Ayutthaya: A Magical Time Travel To Ancient City

Oh boy, let me tell you about my obsession with the ancient city of Phra Si Nakhon Ayutthaya in Thailand! It all started when I got hooked on Thai TV dramas set in the Ayutthaya era, like Love Destiny and Wanthong. Those shows transported me to a world of ornate palaces, colourful temples, and mysterious ruins. I couldn’t help but dream of exploring the real-life version of that fantastic place.

So, when I finally had the chance to go to Bangkok for a holiday trip, I knew I had to make a journey to Phra Si Nakhon Ayutthaya. And let me tell you, it did not disappoint! I was blown away by the sheer grandeur of the ancient city. From towering pagodas to intricate stone carvings, every inch of the place was a feast for the eyes.

But that’s not all, folks! I also got to check off another item on my bucket list during the trip. I finally laid eyes on the majestic Chao Phraya river. It was like a dream come true! I couldn’t believe I was actually there, watching the shimmering water flow by as boats glided past.

All in all, my Thailand adventure was a wild ride of fulfilling my TV-inspired dreams and soaking up the country’s rich history and natural beauty. If you haven’t been to Phra Si Nakhon Ayutthaya or the Chao Phraya river yet, put them on your travel wish list ASAP! You won’t regret it.

From Bangkok To Ayutthaya by Car

Ayutthaya Historical Park is one of the most iconic landmarks in Thailand, boasting a rich cultural heritage and captivating visitors from around the world. Located in the ancient city of Ayutthaya, once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to numerous temples, palaces, and other historical structures that offer a glimpse into Thailand’s glorious past.

We decided to ditch the train and hired a Grab car instead, because, let’s face it, we’re all about that spontaneous life. The ride took around one and a half hours from Bangkok, and set us back about 900 baht. Not too shabby, right?

We hit the road around 10.30 am, eager to explore the ruins and soak up some history. But let me tell you, arriving at noon was not the brightest idea. The blazing sun was beating down on us like a fiery demon, and we desperately wished we’d brought some hats to shield our precious faces. Pro tip: if you’re planning a trip to Ayutthaya, try to avoid the high noon heat if you value your skin!

We considered this a one-day trip to Ayutthaya attractions, and because of this, we missed out on exploring the shopping malls in Bangkok. I told myself I would be back for more exploration and continue with the unfinished street photography in Bangkok city.

Temples & Ruins in Ayutthaya

Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet - Contax G1, Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 film // February 2023

There are several sites with ancient temples, and I’m unsure about the names. After recalling from Google Maps, I guess the first few we visited were Wat Phra Ram and Wat Phra Si Sanphet. I couldn’t believe I was actually here, surrounded by such rich history and intricate architecture. The sense of surrealism was almost overwhelming. It’s hard to put into words just how stunning these structures are. But trust me, when you see them with your own eyes, you’ll understand.

Wat Phra Ram is known for its towering prang or spire and its serene surroundings, making it a popular destination for visitors seeking peace and tranquility. The temple also boasts beautiful gardens and well-preserved ruins, making it a must-visit for history buffs and nature lovers alike.

I was all in with my digital and Contax G1 film camera and never missed a shot of snapping photos of ancient Buddha statues, bricks and stones. I was happy to see the elephant rides similar or identical to what I have seen in Thai movies or dramas.

Wandering Around at Wat Phra Ram & Wat Phra Si Sanphet

Wat Phra Ram Ayutthaya Thailand
Wat Phra Ram - Contax G1, Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 film // February 2023
Ayutthaya Temple - Fuji S400
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit - Contax G1, Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 film // February 2023

After wandering at Wat Phra Ram. we headed to the nearest site which is the Wat Phra Si Sanphet. Wat Phra Si Sanphet is an ancient temple located in the city of Ayutthaya, Thailand. It was built in the 15th century and was used as a royal temple by the kings of the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The temple is known for its impressive three chedis or stupas, which contain the ashes of the past kings. Today, the temple is a popular tourist attraction and a testament to Thailand’s rich cultural heritage.

We took a short walk into the Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit and gained some knowledge about the Buddha statue heads displayed inside the temple. The most important rule is to remove the shoes and cover up your body before entering.

Following our visit to the first two temples, we arranged for a tuk-tuk to take us to several other temple locations, including Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Mahathat, Wat Chaiwatthanaram, and Wat Lokaya Sutharam. Despite the scorching sun, we managed to explore and visit a total of six temples and ruins within five hours. Don’t forget to wear a cap to protect yourself from the heat and don’t forget to rehydrate! There are a few drink vendors that sells fruit juice and can drinks that can help overcome with thirst during the sunny day.

Climbing Up the Principle Prang in Wat Ratchaburana

Wat Ratchaburana - Fujifilm X-T4
Wat Ratchaburana - Fujifilm X-T4

One of my most memorable experiences was climbing up to The Principle Prang in Wat Ratchaburana. The stone staircase was incredibly steep, and because I am short and the gaps between the steps were steep too, I had to hold onto the side and descend sideways, like a crab. Although it may have looked peculiar to onlookers, I had no choice but to do so to make my way down safely.

The huge tower reminds me of the Mortal Kombat (1995) ending scene, and guess what? The movie was filmed at Wat Chaiwatthanaram. How bizarre! There was nothing much to do here, so we moved on to the next location.

The Iconic Buddha Statue Head In Tree Roots

Buddha Statue Head Under Tree Root
Wat Mahathat - Contax G1, Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 film // February 2023
Wat Mahathat Tourist
Wat Mahathat Tourist - Contax G1, Fujicolor Superia X-Tra 400 film // February 2023

I guess the buddha statue head trapped under the banyan tree is one of the most photograph scene in Ayutthaya. The Buddha statue head tree refers to an iconic feature located in Wat Mahathat, an ancient Buddhist temple in Ayutthaya, Thailand. The feature is a stone statue of Buddha’s head, which has become entwined in the roots of a banyan tree over time, creating a striking and unique sight.

The exact origin and history of the Buddha head entwined in the tree roots remain a mystery, but it is believed to have been created during the Ayutthaya period in the 14th century. Today, it is one of the most popular attractions at the temple as we can see many tourists taking photos of this spot.

Wat Lokaya Sutharam

Reclining Buddha Statue Ayutthaya
Wat Lokaya Sutharam​ - Fujifilm X-T4

As we arrived at Wat Lokaya Sutharam, we were struck by the impressive sight of the enormous reclining Buddha statue. It was truly a magnificent sight to behold, and we couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe as we gazed upon it. The sheer size of the statue was breathtaking, and we could see the incredible level of detail that had gone into creating it.

The visit to Wat Lokaya Sutharam only took a few minutes, and I was there for a quick photo snapshot. There was nothing much to do here, and then we moved on to the next most exciting temples in Ayutthaya Historical Park, which is the Wat Chaiwatthanaram​.

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

Wat Chaiwatthanaram​ Main Prang
Wat Chaiwatthanaram - Fujifilm X-T4
Wat Chaiwatthanaram​ Photoshoot Location
Wat Chaiwatthanaram - Fujifilm X-T4

This is one of the most interesting temples that I have visited. The main prang, or tower, in the center of the temple complex stands 35 meters tall and is surrounded by eight smaller prangs. I didn’t noticed that we can go up to the main prang for this one as I was busy taking photos. There are also shops that rent/sell traditional Thai clothing located by the roadside.

Another attraction at this location is the opportunity for photoshoots. Many locals come here to have their photos taken while dressed in traditional Thai clothing called Chut Thai Ayutthaya, which is similar to what is seen in ancient Ayutthaya TV dramas and in Mortal Kombat! It is a beautiful sight to witness firsthand.

Final Thoughts

Ayutthaya Travel Fujifilm X-T4
Fujifilm X-T4 Thailand Travel Photography

When planning a visit to this historical destination, it’s important to keep in mind that the weather can play a significant role in your experience. While the heat can be intense, there are ways to prepare and stay comfortable. Consider bringing sunscreen, a hat, or an umbrella to shield yourself from the sun’s rays. Staying hydrated is also crucial, so make sure to pack plenty of water and other beverages to keep you refreshed.

Despite the weather, my visit to this place was one of the most inspiring travel experiences of my life. The rich history and cultural significance of the site were truly awe-inspiring, and I was struck by the sheer beauty of the architecture and landscape. I felt a deep connection to the past as I explored the ancient ruins and learned about the stories and legends that had been passed down through generations.

As I left this magical place in Ayutthaya, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of adventure and excitement for what lay ahead. I was inspired to seek out new destinations and explore more of the world’s treasures, perhaps even following in the footsteps of legendary adventurers like Lara Croft. The memories of my journey will stay with me forever, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have experienced such a remarkable place.

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Ivan Yolo - KL Photographer & Blogger

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