What not to miss in Ayutthaya
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We continue the tour of the old ruins by going to Ayutthaya (85 km from Bangkok).
The city of Ayutthaya was an important center of commerce, art and politics. In 1767 the Burmese invaded the kingdom so its golden years of prosperity ended. The city was devastated and many magnificent structures were destroyed.
An area with a large number of ruins of the old city was recognized as a historical park in 1976. And later in 1991, like Sukhothai, it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
So we reach Ayutthaya by bus from Sukhothai. We take 7 hours and it costs 310 THB - about 8 €.
We arrive at Ayutthaya at midnight and the bus does not stop at the station but on the highway about 6 km from the center; therefore we take a taxi for 200 THB in order to reach our accommodation: "Somjai Place". The receptionist tells us that we are very lucky that he is still there because normally the reception closes at 8 pm (and it is 12.30 am) and informs us that our room was already sold (although we had warned of late check- out). The only room available costs THB 450 - about € 12. Unfortunately, we can only accept and go to sleep after a long day.
In the morning we rent a bike for 50 THB -1.30 € and start exploring the old town.
We buy a cumulative ticket that allows us to visit 6 temples at a cost of 220 THB; the package seems to be convenient since the entrance to each temple is 50 THB for foreigners, while for the 10 THB rooms.
The temples we visit are as follows:
- Wat Phra Sri Sanphet. It is the most famous temple in the historical park. It housed a 16-meter-tall golden Buddha unfortunately destroyed in 1767 when the capital fell. Currently, the 3 chedis remain in the complex of the Grand Palace, home of the kings of the kingdom of Ayutthaya. In fact nowadays it is also known as the Ancient Palace.
- Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit. It is home to the seated Buddha, more than 12 metres tall. It also contains the image of the Buddha's death but it was destroyed during a fire. It was then restored but later destroyed by the invasion of 1767. The final reconstruction was completed in 1990.
- Wat Mahathat. In this temple is located the most attractive icon of Ayutthaya: the image of the head of the Buddha in a Banyan tree. Someone says that some thieves were responsible of stealing and hiding their heads in the tree and then retrieving it later. Currently this temple is visited by many tourists because it was the most important temple of the kingdom since here were held royal ceremonies. It was destroyed in 1767 but the statue of the Buddha in front of the complex remained intact.
- Wat Ratchaburana. There is something different that gives this temple a special touch: a splendid Khmer (Angkorian) style prang; the greatest chedi in the city; an underground crypt; a real drama from the proportions of Greek tragedy. The story tells that here the 2 sons of King Intharacharthirat fought on an elephant and then died. After the king's death, another son took the throne and built this temple in honor of the two deceased brothers. In the crypt there are precious frescoes related to the life of the Buddha.
- Wat Phra Ram. This monastery overlooks a lagoon. It consists of a large Khmer style prang in the middle and surrounded by other structures including chedis. You can climb the prang stairs to get a view of the city of Ayutthaya.
We visit everything during a day, from 11 to 4 pm approximately. It must be kept in mind that the distances between one temple and another are greater than in Sukhothai
. Remember to dress appropriately: women must cover their knees and have at least a short-sleeved shirt.
Ultimately, during these 2 days (including Sukhothai
), we've taken a dip in the past by visiting some very suggestive places. We recommend this experience to anyone, especially if you want to broaden your historical knowledge about this wonderful ancient people.