Did you know that Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam? This all came to an end in 1767 when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya and almost completely burnt the city to ashes. Only ruins remained after the Burmese invasion. They are still standing today and are stunning. In fact, Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Just one hour north of Bangkok, most people will visit Ayutthaya as a day-trip. However, while traveling around Southeast Asia, I spent two weeks in Ayutthaya because I was volunteering as an English teacher there. During my time there I was able to see and do many things. It was great but I would not recommend staying there for two weeks.
I have created a list of my top 5 favourite things to see in the old capital of Siam. The best part is that you can see my top 5 favourite things in Ayutthaya in just one day!
1. Wat Phra Mahathat
This was my favourite temple as I found it extremely interesting. It was clearly attacked by the Burmese, but I find that, that adds to the temples character. For example, there is a row of headless Buddha statues- you don’t get to see that everyday.
The best part about this temple was the beautiful tree that had grown around a stone sculpture of Buddha’s head. I had no idea about this before I got to the temple, and I was truly mesmerized by it. There is nothing else like this in the world.
2. Wat Lokkayasutharam
This temple issimply worth the visit just to see the famous reclining buddha, Phra Buddha Sai Yat. This is a huge statue measuring at 42 meters long and 8 meters high. Covered in a gold cloth, this one of my favourite Buddha statue that I have ever seen.
3.Wat Phanan Choeng
This is a beautiful temple with a 19 meter golden Buddha- it’s so gold it’s almost hard to look at…almost. When I first arrived I took off my shoes and entered the main wiharn. I kneeled down, like everyone else. Then I was handed part of a long cloth that was going over everyone’s head. I’m not sure if this ha
ppens everyday here or is a rare occurrence because I have never seen this in a temple.
The Thai people didn’t seem the least bit annoyed with me being part of their ceremony- in fact they seemed quite pleased. The lady next to me smiled at me and helped pull the cloth over our heads. I was happy to be welcomed and able to enjoy this spiritual experience with them. The ceremony was quite short but I was happy that I had walked in on time to be part of it.
4. The Floating Market
If you want to escape the heat during the day the floating market is a great idea as it offers some shade. The floating market is also a great place to grab a plate to eat. All of the food stands serve delicious food. What is neat is that some ‘food stalls’ are actually boats. The food here is very authentic, as you will not find many tourists here.
You can walk around the market where there are a variety of items for sale. Once your feet get tired of shopping, you can relax them at the Happy Fish Spa. At this spa you put your feet into a tube of water with Garra Rufa fish. These fish will nibble at the dead skin on your feet- acting as an exfoliator. Okay, so maybe not the most relaxing experience- but it sure is fun! I am extremely ticklish and I was still able to experience the ‘doctor fish.’
5. Dinner Boat Cruise
This is a great activity to do in the evening. The boat takes you along the river surrounding Ayutthaya as the sun sets. You also get dinner cooked for you to enjoy as you cruise. My friend and I didn’t eat it since the Thai family we were staying with cooked us dinner. But I’m sure it would have been delicious since I haven’t had any Thai food that isn’t.
Since Ayutthaya is off the beaten path for most tourists, my friend and I had the whole boat to ourselves! As we cruised down the river, we could see the temples with the last light of the day shining on them and monks sitting by the riverbank. We floated by people’s houses and watched children playing in the water. The boat cruise offered a completely different view of this ancient city from the water.
A neat part of the trip was when the boat captain gave us some bread crumbs to throw into the river. When we did- these giant catfish came to the surface! There were about fifty of them all fighting for our crumbs- it was very entertaining. Who knows, maybe catfish is what they serve you for dinner.
If you are already in Ayutthaya you must take a trip to Koh Yai National Park.