Bangkok Day Trip: Don’t Miss Historic Ayutthaya

Located just 50 miles north of Bangkok, Ayutthaya is an easy day trip. Founded in 1350 it was the capital of Siam (Thailand) until it was destroyed by the Burmese in the 1700s. It was never rebuilt. At it’s peak in 1700 Ahutthaya was a major trading capital in Asia and was the largest city in the world with 1 million people.

The ruins that are left are a wonderful archaeological and historic record. Most of the buildings still standing are temples and palaces as those were made of stone. In 1991 the city was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tall pointy cylindrical towers are called prang or sanctuary towers.

Ayutthaya, prang tower in the center

Many of the heads of the statues were lopped off by the Burmese who sacked the city.

One of the iconic images of Thailand is of a Buddha head entwined in tree roots in Ayutthaya. The area lay undisturbed until the 1950s when restoration work began and no one really knows how the head became entwined. Some theories are that it just engulfed the head during the years of abandonment or that it may have been misplaced there by thieves who looted some of the site.


In another part of the historic city we visited Phra Bhuddhasaiyart, a large reclining Buddha. The head lies on a lotus.

Phra Bhuddhasaiyart, reclining Buddha
Phra Bhuddhasaiyart, reclining Buddha
Phra Bhuddhasaiyart, reclining Buddha

Buddhist monks wear robes to signify simplicity and they are orange because of dyes available hundreds of year ago, that color is still used today. This applies to southeast Asian monks, Tibetan monks robes are a maroon color. There are many ways in which you will see Buddha depicted, sitting in many different poses or walking in various poses. A Nirvana or reclining Buddha shows Buddha in the last moments before death.

It was incredibly hot and humid during our trip to Ayutthaya. You can see how red and flushed Sam’s face was in the photos. There is not a lot of shade in Ayutthaya so bring a sun hat or an umbrella if the heat bothers you and plenty of water.

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