When somebody says Thailand, the top cities we think of are Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. But with increase in repeat travellers from India, more and more cities and regions are being explored. Ayutthaya is one such city which is slowly gaining popularity among travellers.
Once considered as the most beautiful city in the world, today this majestic ancient town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991 and is just one of the places you must see if you have limited period in Thailand. The best part is the town is simply few hours away from Bangkok.
Thought this place has endless ruins and temples, we filtered down few places of our interest to make the most of our time and get a perfect mix of history, activities, food and some local festivals and experiences.
Below are the must-see and must-do experiences in this ancient town.
- Bang Pa-In Palace
Also known as the Summer Palace, Bang Pa-In Royal Palace was built in the 17th century. It was once the residence of the Thai monarchy, and is still used today as a site for royal retreats and holidays. Unlike other structures which are inspired from Thai designs, this Palace has a brilliant blend of Russian and Chinese architecture as well. We will highly recommend you to climb the brightly painted lookout tower if time permits, as it will offer some amazing panoramic views of the entire town.
- Ayutthaya Historical Park
A must see for history buffs and admirers of archaeology, the park incorporates the zone designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is comprised of 67 stunning temples and ruins. A large section of the park also includes the former Siamese capital city, with imposing Buddha statues set within a serene and striking landscape of greenery and blue skies. A visit here is an unbeatable way to experience the beauty of what was the Siamese centre of power and commerce.
- Art of the Kingdom Museum
One of the most interesting museums of the country, the works on display here – many of which are one-of-a-kind classical masterpieces – are selected to be national artifacts. The museum is home to Thailand’s most unique and jaw-dropping art collection. Created with select ornaments and woven by trained artists from Queen Sirikit Institute over years, this museum boasts of the richness that art in Thailand resonates. The exhibits were created for special occasions and include the Gold Niello Bhudthan Throne, the exquisite model of the Sri Suphannahongse Royal Barge of the First Reign, the Embroidered ‘Himavan Forest’ Screen and many more. The entry fee is THB 150 but if you have a valid entrance ticket to the Grand Palace, you can use the same ticket here.
- Dress in traditional Thai clothing among ruins
We always wanted to dress up in one of those beautiful traditional grabs and we got lucky during the annual festival of Loi Kratong. There are many local shops in Ayutthaya which will provide local costumes on rent for about THB 200. You can also rent a traditional parasol or get your makeup or hair done for an additional THB 50 each (highly recommended for females as it really looks awesome in pictures).
- Try your hand at Thai desserts
If you are tired of walking at temples, take rest while you snack on authentic Thai cuisine. But if you have time, do try your hand at Thai dessert making, especially Foi Thong and Roti Sai Mai. Foi Thong is originally a Portuguese dish made of eggs (duck and chicken) which is drawn into thin strands and later dipped in suger syrup. However, Roti Sai Mai comes from the Indian subcontinent and was brought to Thailand by Indian and Pakistani Roti vendors who migrated to the Kingdom. Widely available throughout the city, the Thai-style candy floss or cotton candy is rolled in paper-thin roti sheet. The a bit salted roti goes well with the sweet and soft cotton candy.
- Engage your inner artist at Thai Art Workshop
Pla ta pian is a local art form practiced remotely in Thailand. The craft includes making mobiles with bai lan, or fan palm fronds, which are painted and sold as handicrafts and also used to decorate babies’ crib to put them to sleep.
- Stroll through a floating market
The floating market of Ayutthaya is a celebration of Thai culture and regional food. The experience is worth the money and time since you will be spending hours wandering through the food boats and speciality shops. Bursting with over 200 shops and food stalls, you might even catch a free re-enactment of the Burmese sack of Ayutthaya and you will undoubtedly be able to pick up some unusual and inexpensive souvenirs as well. Everything is done here in a light-hearted relaxed way so make sure you come for a visit.
- Chao Phrom Market
One of the most popular local markets in Ayutthaya, this one never closes and is a constant scene of action. From fresh fruits and veggies to electrical goods and household products, everything is priced low as this one is a local market.
- Take a boat tour
One of the best ways to see some of the sites of this town is through a boat ride. There is something very calming about taking a boat trip and with all the history that this city has on offer. The boats are normally quite large and carry a group of tourists down the river, making stops at Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Putthaisawan and Wat Phanan Choeng. You can also opt for a private boat tour with a private driver from the pier and negotiate your own package.
- Opt for bike tours
There are multiple choices to get around the town like bikes, motorbikes, taxies and tuk-tuk. Normally, locals will offer a city tour in which you can choose where to go for THB 200-300 an hour. Renting a bicycle (THB 40-50 a day) or motorcycle (THB 200 per day) is a far cheaper option as you can rent them for a day and check out all the places of your interest at your own pace.
Despite its UNESCO status, Ayutthaya hasn’t hit the tourist radar just yet. Why not visit this city before its popularity skyrockets? Put this old capital city on your Thailand bucket list!