around the city. The attractions are not just in one area; they are scattered around the municipality. We paid 200THB ($6.24/PhP328) per hour (for 3 persons)—a total of 600THB ($18.73/PhP983) for us three for 3 hours. Not bad at all.

Some temples charge a minimal entry fee (50THB/$1.56/PhP82) so bring extra 200THB ($6.24/PhP328) for this purpose. Overall, I think a budget of 800THB ($25/PhP1,311) is more than enough for a side trip to Ayutthaya—this includes train fares, tuktuk rental, entry fees, and food already.

Things to Bring

Suntan lotion
Comfortable sandals or shoes

Before You Go

The temples are open from 8:30AM - 5:00PM.
Refrain from wearing sleeveless shirts (men) and shorts (women). To be sure, just bring a light scarf or whatever you can use to wrap around yourself.
Wear comfortable, easy-to-take-off shoes—they are not allowed inside some temples.
Don’t climb on the Buddhas (or just in any structure for that matter)—this is considered disrespectful. Almost forgot about this one because of my fascination with the Wat Yai Chai Mongkol.

What to See in Ayutthaya

Temples, temples, temples!

As if Bangkok isn’t teeming enough with temples, Ayutthaya showcases even more—each one filled with its own story.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

Easily one of the most majestic temples in Ayutthaya, it houses a gigantic pagoda as well as a large reclining Buddha, among others. Surrounding the main pagoda are rows of identical Buddhas with sacred yellow cloths. This is undoubtedly my favorite.


Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Known as the “Temple of the Holy, Splendid and Omniscient”, this is the grandest temple in Ayutthaya—distinct for the three giant chedis. Other interesting ruins can be found around the complex.


Wat Phra Mahathat

Famous for the Buddha head inside a massive tree, this temple is perhaps the most visited in Ayutthaya. Aside from this iconic sight, there are several Khmer-style stupas around the vicinity as well as rows of headless Buddha statues (ransacked, I believe).


Other temples to see (but which we didn’t have time to):
  • Wat Chaiwatthanaram – a Khmer-style Royal temple
  • Wat Lokaya Sutha – temple of the gigantic Reclining Buddha

I read that Ayutthaya has its own floating market and that you can also do a boat tour around the city too.

Where to Stay in Ayutthaya

Planning to stay for a night or two in this side of Thailand? Perhaps you would want to if you want to see more of the temples (including the less popular ones), or if you want to get a feel of the city even more. Click here to book your Ayutthaya accommodation—prices are surprisingly cheap!

Now What?

Check affordable Ayutthaya hotels here.
Check out other Ayutthaya tours here.
Plan your whole Thailand itinerary by reading my Indochina travel guide.

Further reading:

Researching your destinations, booking your transfers, choosing accommodations, and shopping for the essentials.
Our 10-Day itinerary across Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam; useful tips; plus our budget breakdown!

Have you been to Ayutthaya? What do you think of its temples?

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