The Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya or Ayutthaya in short, is one of Thailand’s historical and majestic highlights. Serving as the Thai capital for 417 years (1350 1767: Kingdom of Ayutthaya), it was once glorified as one of the biggest cities in Southeast Asia. During the 17th century, most foreign visitors to Ayutthaya, traders or diplomats alike, claimed Ayutthaya to be the most illustrious and glittering city that they had ever visited.
Today, there are but groups of crumbling ruins and rows of headless Buddhas where once an empire thrived. The temple compounds are still awe-inspiring even in disrepair and a visit here is memorable and a good beginning for those drawn to the relics of history.
The architecture of Ayutthaya is a fascinating mix of Khmer (ancient Cambodian style) and early Sukhothai style. Some cactus-shaped obelisks, called prangs, denote Khmer influence and look something like the famous towers of Angkor Wat. The more pointed stupas are ascribed to the Sukhothai influence. For new arrivals who had limited their visit to Bangkok, similarities may be noted with the riverside Wat Arun, an 18th-century structure that was built in the so-called Ayutthaya style, a melding of Sukhothai Buddhist influences and Hindu-inspired Khmer motifs.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
Located to the Southeast of the island, this temples lofty chedi is visible from most of the town. The monastery was built in 1900 by King U-thong who granted the temple with the name Wat Pa Kaew. The intention was to create a center of Buddhist studies (Ceylonese Sect). As the temple used to be headed by a patriarch, local people also called it Wat Chao Phraya Thai.
The present name was given granted to the temple by King Naresuan to commemorate a battle fought against the Crown Prince of Burma in 1592. His momentous victory a single-handed combat on the elephant back brought independence to Ayutthaya after 15 years as a Burmese dependent. Within the complex is a huge image of a reclining Buddha in brick and stucco. The chedi is bell-shaped, about 60 meters high, constructed on a mound of raised ground (15 X 32.4 X 32.4 m.) with steps going up to the Buddhist image placed midway to the top. The chedi itself now has a distinct tilt, but still can be entered via the stairs.
The Ubosot or ordination hall is windowless but ventilated by pierced holes stretching down the roof on both walls. Also situated in the compound is King Naresuans statue, which is highly revered by Thais.
Admission fee is 20 bahts.
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
This chapel is located to the south of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. A large bronze seated Buddha image (Phra Mongkhon Bophit) was originally enshrined outside the Grand Palace to the east. It could be dated to the 15th century and was originally intended to stand in the open air. Later, King Songtham commanded it to be transferred to the west, where it is currently enshrined and covered with a Mondop. In the reign of Phra Chao Sua, the top of the Mondop was burnt down by a fire due to a thunderbolt. The King then commanded that a new building be built in the form of a big sanctuary (Maha Wihan) to cover the image in lieu of the former Mondop. During the second fall of Ayutthaya, the building and the image were badly destroyed by fire. The present Viharn and Buddha image have been reconstructed and renovated. The open area located east of the Viharn was formerly Sanam Luang, where royal cremation ceremonies took place.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
In 1491, Wat Phra Si Sanphet was located inside the compound of the Grand Palace-the foundations of which are still visible-and served as the royal chapel, as Wat Phra Kaeo does in Bangkok. This Wang Lung Palace (Royal Palace) was built by King U-Thong upon the founding of the city. Used as a residential palace, it became a monastery in the reign of King Ramathibodi I. When King Borom Trai Lokanat commanded the construction of new living quarters, this residential palace was transformed into a temple,and the establishment of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. In Ayutthaya’s heyday, this was the largest temple in the city.
The three main chedis which have been restored contain the ashes of three Ayutthaya kings. The temple is situated at the northern end of Si Sanphet Road. The royal chapel does not have any monks and novice inhabitants. Admission fee is 20 bahts.
Wat Phra Ram
Though founded in 1369, the ruins of Wat Phra Ram date mostly from its restoration in the 15th century. Its main feature is a well-proportioned prang situated on a stepped terrace adorned with chedis. Some of the prang’s stucco decorations, including Buddha images in the walking and standing poses, still remain
King Borom Rachathirat II (Chao Sam Phraya) built a temple on the site where his two elder brothers were cremated. His two brothers died in a power struggle to succeed their father, King Nakhon In who died in 1424. A series of bell-shaped chedis surround the main prang and a large oblong-shaped viharn is situated at the front. The architectural style evolved from the Khmer prasat, but has been adapted by the addition of a higher multi-layered base and an extended upper section. More corners were added to the main body and the tower section was extended to become corn-shaped. The antefixes, on the other hand, were attached to the body of the tower instead of leaving a decent gap between them which was common in Khmer prasats.
These two temples are separated by Naresuan Road. The Admission fee for each site is 20 bahts.
Wat Phra Mahathat and Wat Ratburana
Wat Mahathat is located in front of the Grand Palace to the east, next to Pa Than Bridge. The temple is believed to be one of Ayutthaya’s oldest temples, possibly built by King Boromaraja I (1370-88). Its central prang, of which only the base remains, once rose to a height of 165 feet. Traces of the original stucco decorations can still be seen on some of the surrounding chedis.
Wat Phanan Choeng
Overlooking the river on the opposite bank from the main city, Wat Phanan Choeng was founded shortly before the establishment of Ayutthaya as the Kingdoms capital. Its main building enshrines a huge, seated Buddha image, that is 57 feet tall an object of particular devotion to Thais of Chinese origin. This principal image called Phrachao Phananchoeng was built of stucco in the attitude of subduing evil in 1325. The temple is a popular stopover for riverboat cruises along the Maenam Chao Phraya. This temple can be reached by boat from the fortress ruins.
Wat Na Phra Men
Formerly known as Wat Phra Merurachikaram, the temple is located across the river north of the palace. Although the date of construction is unknown, the temple has been restored a number of times but still has a finely proportioned ubosot and viharn. The latter contains a large Dvaravati stone Buddha seated in European style, his hands on his knees, which some scholars think originated in Nakhon Pathom.
The Ubosot design is very old in the typical Thai style. The most interesting object is the principal Buddha image, which is fully decorated in regal attire. The most interesting fact attributed to the image is that it escaped destruction when the Burmese were burning everything down. It was from the grounds of this temple that the Burmese King Chao Along Phaya decided to fire a cannon at the Grand Palace.
Admission to the temple which is just over the bridge near Si Sanphet Road is 10 bahts.
Located on the bank of the Maenam Chao Phraya, to the west of the city island is Wat Chaiwatthanaram. Built in 1630 by King Prasat Thong to honor his mother, Wat Chai Wattanaram was conceived as a replica of the Angkor temple. A Royal monastery, the temples unique feature is a huge prang which is surrounded by smaller prangs. This symbolizes Mount Meru, the abode of the heavenly gods. Now restored, the temple is also accessible by a long-tailed boat trip from Chankasem Palace Pier. This 1-hour trip to the temple costs approximately 300-400 bahts (round-trip). Entry fee to the temple itself is 20 bahts.
Elephant Kraal Pavilion
The Pavilion, utilized as the royal seat to witness the elephant round up, is situated north of the city island. In the past wild elephants would be trained here to become war or transport animals. It is thought that in the Ayutthaya period the stockade was inside the city wall, but this one was built later and was used up until the Bangkok period. In the middle of the stockade is a shrine where the elephant guardian is supposed to reside. Posts made of whole timbers form the fence where elephants were tied up during the training. An elephant round-up was demonstrated here in 1890, during the reign of King Rama V, for the benefit of the Tsarevitch, who later became Nicholas II of Russia, during his visit to Siam.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
This museum is perfect for history buffs who admire fine arts and handicraft of the Ayutthaya period. Housed in the museum are various original antiques, mostly made of gold and decorated with precious jewels. In addition, there are various antique bronze Buddha images and famous carved panels. Of note is a receptacle in the Thai Pavilion that contains relics of the Lord Buddha and other objects of art that are over 500 years old.
The museum which is located on Rochana Road, opposite the city wall is open daily, except Mondays, Tuesdays and national holidays, from 09.00 a.m. until 4.00 p.m. (Admission fee is 10 Bahts). For more information, call: 0 3524 1587
This ancient site is located 1.5 kilometres south of the Wat Phananchoeng in Tambon Ko Rein. There is an additional building of the Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre, where the foreign affairs of the Ayutthaya Period are on exhibition.
Khun Phan House
Khun Phan House is a Thai-style house that conforms to descriptions in a popular Thai literary work. Khun Phan’s house is near Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit.Si Suriyothai Park, which has a total area of 5 rai, is located within the area of the Ayutthaya liquor plant adjacent to Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai. Within the area is a common building, a Somdet Phra Si Suriyothai pavilion, a mound with marble Semas (boundary stones of a temple) aged over 400 years where the fragmented parts of Buddha images taken from Wat Phutthaisawan were buried, etc. The Liquor Distillery Organization, who sponsored the construction of the park, wished to devote all good deeds in transforming the former inner part of the royal compound to all of the late kings who used to live here. King Rama IX graciously named the park Suan Si Suriyothai on 25 May, 1989 and conferred the park to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit on the eve of her 60th anniversary. The park is open daily to the public from 9.00 a.m. until 5.00 p.m.
Phom Phet (The Diamond Fort)
This fort that remains almost intact while ruins of the other forts which had been destroyed are visible around the city island. This fortress, also known as Phom Phet Pairote, is situated on a site known as Bangkaja where the Maenam Chao Phraya and the Maenam Pasak meet to form the south-west corner of the city island. This large fortress is thought to have been built during the reign of King Mahathammaracha following the loss of Ayutthaya to the Burmese for the first time in 1549. The original earthen parapet was strengthened with brick.
This village is located in Tambon Samphao Lom, on the west bank of the Maenam Chao Phraya to the south of the city. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive at Ayutthaya in 1151. Antique objects, tobacco pipes, coins and accessories for religious ceremonies have been found at the site.
The Royal Palace of Ayutthaya, which is now known as the Old Palace, is situated next to the northern section of the city wall. King Borom Trailokanath turned the palace, which was built in 1350 by King U-Thong, the first sovereign of the kingdom, into a monastery (Wat Phra Si Sanpet) in 1448 when he declared the three grand wooden prasats built by King U-Thong as a phuttawat or religious zone. King Borom Trailokanath then extended the palace grounds further north towards the Lopburi River, which was then used as the city’s moat. Several halls have been built since then. Places of interest in the Royal Palace are as follows:-
Sanphet Prasat Hall
King Borom Trailokanath built this hall which was used as a reception hall for foreign visitors as a sister to the Benjarat Maha Prasat Hall. This prasat-style hall had long porticoes both at the front and the back, with shorter ones on the sides and a small Mondop situated on a mini balcony on the front portico. Tin sheets covered the roof and bralee or small spikes decorated its ridges. In addition, there was a tall spire on top of the roof. On both sides of this hall were stables that housed the white elephants. When Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese the hall was burnt down and only its brick and mortar foundations survives.
King Rama IV, desirous of honoring the Kings of Ayutthaya, sent a team of officials from Bangkok to built a small prasat on the foundation of Sanphet Prasat Hall and planned to install a plaque inscribed with the names of all Ayutthaya’s kings. However, he died before the construction was completed. In 1907 King Rama V had the unfinished prasat pulled down and built a ceremonial pavilion instead.
Chakawat Paichayon Hall
King Prasat Thong built this prasat-style hall in 1632 on the inside wall of the palace towards the east. In this hall the king received an envoy sent by the Burmese King to protest King Prasat Thong’s proposal to reform the calendar. During the Bangkok period, King Rama I built a pavilion on top of the outer-wall of the palace in the same manner and it was used to view the processions or the military exercises.
This building, which is believed to be the garden house inside the inner court, is located behind Sanphet Prasat Hall but its date of construction is unknown. The name was first mentioned in the reign of King Borom Rachathirat II in 1427 when it was destroyed by fire. It is believed that the original hall was a wooden structure built on top of a plain foundation and the floor was covered with terracotta slabs.
It was a long twin building similar to Sanphet Prasat Hall. The original foundation is still visible.
When King Rama V celebrated the 40th anniversary of his coronation in 1907 he had wooden models of various Ayutthayan halls built on top of the original sites and one of which was built on top of the foundation of Trimuk Hall. In addition, when King Rama VI and King Rama VII ascended to the throne they conducted religious rites in honor of the former Kings in Trimuk Hall and in 1953, the Fine Arts Department renovated the Hall.
St. Joseph’s Church
St. Joseph’s Church was built during the reign of King Narai in 1666 as a result of a request from the missionaries headed by Bishop Lambert de la Motte a missionary who wished to build a church and a mission school. The original wooden church was rebuilt in bricks and mortar in the European style between 1685 and 1695. During the second Burmese attack, the Siamese used the church as a shelter which led to its being destroyed on 23 March 1767. In 1831 Father Pallegoix came to Siam and took care of the restoration work on the church. The restoration was completed in 1847. More additions in the 12th century Romanesque style were made during the tenure of Father Perros during the reign of King Rama V. The church is a place of continuous Catholic worship in Thailand for over 300 years.
This is a public park situated on U-Thong Road to the southwest of the city. The area, full of plants referred to in Thai literature, houses many archaeological ruins.
Thai Boat Museum
The museum is located at the residence of its founder, Mr. Phaithun Khaomala, a renowned Thai boat modeller and former boat builder. Inspired by their beauty and relationship to the lives of Thai people, Mr. Phaithun dedicated a part of his residence to preseving what he holds to be fine examples of the country’s treasured traditions.
On display are a wide range of models from his large and exquisite collection, make in teak. Included in the collection are more than 100 models boats delicately made by hand. They range from Thai and Chinese junks to other traditional Thai boats and ocean liners. Among the most impressive items in the collection are models of Thailand’s famous Royal Barges. As some of them are rarely seen nowadays, the museum is considered a must-visit. Open daily from 8.00 a.m.-5.00 p.m. Call 0 3524 1195 for more information. The Thai Boat Museum is situated opposite Wat Mahathat, Bang Iean Road.
Wat Kasattrathirat Worawihan
Located outside the city island, opposite Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai, on the bank of the Chao Phraya River is another interesting temple worth visiting. Formerly known as Kasattra or Kasattraram, the ancient temple is of the Ayutthaya period with a main Prang (stupa) at its centre.
Located to the east in front of the railway station, this old monastery was beautifully constructed with better craftsmanship than many other temples as can be seen from the remaining ruins which have been left deteriorate.
This monastery is over a kilometer behind Wat Suanluangsopsawan adjacent to Wat Worachettharam. Accessible by the road inside the compound of the Distillery Plant, or through the road behind the Phlapphla Trimuk (three-gabled roof pavilion), the monastery is in the area of the Ancient Palace. Proceed past Wat Woraphot and Wat Worachettharam until reaching the open-air site of the large reclining Buddha, which is made of brick and covered with plaster, is approximately 29 meters long. The ruins of large hexagonal pillars near the image are believed to be the ruins of the Ubosot.
Wat Phu Khao Thong
The Phu Khao Thong chedi is situated about two kilometres northwest of the city island. It was built by King Ramesuan in 1387. Burengnong, the Burmese king, built three layers of the large superimposed base in the Burmese style after he seized Ayutthaya in 1569 and named it Phu Khao Thong. The main body of the Thai-style chedi was built later.
King Borom Kot carried out renovations during his reign in 1744 and changed its appearance into a 12- cornered chedi. Only the lowest part retains its original Mon style. According to the records, a canal was dug from Wat Phu Khao Thong by a former monk of the temple to keep the Burmese army out when Ayutthaya was under Burmese attack in 1548. The moat which connects a canal with the main river is still in evidence and is called Mahanak canal in honor of the former monk.
However, after Ayutthaya fell to the Burmese in 1767 the whole place was burned down. The Thai Government, under Premier Pibulsongkram, renovated the shrine again approximately 40 years ago.
This monastery is located to the south of the river bank opposite the city island. Constructed in the area where King U-Thong and his subjects first migrated in order to establish the new town, it was formerly known as “Wiang Lek” named after the royal palace of King U-Thong. The most distinctive feature of this temple is the great principal Buddha image cast in the early Ayutthaya style.
Located near Wat Kudidao, this temple was renovated by Chao Phraya Kosa (Lek) and Phraya Kosa (Pan) during the reign of King Narai the Great. The main attraction is a large and unusual prang believed to be an imitation of the design of Chedi Chet Yot of Chiang Mai.
This ancient temple, which is located behind Chankasem Palace houses two Buddha images that were transferred from Vientiane.
Wat Suan Luang Sopsawan
King Maha Chakkraphat commanded the construction of this monastery on the west of the city which is the old military regiment area in the royal garden compound adjacent to the original area of Wat Sopsawan after the royal cremation of Queen Suriyothai. Her body was kept for the religious ceremonies in the Royal Garden (Suan Luang) Hall and was cremated there on the grounds.
Today, it is possible to visit a large pagoda called “Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai” that was built on the location of the crematorium.
Wat Suwandararam Ratchaworawihan
The main attractions of this temple, which is located on U-Thong Road, southeast of the city, are the paintings. The mural paintings in the Ubosot depict the gathering deities and jataka stories, while the murals on the front wall show a picture of the Lord Buddha subduing evil. Within the Viharn, is a picture depicting the bravery of King Naresuan the Great, which is a masterpiece with several copies found in many other places.
Thong Road, 6 – 7 kilometres from Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, the temple covers an area of approximately 15 rai. There is no evidence as to when it was constructed and by whom. It is believed to have existed since the Ayothaya period before the establishment of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya and must have once been abandoned after the fall of the Kingdom in 1767, before being renovated in the reign of King Rama I and has resumed a status as a monastic temple ever since. Wat Tum has also served as a temple for a war strategy ceremony for at least 1,000 years presumably since the foundation of Ayutthaya. The temple houses a special Buddha image of which the top part above the forehead can be lifted and the head finial known as Ketumala can be removed. There is a hollow inside the head deep down nearly to the throat containing drops of seeping drinkable clean water that never runs dry. It is a bronze crowned and bejewelled image of the Buddha seated in the gesture of subduing Mara, measuring 87 centimetres in width and 150 centimetres in height. Originally named “Luangpho Thongsuksamrit”, the image is currently called “Luangpho Suk” and is of an unknown origin. The head of the image will be opened on the first day of each month.Thong Road, 6 – 7 kilometres from Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, the temple covers an area of approximately 15 rai. There is no evidence as to when it was constructed and by whom. It is believed to have existed since the Ayothaya period before the establishment of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya and must have once been abandoned after the fall of the Kingdom in 1767, before being renovated in the reign of King Rama I and has resumed a status as a monastic temple ever since. Wat Tum has also served as a temple for a war strategy ceremony for at least 1,000 years presumably since the foundation of Ayutthaya. The temple houses a special Buddha image of which the top part above the forehead can be lifted and the head finial known as Ketumala can be removed. There is a hollow inside the head deep down nearly to the throat containing drops of seeping drinkable clean water that never runs dry. It is a bronze crowned and bejewelled image of the Buddha seated in the gesture of subduing Mara, measuring 87 centimetres in width and 150 centimetres in height. Originally named “Luangpho Thongsuksamrit”, the image is currently called “Luangpho Suk” and is of an unknown origin. The head of the image will be opened on the first day of each month.
Chankasem or Front Palace National Museum
Chankasem Palace was built during the reign of King Maha Thammaraja, the 17th King of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. During the reign of King Naresuan the Great the Palace became his permanent residence. Chankasem Palace, like the other palaces, was destroyed during the Burmese invasion. It has been renovated and reopened as a museum open to the public on Wednesdays through Sundays from 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.
Ayutthaya Studies Institute
Sited next to Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre is an institute established with the aim of unertaking further study and research on Ayutthaya’s history, its arts and culture, ways of life as well as local wisdoms. Aside from this, Ayutthaya Studies Institute also serves to promote this ancient capital by initiating several tourism-related projects with a prime focus on local culture and wisdom. Featured in the projects are a wide array of activities such as demonstration of OTOP products and performances. As well as this, a learning centre on arts, culture and local wisdom and an information centre providing local guide services for both Thais and foreigners alike are also established. The institute, which is an organization of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Rajabhat University, has recently arranged an interesting exhibition showcasing Ayutthaya’s timeless treasures – a combination of history, arts and local wisdom. Five traditional Thai houses located in the area of the instutute are dedicated to this exhibition. Those wishing to experience first-hand the diverse aspects of Ayutthaya’s glory should not miss cultural and arts performances scheduled to perform every Saturday and Sunday,from 5.00 p.m. onwards. For further information, please contact 0 3524 1407 or 08 9115 5181.
Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre
This compound is located on Rochana Road and is a National Research Institute devoted to the study of Ayutthaya, especially the period when it was the capital of Thailand. The Centre is responsible for the Museum of the History of Ayutthaya, which exhibits reconstructions from the past. In addition, the Centre provides information services and has a library containing historical materials about Ayutthaya.
The Centre opens daily from 9.00 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. On official holidays service hours are from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. For more information, please contact Tel: 0 3524 5124 (Admission fee is 100 Bahts)
Ayutthaya Historical Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ayutthaya’s historic temples are scattered throughout this once magnificent city and along the encircling rivers. Several of the more central ruins Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mongkhon Bophit, Wat Na Phra Meru, Wat Thammikarat, Wat Ratburana and Wat Phra Mahathat can be visited on foot.
It is possible to add more temples and ruins to travel itineraries by touring the city on a rented bicycle. An ideal combination of modes of transportation for visitors interested in seeing everything would be to hire a bicycle for the central temples and charter a long-tail boat to take a tour of the outlying ruins along the river.
Ayutthaya Historical Park is situated opposite the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum. The main attraction in the historical park is Viharn Phramongkol Bophit which houses one of the largest bronze Buddha images in Thailand.
Ancient Forts and Fortresses
The city wall originally built by King U Thong was merely a moat-and-mound enclosure with a wall of wooden poles on top. A brick one was built later in the reign of King Maha Chakraphat. According to a Royal Chronicle, a number of fortresses were constructed such as Pom Maha Chai, Pom Sat Kop, Pom Phet, Pom Ho Ratchakhrue and Pom Champa Phon. Large fortresses were built on the meeting points of rivers. Pom Phet on the meeting point of the Chao Phraya and Pa Sak Rivers is now a public park while Pom Maha Chai at the corner of Chanthara Kasem Palace near Hua Ro Market was dismantled in the reign of King Rama I who had the bricks taken to be used in the construction of a new capital in Bangkok.
Prasat Nakhon Luang
This ruin of the royal residence for summer retreats is on the east bank of the Pasak River. It was used by various Kings of Ayutthaya as a temporary camp en route a visit to the Lord Buddha’s Footprint in Saraburi or a trip to Lopburi. Prince Damrong surmised that this residence was built during the reign of King Song Tham when the Footprint was discovered. The original building was later strengthened with brick and plaster during the reign King Prasat Thong. According to the royal annals, King Prasat Thong sent artists to Khmer in 1631 to copy the plan of a Khmer prasat from the capital city of Angkor Thom, hence the name Phra Nakhon Luang. However, only a simplified version of the original prasat was constructed and is currently a part of a temple where the monks help to keep the building in a state of good repair.
The name “Aranyik” is traditionally related to the history of the Ayutthaya period, when wars were fought in hand-to-hand battles. Aranyik village emerged as a place where sword smiths specialised in battle swords worked. To this day, Aranyik Village remains at the forefront as the country’s leading producer of hand made, high-quality knives and swords
Now also noted for its five-star OTOP products, Aranyik has diversified its product range to suit modern-day markets and requirements. Cutlery, dinnerware and other table accessories are produced and exported. These represent another great tradition that thrives even in modern times.
Production is in the villages of Ban Ton Pho and Ban Pai Nong. However, the OTOP Village is located at Ban Sarai, Tha Chang Sub-District, Nakhon Luang District. It is here that visitors can take a closer look at how Aranyik knives and other related products and made while exploring the villagers’ remarkably charming traditional way of life. Homestay accommodation is available.
To Get There
The village is now accessible by bus from Chao Phrom Market in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. Take the bus with a sign reading “Ayutthaya–Tha Ruea”, which runs along the Asia Highway (Highway No.32) towards Nakhon Sawan, pass beyond Somdet Phra Sangkharat Hospital for about 100 metres, turn left under the bridge across the Pa Sak River towards Amphoe Nakhon Luang and follow the direction signs. A boat trip is also available from in front of Chanthara Kasem Palace backward against the Pa Sak River via the Military Arsenal Department’s explosives plant and Amphoe Nakhon Luang, respectively. The boat trip takes approximately 2 hours.
The Support Arts and Craft International Centre of Thailand (SACICT)
The Support Arts and Craft International Centre of Thailand (SACICT) is located on the left bank of the Chao Phraya River at Chang Yai Sub-District, Bang Sai District, next to the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Center, on an area of over 18 acres. It comprises 2 main buildings, Phra Ming Mongkhon Hall, a large three-storey building, as the display and exhibition center of craft products for export, with a usable area of 34,340 square meter, and the Marketing Building for Bang Sai Center Products, with an area of 7,000 square meters, which was completed in July 2004.
The Ministry of Commerce presented the Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (public Organization) as a tribute to Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand, at the special function entitled Support Atrs and Crafts International Centre of Thailand paying tribute to the Great Queen of Siam on the Auspicious 72nd Birthday Anniversary held during August 2004.
Within SACICT, the exhibition are on the 1st floor is where prime craft products selected from 76 rovinces all over the country are put on display in the revolving exhibits changed every 3 months. Products that are of extraordinary beauty are permanently displayed in the Hall of Fame to be appraised by tourists and the general public on a wide scale. Also, craft products of the Bang Sai Folk Arts and Crafts Center which won prizes at an international level are on display.
Moreover, there is the Support shop, as the outlet of craft products made by trainees at the Bang Sai Folk Arts and Crafts Center, and from other Support Centres around the country, 22 in number. There is also the OTOP shop, where OTOP goods from all over the country are on sale.
The 3rd floor of SACICT serves as the area for trade negotiations, where craft products are marketed and distributed to the market on a wide scale.
For more information, visit www.sacict.net
Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Craft Centre
The Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, which covers an area of 285 rai of land (or 14 acres), is a place where visitors can see the activities of farmers in the 4 regions of Thailand. In addition to being an important training center for craftspeople, there are interesting products on sale such as fern basketry, wickerwork basketry, artificial flowers, hand-woven silk and cotton, silk production and etc. The Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre is open daily except Mondays from 8.30 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Admission fee : adult 100 bahts and 50 bahts for child. Call 035-366252-3 or website : http://www.bangsaiarts.com/index2.html for more information.
Gong Khong Market
A newly established market worth visiting. Showcasing Ayutthaya’s old way of live, the market’s name is derived from an action of visitors who need to bend down (Gong Khong) when looking or purchasing the products. A wide range of reasonably priced local products including fresh and chemical-free vegetables and fruites, as well as OTOP products, food and desserts are available.
Wat Niwet Thamaprawat
This temple, which was built Rama V (Chulalongkorn), looks more like a Gothic Christian church than a Thai temple. Visitors can access the temple by crossing the river in a small trolley-like cable car. The crossing is free of charge.
There are several nice boat trips departing from Bangkok to Bang Pa-In Palace, especially through cruise tours. The Palace is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily with an admission fee of 50 bahts. Tel: 035 261004 or 035 2243273 for more details.
Bang Pa-in Summer Palace
A few miles down the Maenam Chao Phraya from Ayutthaya is the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace. The site was first used by the royal court as a summer retreat in the 17th century. However, the Palace was destroyed with the fall of Kingdom of Ayutthaya and was restored by King Rama IV in the mid-19th century. Most of the buildings that exist today date from the reign of King Rama V, who regularly spent his summers there. The structures represent a variety of architectural styles, set in a large park around ponds and waterways. The only royal residence open to the public is the Chiness-style Wehat Chamroon Palace, constructed entirely of materials imported from China. In addition, there is an Italian-style palace, a circular pavilion with steps leading down to a pool, the graceful Thai-style Aisawan Tippaya Asna Pavilion in the middle of a lake, and, across one of the waterways, a Buddhist chapel in the neo-Gothic style with stained-glass windows. Scattered around the extensive gardens are European statues as well as monuments ordered to be built by King Rama V in memory of members of his family, one of them a much-loved Queen who drowned in a boating accident.
Places of interest in the Bang Pa-in Palace are as follows:-
Ho Hemmonthian Thewarat is the stone Prang under a banyan tree near the pond within the outer part of the royal compound, where an image of a deity is housed. King Rama V ordered its construction in 1879 to replace an old shrine built by villagers as an offering to King Prasatthong of the Ayutthaya period.
Aisawanthipphaya-At Pavilion A Thai design pavilion in the middle of the pond was built in the reign of King Rama V. Originally built of wood throughout, King Rama VI commanded to change the floor and pillars to be reinforced concrete.
Warophatphiman Hall It is north of the“Saphan Sadet” the royal path to and from the river landing. Formerly the two-storey wooden villa was used as both the royal living quarters and Throne Hall. Later during his reign, King Rama V commanded the original one to be demolished and replaced with a European design building to be used as the Throne Hall to receive his subjects for royal ceremonies. In this hall are paintings of the royal historic records, Inao literature, Phra Aphai Mani literature and the Ramayana epic.
Saphakhan Ratchaprayun This two-storey building on the river bank outside the palace wall was constructed by the royal command of King Rama V. It is in front of Warophat Phiman Hall in the south and was used as the living quarter of the non-consort members.
Phra Thinang Utthayan Phumisathian is a 2-story elaborately constructed building, which is tinted alternately in dark and light green, located to the east, opposite the pond. Its balcony is similar in design to that of a Swiss chalet. Before being destroyed by fire during the restoration in 1938, the whole building was built from wood and decorated with mahogany furniture ordered directly from Europe.
Theatre This theatre was constructed by the royal command of King Rama VI in the compound of his consort’ s living quarters near the pond in the garden west of Utthayan Phumisathian Hall.
Wehat Chamrun Hall This hall located in the north of the palace, was constructed in the Chinese Emperor style as the royal offering by Phraya Choduk Ratchasetthi (Fak). King Chulachomklao usually made a royal visit during the cool season.
Keng Buppha Praphat is the Chinese-style pavilion nearby the garden’s pond within the inner part of the royal compound. It was built in 1881 during the reign of King Rama V.
Ho Witthunthassana This hall, constructed in the form of a tower between Utthayan Phumisathian and Wehat Chamrun, is a three-storey building having a spiral staircase leading to the top floor hall. When residing in Bang Pa-In Palace, King Rama V used this hall as the place to get the bird’s eye view of the surrounding area.
Monument of Queen Sunantha This is a 3 metre high hexagonal marble building, situated on the east side of the royal palace. It was constructed to keep the ashed of the affectionate consort of King Rama V (Somdet Phranangchao Sunantha Kumarirat).
Monument of Phra-Akkharachayathoe Phra-Ong Chao Saowaphaknarirat and Three Royal Children,or Anusawarirachanuson It is the marble relief memorial that King Rama V, with his deep sorrow, ordered to be constructed in 1888 to commemorate his beloved consort (Phra – Akkharachayathoe Phra – Ongchao Saowaphak Narirat) and three royal children who passed away at different times of the same year, 1887. These portraits stand nearby the memorial of Somdet Phranangchao Sunantha Kumarirat.
Bang Pa-in Palace is open daily between 8.00 a.m.–5.00 p.m. (Tickets are available during 8.00 a.m.–3.00 p.m.) Admission is 100 Baht. There is also a 25-minute River Jet service leaving Bang Pa-in Palace Pier every 1 hour and circling around the island of Wat Niwet Thammaprawat between 9.00 a.m.–3.00 p.m. (until 4.00 p.m. on weekends and no service on Wednesdays and Thursdays). For more details, contact the Bang Pa-in Palace Bureau at Tel. 0 3526 1044. Website : http://www.palaces.thai.net/day/index_bp.htm
How to Get to Bang Pa-in
From Bangkok, take Phahon Yothin Road until Pratu Nam Phra In. Cross the outer ring bridge and turn left around Km.35 for approximately 7 kilometres to Bang Pa-In palace, or pass to Ayutthaya and turn left at Chedi Wat Sam Pluem Circle via Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Wat Phananchoeng, Amphoe Bang Pa-in to Bang Pa-in Railway Station, turn right to Bang Pa-In Palace
1. Take Highway No.1 (Phahonyothin Road.) then take Highway No.32 to Ayutthaya.
2. Take Highway No.304 (Chaeng-Watthana Road.) or take Highway No.302 (Ngamwongwan Road.) ; turn righ to Highway No.306 (Tiwanon Road.), then take Highway No.3111 (Pathum Thani-Samkhok-Sena) and turn right at Amphoe Sena to Highway No.3263
3. Take Highway No.306 (Bangkok – Nonthaburi – Pathum Thani Road.) then take Highway No.347
By Bus From Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal, on Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, there are buses to Bang Pa-in daily every 30 minutes. For more details, please call Tel. 0 2936 2852-66 or click www.transport.co.th and Ayutthaya Bus Terminal, Tel. 0 3533 5304
By Train There are trains running from Hua Lamphong (Bangkok Railway Station) to Bang Pa-in Railway Station daily every hour starting from 06.40-22.00 hrs. Then, connect a Song Thaeo, motor tricycle or motorcycle taxi to Bang Pa-In Palace. Bangkok Railway Station , Tel. 1690, 0 2220 4334 or click www.railway.co.th
Cruise to Ayutthaya There is no public boat going to Ayutthaya. However, there are several companies that organise excursions from Bangkok to Ayutthaya and Bang Pa – In. The luxurious cruise from Bangkok to the former capital of Ayutthaya is operated by Chao Phraya Princess Cruise Tel: 0 2860 3700, Horizon Cruise Tel: 0 2236 7777, River Sun Cruise Tel: 0 2266 9316, 0 2266 9125-6, Manohra Tel: 0 2476 0021-2 and Grand Pearl Tel: 0 2861 0255-60.
Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai
This pagoda is situated at the original site of the Rear Palace, in the west of the city. It is a memorial to Somdet Phra Suriyothai, who was the royal consort of Phra Mahachakkaraphat and the first heroine in Thai history. When the Burmese army intruded in 1548, Somdet Phra Suriyothai, clad in a warrior’s suit, interrupted the fighting between the King and Phrachao Prae of Burma and was cut to death. Her death saved Ayutthaya from another attack from the Burmese.
Alternative I: Take Highway No. 1 (Phahonyothin Road.) then take Highway No. 32 to Ayutthaya.
Alternative II: Take Highway No. 304 (Chaeng Watthana Road.) or take Highway No. 302 (Ngamwongwan Road.); turn righ to Highway No. 306 (Tiwanon Road.), then take Highway No. 3111 (Pathum Thani – Samkhok – Sena) and turn right at Amphoe Sena to Highway No. 3263
Alternative III: Take Highway No. 306 (Bangkok – Nonthaburi – Pathum Thani Road.) then take Highway No. 347
Ordinary buses run between the Bangkoks Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit 2 Bus Terminal) and Ayutthaya’s main terminal on Naresuan Rd. every 20 minutes between 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. The fare is 30 bahts and the trip takes around 2hours. Air-conditioned buses operate the same route every 20 minutes from 5.40 a.m. to 7.20 p.m. (every 15 minutes between 7a.m. and 5p.m.) at the rate of 47 bahts, the trip takes 1.5 hours when traffic to north of Bangkok is light, otherwise it will take two hours.By Train:Trains to Ayutthaya leave Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station approximately every hour between 4.20 a.m. and 10 p.m. The 3rd class fare is 15 bahts for the 1.5 hour trip. Train schedules are available from the information booth at Hua Lamphong Station. Alternatively, call 0 2223 7010, 0 2223 7020, or 1690 or visit www.railway.co.th for reservations.
By Boat :
There are no scheduled or chartered boat services between Bangkok and Ayutthaya. However, several companies in Bangkok operate luxury cruises to Bang Pa-In with side trips by bus to Ayutthaya for approximately 1,500 bahts to 1,800 bahts per person, including a sumptuous luncheon. Longer two days trips in converted rice barges start at 4,800 baht.
Travelling around Ayutthaya and from Ayutthaya to nearby attractions
Song taew and shared tuk-tuk will go anywhere for 10 to 30 bahts/person depending on the distance/destination. A tuk-tuk from the train station going to any point in the old Ayutthaya zone is approximately 30 bahts. Note that the trip on the island (old Ayutthaya city) itself costs 20 bahts/trip maximum.
To tour the ruins, the most economical and ecological option is to rent a bicycle from one of the guesthouses (40 to 50 bahts/day). Walking is also an option, but not recommended during the hot or rainy seasons. It is possible to charter a sam lor, tuk tuk or song taew by the hour or by the day to explore the ruins but the prices are relatively high by Thai standards (150 bahts/hour, or 500 bahts for the entire day).
Another interesting activity is chartering a boat from the Tha Chan Kasem (Chan Kasem Pier, next to Hua Ro Market) for a semicircular tour of the island and seeing some of the less accessible ruins. A long tailed boat with a capacity of up to 8 people can be hired for 400 bahts for a 2 to 3 hour trip with stopovers at Wat Phutthaisawan, Wat Phanan Choeng and Wat Chai Wattnaram.
Mini – bus services operating from the railway station into the city are also available. Hiring a mini – bus within Ayutthaya costs 250 – 300 bahts/day. If you wish to travel between Ayutthaya and Bang Pa – In, mini – buses regularly leave Chao Prom Market (on Chao Prom Road). Daily schedules start from 6.30 a.m. with a fare of 30 bahts. The trip takes approximately 50 minutes.