Day Trip to Ayutthaya
Most travelers in Thailand set their sights on Bangkok when they first enter the country. But why not take a break from Bangkok’s incredible attractions and head to Ayutthaya? There are breathtaking structures, ruined temples, and much more. Also, realistically, you only need a day to see the area’s best sights. So a day trip to Ayutthaya is the perfect change of pace and scenery.
A Little About Ayutthaya
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, known simply as Ayutthaya, was the capital of Thailand for 417 years. During that time, the province saw 33 kings and the construction of numerous temples and palaces. Ultimately, Ayutthaya was destroyed by the Burmese army in 1767. However, the ruins of the old capital have since become a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Day Trip to Ayutthaya Itinerary
To see the best of Ayutthaya, I booked a guided tour with Hana Go Pro. My tour guide was incredibly knowledgeable, friendly, and welcoming. She gave us all the information we needed, answered all our questions, and gave us plenty of time to explore on our own. What more could you ask for?
Bang Pa-In Royal Palace
The day trip to Ayutthaya begins with a stop at Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, also known as the Summer Palace. The palace complex was originally created in 1632 but fell into disuse by the 19th century. Under King Rama IV the complex was restored, and under King Rama V the majority of the complex’s current buildings were constructed.
Bang Pa-In Royal Palace’s main draw is its diverse architecture. There are gorgeous buildings of Thai, Chinese, and European influence. The colorful buildings are organized around landscaped gardens and a pristine pond. It’s the perfect place for a leisurely stroll and the start of a wonderful day.
Ayothaya Floating Market
The Ayothaya Floating Market is an artificial floating market with traditional Thai wooden houses and numerous eateries and shops. You will get the opportunity to take a short boat ride and walk along the slanted, wooden paths.
There is something quaint about the boat ride, but it’s nowhere near as popular or engaging as the iconic Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Ratchaburi. It’s much smaller and has much fewer offerings. Plus, the actual market activity takes place in the buildings along the canals instead of boats actually on the canals like in Damnoen Saduak.
Regardless, you need to stop somewhere for lunch. So you might as well enjoy the unique sights and a meal before the main attraction. I recommend boat noodles since they originate from Ayutthaya.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet (the Temple of the Holy, Splendid Omniscient) was the holiest temple in the Royal Palace of Ayutthaya. It was also perhaps the most magnificent and beautiful temple in all of Ayutthaya. As such, only members of the royal family were allowed to use the temple.
Sadly, Wat Phra Si Sanphet was completely destroyed in 1767 by the Burmese during the Burmese-Siamese War. To this day, much of the temple complex remains in ruin. However, the three Chedis have been restored, and they are truly a stunning sight to see in person. The architecture is so beautiful in fact that Wat Phra Si Sanphet is said to be the inspiration for the iconic Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) in Bangkok.
The last stop on the day trip to Ayutthaya is Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic). Similar to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat was a historically significant Buddhist temple that was destroyed in 1767 and left to ruin. The temple was one of the oldest in Ayutthaya and is famous for housing the Buddha’s holy relics.
However, unlike Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat has not been extensively restored. If you want a temple ruin experience, you have come to the right place. Walking through the ruins is a surreal experience like walking through an ancient, forgotten land.
Wat Mahathat also has one of the most iconic images in all of Ayutthaya. At the temple complex, there is the head of a Buddha statue encased in tree roots. Certainly, one can find some spiritual or symbolic significance to the image. But even from a purely aesthetic perspective, the Buddha head in the tree roots is a moving sight.
Outside of Ayutthaya
If you’re considering a day trip to Ayutthaya, chances are that you already have a trip planned to Bangkok. The Thai capital is a fantasy world of culture and urban excitement. But if you really want to make the most of your trip, check out my list of Bangkok’s best attractions.