Ayuthaya – The Sacred City of Thailand

August 21, 2012 in Amazing Thailand

Ayuthaya – The Sacred City of Thailand

Wat Yai Chaya Mongko - Ayuthaya

Stupas at Wat Yai Chaya Mongko – Ayuthaya

Bangkok is not only a great place to live because of its obvious treasures, nightlife and people but also because the city is located in such a great place.
You can jump on a flight from one of the two airports that service it – Suvarnabhumi Bangkok Airport, which is the Hub of South East Asia for all International and many domestic flights but also Don Mueang Airport (The old international airport but now mainly used for domestic flights) and see amazing Thailand and beyond. Chiang Mai in northern Thailand in about an hours flight, Ho Chi Minh City (Siagon) in Vietnam in about 1 hour and 20 minutes or try Singapore in less than two hours.

If you want to stay closer to home and escape the heat of the city for a weekend, you don’t have to travel far either. There are dozens of mini buses, slow trains and taxi’s that will take you just about anywhere you wish to go.

Recently a friend of mine took me to Ayuthaya, the old sacred city and religious centre of Thailand. In a little over an hours drive north of the Bangkok (Krung Thep) lies the old royal capital of Siam.

Ayuthaya is an island city surrounded by water of three rivers, The Chao Phraya (runs down to Bangkok and then out to sea) Mae Nam Pa Sak and the Mae Nam Lopburi. Most of the ancient ruins and sights are on ‘the island’.

Ticket for Wat Yai Chaya Mongkol - Ayuthaya

Wat Yai Chaya Mongko

The cities population in its hay day around the end of the 17th century was reported to be over a million people and the city grew wealthy through trading with the Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, French, English and Portuguese. However in 1767 the Burmese sacked the city and what you see today is mostly ruins and reminders of a bygone age. There is still plenty worth seeing and some of the Wats are particularly impressive especially Wat Phra Si Sanphet with its three bell shaped stupas. Inside the sanctuary hall you’ll find the third largest Buddha image in Thailand. Not far away is the impressive sleeping Buddha at Wat Yai Chaya Mongko. As you can see from the ticket on the left. The entrance fee is 20 Baht (around 50 pence UK Sterling) and is only applicable to farangs not the locals.

Ayuthaya has a floating market not to be missed on your visit and an elephant village which I had very mixed emotions about visiting. These poor beasts are forced to dance for entertainment of the locals and few farang tourists. I must admit, it was kinda funny but also embarrassing for the elephants. It was kind of like watching your favorite uncle drunk at a wedding, dancing and groping his way round the dance floor. You want it to stop but keep watching anyway. We bought these kings of the jungle a big basket of vegatables, fed them and left to find some food of our own.

I made this video on a Samsung S3 smartphone using the Animoto app

We headed down to the riverside and ate on the terrace at Baan Kun Pra Restaurant and Guesthouse. Unfortunately for me there was an alcohol ban on as it was a local election day. (They ban the sale of alcohol a lot in Thailand when there is an election or special Buddhist day).

Is Ayuthaya Worth a visit?

Yes, definitely go for a day or two and soak up the meditative state and dream about a life gone by in a bygone era amongst the ruins. If you are interested in Thai culture and history you will love it.

I’d give it a 8-10

Getting to Ayuthaya

Wat a View - AyuthayaAyuthaya is easily acceable by all forms of transport and can be reached within an hour or two from Bangkok. We drove to there by car which took less than an hour once we got out of the city.

There are no passenger boats to Ayuthaya but if you go to Central Pier (BTS Saphan Thaksin) there are several tour companies you can join to take you north.

Trains run from the central Bangkok station – Hualamphong every hour or so and cost less than the price of a cup of coffee back home.

Buses and mini vans constantly make the run between Bangkok and Ayuthaya. Catch one for pennies at Bangkok’s Northern and Northeastern bus terminals.

Learn Thai: Chang in Thai Language means elephant. It’s also a very popular larger beer! Chook-dii!! Good luck!

 Ayuthaya – The Sacred City in Amazing Thailand