Ayutthaya Thailand: The Lost World of Ancient Thailand & a Treasure Trove of Temples

Ayutthaya Thailand is the one time ancient capital of the Siam, the precursor to the modern-day kingdom of Thailand. Founded in 1350 it is Thailand’s answer to Angkor Wat or Bagan, a huge complex of crumbling ancient temples awaits the intrepid to explore this historic gem. Easily accessible from on the Bangkok to Ayutthaya train it can make a great day trip or an enjoyable adventure for a couple of days away from the business of the capital. An Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok is easy and offers something very different to the temples in the city. 

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Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok: A local vibe from this not so popular stopping point of the amazing Ayutthaya temples. 

The first thing we noticed about Ayutthaya Thailand, apart for the temples of course, was the lack of tourists and amenities. We were literally the only ones to get off the Chiang Mai to Bangkok bus at Ayutthaya, we actually drove past it as the driver had forgotten and we had to turn around so we could be dropped at the side of the highway, 10km from the centre at 4am… with no tuk tuks ready and waiting the stranded tourists which is often the case! It’s also only an hour or so from Bangkok so a Day Trip to Ayutthaya is a perfect way to visit. 

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Taking the Bangkok to Ayutthaya train for a great Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok. 

The vibe here is very local, there aren’t many western restaurants or even than many hostels and accommodation options. In this sense it is quite a refreshing look into Thailand especially considering it is only 84 km from the capital. Despite the awkward beginnings we actually loved Ayutthaya because of this and it felt much more authentic and personal that places like Angkor Wat that are often swarming in tourists. Here there were steady local visitors to some of the more well-known temples, but many we had all to ourselves! Given the proximity to Bangkok you can easily fit it around a tight schedule like 10 days in Thailand as a day trip from the capital.

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Ayutthaya temples: Thailand’s ancient kingdom of Siam awaits at the end of the Bangkok to Ayutthaya train!

Founded back in 1350 by King Uthong the city of Ayutthaya was once the grand capital of the kingdom of Siam. To visit these historic UNESCO listed temples dotted wonder is to step back in time, to that of these ancient worlds of shimmering temples and powerful rulers. Ayutthaya Thailand was once one of the grandest cities of Asia, it was said that the gold from the temples could be seen for miles on end.

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However the Burmese over ran it in 1767 and left it to rot and ruin. Today a handful of these mysterious and ornate temples remain, offering those willing to explore them the chance to get a glimpse into the past splendor of this magnificent place. It must truly have been a breathtaking sight all those years ago! An interesting fact, especially since we have now visited the place is question, is that It’s thought that much of the gold used to create Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda came from Ayutthaya after it was plundered by the Burmese! 

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A hot and humid 2 days exploring the Ayutthaya temples on bikes

Ayutthaya is best explored on a bike, the large and not very well-defined area where the historical park lies covers quite a large amount of ground if attempting on foot. The city is a patchwork of the ancient and the new and a head for exploring all the nooks and crannies along passageways and back streets will yield some amazing and little known ruins and temples. Most of the temples and sights however are on the island that stretches between the Prasak River, the Chao Phraya River and west the Mueang Canal so it can easily be done in either a busy one day trip or more relaxed two-day visit. 

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The Ayutthaya temples might not have the scale of Angkor Wat or Bagan but it still manages to conjure up those romantic images of a lost kingdom, of a once powerful civilisation left in ruins and an ancient world we could only hope to get a glimpse into. To stroll inside these wonders is to walk in the footsteps of a past civilisation, to stare into the world of almost 700 years ago. The grandeur of these remains and remnants really allows you to imagine just how impressive this entire city of gold must have looked.

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Which Ayutthaya temples to visit on a two-day or Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok.

Visiting such temples as Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Si Sanphet,  Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Wat Maheyong, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Phutthaisawan and Wat Phanan Choeng provide a beautiful and diverse look into the vast history of what is now Thailand. 

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Here you will find also a mixture of the old and new, many of the ancient Ayutthaya temples are in a state of ruin, some have small restored sections and others have had much work to bring them back to their former glory and are very much working temples. Wat Phra Si Sanphet was a highlight for us with the amazing three chedis reflecting the evening sun over the large complex of ruins. Wat Phanan Choeng however provided a different experience with its huge 19m golden buddha towering over the faithful below. But of course, the most famous feature of all, the buddha head growing within the tree at Wat Mahathat was something not to be missed!

More Information: Where To Stay In Ayutthaya

Budget Backpacker Option: Nakara Hostel Ayutthaya

A fun, clean and central hostel in the heart of the temple district it offers curtain on each bed, a kitchen, lovely communal spaces and on site bike hire. The prices here for the standard of hostel are dirt cheap too with private rooms being really affordable too. What we also love here is the super helpful owners for you exploration around the city and the huge lockers too.

See Prices for Nakara Hostel Ayutthaya Here

Economy Hotel: P.U. Inn Resort

A really smart, modern and colourful little resort that offers superior private rooms and bathrooms as well as an onsite pool for really affordable prices. It has a real homely and family run feel with a restaurant on the ground but also being close to the local market too.

See Prices for P.U Inn Resort Here

Affordable Treat: Baan Thai House Resort

A relaxing hideaway after an exhausting day exploring the temples the Thai style villas set in the lush gardens are a welcome place to chill! This resort offers a pool, spa, restaurant and bar all for prices that even backpackers wanting a one off treat could stretch too!

See Prices for Baan Thai House Resort Here



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More Information: Tips for visiting the Ayutthaya temples on your Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok.

* Push Bike rental is very cheap costing around 40-50 Baht for the full day (£0.90 / $1) and is a great way to get around the small city.

* Most of the main temples do cost to enter. However we go lucky and arrived on a weekend designated for free entry. Expect to pay around 50 Baht ( £1.11/ $1.44) for those that do charge.

* It can get extremely hot in Ayutthaya in the dry season and was almost unbearable. Be sure to go out early, take sun cream and a hat as well as plenty of water.

* If you are planning an Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok be sure to plan out which temples you want to see. Use the app Maps.me to mark them off and plan a route so you can maximise what you see

* AVOID the elephant rides here, these animals are abused and tourists should not be supporting this barbaric practice. Take a bike instead!

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Practical information: Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok or a two-day visit taking the Bangkok to Ayutthaya train. 

Getting here is pretty easy as it is very close to Bangkok. How far is Ayutthaya from Bangkok? It’s only 85 km and is an easy day trip. It is possible to take a few different public transport options or even take an organised tour. 

See Prices for an Organised Day Trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya Here

More Information: Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok and Bangkok to Ayutthaya train information:

* Taking the Bangkok to Ayutthaya train is quick, easy and cheap. You can take the train to and from the Ayutthaya temples in a single day or as we did you can visit over two days from elsewhere in the country.

* The Bangkok to Ayutthaya train takes around 2 hours and costs 15 Baht each for third class.

* If you take the third class option be aware that seats are not reserved so get ready to be quick once the train arrives!

* The train leaves Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok regularly, be sure to check the schedule before and be aware the trains aren’t the most punctual. Leave enough time for delays if you are doing an Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok. Be sure to check the  Bangkok > Chiang Mai timetable for this route. 

See Prices and Times For Bangkok to Ayutthaya Here

* Getting to Hua Lamphong Station is easy via the MRT and the train station is next to the MRT station. You might have to transfer from the Sky Train to the MRT depending on your location in the city. Factor that in if you are doing an Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok.  

* On the train there are toilets and also snack carts coming up and down

* Once at the station walk straight to the ticket counters to buy your tickets and ignore anyone trying to help you as scammers are common here or you could save the hassle and book via our recommended method of 12goAsia, you can use the box below to search for tickets which will include all methods of transport from trains, to buses to flights.

Book your train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya here:

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More Information: Bus and Mini bus options for an Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok:

* You can take a minibus for around 60 Baht which takes around 1.5 hours as an alternative. Ask your accommodation to organise that for you or take one from Victory Monument. They leave often. 

* Public buses run from Northern Bus Terminal near Mo Chit BTS. They should take between 1-2 hours. 

See Prices and Times For Bangkok to Ayutthaya Here

More Information: Getting to Ayutthaya from Chiang Mai:

Night buses:

* Buses run from Chiang Mai to Bangkok overnight and can stop here if requested. However it is wise to arrange a taxi or tuk tuk in advance with your accommodation as you get dropped off at the side of the highway at 4am! The bus costs around 600 Baht (£13.37 / $17.26) for the sleeper and takes around 12 hours. Be sure to tell the driver you need to stop in Ayutthaya and remind them through the night as we nearly missed our stop!

See Prices and Times For Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya Here

Night Trains from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya:

* In hindsight we should have taking a sleeper train overnight from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya as the bus as a nightmare, dropped us off in the middle of the night and in a bad location. The train station is much more central, the trains more comfortable and drop you off in a much better location.

* Prices vary according to which bunk you get. It costs 856 Baht for the bottom bunk and 766 Baht for the top bunk. Each have a curtain and a light and are much more comfortable than the night trains in China! 

* The train from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya takes 12 hours. Food and toilets are on board and there is clean pillows and bedding too for each passenger. Check out the timetable here.

* Be sure to bring a good book, some snacks and drinks and a battery pack for your phone.

* Like all Thai transport the train might not be too punctual so expect it to be late and arrive late!

* Be sure to book a few days in advance as the route is popular and fills up quickly. You can do this at the station or online at 12goAsia. Search for your tickets below, this will include all methods of transport for you to compare prices and times!

See Prices and Times For Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya Here

Book your bus or train from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya here:

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More Information: Travelling from Ayutthaya to Kanchanaburi:

* We travelled from here on to Kanchanaburi on a minibus which is a less popular route with only 1 bus a day for around 400 Baht (£8.91 / $11.51) and taking 3 hours.

* The transport options going on this route are limited and there is no train connecting the two

* The best way to travel from Ayutthaya to Kanchanaburi might be to get the train to Bangkok and either stay over night or catch a connecting train. This would be a cheaper way than the minibus but would take longer.

* The train from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok takes around 2.5 hours and leaves from Thonburi station twice a day. 

See Prices and Times For Kanchanaburi to Ayutthaya Here

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Have you ever done a Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok or took a longer trip to see the Ayutthaya temples?

Book A Tour Of The Ayutthaya Temples Here:

Book Your Accommodation Here



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20 thoughts on “Ayutthaya Thailand: The Lost World of Ancient Thailand & a Treasure Trove of Temples

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 parent" id="comment-3487">
    Joanne

    Such an amazing daytrip from Bangkok. I’d just love to explore on bike.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3490">

      It’s a perfect place to go to from Bangkok and chilled on a bike for sure!

    li class="comment even thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 parent" id="comment-3486">

    Ayutthaya is such a fascinating place! I have seen pictures before, but just assumed it was Angkor Wat. I would love not having to fight as many tourists, too. The architecture is fascinating and good to know that it is listed as a UNESCO site. Are you two going to teach history when you are finished traveling? LOL You’d be the greatest!

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3491">

      Yeah it’s such an incredible place and a very different vibe than Angkor Wat. Much more chilled but it also feels a lot more open too. If you head to Bangkok then you have to visit! Ha ha, well I always say that when we get somewhere and I’m acting like a guide talking about the history. I’ve been looking at teaching English in Thailand so who knows!

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 parent" id="comment-3485">

    It’s great that you mention Angkor Wat in here: interesting because I actually thought the first few pictures looked very similar to some of the more famous temples in the Angkor complex. The ancient cross-mixing of cultures is really shown through the varied architecture in the photos you took.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3492">

      Yeah there are some real similarities in both places and when you look at the history of both countries you can see why. Both are Buddhist and actually the Cambodian language is much more similar to ancient Thai so back then they would have been even more similar. It’s nice to see both as they offer totally different experiences.

    li class="comment even thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 parent" id="comment-3484">

    OK … laughing at the fact your bus driver forgot to drop you off and had to turn around. That is how you KNOW you are in for an adventure and going where few tourists tread. Nice. Therese and I have never visited Thailand … but want to for sure. Would love to see that Buddha head in the tree trunk for myself.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3493">

      Ha ha, mate it was a bit of a nightmare at the beginning. I was sure they would stop as we asked a good few times when we got on, but they just carried on! It was 4am and there were street dogs everywhere and we were miles from the centre! Despite that though it was an adventure and we loved it once we got a bit of rest!! You would love it over there, so diverse in each region and so much to see.

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 parent" id="comment-3483">

    I didn’t quite get here when I visited Thailand but I now have it on my radar for the return trip! A visit to Ayutthaya looks amazing – so many temples and visiting on a bike is totally my kind of day trip! Thanks for all the helpful information about Ayutthaya.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3494">

      Yeah, riding around on the bikes was so chilled (though it was seriously hot, even the locals were struggling!!), its the best way to see them for sure. It’s easy to get to from Bangkok so great for a return trip even if you’re only pretty much passing through.

    li class="comment even thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 parent" id="comment-3482">

    We’ve never visited Thailand, but it’s on our bucket list. Ayutthaya seems like a great place to spend a day or two. It’s impressive to see a Buddha head in a tree trunk! We went to Angkor Wat several years ago and really loved it, so we’ll certainly love Ayutthaya as well! Thanks for sharing this.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3495">

      You guys will love it, it’s such a special country for us. If you enjoyed Angkor Wat then you would really love Ayutthaya, its different in many ways especially the overall experience but it’s really amazing to see.

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 parent" id="comment-3481">

    This sounds like a great place to explore especially as it’s only an hour away from the major part of town. I like making day trips to the lesser known and less touristy areas. Funny how the driver forgot to drop you off! I would love to rent a bike and explore Ayutthaya.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3496">

      Yeah its so easy to get to but I think going from Bangkok rather than from Chiang Mai is easier both in terms of time of course but also as it’s a more known stop off point!! ha ha, its wasn’t the best start but we really enjoyed it there.

    li class="comment even thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 parent" id="comment-3480">

    Exploring Ayutthaya in 2 days on a bike seems lethal in that heat! But also a great adventure! The fact that it is less touristy than other famous temples like Angkor Wat is a big plus!

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3497">

      Yeah, mate it was so hot. One of the time I’ve really struggled in the heat, even in Aus it wasn’t as bad at times but here and The Philippines were the hottest with the humidity too! But it’s doable for sure, I would have been nice to have another day just to take it more easy as the bus took it out of us too but we had a flight booked from Bangkok!

    li class="comment even thread-even depth-1 parent" id="comment-3478">

    Biking through Ayutthaya was so close to making our Thailand itinerary. If we would have known how accessible the biking was and about night train options we probably would have made the trip. We kept considering the bus options or an expensive day trip. Taking the train and renting bikes when you get there seems like a great option.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3499">

      Yeah you really don’t need to do a tour at all, it’s so easy from Bangkok and even coming from Chiang Mai its easy too (as long as the driver lets you off the bus!!). You can rent a bike pretty much anywhere in the town too as it’s a popular way to explore and overall the train, bike, entrance fees are so cheap!

    li class="comment even thread-odd thread-alt depth-1 parent" id="comment-3477">

    Ayutthaya is definitely high on my list of places to visit in Thailand. Good to know that it is not as crowded or touristy as Angkor Wat. 🙂 Good advice on the planning of your itinerary when you visit. It’d be easier and convenient if you can plan your route ahead.

      li class="comment byuser comment-author-nic-hilditch17hotmail-co-uk bypostauthor odd alt depth-2" id="comment-3500">

      It’s a worthwhile stop off for sure and it’s such much more chilled than Angkor Wat and almost as impressive!!

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