Ayutthaya, Thailand: Places You Absolutely Must Visit

 

Guest Interview ‘’Ayutthaya In My Mind’’ (Part 2) written by Kasinee Silapee

See Part One here.  Ayutthaya, Thailand: The Historical Background, Getting There And Getting Around.

Links to more work from Kasinee Silapee will all feature on the 3rd and final part of this series on ”Ayutthaya In My Mind”. Kasinee is no stranger to this blog and has written many superb articles for Engaging Thailand Tips and there are thankfully more to come

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Kasinee Silapee ( nickname Kade)

The temples with entry charges are usually in ruins, so there is no dress code, although visitors are still requested to refrain from blatant stupidity like clambering up the Buddha statues. Working temples tend to charge no fees and there are often no officials to check that a dress is appropriate (though it is advised to follow these customs to show respect for sacred places).

Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Sri Sanphet The largest temple in Ayutthaya, known for its distinctive row of restored chedis (Thai-style stupas) The Grand Palace in Bangkok derived architecture influence from this temple.

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Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit, Sri Sanphet Rd (Next to Wat Phra Si Sanphet). An impressive building that houses a large bronze cast Buddha image. It was originally enshrined outside the Grand Palace to the east, but it was later transferred to the current location and covered with a Mondop. During the second fall of Ayutthaya, the building and the image were badly destroyed by fire. The building currently seen was renovated but does not have as beautiful craftsmanship as the previous ones.

The Buddha Image of Wat Mongkol Bopit

Caption:  The large bronze sitting Buddha in Calling Mother of earth (Mara Vichai) gesture at Wat Mongkol Bopit

Wat Phra Mahathat, Naresuan Rd (Across the road from Wat Ratburana) A large temple that was quite thoroughly ransacked by the Burmese. Several leaning prangs of Ayutthaya are still feebly defying gravity though, and the rows of headless Buddhas are atmospheric. This is also where you can spot the famous tree that has grown around a Buddha head. When taking pictures of you and the Buddha head, make sure you kneel to show respect, as it is considered holy by Thais. (Entrance fare is 50 baht)

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Wat Ratchaburana. Naresuan Rd. This temple stands out for having a large prang recently restored to its original condition, clearly visible if you come in from the east. A major find of golden statues and other paraphernalia was made here in 1958, although much was subsequently stolen by robbers — the remnants are now in the Chao Sam Phraya Museum. You can climb inside the prang for nice views and a little exhibit. The mysterious staircase down, leads to two unrestored rooms with original mural paintings still visible on the walls. (Entrance fare is 50 baht)

Phra Chedi Suriyothai , U-Thong Rd A white and gold coloured chedi built as a memorial to a previous queen. It is the memorial for the first heroine in Siamese history- Somdej Phra Sri Suriyothai, a Queen of Phra Maha Dhammaraja. This statue is a proof of honor  that ancient Siamese society gave to women..

Wat Chaiwatthanaram,. Due to flood damage, this temple is currently closed. However you can still walk around the outside (for free) and take pictures. The temple that graces the official tourist pamphlet for Ayutthaya, this wat is a must see. Many intact pagodas surround a central chedi that you can climb from all sides. A nice view of the city can be had from the top. very photogenic.  (The entrance fee is 50 baht)

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Wat Phanan Choeng  is located at Bang Pa-in Rd. Open 8:30AM-5PM, daily. A working monastery located south of Ayutthaya, no one knows how old it is, but it existed before Ayutthaya was founded as the capital. It contains the oldest large cast bronze Buddha image in Ayutthaya, called “Phrachao Phananchoeng”, built in A.D. 1325; it is made of stucco in the attitude of subduing evil. A small room to the right of the main hall contains a nice collection of Buddha images and the room is painted with many individual unique pictures, in bright colors offset with gold.

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Wat Yai Chaimongkon– One of my favorite temple in Ayutthaya is Wat Yai Chaimongkol; open 8PM-6PM, daily. The large pagoda from far away and some its ruins appear on well known photos of temples in Thailand. Constructed in the reign of King U-Thong, the temple features a large reclining Buddha in saffron robes in its own ruined wiharn.

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Caption: The reclining Buddha of Wat Logayasuttharam, which is located in the same area of  Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon

Other attractive sites in Ayutthaya:

  • Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre, Rojana Rd (Rotchana Rd), Interesting museum about the history of Ayutthaya. It’s best to visit this museum before heading out elsewhere, as it places the remains into a historical perspective.. foreigners: adults 100 baht, children 50 baht.
  • Baan Hollanda. This museum is situated near the site of the Dutch Lodge which was first built there in the 1630s. It aims at telling of the Dutch settlement, how they worked, lived, and interacted with Siamese society and court.
  • Chantharakasem National Museum, Uthong Rd, Former residence of King Naresuan the Great, built in 1577. 100 baht (foreigners).
  • Chao Sam Phraya National Museum. Most treasures of Ayutthaya were stolen, burnt and melted by armies or treasure hunters. Some pieces survived though and are exhibited at this museum. Most of the riches are golden statues found at Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Phra Mahathat.

Kade’s favorite spots: Portuguese Settlement, located close by Wat Chaiwatthanaram and Phutthai Sawan). As an archeology student, I  loved it whenever I did an excavation in any area and found the skeletons of the people who used to settle their community in that area. There are excavated remains of members of the settlement inside the Dominican Church. The skeletons of those inside the church apparently belonged to those who were of higher status within the settlement, like priests. It was said to be the largest community of Westerners after it was settled in the early 1500s. The settlement was destroyed in 1767 after the fall of Ayutthaya.  The entrance of this place is FREE!

Portuguese Settlement

Coming Very Soon Part 3

Places To Eat In Ayutthaya, Thailand

For more articles on travel, food and culture in Thailand please visit our website.

 

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