Getting to know Ayutthaya
Giving Sukhothai a run for its money, Ayutthaya is another former capital city of Siam that offers a great glimpse into Thailand’s rich history. Founded in 1350, it was here the capital moved to after the demise of Sukhothai. Sitting ideally located between China, India and other regional powers, Ayutthaya became the trading hub of Asia. By 1700, the city had 1 million inhabitants and was the largest (and most beautiful, as many claimed) city in the world. Despite being sacked by the Burmese, who left the entire city in ashes, there is still a wide collection of temples, wats, statues and ruins that are well worth exploring.
The main attraction of Ayutthaya is its UNESCO-protected historical park, which spreads across the flat town. Among its main attractions, the following are some of the must-sees: Wat Phra Si Sanphet (the largest of the temple complexes), Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit (housing a bronze-cast Buddha), Wat Phra Mahathat (housing the famous Buddha head in the tree) and Wat Ratchaburana (known for its large prang). While cycling, driving or tuk tuk-ing around the sites is a great way to explore the park, it is also recommended to take a boat ride through the island’s canals. It’s a great, relaxing way to soak in the beauty of the city from an entirely different angle.