A vestige of the great kingdom of Siam, Ayutthaya Historical Park
Finding the trace of the past which can project the glory and prosperity of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, the former capital of Thailand. Ayutthaya Historical Park where accepted and registered as the ‘World Heritage Site in Culture’ by UNESCO under the title “Historic City of Ayutthaya” would be the best evidence to guarantee the remarkable progress of this ancient kingdom very well. The Historic City of Ayutthaya covers more than 3,000 rais (4.8 sq.km) of space, including the old temples with more than 10 sites are the residence of the Buddhist monk – Viharn Mongkolbophit and Wat Phanan Choeng. On the other hand, over 365 ancient remains scattered around the complex, such as Wat Phra Si Sanphet and Wat Chai Wattanaram. So, this is the real must-visit of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya that anyone who misses to check-in at the place cannot say you have been here.
History of Historic City of Ayutthaya
According to the evidence, the history of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya begins when King U-Thong established the Ayutthaya Kingdom in 1350, and the great kingdom collapsed in 1767 from the battle to Burma which is the second time of the defeat of the Ayutthaya Kingdom to Burma. Later, King Mongkut of the Rattanakosin Kingdom ordered to restore the ancient remain in Ayutthaya province, and King Chulalongkorn commanded Phraya Boranratchathanin, the regent of the territory to proceed the excavation and develop those ruins, as well.
After that, the Department of Fine Arts, in 1931 proclaimed 69 sites of the ancient remain in the Ayutthaya Town to be the exceptional archeological site of the nation. And in 1976, the project to set up Ayutthaya History Park initiated to allow the Department of Fine Arts to excavate and repair those ancient remains. More than 2.8 sq.km of space in total, the historical site included the old royal court, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Phra Ram, and Viharn Mongkolbophit.
In 1991, it was the honor of Thailand that Ayutthaya Historical Park considered to the world heritage at the same time of Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai, and Kamphaengphet Historical Park by UNESCO.
So, in 1997, the Department of Fine Arts announced the expansion of Ayutthaya Historical Park complex that presently covers the area with about 4.8 sq.km in the estimate. The significant places included within the complex, for example, Chandrakasem Palace, the Old City Fortress, Wat Yai Chaiyamongkol, Wat Chai Wattanaram, Wat Phanan Choeng, Wat Kasatradhirat Rajaworavihara, Portuguese Village, Dutch Village, Japanese Village, the Royal Elephant Kraal, Saint Joseph Catholic Church, Wat Phutthaisawan, and Wat Na Phra Meru.
Ayutthaya Historical Park, although covered the 3,000 rais of the land it’s only 1,810 rais only accepted as the world heritage site. Since the additional space announced by the Department of Fine Art in 1997 is not submitted for the approval as the world heritage site.
The Highlights of Ayutthaya Historical Park
Inside the complex discovered more than 425 ancient remains of both within and outside the city wall. And the interesting ones that the tourist should not miss including;
1. The Old Royal Residence or the Royal Court
The place of residence of the king, also the heart of state in politics and administration. The site was established by King U-Thong founder of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The king ordered to build the palace in the area that currently is the location of Wat Phra Si Sanphet on the riverside of Lopburi river. Unluckily, there’s only the ruin of the foundation of each building resulted from the severe conflagration in the second failure of the Ayutthaya.
2. Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Only Buddhist monastery situated inside the old royal palace and it’s the temple without any monks resided of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. So-called the essential monastery of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, Wat Phra Si Sanphet is former the royal court of King Ramathibodi I (Phra Chao U-Thong) who built the place. Then, in the reign of King Borommatrailokkanat ordered to relocate the royal court to locate at the riverside of the Lopburi River and tribute the old palace to be the temple to practice the critical rites and ceremonies. Also, the venue that the king visited to make the merit. More than that, Wat Phra Si Sanphet is the prototype of Wat Phra Si Rattana Sassadaram or well-known among the world “the Temple of the Emerald Buddha” in Bangkok, too.
3. Wat Ratchaburana
In the age of King Chao Sam Phraya or Somdet Phra Borommarajathirat II, in 1424, the king ordered to construct Wat Ratchaburana at the venue set up the crematorium for Chao Ai Phraya and Chao Yi Phraya his older brothers after they passed away from the fight to succeed the throne. Significantly, the discovery of the vast number of gold ornaments in the repository inside the prang pagoda at the temple. Nowadays, the gold ornaments are well stored at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum in Ayutthaya.
4. Viharn Mongkolbophit
The royal monastery inside the city wall in the south of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. The highlight of the place is the enormous statue of Buddha titled “Phra Mongkolbophit” enshrined elegantly as the principal image inside the sanctuary. The great Buddha image assumed to be cast in the throne of King Chaiyaraja. The statue was serious renovated in the time Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram was the prime minister. At that time, lots of ancient statues of Buddha buried inside the right chest of Phra Mongkolbophit Buddha. Those images, presently, are stored at Chandrakasen National Museum and Chao Sam Phraya National Museum.
5. Wat Na Phra Meru
Wat Na Phra Meru or literally official name is “Wat Phra Meru Rachikaram Woraviharn”. The temple is the only significant holy site in Ayutthaya that survive from the fire when the second siege of the Ayutthaya Kingdom to Burma. At the pediment of the temple is the figure of Vishnu ridden on his carrier (Garuda) holding the Naga which represented it is the royal monastery. The landscape of the temple compound based on the belief of the Sumeru Mountain of ancient India mixed to the idea in Buddhism in the middle age of the Ayutthaya to the Rattanakosin era.
Furthermore, other sites are not less in excitement to visit, for example, Wat Phra Ram, Wat Thammikarat, Wat Worachettharam, Chandrakasem Palace, Wat Suwandararam, Phra Si Suriyothai Pagoda, Wall and Fortress of the Old City (the outer area). Also, Wat Chai Wattanaram, Wat Yai Chaiyamongkol, Wat Kasattrathirat Woraviharn, Wat Phanan Choeng, Dutch Village, Japanese Village, the Royal Elephant Kraal, and Saint Joseph Catholic Church, etc.
The thing to Know before visiting Ayutthaya Historical Park
The fee separately operated by each venue that starts from THB20-THB40 for Thai with the package ticket is THB40 approximate. For the foreigner, the price to access the place inside Ayutthaya Historical Park is about THB220 that can access any temples inside the complex, including Wat Phra Si Sanphet and the Old Royal Court, Wat Phra Ram, Wat Mahathat, Wat Chai Wattaram, and Wat Maheyong.
The operating time of the attractions inside the historical park complex is varied. Regularly, each venue operates between 8.00am – 6.00pm and some location presents the lighting decoration with charge during 6.30pm – 9.00pm.
How to get to Ayutthaya Historical Park
From the city town of Ayutthaya province, head north along the way and turn right at Ton Pho Alley. Then, turn right to access Muaeng Ayutthaya Road at Wat Sam Ploem Chedi Circle and gets off at the 3rd exit. Then, enter to Ayutthaya – Angthong road and cross Pa Sak river. Keep moving along the road number 309 until you spot the circle that leads you to the following places;
- Turn right to Wat Mahathat and Wat Sang Pat
- Turn left to Pa Tone Road and then take whichever route by following;
- Turn left to Klong Tho Road to go to the center of the town, and the tourist can rent the bicycle to tour within the Ayutthaya Historical Park area.
- Turn right on the road 309 to go to Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Viharn Mongkolbophit, and Wat Phra Ram.
In case you travel without your car, you can hire the Tuk Tuk car to visit in the historical park complex with the charge is approximately THB200 per hour. Otherwise, rent the bicycle that charges not more than THB100 per day.