One of Thailand's most famous attractions is the Ayutthaya Historical Park located just 78 km north of Bangkok. Park contains the ruins of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Ayutthaya Kingdom. The city was founded in 1350 by King Ramathibodi I, who reigned at that time in the territory of Lopburi. Ayutthaya was built on a small island, at the junction of three rivers: the Lopburi, Prasak and Chao Phraya. In 1351 the King made it the capital of his Kingdom. Ayutthaya Kingdom, with the next 35 Kings, dominated the most of Siam for over 400 years. The city prospered during the years arousing the greed of neighbouring Burma. The city suffered 23 sieges over its splendour, before being conquered and almost completely looted and destroyed on April 7th 1767. Two national heroes, General Taksin and Chao Phaya Chakri, drove out the Burmese invaders from the territories and gathered the country under the Chakri Dynasty. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya never recovered from this looting. The capital was moved to Thonburi by King Taksin, who unified the country, conquering the Lanna Kingdom to north and founded the Kingdom of Siam, initially named Rattanakosin Kingdom. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya was one of the most important cities of the time with over a million inhabitants. Its location halfway between China, India and Malaysia also made it an ideal port for trade. European vessels, Japanese and Chinese used Ayutthaya as a port to trade teak wood, ivory, leather, and silk. Many of these merchants claimed that Ayutthaya was the most beautiful city they had ever seen, it became known by the nickname “Venice of the East”. In its heyday Ayutthaya had more than 1500 temples and 4000 statues, the Burmese army that defeated her in 1767 completely destroyed the city and its beautiful structures, decapitating statues to prove his power. In 1969 the Thai Fine Arts Department has started the renovation of the ruins, intensified since the site was declared a historical park in 1976. A part of Ayutthaya Historical Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Of the countless historical artefacts at least 95 sites on the island are now part of World Heritage, among these 67 are temples sites, of some buildings remain only the foundations of brick or accumulations brick yet to be restored.
Admission & opening hours: Access to some ruins in the Historical Park is free, open every day without time limits and without tickets, while the main restored temples are open daily from 08:00 to 18:00, tickets cost between 20 and 60 THB.
Getting around the Park: Once in Ayutthaya, five bridges allow access to the island, one to the west, one in the east and three to the north, where are most of the historical artefacts. It’s a restricted area of 6 square and ruins are a few minutes walk from each other. For the temples outside island you can use the ferry services along the rivers, or simply cross the bridges again. An alternative way of moving around the Park is to rent a bike. There are several shops that rent bikes around the whole island, from 60 to 100 THB per day; to charterers you can also ask for a map of the park, usually free.
Getting there: Ayutthaya Historical Park is located on an island surrounded by the Chao Phraya, Pa Sak and Lopburi rivers, adjacent to the new Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, 78 km north of Bangkok. From capital you can reach the Park by bus, train, river boat or private car. Buses to Ayutthaya leave from Mo Chit Bus Station, the Northern terminal in Bangkok. Departures are every 15 minutes from 5:30 to 22:00 in either direction; the bus trip takes between 1½ to 2 hours and fare is 60 THB for 1st class, 35 THB for 2nd class. Trains to Ayutthaya depart from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station at least once per hour. The trip takes between 1½ to 2 hours and fare is 66 THB for 1st class, 35 THB for 2nd class and 20 THB for 3rd class. Ayutthaya Railway Station is located just east of the island.
Path from Bangkok: follow one of the many Expressways or Tollways towards North, choose the most suitable depending on your position in the capital, as Sri Rat Expressway or Utra Phimuk Tollway if you are in the center or Thanon Kanchanaphisek if you are at Savarnabhumi Airport, each of them converge into Phahonyothin Road, Highway 32, leading to Si Ayutthaya.Read More
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