One of the day trips on offer to tourists staying in Bangkok is a coach trip and tour of the ancient abandoned capital city of old Siam (Thailand) called Ayutthaya. It is pronounced 'eye-YOU-tea-ah'.
The architecture attractions of this archeological site are what draws the crowds. The imposing structures are incredible. It is like being on the film set of Tom Raider or an Indiana Jones movie.
You can book a day cruise with dinner to Ayutthaya. Some Bangkok day tours of Ayuthaya are combined with a visit to the Elephant camp and ride. Ayutthaya palace and temples are an amazing place to take atmospheric photos. Many tours return you to Bangkok by boat. The area covered by the ancient city is huge and entails a lot of walking.
You need a good day to see most of the sites. There are about 50 interesting sites including wats, stupas, chedis, museums and monuments. At the tourist office pick up a copy of the 'Ayutthaya Tourist Map' to help you in your exploration
The beautiful city of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong and was the capital of Siam. It is set at the junction of the Lopburi, Prasak and Chao Phraya Rivers. The old city is on an island formed by a bend of the Chao Phraya on the west and south sides, the Pa Sak on the east side and, on the northern side, the Klong Maung canal. It is located in the Central Plains of Thailand, 53miles (85km) to the north of Bangkok. It was ruled by 33 kings over the next 417 years.
Old Ayutthaya was surrounded by a 7mile (12km) long wall which was 16 feet (5m) thick and 6 feet (19m) high. It had over 90 gates, brick and clay roads and aqueducts to transport water into the city. In the year 1600AD Ayutthaya had a population of about 300,000. 1700AD the population had increased to around 1,000,000 making it one of the world's largest cities of the period.
The Burmese in the north were blood enemies of the Siamese. The Burma army invaded Siam twenty three times. In 1767 they finally succeeded in capturing the Siam capital Ayutthaya. The victorious army looted the city and set fire to it. King Taksin of Siam moved the capital down river to Bangkok.
Ayutthaya once had more than 100 temples within the city. After the sacking by the Burmese army the city is now in ruins. Because it is so unique these ruins are protected and form part of the Ayutthaya Historical Park, which is now an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The most significant landmark in Wat Phra Si Sanphet ruins are the three tall chedis (some called it 'stupas' though) in a row. They contain the ashes of Ayutthayan kings.
Look out for the head of a Buddha that is lodged in the roots of an old tree. Our tour guide said that the body of the Buddha was never found after the war with the Burmese. They never said why was the head lodged in the tree? On some of the trees there are carved heads. There are rows of headless Buddha's vandalised in the war and by unscrupulous merchants. Try to take a photo of the reclining Buddha against the back drop of Chedis
The 14th century Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the largest in Ayuthaya in its time, which once contained a 16m standing Buddha that was covered in 250 kg of gold. Unfortunately the Burmese conquerors melted it down.
You can take a train from Bangkok Hua Lampong Station to Ayutthaya. There are about 6 trains a day out to Ayuthaya. The first leaving around 7am, the second at 8.20am. It is about 55 miles (90km) from Bangkok. Another option is to hire a car with a driver. Haggle and agree the price and times before you go to save any problems at the end. It is just over an hours drive from Bangkok. Ayutthaya is one of the main tourist destinations outside Bangkok. Foreign tourists normally visit as part of a day trip. They do not stay. Spend a couple of days if you can and witness sun rise and sun set at Ayutthaya. You can rent a bike in town and pedal your way around Ayutthaya. The ancient city is huge. Many tourists hire tuk-tuks to take them around. Agree the price before you start and write it down.