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Ayutthaya Travel Guide

The 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 Lopburi.

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 Past

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.

The Present

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


By Car:

Alternative I: Take Highway No. 1 (Phahonyothin Road.) then take Highway No. 32 to Ayutthaya.

Alternative II: Take Highway No. 304 (Chaeng Watthana Road.) or take Highway No. 302 (Ngamwongwan Road.); turn righ to Highway No. 306 (Tiwanon Road.), then take Highway No. 3111 (Pathum Thani - Samkhok - Sena) and turn right at Amphoe Sena to Highway No. 3263

Alternative III: Take Highway No. 306 (Bangkok - Nonthaburi - Pathum Thani Road.) then take Highway No. 347

 
By Bus:

Ordinary buses run between the Bangkoks Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit 2 Bus Terminal) and Ayutthaya's main terminal on Naresuan Rd. every 20 minutes between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. The fare is 30 bahts and the trip takes around 2hours. Air-conditioned buses operate the same route every 20 minutes from 5.40 a.m. to 7.20 p.m. (every 15 minutes between 7a.m. and 5p.m.) at the rate of 47 bahts, the trip takes 1.5 hours when traffic to north of Bangkok is light, otherwise it will take two hours.

 
 By Train:

Trains to Ayutthaya leave Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Station approximately every hour between 4.20 a.m. and 10 p.m. The 3rd class fare is 15 bahts for the 1.5 hour trip. Train schedules are available from the information booth at Hua Lamphong Station. Alternatively, call 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020, or 1690 or visit www.railway.co.th for reservations.


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 Ayutthaya Kingdom when the Chao Phraya River served as a channel of transportation in trading with foreign countries. 

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

Song taew and shared tuk-tuk will go anywhere for 10 to 30 bahts/person depending on the distance/destination. A tuk-tuk from the train station going to any point in the old Ayutthaya zone is approximately 30 bahts. Note that the trip on the island (old Ayutthaya city) itself costs 20 bahts/trip maximum.

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.

 
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