Ayutthaya, a small city not far from Bangkok, is best known for the multitude of temple ruins scattered around its historical centre.
Founded in 1350 as the capital of the Siamese Kingdom, Ayutthaya flourished for more than four centuries, growing into one of the largest cities of the period. Thanks to its strategic location on an island surrounded by three rivers, and with a direct connection to the sea, it became a key centre of commerce and global diplomacy. During it’s heyday, it was a grand and wealthy city full of ornately decorated palaces and temples. In 1767 the city was brutally sacked by the Burmese who burned Ayutthaya to the ground. Following this, the Thai capital moved to Thonburi (in present-day Bangkok), and remained there even after Ayutthaya was retaken from the Burmese, and the regions of Thailand were unified into a single kingdom.
Visiting the Palaces and Temples of Ayutthaya
Extensive ruins of many of the former capital’s palaces and temples remain virtually untouched; the city of Ayutthaya having regrown gradually around them.
The old 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 the island of ruins. Wandering through this once-thriving place will make you feel you’ve stepped back through time. Allow at least two days to see all of Ayutthaya’s attractions, and more if you don’t want to feel rushed. This place is steeped in history and you’ll want to get the full experience while you’re here. Ayutthaya Historical Park is open 8:30 am-4:30 pm daily.
1 Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the loveliest but also the most historically important temple in old Ayutthaya. Its three large chedis and numerous smaller ones make this wat one of the most impressive sights in the ruined city.
The Ultimate Guide to Bangkok. Here are the best things to do and see in Bangkok, PLUS the most popular day trips from Bangkok.
After traveling our way north through Singapore and Malaysia, we were so excited to spend the next 15 nights in Thailand with Centara Hotels & Resorts. Hello Thai food! Our first stop was the capital city of Bangkok. We only had 3 nights here, so we had to make the most of our time. We spent one day visiting as many of the main sites in Bangkok as possible. The other 2 days we took day trips outside the city to see some of the most popular historical sites nearby.
LOST cities have always been the stuff of intrigue and legend. Once thriving metropolises, lost cities by definition fell into decline at some point throughout history, eventually becoming completely uninhabited.
Some remain nothing more than shadowy myths, like the lost continent of Atlantis, first mentioned by Plato and said to have been swallowed up by the sea. Others have been lost to time, engulfed by the jungle, only to be rediscovered years later and then placed firmly on the tourist trail.
Nowadays some former lost cities in Southeast Asia have been resurrected from a pile of ruins, while many are nothing more than the subject of disputed theories and prolonged yet unfruitful historical research.
Here are some of the most famous lost cities of Southeast Asia:
How to Reach: Catch a bus from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal to Ayutthaya.
2 Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai or Chiengmai is a largest city in northern Thailand and is a cultural hub, and a house of hundreds of ancient temples. People who love outdoor activities they can have trekking, rafting or elephant camps here.
Through the millennia, many great cities have risen and fallen, but the greatest of all have stood the test of time and gone on to thrive. Some are many times larger than they were historically, whereas others are now inhabited by a few tens of thousands. Nevertheless, these 10 cities were all the greatest in the world at a point in their history:
Population: 500,000 (in 300BC)
Present day population: 20,715
Some 20,000 urns containing the charred remains of newborns and infants were recently unearthed at the site of the once-mighty Carthaginian capital. Records of the city were destroyed by the Romans following the end of the Third Punic War, so we’ll never know whether they were sacrificial victims, or whether they died of famine or drought. At its height, Carthage was home to half a million people.
Technology is being used to digitally preserve Dunhuang’s Mogao Caves as mass tourism takes its toll, while drone footage and photos are helping groups such as CyArk create 3D models of heritage sites across the globe.
This is where China begins. The Mogao Caves, which straddle key points on the Silk Road in China’s western Gansu province, are as precious as they are delicate.
Also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes, they form a system of 492 temples near the city of Dunhuang that contain some of the finest examples of Buddhist art in China, some dating as far back as AD366. Between them the caves contain some 45,000 square metres of exquisite murals and 2,415 coloured sculptures, many fashioned from clay, wood and straw.
Filled with crumbling, camera-friendly ruins, Thailand’s old capital of Ayutthaya has long been a popular Bangkok day-trip destination.
Just an hour outside of the city, this UNESCO-listed heritage site, founded in 1350, was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. Bustling with commerce, it was one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, welcoming diplomats from far-flung nations.
But in 1767, 250 years ago, the Burmese moved in and demolished the kingdom, forcing inhabitants to move downriver and establish a new capital — Bangkok.
Nowadays Ayutthaya has much more to offer than a fascinating slice of Siamese history.
A recent influx of modern dining and sleeping options is tempting some to stay for the night, making it a great time to turn a visit to one of Thailand’s most culturally rewarding cities into a weekend getaway.
Do you enjoy exploring ancient ruins? There is something beautiful in what has been left behind by former civilizations. There is always something incredible in a place that seems almost too complex to fathom. During our nearly two months of backpacking in Thailand, we explored two of its best sets of ancient ruins — Ayutthaya and Sukhothai. These historical parks possess some of the most incredible displays of ancient temples and palaces in Thailand.
Not everyone has the time to visit both archaeological sites, so the usual question is should you visit Ayutthaya or Sukhothai? Here are a few details to help with your choice. Of course, I have my own preference at the end of this post, so keep reading.
Ayutthaya Historical Park
Founded in 1350, Ayutthaya was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai.