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Taking an Ayutthaya tour from Bangkok is to journey more than 400 years in the past into Thai culture and civilization.
Ayutthaya, Thailand’s ancient capital, was once one of the most powerful cities in the world.
Eager to explore this former capital, we decided to take a private tour rather than organizing it ourselves.
If you are considering taking a day tour, here’s what to expect on an Ayutthaya day tour from Bangkok.
Why Visit Ayutthaya – The Ancient Capital of Thailand
Ayutthaya was once the biggest city in the world. Founded around 1350 by King Ramathibodi, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam (Thailand’s former name) after Sukhothai.
The ancient city came to prominence after the fall of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, taking its place as Southeast Asia’s hub of global diplomacy and commerce.
The royal court at Ayutthaya regularly welcomed merchants and traders from the world over, including China, Japan, India, Portugal, France, and the Netherlands.
Upon seeing the golden temples and stone statues within the Royal Palace, merchants from the west proclaimed Ayutthaya to be the most beautiful city in the world.
Some said it rivaled the great monuments and architecture of Rome and Venice. In 1787, the Burmese army invaded Ayutthaya, stripped it of its gold, and burned the temples to the ground.
What remains now are magnificent ruins of a former splendor.
Why Take A Private Ayutthaya Day Tour With A Local Guide
There are a few reasons that made us decided to book an organized Ayutthaya day tour rather than diy day trip this tour.
- Easy to get to Ayutthaya – One of the main reason we decided to book a day trip was the convenience to get to Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya, one of Thailand’s majestic and cultural highlights, is located at about 53 miles (86 km) north of Bangkok. With a private tour, we made the round trip to Ayuttahya in a cosy private car which is the fastest way.
- Pick up at our hotel in Bangkok – Our local tour guide came to pick us up at our hotel in Bangkok. And after a long day sightseeing, we were brought back directly to our hotel.
- Custom Experience – Like with any private tour, the experience can be customized allowing to see as many ancient sights as you’d like.
- Insight into the history – The Ayutthaya site is vast and navigating it with a local guide makes all the difference to an enriching experience. With a a local guide, you’ll get a deeper understanding of this historic site.
- Access to local gems – The opportunity to visit the local market and access a hard to find restaurant for lunch, was only possible with the help of a local guide.
AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST TIPS:
Recommended Ayutthaya Private Day Trip From Bangkok – This full-day trip from Bangkok takes you to discover the ancient capitals and main temples in a private car. You’ll visit the Summer Palace, the most significant temples, and even take a boat ride around the island. In addition to a delicious lunch, you’ll enjoy personalized attention from your local guide.
Alternative Ayutthaya Temples With Boat Tour From Bangkok – For a unique experience, this Ayutthaya from Bangkok tour includes a river cruise on the Chao Phraya River. You’ll explore the historic city and main temples as you learn about the history. This group tour includes lunch and a return trip back to Bangkok by boat.
Where to Stay In Bangkok For Your Ayutthaya Day Trip
We visited Ayutthaya having just arrived on a long-haul flight to Bangkok on our way to Chiang Mai. For that reason, we chose to stay near the airport at At Residence Suvarnabhumi which is only about 10 minutes away from Suvarnabhumi International Airport (BKK).
The Residence has comfortable rooms, free Wi-Fi, an onsite gym, and laundry services. We took advantage of the breakfast offered, which was perfect for our jet-lagged mornings.
Right around the corner from the residence is a Thai local market and The Paseo Mall.
If you are looking to stay in the core of Bangkok, we recommend Shanghai Mansion. This boutique Hotel is located in Chinatown Bangkok, in the heart of the culinary scene. It is a refurbished 1892 mansion equipped with all the modern amenities you would expect.
For a central though quiet location, check Quarter Hotel Silom. Located near Lumphini Park, our favorite area in Bangkok, is this modern gem in the heart of Silom.
It’s a great location in Bangkok with easy access to the park, shopping, and numerous local eateries.
See more prices, read reviews or find similar hotels check Booking.com
What To Expect On a Day Trip to Ayutthaya
Our visit started at the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a UNESCO world heritage site. The Ayutthaya temple ruins are rich in history and the site is a beautiful place to explore.
There are many significant temples to visit in Ayutthaya. On our day trip from Bangkok, we visited four main sites within the Ayutthaya Historical Park.
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Wat Chaiwatthanaram – Khmer Style Tower
We arrived early in the morning at our first wat, or temple. Located on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, the beautiful prang, or Khmer-style tower, reveals a Cambodia Angkor Wat architectural design that was en vogue at the time.
The temple was used for religious ceremonies by the royal family now buried on site. Among the most striking parts of the ruins are the headless Buddha statues surrounding the temple.
Wat Chai Watthanaram is one of the grandest and most popular temples in the Ayutthaya Historical Park.
Wat Mahathat – The Giant Buddha Head in The Tree
This spectacular wat is located in the city center and is part of the Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It is home to what is maybe the most photographed site in the park – the Giant Buddha’s head anchored in tree roots.
No one knows exactly how the head of the Buddha statue got there. One theory suggests that during the period of ruin, the tree just happened to grow around it.
Non, our local guide, shared another theory which claims that a thief may have hidden the head of the Buddha in the tree, only to never return.
Wat Mahathat was one of the most important monasteries of the Ayutthaya kingdom. It is said to have housed the Buddha’s holy relics. The name, “Wat Mahathat” literally means “Monastery of the Great Relic.”
Wat Phra Si Sanphet – The Former Royal Palace
Wat Phra Si Sanphet is within walking distance from Wat Mahathat. It was a temple used solely by the royal family for ceremonies and storing royal relics.
Visitors will see three bell-shaped stupas lined up on the premises. In the core of each stupa is a small chamber where the ashes of three Ayutthaya Kings are enshrined.
Next to the ruins is Wat Mongkhon Bophit, a modern and important temple that provides quite the contrast with its impressive bronze Buddha image, measuring close to 17 meters high.
On this active temple compound, many people visit and worship the Buddha image.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon – Draped Buddha Statues
Before leaving Ayutthaya, we stopped at the temple, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, in the southeastern part of the ancient capital.
This temple is one of the most colorful within the main historical park. Statues made in Buddha images draped in yellow robes, encircle the temple.
The robes, we learned from Non, our guide are changed daily by devotees and local people.
Also on the grounds of Wat Yai Chai Mongkol (or Mongkhon), is a giant reclining Buddha – one of the largest in Ayutthaya. Just like the other Buddha images, this one is draped in a giant yellow robe.
While we were there, devotees were placing the robe on the reclining Buddha statue and walking around, showing their respects while praying and chanting.
Wat Muang in Ang Thong Province – The Largest Sitting Buddha in Thailand
After leaving the Ayutthaya Historical Park, our day trip continued on to the nearby Ang Thong province.
Also located in central Thailand, this small province houses the largest sitting Buddha image in Thailand and possibly in the world.
Wat Muang is a lively temple in contrast to the ancient ruins of the Ayutthaya historical park.
The temple grounds have religious imagery including life-size representations of Indian epics, and striking scenes of the Burmese invasion.
The dominating presence of the sitting Buddha image is impressive. Measuring at 84 meters tall and 92 meters when you include the pedestal, you can’t help but be awestruck as we were.
Where And What To Eat in Ayutthaya: Giant Prawns Restaurant
Staying within the central province, our Ayuthaya tour took us to Kung Phao Mae Thong Chup restaurant in Sing Buri Province for lunch.
Not easy to find, the restaurant is located at the back of a market, where you have to take steps down to what looks like someone’s personal home. We were thankful to have a local guide with us.
Opened for more than 40 years, this local restaurant is famous for serving traditional Ayutthaya recipes.
The main specialty is melt-in-your-mouth grilled giant prawns with an addictive, zesty, accompanying sauce.
In addition to the giant grilled shrimp, we also had Tom Yum soup, fish cakes, and a young coconut salad with shrimp.
Menu Highlight: Grilled Giant Freshwater Prawns
We could not believe the size of the freshwater prawns. They were definitely the biggest prawns we’ve ever seen. Each giant freshwater prawn was cut in half, with each half being about the size of your palm.
Perfectly grilled, the prawns were cut open in a butterfly style to reveal an opaque white interior and orange-colored head.
An Ayuttaya specialty, the giant shrimp were luscious and sweet. The meat was firm and fleshy and full of flavor.
The accompanying dipping sauce, made with Thai chiles and fish sauce, enhanced the savory flavors even more.
Visit To San Chao Rong Thong Local Market
Before lunch, our Thai guide took us to San Chao Rong Thong Market, a 100-year old market known for regional desserts.
The desserts are unique to the Ayutthaya region and come from the Thai-Chinese community living in the area.
Of the many top sights to see and desserts to try, we particularly appreciated the following three specialties. Dessert lovers should not miss this market on an Ayutthaya day trip.
Thai Grilled Coconut Pancake – Khanom Ba Bin
Our first stop was at a stall run by an older lady who is known for her coconut pancakes.
Prepared with a mix of rice flour and shredded coconut, these small round flat cakes are lightly grilled on a hot griddle. According to our guide, the coconut pancakes get their purple color, naturally, from a local flower.
The texture is lightly crunchy followed by a softer, almost gooey, mouth feel. So delectable, we easily finished these mildly sweet pancakes. These were our personal favourite of all the Thai sweets we had.
Thai Peanut Cake – Kanom Luk Tao
This popular stall is family-run and renowned for its traditional Thai peanut cakes.
The small peanut cakes are made of peanuts, coconut, flour, butter, and eggs, and cut into small cubes, similar to the shape of dice.
It’s quite impressive watching them cooked on a hot griddle.
Soft with a light peanut flavor, they are not too sweet and are a perfect treat for peanut lovers.
Thai “Fish Egg” Dessert – Kanom Khai Pla
Another Ayutthaya specialty we tried was a Thai “Fish Egg” dessert, named for its shape and color.
This local dessert is made from palm sugar and doesn’t taste at all like fish eggs!
To eat this dessert, you first dip one “fish egg” into a small container filled with shredded coconut.
This gives the goey dessert a light coconut taste which was enjoyable.
Overall Impressions of the Ayutthaya Day Tour
What We Loved
If you are looking to see a different side of Thailand, a day trip from Bangkok to this UNESCO World Heritage Site will enrich your travel experience.
We particularly enjoyed:
- Visiting several main temples without needing to organize our own Ayutthaya day trip itinerary
- Having temple entrance fees already taken care of without needing to wait in line
- Getting expert insight into Thai culture and food from a local guide
- Having a local pick our restaurant, order the right food, and guide us through a local market
- No need to try to get a guide on-site where you don’t know what you’re going to get
- Transportation from and to Bangkok and around Ayutthaya included, with no need to plan for a train, bus, or rent a car.
What Could Be Improved
There is not much that could be improved on our private day trip to Ayutthaya from Bangkok. Though if we had to do it again, here is what we would change.
- Our only preference would have been to visit the San Chao Rong Thong market for dessert, after lunch, rather than before lunch.
- The 8-hour tour makes for a long day, which is expected if you want to visit all the temples.
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Is Ayutthaya Worth Visiting?
A day trip to Ayutthaya from Bangkok is definitely worth it, especially if you’ve been to Thailand before and want to go deeper.
Visiting the ancient city and learning about Thailand’s history while on the grounds of the former capital is fascinating.
Having a quality Thai guide share the history of the ancient temples and Buddha statues helps you better understand this historical park.
Food lovers will also want to explore the regional specialties in Ayutthaya and around the province. Seafood including giant prawns and regional desserts should not be missed.
How To Book Your Ayutthaya Day Tours
For our Ayutthaya tour from Bangkok, we teamed up with Take Me Tour in collaboration with the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
There are several options for Ayutthaya day tours, each highlighting different temples and offering exciting add-ons.
Tours include a local guide, all tickets and admission costs, and transportation to and from your Bangkok hotel.
Here are a few Ayutthaya tours we recommend.
Private Ayutthaya Day Tour From Bangkok
For a private Ayutthaya day tour from Bangkok, we recommend this full-day trip from Bangkok. In a private car with a local guide, you’ll visit the ancient temples and learn about this UNESCO world heritage site.
You can customize it to your needs spending as much time as you want at the most significant temples.
This tour also includes a river cruise around Ayutthaya island and a delicious lunch at a local restaurant.
Private Day Trip To Ayuttaya with Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Visit
If you haven’t had the chance to visit a floating market, choose this private tour. It begins with a visit to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Thailand’s first floating market.
If you choose a 7:00 am start time, the tour also includes a visit to Maeklong Railway Market. In the historic city of Ayuttaya, you’ll visit several ancient temples, including one that was the prototype for the Grand Palace in Bangkok.
Small Group Tour with Lunch From Bangkok to Ayutthaya
This small group tour takes you to four iconic Buddhist temples within the Ayutthaya historical park. You’ll see the giant reclining Buddha, the temple that housed Buddha’s relics, the most important Khmer-style temple, and the Buddha’s head in the Bodhi tree.
The tour includes lunch at an authentic local restaurant making for a fun and cultural day trip from Bangkok.
Practical Tips To Get The Most Out of Your Day Trip To Ayutthaya
- The best time to visit the ancient ruins is early morning when there are fewer people and the sun is not as strong.
- There is little shade, so plan for sun protection with hats and sunscreen and bring plenty of water.
- Follow the dress code for temples: shoulders covered and legs covered above the knee.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes.
Have you been on an Ayutthaya tour before? What was your favorite part of the Ayutthaya historical park? Please let us know in the comments below.
Savor the Adventure!
Disclosure: Special thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand and TakeMeTour for hosting our Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok. All views and opinions expressed are our own. Full bellies and happy taste buds too.
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Rosemary is the editor-in-chief and strategist at Authentic Food Quest.
Traveling slow since 2015 with her partner, Claire, she has explored the cuisine in 45 countries and more than 240+ culinary cities.
Her writing about local food specialties has been featured in Lonely Planet, Business Insider, Honest Cooking, Food Insider, and Huffington Post.
As a food and travel writer, Rosemary has co-authored three books, including one in collaboration with Costa Brava Tourism.
Rosemary is an avid runner when she’s not eating and exploring new destinations. She has run ten marathons and counting.
Before Authentic Food Quest, Rosemary held senior-level strategy positions in advertising.
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