Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is located in the central region of Thailand. Ayutthaya is an ancient city rich in history and dotted with ancient heritage sites telling stories of its glorious and unique past. A trip to Ayutthaya is full of intriguing options to be enjoyed including educational activities and sightseeing choices fit for even the young ones in your family. The location is convenient, as it is not too far from Bangkok, and can easily be fit into a day’s travel plans due to the convenient roads and transportation going to and from the area.
Family Route “Treasure Hunt in Ayutthaya”
Ayutthaya is a prime location for historical attraction sites; however, a trip to Ayutthaya offers much more than simply admiring ancient relics and objects well-kept in a museum. At Ayutthaya, one gets to explore the relics firsthand. There are many means of travelling around the sites comfortably including a cycling tour or a Tuk Tuk ride to hunt for “treasures” also known as the “treasures of Ayutthaya.” Having been the capital city of Siam for 417 years, Ayutthaya has countless golden treasures hidden within her walls just waiting to be discovered by curious travellers.
Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre
The Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre is a great place to begin learning about the enchanting city of Ayutthaya. From the city map of Ayutthaya and exhibition zones, the Study Centre introduces visitors to what life was like during Ayutthaya’s prime, and gets their imagination conjuring up an image of this glorious city before walking through the real historical sites to feel the aura of its presence for themselves.
Buddha Statue Head in Bodhi Tree Roots, Wat Mahathat
Once one steps inside the stone walls of Wat Mahathat, they will be immediately immersed by the grandeur of the temple. The relics of the principal pagoda in the Khmer style, as well as the nearby praying and assembly hall, tell us that this was once a significant location and centre of spirituality for the Ayutthaya people. Wat Mahathat housed the Lord Buddha’s relics and was used as a venue for performing royal ceremonies prior to being changed to Wat Phra Si Sanphet which was restructured to accommodate the royal ceremonies.
In front of the small wihan (image hall) lies nature’s work of art, a Buddha statue head entwined in the roots of a giant Bodhi tree, this truly one-of-a-kind nature-made sculpture has made the temple a hot spot for travellers to check out.
Passing through Phra Prang and Treasure Hunting at Wat Ratchaburana
Walk past Wat Mahathat to the entrance of the nearby compound of Wat Ratchaburana to take a look at the Phra Prang (a pagoda-like construction) majestically standing inside. The Phra Prang was built during the early Ayutthaya period. The treasure vault of Phra Prang became famous when it was secretly unearthed in 1956.
Children and adults alike enjoy ducking inside the base of the Phra Prang as if they were on a treasure-hunting mission. The space below is divided into 3 rooms vertically, each of which was excavated by the Fine Arts Department, who uncovered a lot of ancient gold. These treasures were later kept at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.
In addition to gold ornaments, Buddha statues made of silver, gold, and copper as well as Buddha amulets were also discovered.
The uncovered treasures from the underground vault of the Phra Prang are linked to the ancient beliefs that the area strongly signifies a profound religious heritage. The belief is, that when Buddhism reaches its 5,000th year, the area will collapse. However, if the treasure survives, the existence of Buddhism in the area will be confirmed.
Follow the Phra Prang Treasure to the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
Enjoy being dazzled by the glittering ancient gold valuables and artefacts from the past. The Museum showcases treasures; such as, utensils, clothing, swords, crowns, Buddha statues and valuable belongings of royal family members. The details and intricacy of these valuable artefacts reflect the skills of the goldsmiths in ancient times. Other archaeological objects dating back to the period of Dvaravati, Srivijaya, Lop Buri, Chiang Saen, Sukhothai, U-thong, Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin are showcased here as well.
Visit the Largest Wihan and Singha Pagoda at Wat Thammikarat
A large bronze Buddha head replica is Mural Paintings at Wat Suwandararam situated in the main assembly hall and takes up the space of nine rooms of Wat Thammikarat, one can only imagine how massive the entire Buddha statue would have been in the past when the main assembly hall housed the giant Buddha statue. What remains is only the Buddha’s head, crafted in a U-thong style and made of bronze. From this evidence, we can assume that this temple was built prior to the foundation of Ayutthaya as the capital city. One should also be sure not to miss the Chedi Singha which is the main chedi of the temple. The shape of an upside down bell follows a Ceylonese style which was built in the reign of King Prasatthong in the late Ayutthaya period and was influenced by the Khmer style.
The Buddha statue of Wat Na Phra Men
The Buddha statue of Wat Na Phra Men is the only Buddha statue that survived the fire caused by Burmese troops. Situated in the ubosot (ordination hall) of Wat Na Phra Men, the Buddha statue is adorned in exquisite detail and reflects the artisans’ commitment to beauty. The statue’s name resonates the magic and miracle believed to protect the city and ward off enemies. The statue is clothed in the King’s attire and is considered to be one of the most valuable artefacts. King Mangra of Burma used Wat Na Phra Men as his army base located just a short canal away from the palace, another reason why the temple survived the blaze set by the Burmese army during wartime when Ayutthaya lost its sovereignty for the second time.
Mural Paintings at Wat Suwandararam
Admire the mural paintings depicting the legend of King Naresuan the Great, a great king and warrior of Thailand. The painting illustrating his fight on elephant back shows the stories of wartime in exquisite detail and can make visitors feel as if they were witnessing the war played out before them with their own two eyes. The images of more than 100 angels were painted and positioned at separate levels and angles, creating an illusory effect as if the angels were actually floating in mid-air.
Information: Visit www.ayutthaya-boat.com, Tel. 66 3524 4558 for cycling tours around the archaeological sites accompanied by a tour guide.
Elephant Ride in the Old City
Hop on an elephant’s back and enjoy a sightseeing ride around the old city while admiring the stunningly beautiful archaeological sites of the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Elephant ride services are available at Wang Chang Ayutthaya Lae Paniat, located at the Ayutthaya Historical Park.
Take a ride on a tuk-tuk (three-wheeler) and enjoy the wind in your hair while taking in the atmosphere of the old city. Historical sites dot the city as well as the outskirts of the area. Being the signature mode of transport in Ayutthaya, the tuk-tuks here are unique in their design with front-ends resembling a frog’s face.
If you come with a big family, we recommend using a tram to go sightseeing around Ayutthaya. The vehicle takes after the ancient model once used in Bangkok. The option is ideal for a big family who are not up for a bicycle ride. The tram is also eco-friendly as it doesn’t require petrol.
The service is available on Saturday and Sunday from 09.00 a.m. – 04.00 p.m. Contact the Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre Tel. 0 3524 5123-4.
Cruising on the Chao Phraya River
Ayutthaya is an island encompassing three rivers; namely, the Pa Sak, Lop Buri and Chao Phraya Rivers, and is connected to many other canals as well. Water transportation is therefore a viable option for getting to know the city better. One can enjoy a boat ride around the island capital where more than 18 temples can be seen dotting the shorelines. A traditional riverside way of life can be seen and a nighttime tour is recommended as the aura of the area is especially enjoyable when the night lights come on like candles from nature.
For more information, contact the Ayutthaya Boat & Travel. Tel. 66 8 1853 9133 Or visit www.ayutthaya-boat.com
Woven Silver Barb Mobile
Traditional beliefs suggest that if one hangs a fish-shaped silver barb ornament at a baby’s crib, the baby will be obedient and receptive to teaching. Still to these days, the silver barb mobile made from palm leaves is a signature product and souvenir symbolising Ayutthaya. A visit to Bai Lan Pradit Shop and Pla Thong Shop located on U-thong Road is highly recommended; the place has been heralded for its craftsmanship for over 20 years and the area offers exquisitely neat and top quality products.
Ayothaya Floating Market
An eco-style trip to Ayothaya Floating Market is ideal for everyone in the family, as there is a wide variety of activities to be enjoyed by all; such as, shopping for signature products from each district of Ayutthaya, elephant rides, or joining a tour boat around the premises at Bt20 per head. The area features a canal running through its centre and the land is divided into 16 zones, each of which are named after districts in Ayutthaya. Wooden shophouses and stalls as well as boats offer food and products for visitors. The gorgeous scenery as a whole truly reflects the simple way of life Ayutthaya residents enjoy and the extent of their bond with the rivers of the area. Shows and performances are also available here.
Open daily from 10.00 a.m. to 09.00 p.m. Performance schedule on Saturday-Sunday: 12:00 a.m./ 2:00 p.m./ 3:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Kong Khong Market
Enjoy shopping for local products, foods, snacks, toxin-free vegetables and fruits sold by shop vendors dressed in Thai traditional costumes. The name of the market “Kong Khong” (meaning ‘bend over’) comes from the olden days when shop vendors laid their products out for sale on the ground requiring visitors to bend forward in order to browse the products.
Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts & Crafts Centre
Is the hub of handicrafts distributed directly from manufacturers. Visitors can see the handicraft manufacturing process and other interesting areas in the compound; such as, the Arts and Crafts Village, Bird Garden, Fish sanctuary, etc. A small train is also available for taking visitors on a tour around the area.
Sample Programme 1 Day in Ayutthaya
- Leave Bangkok and travel to Ayutthaya (1.5-hour drive)
- Visit Ayutthaya’s heritage sites by cycling or three-wheeler or tram along the “Treasure Hunt in Ayutthaya Trail”. (See Family Route)
- Leave for afternoon activities and souvenir shopping at the local floating markets. (See Family Shopping)
- River cruising and enjoy the scenery. Dinner onboard with a night view of Ayutthaya’s ancient city atmosphere.