Located about 80 km (50 mi) north of Thailand's largest city Bangkok, Ayutthaya was founded in 1351 by King U Thong. In the 16th century, it was described by foreign traders as one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East. In 1767, the city was destroyed by the Burmese army, resulting in the collapse of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. The ruins of the old city are preserved in the Ayutthaya historical park, which is recognised internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ruins, characterised by the prang (reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries, give an idea of the city's past splendour.
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
The Wat Mahathat (Temple of the Great Relic) is a Buddhist temple located in the center of old Ayutthaya. The origin of Wat Mahathat dates back to 1374 when King Borommaracha I erected a temple at this place. The temple was expanded in the next century and got its current name. Wat Maha That was one of the most important religious centers of the Ayutthaya kingdom, having enshrined relics of the Buddha. It is a registered national historic site.
Ayutthaya Historical Park covers the ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya was founded by King Ramathibodi I in 1351. In the following centuries, thirty-five kings ruled the Ayutthaya kingdom during its existence. It was the capital of the country until its destruction by the Burmese Army in 1767. The park includes many temples and their ruins, with Wat Phra Si Sanphet being the largest. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet (Temple of the Holy, Splendid Omniscient) was the holiest temple on the site of the old Royal Palace in the ancient capital of Ayutthaya until the city was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. It was the grandest and most beautiful temple in the capital and it served as a model for Wat Phra Kaeo in Bangkok. The temple is best known for its distinctive row of restored chedis (Thai-style stupa) that are built in the classic, Ceylonese design.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum showcases religious relics and treasures found in the palace and ruins of Ayutthaya. Although most treasures of the Ayutthaya Kingdom were stolen, burnt and melted by armies or treasure hunters, the surviving pieces are perserved and exhibited at this museum. Most of the riches are golden statues found at Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Phra Mahathat.
Tambon Phu Khao Thong, Tambon Ban Pom, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
Wat Phu khao Thong is a 50-metre Buddhist tower in the village of Phukhao Thong in Ayutthaya. The origin of the tower dates back to 1569, when King Bayinnaung of Hongsawadi (now part of Myanmar) conquered Ayutthaya and built a large pagoda in the Mon (an ethnic group from Myanmar) style to commemorate his victory. Over the next two centuries the chedi fell into disrepair. During the reign of King Boromakot, a new chedi in Thai style, having a square plan with indented corners, was built on the base of the ruin. Visitors can climb as far a landing halfway up the chedi, from which the surrounding rice fields and the town of Ayutthaya can be seen.
Chaiwatthanaram is a Buddhist temple on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of Ayutthaya's best known temples. The temple was constructed in 1630 by King Prasat Thong as the first temple of his reign. The temple's name literally means the Temple of long reign and glorious era. It has a central 35 meter high prang in Khom style (popular in that time), with four smaller prangs. Chaiwatthanaram structure reflects the Buddhist world view and was a royal temple where the king and his successors performed religious ceremonies.
Japanese Village Museum is a museum with an exhibition hall, a memorial and several gardens to conmemorate the Japanese settlement in Ayuttaya region. From the 1580s to the 1630s, a Japanese community of traders, mercenaries, and Catholic exiles thrived in the Ayutthaya Kingdom's capital Ayutthaya. They arrived primarily on the red seal ships which controlled trade between Japan and Siam. By 1620, the Japanese district in the city's southeast, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, numbered between 1,000 and 1,500 inhabitants, making it the second-largest Japanese community abroad, behind that in Manila.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is a Buddhist temple constructed in 1357 by King U-Thong to accommodate the monks that were ordained by Phra Wanratana Mahathera Burean. This monastery was named "Wat Pakaew". Afterwards, Phra Wanratana suggested to King Naresuan the Great to build a Chedi (pagoda). He decided to construct a large Chedi in this monastery. This monastery later became known as Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon.
Located next to the Pasak River, Chao Phrom Market offers Thai-Chinese and Muslim dishes, clothing, and day to day necessities at a variety of shops and stalls. More for locals, the market lacks the usually touristy trinkets; for this reason, visitors get to experience a more authentic Thai marketplace.