The historic city of Ayutthaya was the second capital of what was once known as the Siamese Kingdom, or Thailand as it is known today. Once an important center of diplomacy and commerce from the 14th to 18th century, Ayutthaya is now an archaeological ruin and UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring well preserved temple complexes, towers and pagodas.
It is one of the best day trips from Bangkok due to its accessibility from and proximity to Thailand’s current capital, and you can spend hours exploring your way through the ancient ruins of Ayutthaya. Though I’ve always wanted to visit Ayutthaya, it never quite materialized until this year and guess what? It took my breath away. The ruins are magnificent and you get a sense of the grandeur of the Siamese empire in its heyday.
Read on for how to plan a Bangkok to Ayutthaya day trip with ease, what to see in Ayutthaya, quick Bangkok travel tips and the best hotels in Bangkok.
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Important things to know before visiting Bangkok
- You are exempted from visa requirements or can get a visa on arrival if you hold a passport from one of these countries.
- To get into Bangkok you can either fly into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) or Don Mueang International Airport (DMK). For this latest trip, I flew with AirAsia for the first-ever time from Hong Kong to Bangkok and was pleasantly surprised by the ease of travel with the budget airline. Though the amenities are basic, there are plenty of scheduled flights into Bangkok each day and you can check-in to your flight up to 14 days in advance. The seats are comfortable enough for short-haul flights, and you can pay a small fee to upgrade to what AirAsia calls “hot seats” for priority boarding and more legroom.
- To get to the city centre from BKK or DMK you have several options including airport shuttles or hopping into a taxi, which is the fastest and easiest way to get to your hotel. At BBK airport, there are taxi stands and flat rates to specific areas, you just have to pay a little extra for highway tolls. At DMK airport, make sure you do not book a taxi with the “taxi” counter in the arrivals area – these are actually private transfers. Instead, head to the end of the terminal to catch a proper metered taxi for half the price!
- The currency in Thailand is the Thai Baht. The exchange rate is approximately US$1 to approximately 32-35 Baht. Cash is king in Bangkok so exchange some money when you arrive at the airport or withdraw cash from an ATM.
- Stay connected and buy a local SIM card at the airport. I usually go with DTAC and get excellent connectivity not just in Bangkok but throughout Thailand. You can purchase your DTAC SIM card ahead of time and pick it up at BKK or DMK airports, or in town at Siam Center. Get your 8-day DTAC SIM card for just 131 Baht (4 USD) here!
- Click here for more deals in Bangkok – get discounted attraction tickets, transportation services and more!
Looking for even more Thailand travel guides and tips? Click here!
Where to stay in Bangkok, Thailand
If you only have 2 or 3 days in Bangkok, check out the Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20, a new hotel in Bangkok with a rooftop bar as well as a rooftop pool. Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 is part of the AccorHotels group and offers extremely spacious and modern rooms stocked with high quality furnishings and amenities. The service is exceptional and the staff are happy to help with recommendations of things to do and where to eat in the city.
The hotel also has its very own rooftop bar, Sky on 20. The drinks are delicious (try the ginger mojito), and the view is spectacular. Make sure you call ahead to get one of the window-side tables, and try their homemade sweet potato fries. Click here to check current rates and availability at Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20!
Alternatively, check out the funky design at Ad Lib, a hidden gem tucked away in the Sukhumvit Soi 1 district. If you’re looking for an amazing boutique hotel in Bangkok away from the crowds, look no further than Ad Lib. The rooms are stylish and comfortable, the food is delicious, the common areas are warm and lush and there’s even a rooftop pool! Click here for my full review of Ad Lib Hotel in Bangkok or check current availability and rates at Ad Lib.
A taxi from BKK or DMK airport to Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 or Ad Lib costs approximately 350-400 Baht (approx. US$10-12) and takes just over half an hour from door-to-door if you take the highway.
Ready to book your stay in Bangkok? Click here to check current rates at Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20, head on over here to check current rates and availability at Ad Lib or click here to check out some other highly rated hotels in Bangkok!
If you are visiting Ayutthaya then you should plan to spend a minimum of 2 nights in Bangkok. Even if you only have 24 hours in Bangkok, you can still make the most of your time and visit a handful of the top attractions in Bangkok. Click here to read my lazy Bangkok layover guide!
How to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok
By private tour: The best way to visit Ayutthaya from Bangkok is by booking yourself into an Ayutthaya day tour. I joined TakeMeTour for a guided tour around Ayutthaya and for a delicious Thai lunch at a local restaurant. TakeMeTour is one of the biggest travel booking websites in Thailand, and connects travelers with local Thai experts to learn about culture and insider secrets for an authentic tour experience.
Their latest project, LocalTable, is a platform developed in partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand and offers unique tours around Thailand that not only feature sightseeing, but also gives tourists an opportunity to feast on Thailand’s gastronomic delights. I booked myself onto the “See the Giant Buddhas of Ang Thong and Ayutthaya and Taste Classic Thai Food” tour with Jareya, a local guide who is patient, sweet and extremely hardworking. She majored in tourism at university and leads daily tours to Ayutthaya – if you are looking for someone who knows the history about this ancient capital through and through, then Jareya is your girl!
Unlike other archaeological ruins like Angkor in Siem Reap, Pompeii in Italy, the Terracotta Warrior pits in Xi’an (China) and the Acropolis in Athens where you often find guides waiting outside if you want an introduction into the history and significance of the structures, you won’t find many guides waiting around in Ayutthaya so it’s important to organize one in advance. And believe me, you won’t want to explore Ayutthaya without hearing about its history and stories.
Because I booked a private tour with Jareya, I did not have to worry about transportation – she picked me up from my hotel in Bangkok at 8 AM, drove me from temple to temple in Ayutthaya, took me to lunch at a local restaurant, and dropped me back off at my hotel in the evening. Easy peasy!
By private car: If you prefer to travel to Ayutthaya by yourself, you can also charter a private car to take you there from Bangkok. A 10-hour chartered car + driver will cost approximately 4000 Baht (US$120) – book online here to get 10% off!
Note: the private tour I mentioned above costs just US$118 per person (less than the chartered car + driver!) and includes transportation, entry fees into all of the temples, a local guide, a massive Thai lunch and a free 4G unlimited data SIM card. I highly recommend booking yourself onto this LocalTable tour with Jareya if you get a chance, but make sure you book early as Jareya’s Ayutthaya tour from Bangkok is very popular! You can book the LocalTable Ayutthaya one day trip by clicking here.
By train: If you are on a budget, you can hop on a Bangkok to Ayutthaya train which will take approximately 90 minutes. You can check the train timetable here, and book your seats online up to 90 days in advance.
By bus: There are first class and second class air-conditioned buses provided by The Transport Co. available daily from 4:30 AM – 7:30 PM. The buses depart every 20 minutes from Mor Chit terminal at Kampangphet 2 road in Bangkok.
Ayutthaya day trip itinerary
Wondering what to do and what to see in Ayutthaya? There’s more to the ancient city than the famous “Ayutthaya Buddha tree”, and you can wander through crumbling ruins, shining statues and pristine stupas all within 1 day in Ayutthaya. Here is a recommended Ayutthaya itinerary for an incredible, jaw-dropping day trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya!
1. Start at Wat Phanan Choeng
The drive from Bangkok to Ayutthaya will take approximately 90 minutes. Start your Ayutthaya day trip at Wat Phanan Choeng, the oldest temple in Ayutthaya dating all the way back to 1324. The unassuming temple may not look like much from the outside, but it houses a gigantic 19-meter-tall bronze seated Buddha statue on the inside.
On the side of the main temple is a smaller Chinese temple which was built as a shrine to a Chinese princess who was betrothed to the Thai king at the time. Unfortunately, she ended up committing suicide when the king was late to the wedding and she thought that he had changed his mind about marrying her. Entry into the temple costs 20 Baht for foreigners.
2. Visit Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, or the Great Temple of Auspicious Victory, is a Buddhist temple dating back to 1357 and is one of the most famous temples in Ayutthaya. It derived its name from the chedi built to commemorate the victory of King Naresuan the Great over the Burmese invasion in 1593.
The temple features a large chedi or stupa that you can climb up, as well as multiple smaller statues of the Buddha lining its walls. The Buddha statues are often adorned with yellow robes by Buddhist devotees who donate to the temple in the hopes of receiving good fortune and karma. Entry costs 20 Baht.
3. Wander through Wat Mahathat
Wat Mahathat is one of the biggest highlights of Ayutthaya Historical Park. The big stone Buddha head nestled in the bodhi tree is a very unique sight, and people from all over the world to see this wonter. There are two popular explanations for how the head ended up in the tree: some people believe that the ruins were plundered and the stone head was left on the ground and was simply lifted by the tree’s roots as it grew upwards, and others believe that someone put it there. Whatever the origin story is, it’s a sight to behold, though you must sit down when you are taking a photo with the Buddha head to show respect.
Make sure you also wander through the rest of the Khmer-inspired temple complex as it features crimson-coloured bricks and stone reminiscent of the temples and structures you find in Siem Reap. Entry costs 50 Baht.
4. See Wat Chai Watthanaram
Wat Chai Watthanaram (featured image) sits on the river bank and features impressive architecture and art, from countless Buddha statues to prang and chedis (Khmer-style towers and pagodas). It was recently featured in a Thai historical period drama and so many visitors rent traditional Thai costumes to wear around the complex for photo shoots. When I visited, I was also told that videos were not allowed to be taken – the only temple in Ayutthaya where this was an issue. The entrance fee is 50 Baht.
5. Stop at Wat Phukhao Thong
Though this white temple was not on the original TakeMeTour LocalTable itinerary, Jareya took me here anyway to get away from the crowds. I was one of only two visitors at Wat Phukhao Thong and there is no entrance fee. The name of the temple means “The Golden Mount” and was built by King Ramesun in 1930 B.E. (Buddhist Era), or 1387.
6. Feast on Thai cuisine
Lunch time! Jareya brought me to a Thai restaurant that only local people seem to know about in Ang Thong, about 20 minutes away from Ayutthaya. Thai food is one of my absolute favorite cuisines, and I can’t get enough of the different spices and strong flavors.
We feasted on a selection of dishes including dried pork rib massaman curry (yellow curry), pad thai, tom kha gai (free-range chicken coconut soup), yum hua plee (spicy banana flower salad) and topped it all off with homemade coconut ice cream served in a coconut shell.
I can’t put into words how happy this meal made me. I will be dreaming of the massaman and coconut ice cream for weeks.
7. Continue onto Wat Muang
After the feast, head onwards to Wat Muang, a temple with Thailand’s largest Buddha statue as well as the Crystal Hall Temple with statues of famous Thai monks. The statue is currently being repainted so was covered in scaffolding, but is spectacular nonetheless. The weird and wonderful feature of Wat Muang is its amusement park-like areas with statues and figurines depicting heaven, earth and hell.
As we walked through “hell”, Jareya explained what the various torture methods were for – for example, if you cheat on your spouse you have to climb up a thorny tree naked, all the while being bitten by hungry wolves and pecked at by angry birds. Once you finally make it to the top, your stomach is torn out of your body and devoured by eagles. Grim, right? There is no entry fee at Wat Muang.
8. Finish the day at Wat Khun Inthapramun
This temple is home to Thailand’s biggest reclining Buddha, a 50-metre long statue draped in gold robes. The man who built this statue embezzled money from the people to build this statue, and was whipped to death for his crime. There is no entrance fee at Wat Khun Inthapramun.
After a massive day of sightseeing in Ayutthaya, it was time to head back to Bangkok. The drive back took a little longer than 90 minutes because of Bangkok traffic, and I was back at my hotel at approximately 7:30 PM.
Ayutthaya dress code and what to bring
It is hot all year round in Ayutthaya and Bangkok, so dress appropriately and wear light, breathable clothing. The Buddhist temples all have strict dress codes and you will need to cover your shoulders and knees. Do not wear crop tops or low-cut dresses and tops.
As you will need to remove your shoes to enter the temples, wear shoes that you can slip on and off easily as well as some wet wipes to clean your feet. Keep yourself hydrated by bringing a refillable bottle of water, and wear plenty of sunscreen and a hat. Click here for even more Southeast Asia travel tips.
Bring cash for entrance tickets for the temples if you are not joining a tour; your entrance fees are already covered if you are joining the TakeMeTour LocalTable Ayutthaya tour. Though tips are not required, they are always appreciated so bring some cash if you want to tip your guide.
Photo credit: TakeMeTour
I used my Canon 6D DSLR camera for the majority of these photos, though you can take excellent photos with a smartphone as well. Click here to read some of my go-to mobile photography tips or check out some of my favorite photo editing tools here.
Ready to plan an amazing Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok? Click here to book an Ayutthaya tour with Jareya, a local expert on Ayutthaya history, and book your Bangkok accommodation in advance here!
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I participated in the LocalTable campaign hosted by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and TakeMeTour. My flights to and from Bangkok were sponsored by AirAsia, and my stay at Novotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20 was also sponsored. However, no compensation was received for this review, and as always, the opinions on Yogawinetravel.com are (and always will be) my own! I only recommend products, services and hotels that I have had positive personal experiences with.
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