Before Bangkok was founded, Ayutthaya reined as the Kingdom’s capital city for over four hundred years between the 14th and 18th centuries. Ongoing war with the Burmese put an end to what was then considered one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in the world but ruins of the city’s many temples can be visited on an easy day trip from Bangkok. In fact, Ayutthaya is one of the most popular day trips from Bangkok, and it's a great way to escape the city's crowds and noise.
What to Expect:
Ayutthaya's main attractions are a handful of temple ruins in the Ayutthaya National Historical Park spread out over a few square miles in an area of the old city. The national park is surrounded on three sides by a bend in the river and has been generally well-preserved against development. The modern city of Ayutthaya, across the river, doesn't offer much for tourists.
Where to Stay:
Most people visit Ayutthaya on a day trip from Bangkok but there are about a dozen hotels and guest houses in the area. Accommodations in Ayutthaya tend to be in the low to mid-range and there are no standout properties yet.
Getting to Ayutthaya:
By bus: There are numerous daily government-run and private buses from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (2 hours).
By train: You can also take a train from Bangkok's Hua Lumpong Station to Ayutthaya. Trains take about two hours and are inexpensive, fun and comfortable. There are currently four trains that arrive in Ayutthaya before noon but check the State Railway of Thailand schedule before making plans.
Getting Around Ayutthaya:
The historical park is just a little too big to comfortably explore on foot. The easiest option, for those comfortable on two wheels, is by bicycle, and there are plenty of places to rent bicycles around Ayutthaya's old city. It's also possible to hire either a taxi (if you want air conditioning!) or a tuk tuk to take you from site to site.