Ayutthaya: The Best Day Trip From Bangkok

Ayutthaya: The Best Day Trip From Bangkok

Get away from the crowds in Bangkok and take a quick day trip to the quiet and peaceful temples in Ayutthaya.

If the itinerary on your trip to Bangkok is entirely taken up by shopping, you have been doing it wrong all this time.

Venturing out of the city to the ancient kingdom of Ayutthaya will surprise you. The best thing is, getting here takes just one hour on the railway train, and costs only 15 baht (SGD 0.60). Yes, that’s cheaper than a ride on the BTS. You’re welcome.

Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient capital, is peppered with temple ruins, historical sites and architectural wonders. It is – what some might call it – the Angkor Wat of Thailand.

The temples here are just different

If you have been to the temples in Bangkok (such as Wat Phra Kaew, or Wat Pho), the ones in Ayutthaya are in a different league altogether.

Ayutthaya was a thriving trade capital some 300 years ago. But in 1767, the Burmese invaded it and almost burnt the city to the ground.

Most of the temples are now in a ruined state – a reminder of Ayutthaya’s past splendour. The derelict remains are very unlike the often polished, shiny and golden exterior of the temples in Bangkok.

You can climb up the temples

Many of the temples are characterized by tall prangs (reliquary tower) and it can be quite a work getting up the steep steps. But for the panoramic photos at the top, it will be worth it.

You will be intrigued by many headless Buddha statues

While wandering around, you will actually notice something amiss. Most of the Buddha statues are headless.

I asked the locals and found out that the heads had been hacked off by looters and sold to private collectors from the West.

Many of the looted artifacts have been discovered in museums abroad and the repatriation of these artifacts back to Thailand is an ongoing effort by the Thai government.

That one famous Buddha head

Ironically, despite talking about the countless headless Buddha statues, Ayutthaya is known for that one famous Buddha head.

This iconic image of a Buddha head cradled in the roots of a tree is located in Wat Mahathat.

Be forewarned though, tourists are scrambling to have their selfies taken here so there is usually a queue formed in front of the iconic image.  

The place is filled with a deep sense of peace and serenity

Even though modern Ayutthaya offers glimpses of a rather tragic past, you can find quietness and a peaceful solitude in the vastness of the temple grounds.

Can you spot the dog? (It’s real and not a statue.)

But wait, are you aware of these rules in Thai culture?

As usual, we need to observe certain rules while exploring the sacred temples of Ayutthaya. I found this poster of the dos and don’ts plastered rather inconspicuously on a wall.


It reads:

  • Do display polite behavior in places of worship;
  • Don’t climb upon the Buddha image to take photograph or do anything that might show a lack of respect;
  • Do dress politely in public places;
  • Don’t go shirtless, or in shorts, hot pants, or other unsuitable attire inside the temple;
  • Do wear shoes while walking around the compound of a Buddhist temple but don’t wear them inside the chapel where the principal Buddha image is kept;
  • Don’t display affection for another person in public. It is frowned upon in Thai society. You may hold hands, but that’s as far as it goes in a polite society;
  • Do Wai when greeting another person. Generally, a younger person Wai an elder, who returns it the same gesture;
  • Don’t touch the head of another person, even if it is a friendly gesture. Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body both literally and figuratively.
  • It’s considered rude to point your foot at a person. Don’t point your foot to show anything to anyone, but use your finger instead.

How to get to Ayutthaya

The train to Ayutthaya departs from the Hua Lamphong railway station.

Seats are not allocated but try to grab one by the window as you get to see rice paddies, mountains and landscapes of Thailand’s rural countryside along the journey.

A one-way ticket costs 15 baht, and it takes approximately one hour.

Alight at Ayutthaya station, where most tourists would anyway.

The best way to explore the temple grounds is by bicycle. Bike rental cost 40 baht (SGD 1.60) for an entire day, and the terrain is mostly flat so it is an easy and enjoyable ride.

So the next time you find yourself going back to the same shopping malls in Bangkok, put Ayutthaya into the trip and you will see Thailand in a very different light.

About Author

Pang Xue Qiang
Pang Xue Qiang

Xue Qiang takes all the photographs in his articles. He spent five months studying abroad in Thailand and backpacking Southeast Asia. He believes it is important to speak in the local language while travelling. That’s why he’s been learning Thai for about a year and is now able to read, write, and converse in it thanks to his Thai teachers and friends.


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