R

Ayutthaya Historical Park

Ruins of one of the most prosperous empires in history

Ruins at the Ayutthaya historical park
Ayutthaya ruins at dusk

The Ayutthaya Historical Park comprises of the ruins of temples and palaces of the capital of the ancient Ayutthaya Kingdom. The park is located on an island surrounded by three rivers where the old capital used to be.

The Ayutthaya Kingdom, which existed from 1351 until 1767 was one of the largest and most prosperous empires of its time. The ruins of many impressive temples and palaces give an impression of the wealth of the ancient Kingdom.

The remains of several settlements off the island built by foreign countries demonstrate the importance of Ayutthaya’s intensive trade with many foreign nations.

As most of Ayutthaya’s records were destroyed when the city was looted and burned by the invading Burmese in 1767, much knowledge about Ayutthaya’s history was gained from the accounts and maps of foreigners. Several museums including the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum on the Ayutthaya island exhibit a wealth of artifacts discovered during excavations. The Ayutthaya Historical Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.

Temples

During the more than 400 years of its existence, the Ayutthaya Kingdom built a great number of temples in various styles. Many have been restored by the Thai Fine Arts Department.

Royal Palaces

The Ayutthaya Kings had three Royal palaces built on the island.

Grand Palace

The Grand Palace or Wang Luang was the King’s residence. The palace consisted of several buildings with various purposes, including a hall for Royal ceremonies, a hall to receive state visitors and private Royal living quarters. It was destroyed during the Burmese invasion of 1767. Today only the foundations and parts of the walls remain. A replica of the palace can be seen in the Ayutthaya Historical Study Center. The Wang Luang is located close to the Northern city wall, North East of the Wat Phra Si Sanphet.

Chandra Kasem Palace

Chandra Kasem Palace or Wang Na, also known as the Front Palace was built in 1577 as the Royal residence for the crown prince. It is located on Uthong road on the North East tip of the island. The palace consists of a group of buildings, some in traditional Thai style and some in European style. In the 17th century an observatory tower was built to observe the stars. Today the palace is in use as a museum displaying artifacts from the Ayutthaya period.

Wang Lang

The Rear Palace or Wang Lang was built by King Maha Thammarachathirat as the Royal residence for one of his sons. Later more buildings were added as private living quarters for other members of the Royal Family. The palace is found on the South West section of the island, West of Khlong Tho road.

Central prang of the Wat Chaiwatthanaram temple in Ayutthaya Historical Park
Wat Chaiwatthanaram

How to get to Ayutthaya Historical Park

The park is located on an island surrounded by the Chao Phraya, Pa Sak and Lopburi rivers in the town of Ayutthaya, 80 kilometers North of Bangkok. You can get there by private taxi, river boat, train or bus.

Taxi from Bangkok

A metered taxi from Bangkok city center to Ayutthaya should cost around 1,400 Thai Baht one way. The trip takes around 1½ hours depending on traffic.

River boat

Several companies like Thai river cruise and Sun river cruise offer Chao Phraya river cruises from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. A one day trip combined bus and river boat including a stop at the Bang Pa-In summer palace near Ayutthaya will cost some 2,000 Baht. Overnight cruises area also offered.

Train

Ayutthaya is well connected with Bangkok by train. Trains depart from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station at least once per hour. The trip takes between 1½ to 2 hours depending on the type of service. The fare for the express service is 66 Baht for first class, 35 Baht for second class and 15 Baht for third class. For more information visit the State Railway of Thailand website. The Ayutthaya train station is located just East of the island. To get to the ruins, take the ferry across the Pa Sak river from the pier located across the main road from the train station.

Bus

Busses to Ayutthaya leave from Bangkok’s Northern bus terminal Mor Chit and arrive at Thanon Naresuan, about one kilometer East of the main monuments. The trip takes some 1½ to 2 hours, fare is 60 Baht.

Getting around in the Park

There are several ways to get around in the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Many of the best known monuments are found in a small area North of Rama public park. Getting from one to the next on foot will only take a few minutes. A fun way to get around is on a bicycle. Distances are small and the roads are in good condition. Several shops around the train station and on Soi 2 on the North West tip of the island rent bicycles at 40 to 100 Baht per day.

An alternative is to hire a tuk tuk with driver. The fare will depend on your bargaining skills and should be around 250 Baht per hour, or 1,000 Baht for a day. Agree on price, duration of the trip and places to stop before setting off. Tuk tuks can be chartered at the train station or can be flagged down anywhere.

Admission & opening hours

There is no fee to enter the Ayutthaya Historical Park. The major temples charge an entrance fee of 50 Thai Baht or less each.

Even though most monuments are in a ruined state, they are sacred places to Buddhists. Be respectful towards images of the Buddha and never climb on one. For active temples, please follow the dress code which means long pants or long skirts, no bare shoulders, remove your shoes before entering a temple building.