Buddha statue in the ruins of Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya Thailand

Is Ayutthaya Worth Visiting in Thailand?

 If you’re asking “Is Ayutthaya worth visiting?” The answer is Yes, it’s worth visiting Ayutthaya in Thailand if you like historical experiences and exploring ancient temple ruins in an atmospheric setting. Ayutthaya is a regional city just outside of Bangkok that offers a wealth of history and culture and is easy to get to by bus train, or boat.

But there are a few things that can detract from the experience. The main sites can get very crowded with tourists and some of the temple restoration is not completely authentic. Ayutthaya in Thailand has some popular sights so it’s worth getting to the main temples early to avoid the tour buses and the large groups of sight-seers from Bangkok.  

Despite this, I loved visiting the temples in Ayutthaya and enjoyed the ambience of the impressive ruins but I recommend taking a couple of days to explore the Old City and see some of the less visited sites. The setting is relaxed and atmospheric and it’s easy to visit Aytthaya independently, on a day trip from Bangkok, or travelling solo in Thailand.

Is Ayutthaya worth visiting?
Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya Thailand

Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. If you make a purchase I might earn a small commission. There is no extra cost to you and it helps to keep this website running. I appreciate your support!

About Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya was once the capital of Thailand and the seat of Thai royalty. Founded by King Ramathibodi in 1351, Ayutthaya replaced Sukhothai as the centre for religion and trade and remained the country’s capital until 1767 when Burmese invaders destroyed the city.

The Ayutthaya Historical Park is UNESCO World Heritage-listed and contains the ruins of the Old City with 4 impressive Buddhist temple ruins set amidst the parkland, lakes, and trees, and a Royal Palace.

The main temple ruins can be found on an island in the Chao Phraya River but there are many lesser-known temples worth visiting in other parts of the city.

What I loved about Ayutthaya

  • Ayutthaya has a spacious feel with impressive temple ruins in the Historical Park and smaller temple ruins sitting next to houses and shops. I loved the wide streets and relaxed atmosphere. Visiting the regional city was a welcome change from busy Bangkok.
  • Ayutthaya is just 80 kilometres from Bangkok.  It’s easy to reach by train, bus or ferry and it’s possible to see the main temples on a day trip from Bangkok. I caught the train from the capital and it took about an hour.
A Buddhas head entwined in the roots of a Bhodi Tree in Ayutthaya Thaialand
A Buddha’s head entwined in the roots of a Bhodi Tree

Ayutthaya Highlights

There are many highlights of visiting Ayutthaya in Thailand and here are a few of my favourite things to see:

  • The Buddha’s head entwined in the Bhodi Tree roots at Wat Mahathat is an extraordinary site. The tree roots have grown around the disembodied Buddha’s head and it’s now part of the tree. This treasure is guarded day and night and is very popular with visitors. Wat Mahathat has one of the few intact Buddha statues in the Historical Park as most of the Buddha statues in the temples are headless.

TIP: Arrive early to avoid the crowds of tourists and day trippers from Bangkok.

  • Wat Ratchaburana, next to Wat Mahathat has an intact stupa with beautiful carvings and you can climb the steep stairs to the main prang (stupa), enjoy the view over the Old City, and explore inside the stupa.
  • Wat Phra Sri Sanphet is a 15th-century royal temple with 3 impressive stupas sitting side by side. It’s one of Ayutthaya’s most captivating and most visited sites. Next door the golden-edged rooftop of Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit sparkles in the sunlight and across the road is the impressive 14th-century Wat Phra Ram, a temple with a huge central stupa.
  • Wat Yai Chai Mongkon is a beautifully preserved Buddhist temple with an impressive 60-metre-tall stupa. A highlight is climbing the stairs to the chedi, dropping coins into the crypt, and making a wish. There are sweeping views across the temple grounds from the walkway at the top of the stairs and the base of the chedi is surrounded by rows of beautiful intact Buddha statues. It’s one of the best-preserved temples in Ayutthaya.
  • Wat Chai Wattanaram is a personal favourite of mine, especially at sunset. Thai locals love to visit this temple dressed in traditional clothing, wearing ornate silks and jewellery, and carrying parasols. The temple is full of Thai visitors of all ages taking photos and enjoying the ambience. Built in 1630, this huge Buddhist temple overlooks the Chao Phraya River and has a design similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Costume hire is available outside the temple if you feel like dressing up.
Thai people posing for photos at the temple ruins at Wat Chai Wattanaram in Ayutthaya Thailand
Thai people posing for photos in traditional dress at the temple ruins at Wat Chai Wattanaram

Best Things to Do in Ayutthaya Thailand

  • Explore the many temple ruins
  • Take a river cruise and visit several riverside temples
  • Visit the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum to see the treasures hidden inside the temple crypts and discover the city’s history.
  • Eat at the Night market or shop at the floating market
  • Visit the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace on the Chao Phraya River
  • Cool down with a fresh fruit juice smoothie. My favourite was the coconut smoothie

Reasons to skip Ayutthaya

  • The most popular temples in Ayutthaya can be overrun with tourists and tour groups from Bangkok and this can detract from the experience, especially on weekends.
  • It’s NOT as impressive as Bagan in Myanmar or Angkor Wat Cambodia where the sheer size and number of temples are simply mind-boggling.
  • It’s not even as impressive as the Sukhothai Historical Park which has many beautiful intact Buddha statues and temple ruins. Most of the statues in Ayutthaya are headless after the city was sacked and burned by the Burmese.
  • Some of the temples in Ayutthaya have been rebuilt and there are questions about the authenticity of the reconstruction work.
  • Unethical Elephant rides operate at the Elephant Kraal catering to tourists.
Ruined temple at Wat Phra Ram in Ayutthaya Thailand
Ruined temple at Wat Phra Ram in Ayutthaya Thailand

How much time do you need in Ayutthaya?

I suggest spending at least 2 days in Ayutthaya with a minimum of an overnight stay. The sights are relatively spread out across the city although many of the main temples are located in the Historical Park on the island. I stayed 3 nights and it was a relaxed visit that allowed me time to see the best temples in Ayutthaya, the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum and to explore the Old City and parklands on foot.

If you’re short of time it’s possible to see most of the main temples in Ayutthaya on a day trip from Bangkok but I recommend allowing more time to see more of the city if you can.

TIP: Get out and about early to avoid the heat and the tourist crowds at the most popular sights.  I went out in the early morning and relaxed in the air conditioning at the hottest part of the day.

How to get around

  • I enjoyed walking and found there were many temples within walking distance of my guesthouse on the island. I enjoyed walking along the quiet streets & through the spacious parklands.
  • If you don’t want to walk, you can hire a tuk-tuk or a bicycle. Tuk-tuks wait for passengers at the train station and outside the main temples but I didn’t like being hassled and the drivers were charging inflated tourist prices.
  • I used Grab cars to reach the temples that were further away from my guesthouse and loved the air conditioning. Grab cars were also a lot cheaper than tuk-tuks.
a Traditional Thail village built over the water is the perfect place to stay travelling solo in Thailand
Luang Chumni Village Ayutthaya Thailand

Where to stay in Ayutthaya

Mid-Range: Luang Chumni Village is a charming guesthouse in a traditional Thai village within walking distance of the main temple ruins in the Old City of Ayutthaya. I enjoyed staying here and loved the ambience and the helpful staff.

Upper Mid-Range: The Centara Ayutthaya is a new 4-star hotel with large, comfortable rooms. Guests love the location in central Ayutthaya a few kilometres from the Old City.

When to Go

The best time to visit Ayutthaya in Thailand is from November to February when the weather is cooler, dryer, and less humid than at other times of the year. Temperatures are warm averaging from 22°C – 34°C (72°F – 93°F).

During November, The Loy Krathon Lantern Festival is a stunning time to visit Ayutthaya. Stay overnight near the river and enjoy the atmospheric lantern light on the water.

The worst time to visit is September, the wettest month.

TIP: Are you travelling between July and October? It’s the wet season in Thailand and Indonesia might be a better choice. Find out if Bali or Thailand is better for a holiday.

How to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

Day trip from Bangkok

The easiest way to visit Ayutthaya is to book a day trip from Bangkok. You’ll see the main temples and make good use of your time if you’re travelling on a tight schedule. But you may be one of hundreds of day trippers on bus tours from Bangkok so it’s probably not the most fulfilling way to see the temples.


The cheapest way to get to Ayutthaya is by train.  The trip takes 1 – 2 hours and trains depart from Krung Thepp Aphiwat Central Station. I caught the #71 express train from Bangkok and the trip took 1 hour and cost 20 Baht. There were only 3rd class carriages with hard seats and no air conditioning.

Check the train times here.

NOTE:**Trains no longer leave from Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok


To catch a bus head to the Northern Bus Station at MoChit. The trip takes 1 – 1.5 hours.


You can also travel by boat on the Chao Phraya river and the trip takes around 3 hours.

Lakes and parklands surrounding Wat Mahathat in Autthaya Thailand
Lakes and parklands surrounding Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya Thailand

Where to go after Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is a wonderful addition to a Thailand itinerary and a good place to stop if you’re heading north of Bangkok to Sukhothai or Chiang Mai.

  • Visit on the way to Sukhothai in the northern central part of Thailand. The most direct way to travel to Sukhothai from Ayutthaya is by bus but the train station is more central. Catch a train to Phitsanulok (6 – 7 hours) and a bus to Sukhothai. (1.5 hours)
  • Visit on the way to Chiang Mai by train or bus. Catch an overnight sleeper train or bus directly to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand. (10 hours)
  • Visit on the way to the Khao Yai National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage Reserve offers wildlife viewing, and hiking to waterfalls and viewpoints. Catch the train from Ayutthaya to Pakchong (2 hours) and book a day tour into the National Park.
  • Visit on the way to Phi Mai Historical Park, a lovely temple ruin similar in design to Angkor Wat but on a much smaller scale. Phi Mai is a small town around 60 kilometres from Korat or Nakhon Ratchisma. Catch a train from Ayutthaya to Nakhon Ratchisma (3 – 4 hours) and a bus to Phi Mai (1 hour).

TIP: Head to the south of Thailand and enjoy the stunning islands and beaches. Find out if Phuket or Phi Phi Island is better, choose Ao Nang or Railay Beach for a relaxing beach holiday or Koh Lanta for a more chilled-out vibe.


How should I dress for Ayutthaya?

When visiting the temples of Ayutthaya it’s best to dress conservatively with shoulders and knees covered as a sign of respect for Thai religion and culture. Wearing modest clothing is appreciated even if a strict dress code is not always enforced.  

Is Ayutthaya walkable?

Parts of Ayutthaya in Thailand are walkable. If you stay on the island it’s possible to walk to many of the main temples but the attractions of Ayutthaya are quite spread out so consider hiring a tuk-tuk, a bicycle, or a Grab taxi to get around.

Can you do a day trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya?

A day trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is one of the easiest and most popular ways to see the former capital of Thailand. Ayutthaya is only an hour by train from the capital so it’s possible to visit independently on a day trip from Bangkok and hire a tuk-tuk or a taxi to see the sights.

Is an Ayutthaya day trip worth it?

While a day trip to Ayutthaya is worth it if you’re short of time, it’s better to stay a night or 2 and spend a couple of days exploring the many impressive temples to fully appreciate the history and the ambience of the former capital.

Final thoughts: Is Ayutthaya worth visiting?

Yes, it’s worth visiting Ayutthaya in Thailand if you enjoy history and like exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites. The regional city is easy to get to and offers a wealth of history and culture. Ayutthaya is a fascinating addition to a trip to Thailand and adds variety to a Bangkok itinerary.

The ruined temples of the former capital are impressive and I enjoyed wandering around the lovely lakes, lily ponds, and parklands surrounding the temples. I came across giant monitor lizards, many birds, and beautiful old trees and it was fun to see Thai people dressing up in traditional clothes to visit Wat Chai Wattanaram.

Exploring the ruined temples of Ayutthaya is a lovely experience and, If you get out and about early and avoid visiting on weekends it’s possible to avoid the worst of the tourist crowds.

You might also enjoy

Koh Lanta or Koh Phi Phi: Which Island is Better?

The Best 3 Weeks in Thailand Itinerary

Is Phuket or Phi Phi Island better? Where to stay in Thailand

Ao Nang or Railay Beach – Which is Better for a Holiday in Thailand

A Guide to Successful Solo Travelling to Thailand

How to Spend 3 Days in Bangkok

Why You’ll Love Old Sukhothai in Thailand

Mandalay to Bangkok in 4 weeks – My Ultimate Myanmar Itinerary

Is Thailand or Bali Better for a Holiday

3 days in Ubud Itinerary for Fun & Relaxation

A Guide for Successful Solo Traveling to Bali

Is Lempuyang Temple worth visiting in Bali?

Is January a Good Time to Go to Bali?

If you enjoyed this post why not pin it & save it for later?

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *