The ancient city of Ayutthaya, Thai capital for 417 years, is one of Thailand's major tourist attractions. Many ancient ruins and art works can be seen in this city that was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong when the Thais were forced South by their northern neighbours. During Ayutthaya period, the Thai capital was ruled by 33 kings of different dynasties until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767. Ayutthaya ( 72 kilometers north of Bangkok ) boasts numerous magnificent ruins. They indicate that Ayutthaya was one of Indo- China's most prosperous cities. The Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, a vast historical site in the heart of Ayutthaya city, has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage since December 13,1991.
Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre
This centre is located on Rochana Road. It is a national research institute devoted to the study of Ayutthaya, especially during the period when Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand. The Center is responsible for the Museum of History of Ayutthaya, which exhibits reconstructions from Ayutthaya's past. The centre also supports an information service and a library containing historical materials about Ayutthaya. It is open everyday except Monday and Tuesday from 9.00 a.m.- 4.30 p.m., Satuaday and Sunday from 9.00 a.m.- 5.00 p.m.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
This is on Rochana Road, opposite the city wall. It houses various antique bronze Buddha images, famous carved panels and different kinds of Buddhist altars. A receptacle at the Thai Pavilion contains relics of Lord Buddha and objects of art more than 500 years old. The museum also has a substantial collection of local artifacts. The museum is open every day except Monday and Tuesday and National Holidays from 9.00 a.m.- 4.00 p.m.
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
The principal Buddha image is one of Thailand's largest bronze images. Many small Buddha images were also discovered. The Vihara was destroyed when the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya in 1767 and was rebuilt in 1956 in its original style.
The ancient Palace was originally built by King U-Thong. During the reign of King Barom Trailokkanat and later kings, several new buildings were added. These include Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Notable buildings are Wihan Somdet Pavilion, Sanphet Prasat Pavilion, Suriyat Amarin Pavilion, Chakkrawat Phaichayon Pavilion, Banyon Ratanat Pavilion and The Tri Muk Building. These pavilions were completely destroyed in 1767, leaving only brick foundations, porticoes and walls. The Tri Muk Building, a wooden structure with a brick foundation, was rebuilt in its original style at the command of King Chulalongkorn in 1907.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
The most important temple within the Royal Palace compound corresponding to The Emerald Buddha Temple in Bangkok's Grand Palace. In 1500 a 16-meters high standing Buddha was cast by King Ramathipodi II. The image was covered with gold weighing some 170 kilogrammes. In 1767, the Burmese set fire to the image to melt off the gold, completely destroying the image and the temple. Nearby are three ceylonese-style chedis built during the 15th century to enshrine the ashes of three Ayutthayan kings. These were renovated in 1956.
Khun Phaen House
Khun Phaen's Thai-style house conforms to descriptions in popular Thai literary works. Khun Phaen's house is near Wihan Phra Monkhon Bophit.
Wat Na Phramen
This recently-restored temple is situated opposite the Ancient Palace and is an important 13th century temple. The most interesting objects are the principal Buddha image, fully decorated in regal attire and another image made of black stone in the small Vihara.
Wat Phra Maha That
Located on the corner of Chi Kun Road and Naresuan Road. It was built by King Ramesuan in 1384. The major consturction was the high pagoda (or prang) which was destroyed by Burmese invaders. When the government undertook to restore all Ayutthaya ruins in 1956, the Fine Arts Department excavated the pagoda and found a buried treasure chest containing many valuables. Among objects discovered were a relic of Lord Buddha, placed inside a golden casket, several golden Buddha images in different sizes, and many other objects in gold, ruby and crystal. These are now housed in Bangkok's National Museum.
Situated opposite the Maha That temple and should be considered its twin. It is the most important temple built by King Boromraja II, the seventh Ayutthayan King, at his brother's cremation site. During restoration in 1958, many ancient valuables were found. They included Royal Regalia made of gold and jewels, rare and antique jewelry, gold pieces of superb craftsmanship and golden Buddha images.
Built during the reign of King Maha Thammaraja, the 17th Ayutthayan monarch, for his son's residence (King Naresuan). Like other ruins, the palace was destroyed by the Burmese and left unrepaired for a long time. King Mongkut of the present Chakri dynasty ordered reconstruction of this palace for use as a residence during his occasional visits to Ayutthaya. It is now used as a national museum and opens everyday,except Monday and Tuesday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Chedi Phu Khao Thong
Generally called "Golden Mount Pagoda". It is some 80 meters high and is located on Ayutthaya's northern outskirts. Purportedly, this pagoda was built in Mon (Burmese)style by King Burengnong of Burma to commemorate Burmese victory during the 1569 invasion of Ayutthaya. When Ayutthaya's independence was restored by King Naresuan in 1584, the pagoda was remodelled in Thai style. In 1956, the government placed a golden ball, weighing 2,500 grammes, on top of the pagoda to celebrate the Buddhist religion's 25th century.
The Elephant Kraal
The Kraal, locally called "Phaniat", was used for the capture of wild elephants in ancient times. It is a spacious enclosure made of massive teak logs. Behind the Kraal is the pavilion housing the royal throne. The last capture of elephants in the Kraal occured in May 1903, during King Chulalongkorn's reign, as a demonstration for royal guests.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
Also called "Wat Chao Phraya Thai". It is located a few minutes outside of Ayutthaya. It was built by King U-Thong in 1357 for meditation. In 1592, when King Naresuan defeated Burmese by killing the Burmese Crown Prince in single-handed combat on elephants, he constructed the temple's large pagoda to match the high pagoda at Chedi Phu Khao Thong which had been built by the Burmese. This massive pagoda, in ruinous state at the present, is visible from a great distance.
Wat Phrachao Phananchoeng
Located south of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, this monastery has no record as to its date of construction or who had it constructed. It existed before Ayutthaya was founded as the capital. The principal image in the Wihan called "Phrachao Phananchoeng" was built in A.D. 1325. It is a golden Buddha of 19 metres high made of stucco in the attitude of Subduing Evil. Considered beautiful, it is most revered by the inhabitants of Ayutthaya.
Chakri Dynasty Royal Temple of the Ayutthaya period which has been beautifully restored. The walls of the main chapel have foundations that dip in the centre, typical architecture of that time. Delicately carved columns support the roof. Inside walls are decorated with brilliantly colored frescoes. It remains in use as a temple today.
Located on the bank of the Chao Phraya River to the west of the city island. It was built by the royal command of King Prasat Thong. The existing main Prang and pagodas around the corner are still in good shape.
Wat Chai Wattanaram, Ayutthaya
Bang Pa-In Palace
Tel: (066-035-261044 ) Bang Pa-In Palace is located in Tambon Ban Len, Amphoe Bang Pa-In, 18 kilometers south of Ayutthaya town. It lies 58 kilometers north of Bangkok by rail and 61 kilometers by road. To access to Bany Pa-In from Ayutthaya one can go by Phahonyothin Road and make a right turn at Km.35 for another distance of 7 kilometers to the Bang Pa-In Palace. The palace is open to the public every day from 8:30-16:00 hrs. Admission fee is 50 baht per person. Originally, there was a riverine island. When Prasat Thong became the Ayutthayan king (1630-1655), he had the Chumphon Nikayaram Temple built on his family estate. Later he had a palace built on a lake in the middle of the island where he could periodically reside. The palace, surrounded by a lake 400 meters wide, and the Chumphon Nikayaram Temple are all that remain of King Prasat Thong's construction work at Bang Pa-In. Bang Pa-In was used as a country residence by every Ayutthayan monarch after King Prasat Thong. When the new capital was established in Bangkok, Bang Pa-In ceased to be used and was left unoccupied for 80 years. It was only during King Mongkut's reign (1851-1868) that Bang Pa-In was again visited by kings. King Mongkut stayed there and had a house built in the old palace's compound. His son, King Chulalongkom (1868-1910) liked the place, stayed there every year and constructed the royal palace as it is now seen today. The palace contains five importanat buildings as follows:
1. Phra Thinang Aisawan Thippa-at Thai design castle pavilion stands in the middle of the lake, replacing a former building of the same name erected by King Prasat Thong. 2. Phra Thinang Warophat Phiman to the north of "Saphan Sadet"(the royal path to the river landing) occupies the original site of the Pavilion built during King Mongkut's reign. It was two storeyed. One used as the King's apartments and the other used as a reception hall. When the court was transferred to another building, the decaying pavilion was demolished and replaced by the new European designed building which now serves as a hall for state ceremonies. 3.Phra Thinang UthayanPhumisathian was almost totally destroyed by fire in 1938. It was formerly used as a highwater season residence of which only a few bricks remain. 4. Phra Thinang Wehat Chamrun is a Chinese-style building where the court generally resided during the rainy and cool seasons. 5. Phra Thinang Withun Thatsana is an observatory standing on a small island between Phra Thinang Uthayan and Phra Thinang Wehat Chamrun from which a commanding view of surrounding countryside can be enjoyed.
Other interesting buildings include: The King Prasat Thong Shrine erected during King Chulalongkorn's reign stands on the edge of the lake. Wat Niwet Thammapravat a remarkable building constructed during King Chulalongkom's time on the outer island, south of the royal palace. The temple was built in Gothic style, resembling a christian church. Tourists may cross the Chao Phraya River from Bang Pa-In to visit this temple. Wat Chumphon Nikayaram is by the bridge on the way from the railway station. It was built by King Prasat Thong and subsequently restored. The two Phra Chedis (relic shrines) in this temple are considered to be very beautiful.
Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre at BangSai Tel: 066-035-366092 or 066-02-2258165-8 (Bangkok) With an area of 285 rai (or 14 acres), the Centre is located in Tambon Bung Yai, Amphoe Bang Sai. Farmers from Ayutthaya, as well as, those from other provinces, undergo training in folk arts and crafts here. At this centre you will have a glimpse of how farmers in the four regions live and work and how their arts and crafts are produced. The centre is under the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques (SUPPORT) which was established under Royal Patronage on the 21st July 1976. Products and activities which can be seen here include Fern Vine basketry, weaving basketry, artificial flowers, handwoven silk and cotton, silk dyeing, wood carving, miniature hand-modelled Thai dolls, furniture making and cloth-made products. All the products are sold at the Centre and in every branch of Chitralada Stores. In order to get to Bang Sai, one can take a boat along the Chao Phraya River or take Bang Sai-Sam Khok road which branches off about 24 kilometers from Bang Pa-In Intersection or take bus from the Northern Bus terminal on Phaholyothin Road.
Handicraft Villages 1. Aranyik Village Hand-made knives: Mu 6,Ban Aranyik, Tambon Tha Chang Amphoe Nakhon Luang. 2. Rattan-Woven Village Mu 2,Ban Yai,Tambon Ban Krathun, Amphoe Sena. 3. Palm leaves Hats and other products: Mu 5,Ban Yai, Tambon Bang Nangra, Amphoe Bang Pahan 4. Palm leaves Carp. Mu 4,Ban Yai, Tambon Tha Wasukri, Amphoe Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. 5. Wood-Carving Products Mu 4,Ban Yai,Tambon Ban Mai, Amphoe Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
Boat Trip to Ayutthaya and Bang Pa-In : There are no public boats going to Ayutthaya. However, there are several private companies with excursions to Ayutthaya and Bang Pa-In.