DESTINATION GUIDE

Ayutthaya: a complete guide

Sander & MariskaOnce a glowing empire, today a city of ruins. For more than four hundred years Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam, Thailand’s former name. This ended in 1767, when the Burmese invaded, pillaged and destroyed it.

Thankfully, the remnants of hundreds of temples and palaces are still there for you to visit and admire. Hop in a tuk-tuk or rent a bike and explore this UNESCO World Heritage site with its Buddha statues of faded colors, crumbled temple walls and beautifully decorated high towers.
– Sander & Mariska

Sights in Ayutthaya

Thanks to its rich history and beautiful temples, Ayutthaya is a fantastic destination for lovers of culture. You will need your own transport to explore the city, as distances are too great (and temperatures too high) to do it all by foot. So hop in a tuk tuk or hire a bike or a motorbike and go on a discovery tour! Here you’ll find an overview of our favorite temples, the ones (we think) you shouldn’t miss while in town.

1. Wat Chai Watthanaram

Wat Chai Watthanaram in Ayutthaya

Without doubt Ayutthaya’s most beautiful temple complex. It’s located along the river, just outside the center of town. Visit this temple an hour before sunset.

2. Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon in Ayutthaya

A lively and varied temple complex with hundreds of Buddha statues lined up next to each other. This is the best place to take some nice pictures.

3. Wat Mahathat

Buddha's Head in Tree Roots at Wat Phra Mahathat in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya’s, and possibly Thailand’s, best-known temple. This is where you’ll find the Buddha statue trapped in the roots of a bodhi tree.

4. Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Si Sanphet in Ayutthaya

The most recognizable features of this temple complex are the three Chedi towers, still firmly standing. You can climb parts of the Chedi towers for a nice view of the ruins.

5. Wat Phanan Choeng

Wat Phangan Choen in Ayutthaya

A huge (19 meters high) Buddha statue where you’ll encounter many praying locals. Take off your shoes and walk around the Buddha statue.

6. Wat Lokayasutharam

Wat Lokoyasutharam in Ayutthaya

A gigantic reclining Buddha that’s 37 meters wide and 8 meters tall. Best seen early in the morning – you’ll be the only tourist around.

Bike ride in Ayutthaya

Go for a leisurely bike ride past Ayutthaya’s secret spots. A day long activity which includes lunch.

8. Sunset Cruise

Sunset falling over Ayutthaya

Go a boat ride during sunset to temples that are centuries old and take some amazing pictures. You can book a sunset cruise at your hotel’s reception.

Million Toy Museum in Ayutthaya

The only landmark in Ayutthaya that doesn’t involve ruins and Buddha statues. A fun, hour long outing for families with children.

10. Wat Phu Khao Thong (Golden Mount)

Wat Phu Khao Thong (Golden Mount)

An impressively large Chedi tower about two kilometers north-west of the city. Climb the temple and enjoy the view of the country side.

Hotels in Ayutthaya

There are many different places to stay in Ayutthaya. Backpackers tend to prefer the center, around Naresuan Road, where there are lots of cheap hostels, guest houses, and home stays. It’s the perfect place to see the famous temples and go for a drink at night. Families with children and travelers that prefer a most restful and luxurious visit, usually stay along the river bank. With many of the old Thai houses now converted into comfortable tourist accommodations, it provides the perfect setting to switch off and relax. In order to make your stay in Ayutthaya even more pleasant, we compiled a list of 10 of the nicest accommodations!

Phuttal Residence

1. Phuttal Residence

Fantastic location New apartments Nice atmosphere

$$ – For an unforgettable stay in Ayutthaya, spend the night at Phuttal Residence! This authentic house has been converted into a small-scale hotel with beautiful rooms and apartments. The location, a gorgeous garden by the river, is fantastic. Breakfast is lovely and included in the price. The hotel is run by Duke and his wife, who’ll do anything for your stay with them to be as amazing as possible. This is the place to spend the night in Ayutthaya!

Ayothaya Riverside House

2. Ayothaya Riverside House

Great location Very hospitable Houseboats

$ – Ayothaya Riverside House is one of our personal favorites. It’s located along the river and has a large, green garden for you to relax in. Instead of staying in one of their cheap bungalows, for a bit more you can stay in a comfortable houseboat on the river as well. It’s a really nice atmosphere!

Goodmorning by Tamarind

3. Goodmorning by Tamarind

Central location Pleasant atmosphere Cheap

$ – Ayutthaya’s nicest guest house! Though they speak little to no English, the staff is incredibly kind, cheerful and helpful. The rooms are clean, colorful and comfortable. Rent a bike and explore ancient Thailand. Tip: make sure you book a room with air conditioning.

U-Boon

4. U-Boon

Luxurious tree houses Hospitable Free bikes and kayaks

$$ – Always wanted to spend the night in a tree house? Well, this is your chance! U-Boon’s enchanting “houses” are located by the water and are equipped with all conveniences. It’s run by an incredibly hospitable Thai woman who makes the most amazing breakfast. Bikes and kayaks are provided free of charge and it’s only fifteen minutes away from Ayutthaya town center.

You can book your stay at U-Boon via Airbnb. Not yet a member of Airbnb? Then click here for $ 38 off your first booking!

Prom Tong Mansion

5. Prom Tong Mansion

Central location Like home Very welcoming

$$ – The rooms in this guest house, one of Thailand’s best reviewed, are spotless and spacious! It was recommended to us by many of our readers, mainly because of the warm reception and the owner’s kindness. She also arranges day trips and excursions.

Ayutthaya Retreat

6. Ayutthaya Retreat

Charming hotel Authentic Quiet surroundings

$$$ – Located in beautiful and peaceful surroundings just outside the center of town, and only a short tuk tuk ride away from the ancient temples, is Ayutthaya Retreat. Cool off in the swimming pool after a day of sightseeing and sleep in one of the cute teak-wood bungalows. Romance is guaranteed!

Allsum Hostel

7. Allsum Hostel

Nice atmosphere Communal space Free breakfast

$ – This nice and trendy hostel is only a short ferry ride away from Ayutthaya train station. The atmosphere is pleasant and easy-going, plus you’ll be meeting other travelers as well. The facilities are great: there are lockers available and it’s equipped with good shower and bathroom facilities. Slight downside: the hard beds.

Niwas Ayutthaya

8. Niwas Ayutthaya

Fantastic location Beautiful garden Amazing staff

$ – With spotless rooms equipped with air conditioning, this is probably the best budget accommodation in Ayutthaya. Pay $ 10 more and get your own garden bungalow. The location is amazing as well: walking distance from all of the most important temples. Very convenient!

Baan Luang Harn

9. Baan Luang Harn

Central location Houses with porches Hospitable

$$ – Baan Luang Harn is a great place to stay. The owner is considerate, helpful and very welcoming. The houses may not be big, but they are attractive and clean. Moreover, they each have a porch with a view of the pond in the middle of the grounds. Last but not least, it’s located in the center and easily accessible by bike.

iuDia on the River

10. iuDia on the River

Beautiful hotel Lovely rooms Very luxurious

$$$ – A cute boutique hotel in the heart of Ayutthaya, you’ll be staying amongst temples that are hundreds of years old and are lit up night, making for a wonderful sight. The service is great, the rooms are authentic and the location is ideal.

Restaurants in Ayutthaya

Although Ayutthaya is one of Thailand’s most visited destinations, it has surprisingly few quality restaurants. Therefore, any additions are welcome! Still, we managed to compile a list of the 17 best and hippest restaurants in town, in alphabetical order.

1. Coffee Old City

Chikul Road Phanakon Si Ayutthaya
Let’s be very clear: this is the best place in Ayutthaya and surrounding areas to have breakfast. Lovely fruit shakes, nice eggs and freshly baked bread.

2. EARL Thai Restaurant

11/59 Narasoun Road Pratuchai
Ideal for a nice lunch in between visiting temples, at the EARL Thai Restaurant the Thai food is cheap, the atmosphere is pleasant and the staff is friendly.

3. Sala Ayutthaya Eatery And Bar

9 2 U-Thong Road Pratu Chai
Dining out elegantly, with a stunning view along the river looking out across lit up temples, is done best at Sala. Add some wine to the mix and you’ll have a wonderful evening.

4. The Summer House

371/1 Koh Rean
This restaurant, that just opened its doors, is one of Ayutthaya’s hippest and most fun spots and serves high quality dishes, from homemade carrot cake to modern day Thai.

5. Malakor Café & Restaurant

Chikun Road Hua Ro
With a café downstairs and a restaurant (open from 1:00 PM) on the second floor, this is a great place either to have a cup of coffee or grab a quick bite to eat. The atmosphere is very relaxed.

6. Chao Phrom Market

Th Naresuan Ayutthaya
A really fun evening market, right in the heart of the city of Ayutthaya (see map) visited mainly by locals. Find out about opening hours at your hotel.

7. Ban U Thong Restaurant

39 11 Moo 1, U Thong Road
A beautiful place to have dinner, this restaurant is located along the water and serves the best Penang Curry in town.

Transport in Ayutthaya

From Bangkok

Train

  • Travel time: 1-2 hours
  • Cost:  ฿ 20 pp

The cheapest and most fun way to get from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is by train. There’s a train that leaves from Hua Lamphong Station for Ayutthaya every hour. Third class train tickets can’t be bought online, only at the ticket office.

Minivan

  • Travel time: 2 hours
  • Cost:  ฿ 300 pp

The easiest way to get to Ayutthaya is by minivan, which leaves from Khao San Road. It leaves three times a day, right in front of Khao San Mama Travel, at 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM.

Local bus

  • Travel time: 2 hours
  • Cost:  ฿ 100-150 pp

Of course, you can also take the local bus from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. Buses leave all day long from the northern bus station (Morchit). You won’t even need to make a reservation, you can buy your tickets at the ticket offices.

From other destinations

Kanchanaburi

  • Travel time: 2-4 hours
  • Cost:  ฿ 130 pp

First take the local bus from Kanchanaburi to Suphan Buri (50 Thai Baht). Then change to the minivan to Ayutthaya (80 Thai Baht). Travel time is about 2 to 4 hours. Buses go every hour between 7:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

Sukhothai

  • Travel time: 6 hours
  • Cost:  ฿ 350 pp

Buses to Bangkok leave every hour from Sukhothai bus station. These buses also stop at Ayutthaya bus station. The trip is 6 hours and will cost about 350 Thai Baht per person. If you want to travel by train, first go to Phitsanoluk.

Khao Yai National Park

  • Travel time: 2 hours
  • Cost:  ฿ 100 pp

The best way to get to Ayutthaya from Khao Yai National Park is by taking the train from Pak Chong. This (third class) train leaves at ± 10:00 AM, 11:30 AM, 2:00 PM, 4:30 PM and 7:45 PM and will take at least two hours. Book your tickets at the ticket office.

Hua Hin

  • Travel time: 5-6 hours
  • Cost:  ฿ 300-400 pp

First you’ll have to travel, either by train or by bus, from Hua Hin to Bangkok. Then you change to the bus that will take you to Ayutthaya. You’ll be traveling for a total of 5 or 6 hours and it will cost you ฿ 300 – 400. Dozens of buses go every day.

Getting around in Ayutthaya

Tuk tuk

You can rent a tuk tuk not only for short rides, but also with a driver for part of the day, so that you can decide yourself which temples you want to visit. They’ll drop you off right in front of your destination. Where can you arrange this? At the bus station, the train station or at your hotel. A ride costs anywhere from 50 Thai Baht to 500 Thai Baht.

Motorbike

Our favorite way to explore Ayutthaya’s cultural treasures is, you guessed it, by motorbike. It’s great to cruise along the roads in between temple visits. You can rent a motorbike through your hotel. Rent is 180-300 Thai Baht for 24 hrs.

Bicycle

Want to explore the temples of Ayutthaya on your own? Why not rent a bike and cruise past the centuries old temples! Note: the distances on the map might seem fairly short, but in practice, they’re definitely not. Don’t be fooled! A lot of guesthouses provide bikes for free, but you can also rent them for 40 Thai Baht per day.

Weather in Ayutthaya

The best time to visit Bangkok is during the cool season from November – February.

November – February

The cool season is the most agreeable time to be in Ayutthaya. These months are predominantly dry, but the natural surroundings will still be lively and vibrantly green thanks to the rainy season that’s just been. Mornings and evenings are also very pleasant and not too warm.

March – May

The hot season is no joke. Afternoon temperatures can reach 40 degrees Celsius, making visiting temples next to impossible. Try and go out in the morning, book a room that’s air conditioned or pick a hotel that has a swimming pool.

June – October

The rainy season brings with it some very welcome cooler weather, in the form of rain that usually falls in tropical downpours around late afternoon. Be sure to bring some rain ponchos – especially in September – because it’s going to get very wet. When it’s not raining it will be swelteringly hot and the sky is cloudy.

Map of Ayutthaya

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