Guide to visiting temples in Ayutthaya in a day (incl Map & Itinerary)

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Buddha heads are engulfed by banyan trees, 300 hectares of temples, and a history dating back many, many centuries. A day trip to Ayutthaya is the perfect way to learn more about the illustrious history of Thailand. Learn the origins of 7 of the most striking temples in Ayutthaya and how to visit them.

When visiting Thailand, the temptation is high to inhale the delicious Thai food in Bangkok and get lost in the ample (streetfood) markets and temples for a few days before jet-setting off for a relaxing holiday on one of the many Thai islands. 

Before heading towards the islands, however, consider using expanding your knowledge of Thailand by undertaking a few well-planned day trips from Bangkok. The most popular one was a day trip to Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand in the 14th century.

This Ayutthaya itinerary guides you through the various ways to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok, the best temples in Ayutthaya to visit as well as other things to do in the city aside from ‘mere’ temple hopping and ads in things not to do as a tourist while visiting Ayutthaya.


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Temples in Ayutthaya Thailand

Visiting Ayutthaya at a glance

Visiting Ayutthaya but no time to scroll through all the practical information. Everything you need to know to start planning your day trip to Ayutthaya is right here at your fingertips.

PRACTICAL INFO
Getting there: Train, book ticket online
Best Tour: Sunset bike tour
What to wear: Bring a sarong (women)

WHERE TO STAY
Best Location: Old Palace Resort
Affordable Comfort: Pan Din Boutique
Quaint Guesthouse: Niwas Ayutthaya

GETTING AROUND: Look into renting a bike at one of the many bike rentals dotted around the historical park. Only cash payment accepted and a deposit is required for the bike lock.


History of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 and was the second capital of Thailand (then Siam). After the fall of Angkor, Ayutthaya consolidated its power and became an important connecting point between the East and the West.

The city became the center for global diplomacy and commerce. The Royal Court of Ayutthaya exchanged ambassadors with many countries, even reaching as far as Europe. Foreigners were welcome in the court and served in the employ of the government. What is most interesting is the foreign influences that can still be seen in the surviving architecture of the ruins today.

The city fell in the 18th century after it was destroyed by the Burmese (now Myanmar). After the fall of Ayutthaya, the capital was moved to Bangkok.

Thai Monks in the temples of Ayutthaya Thailand
Thai monks in the temples of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya today

The Ayutthaya Historical Park was classified as a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991. Most buildings that remain today are monasteries and palaces, as these were the only buildings made out of stone at the time.

The total area of the World Heritage property is 289 ha and it contains over 400 temples. To make your Ayutthaya day tour go off as smooth as possible, make sure to jot down which of the temples you want to visit and plan accordingly, even at breakneck speed 400 in a day is a little optimistic.

To make things easier my favorite seven are: Wat Phra Mahathat, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon, Wat Si Sanphet, Wat LokayaSutharam, Phra Mongkhon Bophit Chapel, and Chedi Phukhao Thong.

Temples of Ayutthaya: Map

Plan your perfect Ayutthaya Itinerary with the help of this interactive Google Map. Red pins indicate what to do in Ayutthaya, while the yellow pins indicate the bus and trainstation.

Do not be fooled though, distances are pretty large and covering all the various temples will be a to easier if you rent a bike.

Map of Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya temple tours and activities

Getting to Ayutthaya and spending the day exploring temples is very easy to do without a tour. It does however require a bit of research and hopping on and off public transport. Or you could invest in a tour of Ayutthaya, there are plenty of really great (affordable) tours. Some include pick-up from your hotel in Bangkok

VALUE FOR MONEY: Day trip from Bangkok

Guided (small) group day trip to Ayutthaya leaving from Bangkok. Includes pickup and dropoff at the hotel, a guided visit to 4 of the main temples in Ayutthaya as well as a delicious local lunch.

BEST RATED TOUR: Private day trip to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

The highest-rated tour on Get Your Guide, perfect for visitors who are curious to get a better understanding of the history of Ayutthaya and Thailand. Pickup and dropoff in Bangkok from your hotel. Includes a guided visit to 7 of the most important religious temples in Ayutthaya as well as a delicious local lunch.


Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok

7 Best temples in Ayutthaya to visit on a day trip from Bangkok

Walk in the footsteps of ancient aristocrats through the stone ruined temples in Ayutthaya.  When embarking on a day trip to the city of Ayutthaya from Bangkok, you will get the chance to immerse yourself in this once global capital and revel in the structures that are almost 700 years old. Grab your camera, slip on your walking shoes, and get ready to experience the mystical wonder of these seven must-see temples in Ayutthaya.

Wat Phra Mahathat

Once the site of royal ceremonies, the house of Buddha’s holy relic, and one of the most historically significant temples of its age, Wat Phra Mahathat is a temple you must visit during your trip to Ayutthaya. This ancient monastery was once considered the spiritual heart of Buddhism in the Kingdom of Ayutthaya and home to the high seat of the Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism. 

Wat Phra Mahathat has significantly been affected by decay, fire, and foreign invasion since its original construction in 1374. One of the original Prangs (the tall conical-shaped towers) fell due to corrosion in the 17th century. In the late 1700s, the temple was further destroyed during the Burmese invasion and was set on fire.

The temple has mostly fallen to ruin in the past 100 years (since the central Prang collapsed again in the 20th century). However, Wat Phra Mahathat is still mostly standing, serving as an impressive archaic ruin to explore, and regarded as one of the top attractions in Ayutthaya.

Entrance Fee: 50 TBT ($1.5)
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 08:00 AM to 18:00 PM


Wat Chai Watthanaram Ayutthaya Temple Thailand

Wat Chai Watthanaram

This widely beloved temple, constructed in 1630, stands as one of the most beautiful and most famous temples in Ayutthaya. You might think that you recognize Wat Chaiwatthanaram due to the fact it was fashioned after Angkor Wat in Cambodia. 

Interestingly, this temple was only recently abandoned and was not regarded as a site of preservation until 1987.  Wat Chai Watthanaram was subject to looting, deterioration, and unsolicited housing until the Fine Arts Department of Thailand declared this a place of historical significance and conservation. 

Wat Chai Watthanaram is located just beside the island that Ayutthaya was built on, and lives along the bank of the Chao Phraya River. Despite its only recent conservation efforts, Wat Chaiwatthanaram is known to be one of the best Ayutthaya temples.

Entrance Fee: 50 TBT ($1.5)
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 08:00 AM to 17:00 PM


Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon

Experience a living Thai temple that still functions as a place of worship at Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon. At this temple, experience the turns of time from its construction in 1357 to the present day. Walk past the iconic line of Buddhas and live in the history of the worshipers who have come from afar for over 600 years to experience the serenity of this temple. 

Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon is one of the few temples in Ayutthaya where you can actually climb to the top. It is worth the climb up 50 steps to reach the top of the chedi (pagoda), and experience the views over the temple. 

Since Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon is still a functioning temple, you may encounter monks living at the temple and other inhabitants. When you visit you will recognize that the temple also serves as a place of homage to King Naresuan who was victorious over the Burmese in the 16th century and is a prominent figure in the history of Ayutthaya.

Entrance Fee: 20 TBT($0.60)
Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday 08:00 AM to 17:00 PM


Wat Si Sanphet

Considered the holiest temple of the kingdom of Ayutthaya, Wat Si Sanphet was once a temple of brilliance and grandiosity built on the grounds of the prior royal palace. This holy estate was grand and opulent. Imagine a golden Buddha standing 24 meters high amongst the royal chapel and characterized by three chedis, enshrined in the ashes of three Ayutthaya kings. 

Due to the significance of this site, and its exclusive use by the royal family, the temple was almost entirely destroyed during the Burmese invasion in 1767. The building was set on fire and the gold was melted down and looted. Only one chedi remained after this invasion and the other two were restored by the Fine Arts Department in the 1950s. 

Today you can visit the restored temple, examine some of the remaining foundations of the royal chapel, and examine how this temple is still used today as a holy site for the royal family.

Entrance Fee: 20 TBT ($0.60)
Opening Hours:
Monday to Sunday 08:00 AM to 18:00 PM


Wat Lokaya Sutharam Ayutthaya Thailand

Wat Lokaya Sutharam

Known for its 42-meter-long (138 feet) reclining Buddha, Wat Lokaya Sutharam is a favored temple in Ayutthaya by domestic and international visitors. Curators of the temple are unable to identify exactly when this Buddha and temple were rectified, but based on similar architectural styles and materials there is the assumption that this structure dates to the early Ayutthayan era. 

If you are a connoisseur of history and art you will appreciate this monumental Buddha who has been watching visitors for hundreds of years. In the 1950s when the Fine Arts Department began their restorative efforts, the head was adjusted to match a modern style common amongst today’s Buddha images, but the foundations and general structure are still the original stone.

The remaining structures surrounding the reclining Buddha are ruins but are still attractive to walk around and admire. Admission to this site is free and there are nearby vendors selling crafts and art which is a popular shopping stop amongst the visitors to this temple.

Entrance Fee: Free
Opening Hours:
Site does not close


Phra Mongkhon Bophit Chapel Ayutthaya, Thailand

Phra Mongkhon Bophit Chapel

This chapel houses an infamous bronze cast Buddha which has seen different homes in the Ayutthaya area and has a rich history for a statue measuring 12.5 meters in height and 9.5 meters wide. This Buddha has stood against the elements and political trials and tribulations of Ayutthaya.

The first original structure housing this relic was struck by lightning in the early 1600s and was moved to a different location where a new structure was constructed. Once again, 100 years later, the covering structure (mondop) was also struck by lightning and caught fire. The roof collapsed causing the Buddha to, unfortunately, loses its head. A new preaching hall was constructed where this reconstructed bronze Buddha lived for another 150 years. 

Fast-forward to the Burmese invasion of 1767, the chapel was once again burned and destroyed (this time damaging the Buddha’s right arm and the head, again.). It wasn’t until the 20th century that restoration efforts began on this war-torn Buddha. By 1957 this enormous bronze cast monument was restored to its former glory, and the present-day chapel was erected. 

When you visit the chapel today, you can appreciate the history this enormous Buddha has experienced and can marvel at its size and shimmering glory.

Entrance Fee: free
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 08:00 AM to 18:00 PM


Chedi Phu Khao Thong

This monumental temple holds a vengeful tale that marks Thai victory over Burmese rule. Located outside the parameters of Ayutthaya, this chedi was constructed by the Burmese King to commemorate his victory over the Siamese in 1569. However, the chedi was not completed at this time and only the foundational base was finished. 

In 1587 when Naresuan took back the kingdom of Ayutthaya, he built a Thai-style temple on top of the Burmese foundation to stake his victory and liberation from Burma. 

Over the next 200 years, the chedi was not as frequently used and began to deteriorate. A new chedi was constructed using the foundations from the original structure, in the mid-1700s. Chedi Phukhao Thong is a perfect time to visit if you want to experience the mystical energy of these ancient time-worn structures in peace and away from the crowds. Due to this temple’s location, it is not as frequently visited by tourists and offers a more serene experience.

One of the best activities in Ayutthaya to do (and not known to many) is to climb to the platform at the base of the chedi for a new perspective over the surrounding fields.

Entrance Fee: free
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 08:00 AM to 18:00 PM 


Additional things to do on your Ayutthaya day tour

Aside from temple hopping, the Ayutthaya Historical Park has more to offer its visitors. Find the famous Buddha head that is entwined in a Banyan tree, marvel at the colossal Buddha in Wat Phanan Choeng Worawihan and witness the magic of the temples illuminated at dusk.

Buddha at Wat Phanan Choeng Worawihan Ayutthaya Thailand

Marvel at the giant Buddha at Wat Phanan Choeng Worawihan

This temple is home to a 19-meter (62 feet) tall Buddha decorated with the gold garnishings of this multicultural site. This active temple is a site of appreciation for the Thai-Chinese population in the area, due to its ties to a refugee community from the age of the Song Dynasty in China. 

This impressive Buddha is a reason in itself for visiting this temple and is a refreshingly local site that is not as frequented by tourists. Ideal for those wanting more exposure to the modern culture of the Ayutthaya area.


Find the famous Buddha head wrapped in the roots of a Banyan Tree

This iconic scene of a Buddha head intertwined amongst the roots of a great Banyan Tree is a landmark of tourism in Ayutthaya and in Thailand in general. Photos of this scene are blasted across the internet as tourists take an appreciation for this artistic and somewhat haunting display. 

This famous floating head exists amongst the grounds at Wat Phra Mahathat, will you be able to spot it?


phra-nakhon-si-ayutthaya at nightfall

Experience the Temples in Ayutthaya at Night

When twilight falls on the temples of Ayutthaya, the mystical atmosphere of the night offers a brand new perspective on this historical site. 

Of course, nothing about the temples actually changes at nighttime, but there is a certain magical sensation one might experience when seeing these ancient sites up-lit against the night sky. 

It’s a great idea to make your day trip to Ayutthaya truly an all-day trip so you can experience seeing the temples lit up at night, for yourself. Stay for the day, experience the sunset over the temples as day turns to night, and watch as the lights come on!

It’s a good idea to plan out your Ayutthaya itinerary in advance and know which sites you want to see at night, so you can check their hours of operation! Hours may change depending on which season you visit so be sure to check the Thailand Tourism website for the most up-to-date information.

Tip: Why not take a sunset bike tour through the Ayutthaya Historical Park. This 3 hour guided tour starts at sunset and takes you through all the lit-up temples.


Ethical Elephant Sanctuaries Thailand

What not to do on your day trip to Ayutthaya

Whatever you do, please do not decide to clamber on the back of an elephant to ride around the Ayutthaya Historical Park. In fact, remove any notion of riding an elephant in Thailand at all.

While it might be a bucket list item to ride an elephant, please read up on the maltreatment of these majestic beings and the awful process they go through to be domesticated for riding. More information can be found on the PETA website.

Still, want to get up close and personal with a Thai elephant? Why not look into an ethical elephant sanctuary instead. The sanctuaries will teach you the right way to interact with elephants and how you can help out with the plight of the Thai elephant.


How to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

There are a variety of different ways to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok, the cheapest being by train and the easiest the use of a Minivan.

Train from Bangkok to Ayutthaya

Daily trains run between Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station and Ayutthaya. Train rides take between 80 and 150 minutes to get there. The train has a second and third class (no AC). Third-class tickets cannot be reserved in advance, second-class tickets can be reserved online or directly at the ticket office in the train station.

The railway station in Ayutthaya is not within walking distance from the Ayutthaya Historical Park. You will need to take either a ferry or a Tuc Tuc to get to your destination.

Book Tickets: Check timetables and book tickets online for the train.

Take a minivan between Bangkok and Ayutthaya

We opted to take a minivan to get to Ayutthaya. The vans depart from the Bangkok northern bus terminal Moh Chit. Getting to the bus station means taking the BTS to Moh Chit station followed by a short taxi ride to the bus station or a 20-minute walk.

Tickets for the minivan can be purchased at the bus station directly, it is not possible to purchase tickets in advance. The minivan does not have a set departure hour, instead opting to leave when it is full. 

The minivan makes several stops along the way, make sure to stay in the van until the very last stop: Naresuan Alley.


Old Buddha statue in temple at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol at Ayutthaya, Thailand. World Heritage Site
Old Buddha statue in temple at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol at Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Visiting Ayutthaya temples: FAQ

A couple of the most asked questions regarding a one-day trip to Ayutthaya. Includes what to wear, best time to go and what the entrance fees are for most activities.

How to get around the Ayutthaya Historical Park

Rent a bicycle for a day. The bicycle costs 50 TBT ($1.5) for a day and you will need to leave some form of ID (passport or credit card) as a deposit. Most hostels and guesthouses rent out bicycles for the day

Alternatively, you can grab a Songthaew (oversized Tuk Tuk). The Songthaew sits 6 people comfortably and will be charged a fixed price of 300 TBT ($9) per hour.


Are there any entrance fees to be paid?

Entrance to the Ayutthaya Historical Park is free, however, the larger temples will ask foreigners to pay an entrance fee of 50 TBT ($1.5).


Dress code for Ayutthaya

There is no specific dress code to visit Ayutthaya. But if you plan on visiting any of the Ayutthaya Temples please bear in mind these are religious sites, therefore dress respectfully.


Best time for a day trip to Ayutthaya?

November to February are the best months to visit Ayutthaya as they are dry and not (yet) unbearably hot and humid.


How many days to spend in Ayutthaya

A one-day trip to Ayutthaya is great to get an initial feeling of the site and to see the most famous temples. If however, you have a bit more time on your hands consider spending the night in Ayutthaya. This gives you the option to see the historical park at night, and perhaps grab a late breakfast in one of the markets in downtown Ayutthaya.


Day trip to Ayutthaya conclusion

The wealth of history of the sheer variety of temples is absolutely astounding. Within minutes of arriving at the historical park, it will become abundantly clear why the site is classified as a UNESCO world heritage.

Consider renting a bike to cover more ground and squeeze in a few additional beautiful temples in Ayutthaya into your itinerary.


MORE RESOURCES FOR TRAVELING AROUND ASIA

Guide to Sukothai National Park
Ethical Elephant Sanctuaries in Thailand
Two-week guide to Iran
Insiders guide to Isfahan Iran
Guide to Khiva
Guide to Bukhara

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Caroline Muller

Thanks for dropping in! With this blog I hope to harness the power of travel to do good in the world. Think connecting with local cultures, sustainable tourism and in-depth guides to known and lesser-known adventures. 

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