Ayutthaya – Temples and Other Places of Interest / second article in the series
Historical places in thailand

The city of Ayutthaya abounds with

Historical places in thailand of interest and various temples. I must say that rushing from one location to another and trying to squeeze in multiple temples into your schedule – can be exhausting and boring. To avoid that, I will bring you a brief review that summarizes the main attractions in Ayyuthaia, with my personal recommendations where to visit to get the best of the local culture and history.

I don’t presume to review here all the sites in Ayutthaya, but only the main ones. For your convenience, I’m attaching a map in which I’ve marked the locations of all the sites that are covered in this review. **click the map to enlarge it.

A short introduction to Ayutthaya’s history

Ayutthaya was established back in 1350 and served as the capital of Thailand (then known as Siam) for 417 years (1350-1767). It’s hard to imagine nowadays, but in the 17th century, it was one of the most magnificent, largest cities in the world, with some million residents, merchants from across the world – Arab countries, India, China, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands, France…All of them visited Ayutthaya regularly and even built their offices and homes there, describing it as the most beautiful city in the world back in the days.

Everything ended when the Burmese occupied Ayutthaya in 1767; after a 2-year siege, the city fell on April 7, 1767, and the Burmese burnt and destroyed the city almost entirely, driving its residents away. What was left is mostly temples and palaces, as these were the only structures made of stone back then. The kingdom of Siam regained its independence rather quickly but Ayutthaya never came back to its glorious days. The capital of Thailand moved dozens of km south of Ayutthaya, to Bangkok.

A review of Ayutthaya’s main sites

We can classify the main sites of Ayutthaya as pertaining to one of two groups:

  1. Non-active historic temples – temple relics that some of them were restored or renovated, indicating Ayutthaya’s greatness back in the days
  2. Active historic temples (‘living temples’) – where daily rituals take place nowadays as well

Non-active historic temples:

Wat Chaiwatthanaram was built in 1630 by king Prasat Thong in the prosperous times of the kingdom of Siam, in the late period of Ayutthaya. The temple is located on the Chao Phraya riverbanks, it was built in the Khmer style, and distinctly the Angkor Wat architectural style of Cambodia. It is, without a doubt, the most impressive historical site in Ayutthaya.

My Opinion:  Wat Chaiwatthanaram Temple is the perfect site and a must see; it is the most impressive of all historic sites in Ayutthaya. I particularly recommend visiting there in the afternoon, as the sunset approaches.

♥ A visit to the site can be included as part of Tiptop Travel private luxury tour plans in Ayutthaya

♦ To read an extended review of Wat Chaiwatthanaram : click here

 

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet was the richest, most impressive and sacred temple in Ayutthaya. The temple was part of the king’s palace in Ayutthaya, and served only Thai kings; monks did not live there. The 3 bell-shaped pagodas that remained after Ayutthaya was occupied, were covered in gold and the chapel (Vihan) featured a 16 meters tall standing Buddha statue, covered in hundreds of tons of gold.

Wat Phra Sri Sanphet served as a model, according to which Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of Emerald Buddha) was built, in the Grand Palace, Bangkok. The temple was destroyed, robbed and burnt to the ground when Ayutthaya was conquered in 1767, and all that was left from it were the 3 bell-shaped pagodas that nowadays symbolize Ayutthaya. The remains of the giant Buddha statue, excluding the gold of course, which was melted by the Burmese, were restored and brought to Bangkok by king Rama 1, and can be found in Wat Po, Bangkok.

My Opinion: this temple is the second most impressive site in Ayutthaya after Wat Chaiwatthanaram. I particularly recommend visiting there in the afternoon, when the sunlight is softer, to take the best pictures of the place.

♥ A visit to the site can be included as part of Tiptop Travel private luxury tour plans in Ayutthaya

♦ To read an extended review of Wat Phra Sri Sanphet : click here

 

Wat Phra Mahathat was one of the most important, magnificent and sacred temples in the kingdom of Siam, when Ayutthaya was its capital. The temple contained the remains of Buddha which were buried there; the head of the monks resided in the temple, which served the king of Thailand by hosting ceremonies and rituals. One of the main attractions in the temple is the Bunyan tree, as between its roots you can see the head of Buddha sticking out and most visitors enjoy taking their pictures there. This is also one of the famous pictures you’ll find in the different brochures and materials advertising Thailand.

My Opinion: Although historically speaking this is one of the most famous and significant sites of Ayutthaya, Wat Phra Mahathat has been destroyed and harmed more than the previous two temples. However, I still recommend visiting there.

♥ A visit to the site can be included as part of Tiptop Travel private luxury tour plans in Ayutthaya

Historical places in thailand

♦ To read an extended review of Wat Phra Mahathat : click here

 

Lokaya Sutha Temple is one of the most historic temples of Ayutthaya, though it was severely damaged. Its main and actually only attraction is a giant, reclining Buddha statue, which is 40 meters long.

Historical places in thailand

My Opinion: The only attraction here is the giant reclining Buddha statue, and the visit here is usually very short so you can make a short pause there to view the statue and take some pictures

Historical places in thailand

♥ A visit to the site can be included as part of Tiptop Travel private luxury tour plans in Ayutthaya

Historical places in thailand

♦ To read an extended review of Wat Lokaya Sutha : click here

 

Active historic temples:

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol is a historic, yet active temple, which was built in the early times of Ayutthaya (the 14th century). In the late 16th century, the tall, bell-shaped Chedi was built on site, to celebrate the victory of king Naresuan in the battle against the Burmese. Outside of the tall, beautiful Chedi, you’ll also find a giant reclining Buddha statue and a long line of smaller Buddha statues which grant the place its unique, beautiful appearance, so no wonder the temple is very popular among Thai visitors and tourists alike.

My Opinion:  Among the active historic temple, this one impressed me the most and I think that if you are visiting Ayutthaya, this is a must see!!

♥ A visit to the site can be included as part of Tiptop Travel private luxury tour plans in Ayutthaya

♦ To read an extended review of Wat Yai Chai Mongkol : click here

 

Wat Mongkhon Bophit is one of the active temples in Ayutthaya. It is a large and impressive site featuring a huge bronze statue of Buddha which is covered with gold. The statue is 12.5 meters tall, and together with its foundation, it towers to a 16 meters height and it is 9.5 meters wide.

My Opinion:  Wat Mongkhon Bophit temple is located right next to Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, so you can easily and conveniently visit both sites. This is a closed structure so it’s nice to visit there if the weather is rainy or hot.

♥ A visit to the site can be included as part of our private luxury tour plans in Ayutthaya

♦ To read an extended review of Wat Mongkhon Bophit click here

 

Wat Phana Choeng is a historic, yet one of the most active temples in Ayutthaya. It is sacred to both Thai and Chinese people and features the largest, most impressive and adored sitting Buddha statues in the city.

My Opinion:  a historic Thai-Chinese styled temple which is very active today as before. In addition to the huge, golden Buddha statue which is the most impressive in Ayutthaya, the fact that the temple is lively and very active enables visitors to take a close look at the Thai culture in real time.

 

♦ To read an extended review of Wat Phana Choeng : click here