Attractions in Ayutthaya

12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Ayutthaya

The ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most impressive ruined cities in Asia and a must-see for history buffs visiting Thailand. The Menam, Lopburi and Pasak rivers ring Ayutthaya Historical Park, the island where most of the temple ruins are located. Walking through this once thriving ancient city will make you feel as if you have stepped back in time. Besides exploring all the temple ruins, other popular things to do include caring for rescued elephants and cycling through the old French, Portuguese, British and Dutch quarters.

Allow at least two days to see all the tourist attractions, and longer if you don’t want to feel rushed. Ayutthaya is steeped in history and you will want to absorb the full experience while you are here.

1 Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Restoration efforts starting in 1987 transformed Wat Chaiwatthanaram from a looted ruin to one of the most visited attractions in the Ayutthaya Historical Park. This large complex on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River is one of Ayutthaya’s most impressive temples and offers insight into the influence of Buddhism on the Thai community. Built in the traditional Khmer style, the complex consists of a central prang or spire on a rectangular base amid four smaller prang and eight chedi-like temples or merus. Reliefs depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life once decorated the exterior of the merus, but only fragments remain. Sunset is a particularly beautiful time to visit, when the buildings glow in the late light.

Read also: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Thailand

2 Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the most beautiful, but also the most historically important temple in ancient Ayutthaya. The three large chedis and numerous smaller ones make this wat – also known as the King’s Temple – one of the most impressive sights in the ruined city. Two of the large chedis, the eastern and central chedis, were built in 1492 by King Ramathibodi II to house the ashes of his father and older brother. His own ashes are buried in the third chedi, built in 1530 by his son and royal successor, King Boromaraja IV.

All three chedis were looted by the Burmese, although they failed to find the hundreds of small Buddha statues in bronze, crystal, silver, lead and gold that are now on display in the National Museum, one of the top attractions in Bangkok. Other smaller Buddha figures were also taken to the capital to be placed in Wat Buddhaisawan (now also part of the National Museum in Bangkok) and the western wiharn of Wat Pho.

You will see the ruins of Wang Luang , the Grand Palace, on your left as you leave the wat. There is nothing left but the foundations, because the palace was thoroughly destroyed by the Burmese.

Official site:–2352

3 Wat Ratchaburana


Wat Ratchaburana

King Boromracha II (1424-48) had Wat Ratchaburana built in memory of his older brothers Ay and Yi, who were killed during a duel over the succession to the throne. Columns and walls of the wiharn still stand, as do some ruined chedis. The large prang, with its beautifully shaped stuccowork depicting nagas with garudas, is exceptionally well preserved.

You will find some interesting murals in the two crypts in the lower part of the prang, probably the work of Chinese artists who settled in Ayutthaya and had the skill to harmonize such different styles as those of the Khmer and Burmese, Lopburi, and Sukhothai. Two other chedi at the crossroads house the ashes of the royal brothers, while a third commemorates queen Si Suriyothai who, during a battle with the Burmese in about 1550, dressed as a man and rode into battle on a white elephant to save her husband. saving lives – but losing her own in the process.

4 Wat Mahathat

Wat Mahathat
Wat Mahathat

Directly across the street from Wat Ratchaburana is Wat Mahathat, according to which King Ramesuan tradition built it in 1384. Its most famous feature is the face of a stone Buddha peeking out from the roots at the base of a tree. The central prang here is one of the most impressive buildings in the old city. The upper part was demolished around 1625 and was rebuilt in 1633, some four meters higher than before. Later it collapsed again and only the corners survived. In 1956, a secret chamber was discovered in the ruins. Among the treasures found were gold jewelry, a gold casket containing a relic of the Buddha and fine tableware.

5 Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol

On the eastern edge of Ayutthaya stands the exceptionally striking Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (or Mongkhon), the enormous chedi rising from a square base surrounded by four smaller chedis. One of the most striking features is the massive reclining Buddha at the entrance. Built in 1357 under King U Thong, the wat was assigned to monks of a particularly strict order trained in Sri Lanka, whose members still live there. Before you leave, climb the steps of the chedi for views over the statues and gardens.

6 Wat Na Phra Men

Wat Na Phra Men Heiko S / photo modified
Wat Na Phra Men Heiko S / photo modified

Opposite the Grand Palace, Wat Na Phra Men (also called Wat Na Phra Meru) is one of the few temples destroyed by the Burmese. It is not known when the temple was built; existing documents show only that it was restored under King Boromakot (1732-58) and again during the early Bangkok period. The bot (largest room in the temple) is large and impressive, with beautiful carvings on the facade and door panels. Curiously, a large Buddha found here is dressed in royal attire, which is highly unusual.

7 Wat Thammikarat

Wat Thammikarat
Wat Thammikarat

Just outside the Ayutthaya Historical Park, this large working temple has long been overgrown, but the ruins are still significant. You see parts of the terrace, the pillars of the portico and a chedi surrounded by lion statues. A curiosity here are the dozens of brightly colored rooster statues, which are thought to be offerings made by the locals. Other highlights include the large bronze Buddha head and the golden reclining Buddha hidden in one of the buildings to the right of the chedi.

8 Chao Sam Phraya National Museum

Chao Sam Phraya National Museum Joel Ormsby / photo modified
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum Joel Ormsby / photo modified

Housed in several buildings surrounded by lily ponds, the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum was founded by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1961. It houses a number of sculptures and works from different periods in Thailand’s early history, including several beautiful gold Buddha statues; gold jewelry and utensils and ornate teak friezes. Highlights include a seated Buddha and a huge bust of the Buddha in the U Thong style.

9 Wat Suwan Blood

Wat Suwan Dararam Fabian Mohr / photographed
Wat Suwan Dararam Fabian Mohr / photographed

Wat Suwan Dararam stands proudly surrounded by three small lakes. Built around 1700 by Rama I’s grandfather, it was expanded by the rulers of the Chakri dynasty, who also carried out a significant amount of restoration work and embellished the temple with numerous paintings, which are now among its best-known features. Murals in the temple depict subjects such as Buddha’s battle against Mara in gaining enlightenment, as well as battles with mythical figures and a dramatic battle between King Naresuan the Great and the Burmese army. Wat Suwan Dararam is the only temple on the island of Ayutthaya still inhabited by monks.

10 Bang Pa-in Palace

Bang Pa-in Palace
Bang Pa-in Palace

If you’re tired of seeing ruins and looking for a little more modern regality, head to Bang Pa-in Palace, dating back to the 17th century. Also known as the Summer Palace , this royal residence is one of the best preserved compounds in the area. The buildings have different architectural styles, including traditional Thai and Chinese structures, and there is also Phra Thinang Uthayan Phumisathian – a two-story Victorian-style mansion . Another interesting spot is Ho Witthunthassana, the three-storey tower-style building used for exploring the countryside and watching royal elephants.

11 Foreign quarters

St Joseph's kerk Uwe Schwarzbach / photo modification
St Joseph’s kerk Uwe Schwarzbach / photo modification

In its heyday, Ayutthaya attracted settlers from all over the world, making the city diverse and cosmopolitan. As you can see from a map, many of these foreign neighborhoods are quite close together, so you can visit the old French, Portuguese, British and Dutch neighborhoods by taking a sightseeing bike tour of the area. European influence is responsible for the number of Catholic churches in the area, including St. Joseph’s Church , which still stands today. Located in the French Quarter, the church was built in 1666 and is a testament to the French colonists, who left home to settle in what used to be Siam.

Ayutthaya also had a strong Japanese presence and you can still explore an old Japanese quarter here. The Japanese settlement on the river was separated from the European one, divided by the Suan Phlu Canal.

Address: 30 Mu 11 Tambon Samphao Lom, Amphoe Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya

12 Elephant enclosure

Elephant enclosure
Elephant enclosure

Tourists can bond with one of Thailand’s most revered animals by spending a few days at the Elephant Stay. The minimum booking is three nights and includes an elephant that you will care for under the watchful eye of experienced mahouts throughout your stay. Guests feed, bathe and ride their assigned elephants. This organization is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and support of retired elephants. It also offers an active breeding program and a rescue and rehabilitation program.

Address: 34 Royal Elephant Kraal, Ayutthaya

Official site:

Where to Stay in Ayutthaya for Sightseeing

If you are visiting Ayutthaya for the first time and plan to tour the temples, the best place to stay is near the historical park. Most of the larger luxury hotels are a short tuk-tuk ride away, but you will find plenty of small, homely guesthouses within walking distance. Below are some highly rated hotels in these areas:

  • Luxury Hotels: Ayutthaya has few luxury options and they are a drive from the historic park. The best of these are the Kantary Hotel, a 14-minute drive from the ruins, and the Classic Kameo Hotel & Serviced Apartments, a little closer to the historic park. Both offer apartment-style accommodation, buffet breakfasts and swimming pools. Set within lush gardens, steps away from the floating market, Baan Thai House exudes authentic Thai style with its teak villas, spa and peaceful pool.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Located close to the night market, the Ayutthaya Grand Hotel offers large, clean rooms, a swimming pool and a gym. Located in the center of town, the older Ayothaya Hotel has a swimming pool and great rates including hearty breakfasts. Prom Tong Mansion is a more intimate option, just steps from the ruins.
  • Budget Hotels: Near restaurants and entertainment and less than a five-minute walk from the nearest temple, Goodmorning by Tamarind Guest House scores rave reviews for its friendly staff and great value rooms. Bicycles and scooters are available for rent. Other budget options include Adam Place, with free bikes and simple but spacious rooms, and the hip Stockhome Hostel Ayutthaya, which offers dorms and private rooms within walking distance of the historic park.

Visiting Ayutthaya from Bangkok: take a guided tour

  • Temples of Ayutthaya and River Cruise : If you want to see all the highlights of Ayutthaya from Bangkok in one day, the Temple and River Cruise tour is a fantastic option. An experienced guide will take you to Ayutthaya Historical Park to see the main sights including Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Phanan Choeng and Wat Yai Chai Mongkol. You will also visit the summer palace of King Rama IV. For the return journey to Bangkok, hop aboard a riverboat for a relaxing cruise along the Chao Phraya River and glide past beautiful temples on the banks of the river. The tour includes lunch, entrance fees, and hotel pickup and drop-off in central Bangkok.

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