Thailand’s historical center, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is a destination of majestic highlights. Having served as the Thai capital for 417 years (1350-1767, Kingdom of Ayutthaya), it was once known as one of the biggest cities in the world, and considered a Southeast Asia center for civilizations. Most foreign visitors to Ayutthaya during the 17th century claimed Ayutthaya to be the most illustrious and glittering city that they had ever visited. Today, visitors to Ayutthaya enjoy the nation’s historical grandeur, and the magnificent structures and ruins concentrated in and around the city and outlying area. In particular, Ayutthaya Historical Park, an extensive historical site located in the heart of the city, has been included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list since late 1991.
Bang Pa-In Palace is not situated in Ayutthaya city proper, but is well worth making an effort to get to see. The palace comprises a collection of buildings of various ages and various architectural styles surrounded by a lake. Originally built by King Prasattong, Bang Pa-In was the residence of all the kings in the Ayutthaya period but it was left unoccupied when Bangkok became the capital. Its importance was reestablished in 1851 when King Mongkut restored the palace and monarchs resumed residing there. Bang Pa-In Palace compound houses a number of important buildings.
The public can only go inside two of these buildings: Phra Thinang Wehat Chamrun – a Chinese-style building intended for use during rainy seasons and Phra Thinang Withun Thatsana – a tower-like observatory with a number of balconies to take in good views of the palace gardens. Other buildings worthy of note include Phra Thinang Aisawan Thippa a pavilion standing in the middle of the lake – and Phra Thinang Warophat Phiman a two-story building that housed King Mongkut’s apartments and reception hall.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkon
The monastery was built in 1900 by King U-thong who granted the temple with the name Wat Pa Kaew. The intention was to create a center of Buddhist studies (Ceylonese Sect). As the temple used to be headed by a patriarch, local people also called it Wat Chao Phraya Thai.
Operating time: 08.00 – 18.00 Daily.
Built in 1630 by King Prasat Thong to honor his mother, Wat Chaiwattanaram was conceived as a replica of the Angkor temple. A Royal monastery, the temples unique feature is a huge prang which is surrounded by smaller prangs. Located on the bank of the Maenam Chao Phraya, to the west of the city island is Wat Chaiwatthanaram.
Operating time: 08.30 – 16.30 Daily.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
In 1491, Wat Phra Si Sanphet was located inside the compound of the Grand Palace-the foundations of which are still visible-and served as the royal chapel, as Wat Phra Kaeo does in Bangkok. This Wang Lung Palace (Royal Palace) was built by King U-Thong upon the founding of the city.
Operating time: 07.00 – 18.30 Daily
Used as a residential palace, it became a monastery in the reign of King Ramathibodi I. When King Borom Trai Lokanat commanded the construction of new living quarters, this residential palace was transformed into a temple, and the establishment of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. In Ayutthaya’s heyday, this was the largest temple in the city. The three main chedis which have been restored contain the ashes of three Ayutthaya kings. The temple is situated at the northern end of Si Sanphet Road. The royal chapel does not have any monks and novice inhabitants.