This Ayutthaya travel guide presents the highlights of one of the most famous historical sites in Thailand. Located about 80 km north of Bangkok, the city was a global hub until it was razed by Burmese invaders in 1767. Today, it’s a hub of traditional Thai tourism.

    The city was left in ruins for years, but today, modern life has been built around the ruins. Ancient temples are pretty much everywhere you look, while the 3 major rivers running through Ayutthaya make for some fun exploration by boat. You can also cycle or stroll along pretty canals in the city. Our guide contains just about everything you need to know to plan a trip to Ayutthaya.


    Historic City of Ayutthaya

    Explore ancient temples dotted around the city

    • History
    • Photo

    The Historic City of Ayutthaya is a UNESCO World Heritage site on the island of Ayutthaya. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya was a global hub until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767. Although modern life has grown around the area, the ancient city now serves as a 2.89-sq-km archaeological site.

    You’ll find ancient temples, monasteries and shrines around every corner of the city. An iconic image is Wat Mahathat, which has a Buddha head entwined among the roots of a giant tree. Other sites include Wat Phra Si Sanphet, on the site of an old royal palace, and Wat Chaiwatthanaram, a huge temple complex just outside the main island.

    Location: 196 Village 4 Khlong Tho Rd, Pratu Chai Sub-district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)35 242 286


    Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Lokaya Sutharam)

    A 16th-century temple in Ayutthaya

    • History
    • Photo
    • Budget

    The Temple of the Reclining Buddha is also known as Wat Lokaya Sutharam. This ancient temple complex is home to a 37-metre-long reclining Buddha. Lying on the northwest side of Ayutthaya's central island, it dates back to the 1500s and was razed during the Burmese invasion in 1767.

    The reclining Buddha represents the revered figure just before he was about to pass away and enter Nirvana. The statue’s expression reflects the tranquillity of the temple grounds. Entrance is free and you won't find as many crowds as most landmarks in Ayutthaya, so it's well worth stopping by.

    Location: Uthong Road, Tambon Pratuchai, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 4.30 pm


    Chao Phraya River Cruise

    Dine and relax on the river

    • Couples
    • Families

    A Chao Phraya River cruise in Ayutthaya is a great way to spend a few quiet hours with the family, or as a couple. The Chao Phraya, Lopburi and Pasak Rivers converge around the city, resulting in a whole network of canals – Ayutthaya was even called the ‘Venice of the East’.

    You can find many tour companies offering river cruises inclusive of meals and refreshments. For something extra special, you can opt for an excursion that goes all the way to or from Bangkok.


    Ayothaya Floating Market

    Browse local crafts and wares at a traditional market

    • Shoppers
    • Photo

    The Ayothaya Floating Market is one of the biggest shopping venues in Ayutthaya. You'll find its entrance to the east of the Ayutthaya Historical Park. The market spans 28 hectares, making it easy to spend a few hours browsing stalls and sampling local food.

    You can rent a boat to explore the Ayothaya Floating Market – even if you aren’t planning to buy anything, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery. Dozens of vendors sell traditional Thai clothes and snacks, as well as a range of souvenirs like crafted ornaments, jewellery, and musical instruments. The market also hosts exhibits and performances of Thai arts and culture.

    Location: 65/19 Phai Ling, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm


    Dining and restaurants in Ayutthaya

    Where to eat in Ayutthaya?

    • Food

    Dining in Ayutthaya focuses mostly on street food, with local specialities being giant river prawns and boat noodles. Both are found all over Thailand, but these dishes are regional favourites for a reason. River prawns are found around Ayutthaya, with many restaurants serving them grilled with a side of spicy dipping sauce. Standout eateries include Grand Chaophraya and Ban U-Thong.

    Boat noodles in Ayutthaya come with either pork or beef in a rich broth. Pa Lek Boat Noodles is a Michelin-recommended restaurant that has been feeding locals (and visitors) for over 50 years.

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    Ayutthaya City Park

    Where to shop in Ayutthaya?

    • Food
    • Families
    • Shoppers

    Ayutthaya City Park is a modern shopping mall with over 500 stores. It’s a great place to enjoy a bit of modern life or simply cool off in Ayutthaya. You can get there within a 10-minute taxi ride southeast of the city.

    You’ll find mobile phone shops, a pharmacy, banks, fashion boutiques, and pretty much anything you might need. Ayutthaya City Park also has several restaurants, including Sizzler, Oishii Ramen, and Santa Fe Steak. There’s a multiplex cinema if you want to catch the latest films, as well as a futsal court and taekwondo gym for those who want to stay active in Ayutthaya.

    Location: 126 Village No. 3, Asia Road, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand

    Open: Friday–Saturday from 10 am to 10 pm, Sunday–Thursday from 10 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)35 801 919


    Ayutthaya nightlife

    What to do after dinner in Ayutthaya?

    • Nightlife

    Nightlife in Ayutthaya is relatively laidback, complementing the city’s ancient heritage. If you’re looking for something to do after dinner, head over to Naresuan Soi 2 (or Farang Street). Located near the Chao Phrom Market, the alley hosts plenty of guesthouses, restaurants, burger joints, tour operators and bars.

    While it’s a much more chilled affair than a night in Bangkok, you’ll still have a great time mingling with friendly locals and fellow travellers. Jazz Bar is central to Ayutthaya’s nightlife party scene, hosting live music and cheap drinks until late. The Ayutthaya Night Market near Wat Mahathat is a good place to go for drinks and street food. The open-air bazaar opens every day from 5 pm to 10 pm.


    Activities around Ayutthaya

    What to do when you get bored of the temples

    There are many options for activities in Ayutthaya, with one of the most popular being Bang Pa-In Palace. It’s a 17th-century royal complex that's used for tours and exhibitions. Located just under 20 km south of the city centre, it's easily accessible by taxi. It’s worth the trip as you'll likely spend a few hours exploring the palatial ground.

    It's a good idea to rent a golf buggy to get around Bang Pa-In Palace. The buildings dotted throughout the grounds showcase the finest traditional Thai architecture. There’s a tower overlooking the entire site and surrounding countryside. Bicycle tours are another good way to spend a day if you’re feeling active.


    How to get to Ayutthaya

    Factual travel information

    You can easily get to Ayutthaya from most places in Thailand, especially Bangkok. Don Mueang International Airport is around 55 km south of the ancient city. You can either take a taxi or rent a car to get to Ayutthaya.

    If you’re in Bangkok, you can take a train at Bang Sue railway station – the journey takes between 1 and 2 hours, depending on the train type. A unique way of getting to Ayutthaya is an overnight ferry from the Mandarin Oriental.

    John Frodsham | Contributing Writer

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