Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya or Ayutthaya in short, is one of Thailand’s
historical and majestic highlights. Serving as the Thai capital for 417
years (1350 1767: Kingdom of Ayutthaya), it was once glorified as one of
the biggest cities in Southeast Asia. During the 17th century, most
foreign visitors to Ayutthaya, traders or diplomats alike, claimed
Ayutthaya to be the most illustrious and glittering city that they had
ever visited. The map of Ayutthaya published in 1691 by Simon de la
Loubere in Du Royaume De Siam is proof of such recognition.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya reached its apex in terms of sovereignty,
military might, wealth, culture, and international commerce in the 16th
century when the Kingdoms territory was extended far beyond present-day
Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. Ayutthaya even had diplomatic relations
with Louis XIV of France and was courted by Dutch, Portuguese, English,
Chinese and Japanese merchants.
Visitors can explore and appreciate Thai history in Phra Nakhon Si
Ayutthaya, which is situated only 86 kilometers north of Bangkok.
Visitors to Ayutthaya can marvel at its grandeur reflected through
numerous magnificent structures and ruins concentrated in and around the
city island surrounded by Maenam Chao Phraya, Maenam Pa Sak and Maenam
More importantly,Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, an extensive
historical site in the heart of Ayutthaya city, has been included in
UNESCO’s World Heritage list since 13 December, 1991.
The Kingdom of Ayutthaya was built and developed in leaps and bounds.
The ruins in Ayutthaya that survived the test of time embody both the
glorious and ignominious stories of the Kingdom.
This ancient capital of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, founded in 1350 by
King U-Thong, had thirty three kings of different dynasties and reached
its peak in the middle of the18th century. A magnificent city with three
palaces and over 400 magnificent temples on an island threaded by canals
Ayutthaya was truly an impressive city that attracted both Europeans and
Asians. After a 15-month siege the Kingdom of Ayutthaya was conquered
and completely destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. When King Taksin the
Great finally liberated the Kingdom, a new dynasty was established and
the capital was moved to Thonburi.
The seal of Ayutthaya depicts a conch on a pedestal tray placed in a
small castle under a Mun tree. According to legend, King U-Thong,
founder of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, discovered a beautiful conch buried
in the ground being prepared for the establishment of the seat of his
Kingdom. Consequently, he had a tiny castle built to house the shell.
Hence, the provincial seal.
Today, there are but groups of crumbling ruins and rows of headless
Buddhas where once an empire thrived. The temple compounds are still awe-inspiring
even in disrepair and a visit here is memorable and a good beginning for
those drawn to the relics of history.
The architecture of Ayutthaya is a fascinating mix of Khmer (ancient
Cambodian style) and early Sukhothai style. Some cactus-shaped obelisks,
called prangs, denote Khmer influence and look something like the famous
towers of Angkor Wat. The more pointed stupas are ascribed to the
Sukhothai influence. For new arrivals who had limited their visit to
Bangkok, similarities may be noted with the riverside Wat Arun, an 18th-century
structure that was built in the so-called Ayutthaya style, a melding of
Sukhothai Buddhist influences and Hindu-inspired Khmer motifs.
Ayutthaya is administratively divided into 16 districts: Phra Nakhon Si
Ayutthaya, Ban Phraek, Bang Ban, Bang Pahan, Bang Pa-in, Amphoe Bang Sai,
Bang Sai, Lat Bua Luang, Maha Rat, Nakhon Luang, Phachi, Phak-Hai, Sena,
Tha Rua, Uthai and Wang Noi.
How to get there
From Bangkok, one can get to Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya by various routes:
1. Take Highway No.1 (Phahon Yothin) via Pratu Nam Phra In and turn into
Highway No.32, then, turn left to Highway No.309 to Phra Nakhon Si
2. Take Highway No.304 (Chaeng Watthana) or Highway No.302 (Ngam Wong
Wan), turn right into Highway No.306 (Tiwanon), cross Nonthaburi or
Nuanchawi Bridge to Pathum Thani, continue on Highway No.3111 (Pathum
Thani – Sam Khok – Sena) and turn right at Amphoe Sena into Highway
No.3263 to Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
3. Take Highway No.306 (Bangkok–Nonthaburi–Pathum Thani), at Pathum
Thani Bridge Intersection, turn into Highway Nos.347 and 3309 via Bang
Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, Amphoe Bang Pa-in, to Phra Nakhon
4. Take Expressway No.9 (Si Rat Expressway) via Nonthaburi – Pathum
Thani and down to Highway No.1 via Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts
Centre, turn left into Highway No.3469 towards Bang Pahan and turn right
at Worachet Intersection to Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
There are Standard 1 air-conditioned buses and Standard 2 air-conditioned
buses leaving the Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal (Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road)
for Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya every 15 minutes daily, starting from 4.30
a.m.–7.15 p.m. And there are air-conditioned buses for the Bangkok –Bang
Pa-in. For more details, please call Tel. 0 2936 2852-66 or
www.transport.co.th and Ayutthaya Bus Terminal, Tel. 0 3533 5304.
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is accessible by both northbound and northeast
bound trains. Leaving Bangkok Railway Station (Hua Lamphong) daily, the
trains pass by the province’s Amphoe Bang Pa-in, Amphoe Phra Nakhon Si
Ayutthaya and Amphoe Phachi, where at Ban Phachi Junction the railway
lines separate to the North and Northeast. Then , mini-buses can be
taken from the railway station into the city.
A Bangkok – Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya train pulled by a steam locomotive
is usually provided by the State Railway of Thailand on 3 special
occasions every year. The first one is on 26 March which marks the
establishment of the State Railway of Thailand and the inauguration day
of Thailand’s first railway line between Bangkok – Nakhon Ratchasima in
1890. The second, 23 October – the memorial day of King Rama V, founder
of the Thai railways. And the third, 5 December – the birthday of His
Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. For more information, please contact
the State Railway of Thailand at Tel. 0 2220 4334, 1690 or
www.railway.co.th, and Ayutthaya Railway Station at Tel. 0 3524 1521.
By Boat :
Travelling by boat to Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is popular among
foreigners since it does not only reveal the beauty as well as lifestyle
of the people on both sides of the Chao Phraya River, but also reflects
the life in history at the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom when the Chao
Phraya River served as a channel of transportation in trading with
Cruise to Ayutthaya
There are no scheduled or chartered boat services between Bangkok and
Ayutthaya. However, several companies in Bangkok operate luxury cruises
to Bang Pa-In with side trips by bus to Ayutthaya for approximately
1,500 bahts to 1,800 bahts per person, including a sumptuous luncheon.
Longer two days trips in converted rice barges start at 4,800 baht. The
luxurious cruise is operated by:
1. Chao Phraya Princess Tel: 0 2860 3700
2. Horizon Cruise Tel: 0 2236 7777
3. River Sun Cruise Tel: 0 2266 9316
4. Manohra Tel: 0 2476 0021-2
5. Grand Pearl Tel: 0 2862 0255-60
6. Ayutthaya Boat&Travel Tel: 0 2746 1414, 08 1456 9862, 08 9456 3700,
08 1733 5687
Travelling around Ayutthaya and from Ayutthaya to nearby attractions
From Ayutthya, mini-buses can be taken from the railway station into the
city. Hiring a mini- bus within Ayutthaya costs between 400-500 baht/day.
For travelling between Ayutthaya and Bang Pa-in, mini-buses regularly
leave Chao Prom Market, Chao Prom Road starting from 06.00. The fare is
about 30 Baht. The trip take fifty minutes.
To tour the ruins, the most economical and ecological option is to rent
a bicycle from one of the guesthouses (40 to 50 bahts/day). Walking is
also an option, but not recommended during the hot or rainy seasons. It
is possible to charter a sam lor, tuk tuk or song taew by the hour or by
the day to explore the ruins but the prices are relatively high by Thai
standards (150 bahts/hour, or 500 bahts for the entire day).
Another interesting activity is chartering a boat from the Tha Chan
Kasem (Chan Kasem Pier, next to Hua Ro Market) for a semicircular tour
of the island and seeing some of the less accessible ruins. A long
tailed boat with a capacity of up to 8 people can be hired for 400 bahts
for a 2 to 3 hour trip with stopovers at Wat Phutthaisawan, Wat Phanan
Choeng and Wat Chai Wattnaram.
Mini - bus services operating from the railway station into the city are
also available. Hiring a mini - bus within Ayutthaya costs 250 - 300
bahts/day. If you wish to travel between Ayutthaya and Bang Pa - In,
mini - buses regularly leave Chao Prom Market (on Chao Prom Road). Daily
schedules start from 6.30 a.m. with a fare of 30 bahts. The trip takes
approximately 50 minutes.