Founded around 1350, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai. Throughout the centuries, an ideal location between China, India, and the Malay Archipelago made Ayutthaya the trading capital of Asia and even the world. By 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Many international merchants set sail for Ayutthaya, from diverse regions as the Arab world, China, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands, and France. Merchants from Europe proclaimed Ayutthaya as the finest city they had ever seen. Dutch and French maps of the city show grandeur with gold-laden palaces, large ceremonies, and a visiting flotilla of trading vessels from all over the world. All this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city to the ground.
Today, only a few remains give a glimpse of the impressive city they must have seen. Its remains are characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and big monasteries. Most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stone at that time. The great cultural value of Ayutthaya’s ruins was officially recognized in 1991, when the historic city became a UNESCO World Heritage List. Its proximity to Bangkok make it a popular day-trip destination for travellers from that city.
Ayutthaya is an island at the confluence of three rivers: the Chao Phraya river, the Lopburi River, and the Pa Sak River. As the train station is on the east bank off the island, most visitors will need to cross the river by ferry boat. Navigating your way around the island is not particularly hard: U Thong Road is a ring road that circles the island completely. Most temple ruins can be found at the northwest corner of the island, while accommodation and night life is clustered around the northeast. As non-Siamese peoples were not allowed to live inside the city walls, the remains of foreign nations can be found off of the island.
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From Bangkok, one can get to Ayutthaya by various routes:
- Take Hwy 1 (Phahon Yothin) via Pratu Nam Phra In and turn onto Hwy 32, then, turn left to Hwy 309 to Ayutthaya.
- Take Hwy 304 (Chaeng Watthana) or Hwy 302 (Ngam Wong Wan), turn right onto Hwy 306 (Tiwanon), cross Nonthaburi or Nuanchawi Bridge to Pathum Thani, continue on Hwy 3111 (Pathum Thani–Sam Khok–Sena) and turn right at Sena onto Hwy 3263 to Ayutthaya.
- Take Hwy 306 (Bangkok–Nonthaburi–Pathum Thani), at Pathum Thani Bridge intersection, turn onto Hwy 347 and 3309 via Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, Bang Pa-In, to Ayutthaya.
- Take Expy 9 (Si Rat Expressway) via Nonthaburi–Pathum Thani and down to Hwy 1 to Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre, turn left onto Hwy 3469 towards Bang Pa-In and turn right at Worachet intersection to Ayutthaya.
One can also contact a taxi company for pick up at either Bangkok airport. For example: Car Service, phone: +66 2 8195390, email: email@example.com. Advance booking possible. ~1,200 Thai Baht one-way.
Travel by train to Ayutthaya
The cheapest and most scenic way of reaching Ayutthaya is by train. There are regular services from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Train Station to Ayutthaya. The trip takes from 1hr 20 minutes to 2 hr depending on the type of service. Tickets range from 15 Thai Baht (third-class on an ordinary train, with no air-con and no reserved seating) to 345 Thai Baht (second-class on a special express, with air-con, a meal, and a reserved seat). During the rush hours, the trains will be overcrowded and you will have to stand if you do not have a reserved seat. Check the Thai Railways website here for a rough guide on times and prices, but bear in mind the “last updated” line in the upper right.
The railway station is not on the island but across the river a short ferry ride away. Walk across the main road and down the small street straight ahead. Ferries run every few minutes and cost five Thai Baht.
Travel by bus to Ayutthaya
From Northern Bus Terminal
Buses now operate every 20 minutes or so from Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal directly to Ayutthaya. First-class air-con buses charge 50 Thai Baht. This trip is scheduled to be around an hour and a half, but allow at least two hours for the trip since the buses stop rather frequently and there are often jams on the roads out of/into Bangkok. For more details, call Tel. +66 2 9362852-66 or see BKS or Ayutthaya Bus Terminal, Tel. +66 35 335304.
From Southern Bus Terminal
There are minibuses to Rangsit, in the north of Bangkok, costing 50 Thai Baht. In Rangsit they stop at a highway junction, where you can transfer directly onto another minibus going to Ayatthaya, costing 40 Thai Baht as of Dec 2015. Total travel time 1½-2 hours.
From Kanchanaburi, take a local bus from the main bus station to Suphanburi for 45 Thai Baht (2 hours), then another local bus to Ayutthaya for 40 Thai Baht (1.5 hours). A taxi from Kanchanaburi costs 2,000-2,500 Thai Baht (2 hours).
There is also a central bus station east of town serving northern destinations. It can be reached by songthaew. Ask around to find the appropriate stop.
In Ayutthaya, the central BKS bus station is on the south side of Naresuan Road next to the Chao Phrom Market. songthaews to Bang Pa-In also leave from here. Some 1st-class buses to Bangkok, however, leave from the north side of the road some 500 m to the west, on the other side of the khlong (canal); the queue for air-con buses is easy to spot.
Convenient mini-bus service (can get stuck in traffic, but makes no stops like regular buses) operates in front of the Northern Bus Terminal, on the other side of the road.
The cost is 60 Thai Baht, and take around 1 hour to 1 hour 20 min. Mini-buses don’t have much space for big bags, and you must wait until the bus is fully filled.
Mini-buses from Kanchanaburi can be arranged by guest houses or any tour operators for around 350 Thai Baht.
Travel by boat to Ayutthaya
Cruise boats run up the river from Bangkok, often stopping at Ko Kret and Bang Pa-In along the way. You’ll need to book in advance as there are no scheduled services, just trips for tourists. It’s a fairly lengthy trip (at least one whole day) and some of the larger boats offer (pricey) overnight tours.
Travelling by boat to Ayutthaya is popular among foreigners as it reveals the beauty and lifestyle of the people on both sides of the Chao Phraya River, and also recalls life at the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom when the Chao Phraya River served as the highway for trade with foreign countries.
Transportation in Ayutthaya
Travel by bicycle in Ayutthaya
Cycling around the ruins is the most enjoyable and fun way to spend the day. The archaeological park is easily reachable and manageable on bike even if you aren’t very fit. The paths are paved and the distances between temples are small. You can rent a bicycle for around 40 Thai Baht per day. The bicycles are not necessarily well maintained, so be sure that they work properly (wheels are firm and inflated, seats adjusted to your height and well attached, handlebars don’t slip); good shops will give you a bike lock as well. There is a good bike shop directly opposite the train station.
A free map of the city is widely available in all hotels.
The park opens at 07:30. It is recommended that you begin your tour early, before the tour groups arrive from Bangkok. Take a big bottle of water with you.
- Soi 2 (where the majority of tourist hotels and restaurants are found) have numerous bike rental facilities. They are all next to each other so it will be easy to shop around and find the one with the best bike for you.
- Tour With Thai (TWT) (before Tony’s Guest House [not far from mini-bus stop at Soi 2]) has bicycles big and small size and seat for small child for rent. If you are short of time, you can hire a motorbike here.
Alternatively, you can get around town by tuk-tuk (motorized 3-wheeler). Ayutthaya’s tuk-tuks are larger than the Bangkok variety and you can easily squeeze six people in on facing benches. Only “official” tuk-tuk drivers or tourist “helpers” can pick up passengers from the train station. You can verify their status by looking for their photos/name on a “Tourist Officials” board displayed at the south end of the platform. These people are required to charge/work for fixed rates, usually quoting 300 Thai Baht/hour, but this can usually be bargained down to a slightly lower price (e.g., 1,000 Thai Baht for 4 hr).
You can also flag down tuk-tuks from the street and try to hire them. Most drivers carry with them a stack of postcards featuring the famous sites of the city to ease communications. They also are used to the standard temple-hopping circuit. If you have a map you can point out any of the destinations that you wish to see and they’ll often quote a trip price and will wait for you at each stop. 200 Thai Baht per hour seems to be the starting point for tourist tuk-tuks picking up backpackers away from the station, although it may be possible to negotiate a lower price.
If entering the city by mini-bus, there is a possibility your driver will drop you off at a tuk-tuk who offers to take you around the wats from 2,000 Thai Baht. The driver may have a book filled with positive testimonials in a range of different languages from tourists who were his past passengers. Don’t let these positive comments convince you otherwise, simply say “no, thanks” and move on to find another tuk-tuk driver with whom you can negotiate a fair rate.
From Ayutthaya, mini-buses can be taken from the railway station into the city. Hiring a mini- bus within Ayutthaya costs between 400-500 Thai Baht/day. For travelling between Ayutthaya and Bang Pa-in, mini-buses regularly leave Chao Prom Market, Chao Prom Road starting from 06:00.
Travel by boat to Ayutthaya
Boat trips to enjoy the beautiful scenery and Thai lifestyle along the Chao Phraya River, the Pa Sak River and around the town island of Ayutthaya are available. A longtail boat can be chartered at the pier in front of Chanthara Kasem National Museum, Pom Phet Pier, and Wat Phananchoeng Pier. The fare depends on the route and duration. Rice barges are also available to groups. They offer a relaxed way to see Ayutthaya.
Sightseeing in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is 76 km north of Bangkok and boasts numerous magnificent ruins. The ruins indicate that Ayutthaya was one of Southeast Asia’s (and probably the world’s) most prosperous cities in the 17th century. Ayutthaya Historical Park, a vast stretch of historical sites in the heart of Ayutthaya city, has been a UNESCO World Heritage List since December 1991.
There were three palaces in Ayutthaya: Grand Palace, Chantharakasem Palace (the Front Palace), and Wang Lang (the Rear Palace). In addition, there were many other palaces and buildings for royal visits outside Ayutthaya, such as the palace at Bang Pa-In and Nakhon Luang Building at Nakhon Luang.
It seems there is an ongoing scam, not against tourists, but against the government. Ladies selling tickets take the money from you and allow you to enter, but will not give you a ticket (and probably put the money in their own pockets). If you want your money to go for temple renovation and conservation instead of going into private pockets, insist on a ticket.
On the island
The temples with entry charges are usually in ruins, so there is no dress code, although visitors are still requested to refrain from blatant stupidity like clambering up the Buddha statues. Working temples tend to charge no fees and there are often no officials to check that a dress is appropriate (though it is advised to follow these customs to show respect for sacred places).
- Phet Fortress (Southeast island). This fortress was the city’s most important defensive structure in the 15th century. It was built of wood in 1350 CE by King Mahachakraphat, and later rebuilt with bricks. A few walls still remain and the grounds have a nice view of the river. The fortress is close to Wat Suwan Dararam, and is right beside a ferry that can take you to Wat Phanan Choeng.
- Phra Chedi Suriyothai (เจดีย์พระศรีสุริโยทัย), U-Thong Road. A white and gold-coloured chedi built as a memorial to a previous queen. Set in small, well-kept gardens, it is the memorial for the first heroine in Siamese history. It’s of some interest as a proof of the honour that ancient Siamese society gave to women. It was renovated in 1990, and during the renovations some antique objects were found such as a white rock crystal Buddha image in the posture of subduing Mara, a chedi replica, and a golden reliquary. These ancient objects were brought under the care of the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum. Free.
- Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopit, Sri Sanphet Road (Next to Wat Phra Si Sanphet). An impressive building that houses a large cast-bronze Buddha image. It was originally enshrined outside the Grand Palace to the east, but it was later transferred to the current location and covered with a Mondop. During the second fall of Ayutthaya, the building and the image were badly destroyed by fire. The building was renovated, but does not have the beautiful craftsmanship of the previous ones. The open area east of the sanctuary (Wihan) was formerly Sanam Luang, where the royal cremation ceremony took place. Free.
- Wat Borom Phuttharam (วัดบรมพุทธาราม). Built some time during 1688–1703 during the reign of King Phetracha on his former residence area near the main gate of the southern city wall. Its location and area plan was confined to a north-south orientation by ancient communication routes. Unlike other temples, the king had all buildings roofed with yellow glazed tiles and the temple became known as “Wat Krabueang Khlueap” or the “glazed tile temple”. The construction took 2 years and the temple underwent a major renovation in the reign of King Borommakot, who had 3 pairs of door panels decorated with fine mother-of-pearl inlays. One pair of them is at Ho Phra Monthian Tham inside the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the second is at Wat Benchamabophit (The Marble Temple), and the third was turned into cabinets and is now exhibited at the Bangkok National Museum.
- Wat Phra Mahathat, Naresuan Road (across the road from Wat Ratburana). A large temple that was quite thoroughly ransacked by the Burmese. Several leaning prangs of Ayutthaya are still feebly defying gravity though, and the rows of headless Buddhas are atmospheric. This is also where you can spot the famous tree that has grown around a Buddha head. When taking pictures of you and the Buddha head, make sure you sit on your knees to show respect, as it is considered holy by Thais. 50 Thai Baht.
- Wat Phra Ram, Sri Sanphet Road. Daily, 08:00-18:00. This temple consists of one huge prang and some smaller chedi and outbuildings, all in disrepair though the top of the prang is complete. Staircases to the side of the prang give views of Ayutthaya. This monastery was outside the grand palace compound to the east. King Ramesuan commanded it built on ground where the royal cremation ceremony for his father, King U-Thong, took place. A big lagoon is in front of this monastery. Its original name was “Nong Sano”; it was changed to “Bueng Phraram” and is now Phraram Public Park. 50 Thai Baht.
- Wat Phra Si Sanphet (วัดพระศรีสรรเพชญ์), Sri Sanphet Road. Daily, 08:00-18:00. The largest temple in Ayutthaya, known for its distinctive row of restored chedis (Thai-style stupas) found on many images of the city. Housed within the grounds of the former royal palace, the temple was used only for royal religious ceremonies. It once housed a 16-metre Buddha covered with 340 kg of gold, but the Burmese set fire to the statue to melt the gold and destroyed the temple in the process. The royal palace can also be accessed from the same entrance at Wat Phra Si Sanphet, but it only has a few free-standing buildings remaining. This monastery is in the Grand Palace compound like Wat Phra Si Rattanasatsadaram (Wat Phra Kaeo) of Bangkok. Used as a residential palace, it became a monastery in the reign of King Ramathibodi I. When King Borom Trai Lokanat commanded new living quarters built, this residential palace was given to be a temple area, thus originating Wat Phra Si Sanphet. The chapel does not have any monks and novice inhabitants. 50 Thai Baht.
- Wat Ratchaburana, Naresuan Road. This temple stands out for having a large prang restored to its original condition, clearly visible if you come in from the east. A major find of golden statues and other paraphernalia was made here in 1958, although much was subsequently stolen by robbers. The remnants are now in the Chao Sam Phraya Museum. You can climb inside the prang for nice views and a little exhibit. The mysterious staircase down, leads to two unrestored rooms with original paintings still visible on the walls. 50 Thai Baht.
- Wat Suwan Dararam (southeast island). This modern wat with no ruins can be accessed by side streets off U-Thong Road. The wat contains a few small spires, and some nicely decorated modern buildings.
- Wat Thammikarat (วัดธรรมิกราช), U-Thong Road. A working wat, but also contains the ruins of a large chedi and a huge roofless viharn which has tall brick columns leaning at alarming angles and a large tree growing picturesquely out of the side of one wall. It was already constructed before the establishment of Ayutthaya. The Wihan Luang once enshrined an enormous bronze head of the Buddha of the U Thong period, now exhibited at the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum. The temple also houses a reclining Buddha hall called Wihan Phra Phutthasaiyat built by his queen consort following her wish made for her daughter’s recovery from an ailment. The wihan is to the north of Phra Chedi with a base of 52 surrounding singha or lions, and houses a north-facing reclining Buddha image measuring 12 m in length, with both feet gilded and inlaid with glass mosaic. Free.
- Wat Lokaya Sutha (west of the Royal Palace, across the Khlong Tho canal). Restored temple and monastery with ruined chedis. The main highlight is a 42-metre long reclining Buddha – the only one of its kind on Ayutthaya island. The toes of the reclining Buddha are all of equal length, and the statue is sometimes covered in orange cloth. Go early, as this place is popular among Chinese tour groups. Vendors sell flowers to those who wish to pay their respects on site. Free. (updated Mar 2017)
- Tomb of Sheikh Ahmad Qomi (on the grounds of Rajabahat Institute, behind the Ayutthaya History Study Centre). Burial place of a Shiite Muslim historical figure who was the Minister of Civil Affairs under King Songtham (/1611-1628) of Siam. He is known for putting down a Japanese rebellion, and for being the first advisor to the Siamese King on Islamic Affairs. This tomb has alternating Thai and Arabic calligraphy just below its dome, and is a place of worship among Thai Buddhists and Muslims. (updated Mar 2017)
- Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre (ศูนย์ท่องเที่ยวอยุธยา), Rojana Road (Rotchana Road). Interesting museum about the history of Ayutthaya. It’s best to visit this museum before heading out elsewhere, as it places the remains into a historical perspective. A big part of the museum is dedicated to Siam’s relations with other peoples, but village life, art and culture are also dealt with. The centre was established by the Fine Arts Department and developed to be a tourist information centre by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) with high reliefs of six great kings and queens from the Ayutthaya Kingdom on the facade of the building. The center is home to TAT information centre, an exhibition on Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya’s tourism and a contemporary art gallery. Admission for foreigners: adults, 100 Thai Baht; children, 50 Thai Baht.
- Baan Hollanda. Near the site of the Dutch Lodge which was first built there in the 1630s. Baan Hollanda aims at telling its audience about the Dutch settlement: how they worked, lived, and interacted with Siamese society and court. The museum provides informal learning by combining education with pleasure.
- Chantharakasem National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ จันทรเกษม), Uthong Road. W-Su 09:00-16:00. In Chantharakasem Palace, it was originally the residence of King Naresuan the Great, and was built in 1557 CE before he ascended the throne. It was known as the “palace to the front”. Later, during Ayutthaya period, it became the residence of the crown prince. The palace was destroyed in Burmese–Siamese War (1765–1767) (war of the second fall of Ayutthaya) and remained deserted until the reign of King Rama IV of the Bangkok period, who rebuilt the palace to its present dimensions. Some of the buildings on the premises are now used as the national museum. 100 Thai Baht (foreigners).
- Bang Pa-In Palace (พระราชวังบางปะอิน). Bang Pa-In used to be a riverine island. When King Prasat Thong became the Ayutthaya king (1630–1655), he had the Chumphon Nikayaram Temple built on his family estate. The palace surrounded by a lake 400 metres long and 40 metres wide. Bang Pa-In was used as a country residence by every Ayutthaya monarch after King Prasat Thong. (updated Dec 2016)
- Chao Sam Phraya National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติเจ้าสามพระยา). Most treasures of Ayutthaya were stolen, burnt and melted by armies or treasure hunters. Some pieces survived though and are exhibited at this museum. Most of the riches on display are golden statues found at Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Phra Mahathat. The museum was funded by the proceeds from the sale of votive tablets discovered in the underground crypts of the principal Prang tower of Wat Ratchaburana. Since the temple was built by King Borommarachathirat II (Chao Sam Phraya), the museum was named after him. The opening ceremony of this museum was held in 1961 and was presided over by the king and queen. It was the first museum in the country to present a new form of exhibition, displaying artefacts unearthed from the archaeological excavations as well as restoration of ancient monuments. 150 Thai Baht.
Off the island
Much of Ayutthaya’s history revolves around trade with other nations, but these nations were not allowed to set up camp inside the city walls. Thus, surrounding Ayutthaya’s waters are plenty of remains from the countries that once set sail here, such as the settlements of Japan, the Netherlands and Portugal, as well as the interesting Thai-Chinese temple of Wat Phanan Choeng.
- Wat Chaiwatthanaram (วัดไชยวัฒนาราม) (take Rte 3263 off the island and turn left onto Rte 3413.). Daily 08:30-17:00. The temple that graces the official tourist pamphlet for Ayutthaya. King Prasat Thong commanded it built. Its great beauty has been reflected from the main stupa and its satellite stupas along the gallery, an architecture influenced by the Khmer. This wat is a must-see. Many intact pagodas surround a central chedi that you can climb from all sides. A nice view of the city can be had from the top. Very photogenic. 50 Thai Baht.
- Wat Na Phra Mane. This wat offers a mix of old and modern buildings. It is unique because it survived the destruction of the city in the 18th century. Of interest are the vaulted ceilings and a Buddha made of black stone.
- Wat Phanan Choeng (วัดพนัญเชิงวรวิหาร)), Bang Pa-in Road (about 2 km southeast of town, turn south at the Road 309 roundabout). Daily 08:30-17:00. A working monastery south of Ayutthaya. No one knows how old it is, but it existed before Ayutthaya was founded as the capital. It contains the oldest large cast bronze Buddha image in Ayutthaya, called “Phrachao Phananchoeng”, built in 1325; it is made of stucco in the attitude of subduing evil. A small room to the right of the main hall contains a nice collection of Buddha images and the room is painted with many individual unique pictures, in bright colours offset with gold. 20 Thai Baht.
- Wat Phu Khao Thong (about 3 km north of town, west off Ang Thong Road). Impressive and huge white, and slightly wonky, chedi set in a big field. You can climb to the top for extensive views over the countryside surrounding Ayutthaya, although the modern town and power lines obscure much of the historic city on the horizon. The actual nearby temple is still working and has small grounds with a smiling fat Buddha image set in the ruins of a small viharn. You will see the ‘Monument of King Naresuan the Great’ on the way. Free.
- Wat Yai Chaimongkon or Wat Chao Phraya Thai (วัดใหญ่ชัยมงคล หรือ วัดเจ้าพระยาไท), Bang Pa-in Road (1 km east of Wat Phananchoeng). Daily 08:00-18:00. King Naresuan the Great commanded that the pagoda be built to celebrate the victory of his single-handed combat on elephant back. He also intended a huge construction to match the large pagoda of Wat Phukhao Thong. The large pagoda from a distance, and some of its ruins appear on well-known photos of temples in Thailand. Constructed in the reign of King U-Thong, the temple features a large reclining Buddha in saffron robes in its own ruined viharn, and, most stunningly, a huge chedi swathed in golden cloth set in a courtyard which is lined by Buddha images all wearing saffron robes. Very photogenic. 20 Thai Baht.
- Ayothaya Floating Market (ตลาดน้ำอโยธยา), 65/12 Moo 7, Pai-ling District. Daily, 10:00-21:00. Ayothaya Floating Market is a tourism attraction that preserves the tradition of Thailand. It recreates the art and culture of the Ayutthaya period (1351 to 1767) that includes historical clothing, Thai architecture styles, amusements, Thai foods, and the lifestyle of Thai people in the past. Ayothaya Floating Market has a pond at the center, and is divided area into 16 zones mirroring the districts (amphoe) of Ayutthaya. There is also theatre: three shows Monday – Friday and four shows on Saturday – Sunday. Rowboat take you around the market, 20 Thai Baht per person.
- Dutch Settlement. The Dutch East India Company (VOC) founded in 1602 was the largest and most impressive of the early modern trading companies operating in Asia. The Dutch established their first trading post in Ayutthaya in 1608. By the 1630s the Dutch received land and permission to build a lodge on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River. The two-storey brick building was known to the Dutch as de logie and the settlement developed into a separate village. This building was destroyed by the invading Burmese armies in 1767. After being archaeologically excavated, the brick foundation of the building was found and during the celebrations of 400 years of Thai-Dutch relations, Queen Beatrix donated a royal gift to establish an information centre near the site of the Dutch lodge. The Thai Fine Arts Department excavated the site and found many artifacts, such as Chinese porcelain, Dutch pipes, and a coin.
- Japanese Settlement. There’s nothing left of the Japanese Settlement, so instead, the Japanese government decided to create a Japanese-style park at the location where the Japanese Settlement probably must have been. The Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre started a branch here, a museum about Ayutthaya’s foreign relations with Japan and other countries. It starts with an interesting film lasting about 15 minutes and then you can explore the museum on your own. Very interesting and gives a good background of the city’s history.
- Portuguese Settlement (South of the island, access via Rte 3413 after turning south from the bridge connecting the island, past Wat Chaiwatthanaram and Phutthai Sawan). A scattering of ruins, highlighted by the Dominican church. Inside the church are the excavated remains of members of the settlement. It is kind of an eerie sight, but interesting. The skeletons of those inside the church apparently belong to those who were of higher status within the settlement, like priests. It was said to be the largest community of Westerners after it was settled in the early 1500s. The settlement was destroyed in 1767 after the fall of Ayutthaya. Donations welcomed.
What to do in Ayutthaya
- Chao Phrom Market (Next to the Pasak River on U-Thong Road). This market offers food, clothing, and day-to-day necessities at a variety of shops and stalls. More for locals, the market lacks the usually touristy trinkets; however, the food is fantastic, good clothing deals can be found, and the visit may be of interest for those who wish to experience a more authentic Thai marketplace.
- Festival Ayutthaya / World Heritage Fair/ Thai lifestyle (varying names). Festival around the (ancient) city with various stages showing theatre, dance and music for free. Main light and sound show at Wat Pra Mahahtat (200 Thai Baht). Hundreds of food stalls around the area. Annual festival. Late December.
- Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre Fair (งานประจำปีศูนย์ศิลปาชีพบางไทร) At the end of January. Held annually toward the end of January at Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre, the fair features displays and contests of the arts and crafts products, sales of local products and cultural performances.
- Songkran Festival (งานเทศกาลสงกรานต์) April 13. Held annually on 13 April in front of Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, Amphoe Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, it features a traditional procession, Thoet Thoeng drums procession, Song Nam Phra ceremony of the miniature of Phra Mongkhon Bophit image, and Nang Songkran beauty contest.
- Wai Khru Bucha Tao Ceremony (พิธีไหว้ครูบูชาเตา) Around April – May. A wai khru ceremony held by blacksmiths and knife-makers of Aranyik knives at Ban Ton Pho, Ban Phai Nong and Ban Salai, Tambon Tha Chang, Nakhon Luang District to pay tribute to their masters and forge spirits. The ceremony is usually held on an early Thursday morning which may be the 7th, 9th, etc. day of the waxing moon of the 5th lunar month (around April – May) in order to express gratitude to their masters, sweep away possible accidents during their works as well as for their own auspiciousness and prosperity. After chanting for a congregation of angels and saluting the Triple Gem, the master of the ceremony will chant for a congregation of gods which include Siva, Vishnu, Brahma, Vishnukarma, Matuli, Vaya, Gangga, 8 ascetics, etc. as well as Thai, Lao, Mon, and Chinese masters who have imparted them with the ironwork skills, for them to receive their offerings and bless all participants. All tools and equipment will be gilded and lustral water made to sprinkle on the tools and participants.
- Bang Sai Loi Krathong and Traditional Long Boat Races (งานลอยกระทงตามประทีปและแข่งเรือยาวประเพณีศูนย์ศิลปาชีพบางไทร) November. It is an annual festival held toward the end of November at the Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Centre, Amphoe Bang Sai. Activities include Nang Nopphamat beauty contest, contests of processions, Krathongs, and hanging lanterns, folk entertainment, traditional and international long boat races, and sales of the Centre’s products.
- Ayutthaya World Heritage Fair (งานแสดงแสงเสียงอยุธยามรดกโลก) December. To commemorate the occasion of the Ayutthaya Historical Park being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 13 December 1991, a celebration is held annually for 1 week during the same period of the year. The Fair features local ways of life, handicrafts, Thai traditions and culture as well as the light and sound presentation on the history of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya.
- Ayutthaya Maha Mongkhon (อยุธยามหามงคล – ไหว้พระเก้าวัด) Buddhist Lent Festival. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Provincial Administration in collaboration with the Tourism Business Association and TAT Central Region Office: Region 6, organise the Ayutthaya Maha Mongkhon programme for participants to visit nine temples in the province during the Buddhist Lent Festival.
Shopping in Ayutthaya
Aranyik Knives, Ban Ton Pho and Ban Phai Nong villages in Tambon Tha Chang, Amphoe Nakhon Luang. Daily, 08:00-17:00. Aranyik Village is in villages numbered 6 and 7, Ta Chang sub-district, Nakhon Luang District. Aranyik Village is actually two villages: Ban Ton Pho and Ban Nhong Pai. Both are known as centres of Thailand’s knife-making.
Dating back to early Ratanakosin period, the villagers at Ban Ton Pho and Ban Nhong Pai, who were Vientianese from Laos, mostly worked as goldsmiths and blacksmiths, especially those who made knives. Later, in 1822, the goldsmiths quit their jobs, leaving only the blacksmiths; therefore, the villagers’ main living became the smithery. Buyers found the Aranyik knives to have good quality, and told others about the knives. The reputation of Aranyik knives spread even though they were made at Ban Ton Pho, Ban Nhong Pai and other villages. Aranyik knives remain the pride of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, owing to their durability, as some can be used for generations. Tourists can stay at the local home stay at Aranyik Village. They can also watch a knife-making show, try making knives, and buy knives. (updated Jul 2017)
- Bamboo Fan (พัดสานไม้ไผ่). Bamboo fan weaving in Ban Phraek District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, has been inherited from the olden days. Formerly, the fans were woven with a quite simple technique into a rough design. The border was usually trimmed and sewn by hand with plain white cloth. Later, its form changed to imitate that of a Bodhi leaf or a heart shape. The border is trimmed with gold cloth while the weaving techniques and designs have become more complicated. (updated Dec 2016)
- Palm Leaf Fish Mobile (ปลาตะเพียนสาน เครื่องแขวน). Weavers of the palm leaf fish mobile, and other palm leaf products, in this province are Thai Muslims. The skills have been inherited for over 100 years. It is assumed that Thai Muslim spice traders who sailed their houseboats along the Chao Phraya River in the olden days were the first to have woven fish mobiles from palm leaf, out of inspiration from their affectionate bond with water and their surroundings, referring to a Thai barb with which they were familiar and using leaves from various species of palm grown locally. Originally, each woven fish mobile was not as colourful nor numerously composed as in the present, using only a mixture of natural pigment and varnish for the final touch. The fish mobile, mostly in red, is usually hung above a baby’s cradle so that Thai children are familiar with it since their babyhood. (updated Dec 2016)
- Palm Leaf Hat (งอบใบลาน). A handicraft that has been inherited since ancient times. Weaving a palm leaf hat requires no less craftsmanship than any other kinds of basketwork. The weavers have to be skilled and patient as the crafts will have to undergo a number of weaving steps. The palm leaf hat is now an OTOP product of Tambon Bang Nang Ra, Amphoe Bang Pahan, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. It has gained popularity among Thais and foreigners and is available in various provinces around the country. (updated Dec 2016)
- Roti Sai Mai (โรตีสายไหม). A snack consisting of candyfloss (sai mai) wrapped with flat bread (roti) was devised by Thai Muslim vendors. (updated Dec 2016)
Where to eat in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya is well known for its river prawns, but also plenty of other delicious dishes.
- Boat noodles (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ kuaytiao ruea) (In front of telephone authority building and (2nd location) opposite Sri Nakharin Park along U-Thong Road). Original boat noodles were cooked on a boat. It’s noodles and soup with meat and vegetables. They are served in a little bowl and most people would eat more than one to relieve their hunger. Besides normal boat noodles, there are three local noodle restaurants offering unusual, but delicious noodles such as cow’s internal organ noodles, pork leg noodles, and sliced chicken noodles. 10 Thai Baht per bowl.
- Hua Raw Market, Uthong Road. This market in a building seems to be open from 11:00 to 16:00, but it sometimes also works as a night market. Ask your guesthouse for the local of night markets, as they might change.
- Malakor, Chee Kun Road (Opposite Wat Ratchaburana). Reasonably priced restaurant with great views of Wat Ratchaburana and very good food. Meat in most dishes can be substituted with tofu. Patrons have the choice of eating indoors or on the balcony. Also available is some of Ayutthaya’s best coffee. Most mains 45-60 Thai Baht.
- Night Market in front of Chankasem, Uthong Road (200 m down the road from the Hua Raw Night Market). This night market is an excellent place to have dinner outside. Tables along the river offer a breathtaking view of the temple. 50 stalls sell typical Thai food. Some stalls sell desserts, other juices, for cheap prices, so be sure to try a bit of everything. Very popular with the locals.
- Roti Saimai (โรตีสายไหม) (U-Thong Road and Si Sanphet Road junction, opposite Ayutthaya Hospital). Roti Saimai is a Thai-style candy floss wrapped in a roti, a very popular local dessert.
- Sai Thong. Riverside restaurant with a huge menu (over 100 items) serving Thai dishes of every description as well as some of their own concoctions. Most mains from 100 Thai Baht.
- Siam Restaurant, Chee Kun Road. Serves a large menu of unremarkable Thai Thai and Vietnamese food, but makes up for it with an excellent location with views of Wat Mahathat as you eat, air conditioning, and possibly the best toilets in the city. Most mains 50-100 Thai Baht.
- Vegetarian Restaurant, Khlong Makham Rieng Road (50 m south of the junction with Naresuan Road). Daily, early-14:00. Typical Thai vegetarian restaurant (“rahn-a-hahn jay”). 8 different meals available. 15-25 Thai Baht.
- Baan Kao Nhom – Traditional Thai Sweet Dessert Cafe, Amphoe Pra Nahkon 2/10. Nice little café with traditional sweets, good coffee, shakes. Sweets also as take away in nice packages, e.g. as gifts. (updated Dec 2015)
- Phak Hwan – Restaurant near Wat Suram Dararam, 4, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya (street leading to the wat, left hand side.). Good inexpensive place to eat before or after visiting the Wat. Seating on solid wooden benches and tables betweens flowers and a small water fountain. Popular with locals and viaitors from Bangkok. (updated Dec 2015)
- Ayudhayarome (Ban Mae Choi Nangram Restaurant) (From old city, make first right after crossing Watkasadtrathirat Bridge. Keep going past Wat Kasattrathirat Worawihan, then it’s down the road on the right). 10:00 – 22:00. Riverside restaurant with good selection of well prepared, tasty Thai dishes. Nice view of Chedi Sri Suriyothai. Fantastic service – waitstaff wear earpieces connected to walkie talkies and never let your glass stay empty. Highly recommended. 100 – 250 Thai Baht. (updated Dec 2015)
- Bang Ian Road Night Market (Near the junction of Bang Ian Road & Chikun Road). Daily from 17:00 till late. Market where locals buy food and desserts. Hawkers with sit-down places to eat can be found further inside. (updated Mar 2017)
The main traveller-oriented area is Soi Torgorsor, between Pamaphrao Road and Naresuan Road, opposite the west end of Chao Phrom Market. It has a number of bars staying open until late, some with projection screens for sports.
- Jazz Bar, Soi Torgorsor. Shares a food menu with Chang House next door but offers a better soundtrack. When the jazz band aren’t playing the instruments are pick-up-and-play, or you might find yourself dodging insulting trivia questions thrown at you by the staff.
- Street Lamp, Soi Torgorsor. Street Lamp offers wooden seating spilling into the street in front of the attached guest house. Live music in the evenings is provided by the charismatic Mr Noi playing his way through rock classics in a gravelly faux-American accent and inviting members of the audience to join in.
- Wat Yai Coffee (Rd 3477, 2 min south after the roundabout from the centre). Nice small coffee shop, served by a staff who are friendly (and a bit shy to foreigners). 25-45 Thai Baht.
Where to stay in Ayutthaya
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Budget||Under 500 Thai Baht|
|Mid-range||500 to 1,500 Thai Baht|
|Splurge||Over 1,500 Thai Baht|
There are a large number of traveller-oriented guest houses on and around Soi 2 between Naresuan Road and Pamaphrao Road, opposite the western end of the Chao Phrom Market. Accommodation in the upper price brackets is limited though there are some options by the riverside. Many people choose to day-trip from Bangkok.
Hotels Ayutthaya City: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|Baan Baimai Boutique Room||★★|
|The Old Palace Resort Klong Sa Bua||★★|
|Luang Chumni Village||★★|
|Classic Kameo Hotel & Serviced Apartments, Ayutthaya||★★★★★|
|P.U. Inn Resort||★★★|
|Krungsri River Hotel||★★★★|
|Rose Garden Hotel||★★|
|Ayothaya Riverside Hotel||★★★|
|OYO 906 Bann One Love||★★|
|Ayutthaya Grand Hotel|
- Allsum Hostel, 50/ 1 Soi Bang Ian Road. No-frills hostel with dormitories only. Dorms are air-conditioned, with common areas on the 2nd floor. Staff are helpful, hostel is clean and the place rents bikes at 50 Thai Baht a day. Individual beds are curtained for privacy. Beds from 250 Thai Baht, breakfast included.. (updated Mar 2017)
- Ayutthaya Guest House. A friendly place offering all en suite rooms. With Internet access and a “order what you like” restaurant. The three 300 Thai Baht rooms along the side alley have air vents open to a public restaurant next door. Air-con with TV for 400 Thai Baht, fan-only with TV for 300 Thai Baht.
- BJ Guesthouse (Before (diagonally opposite) P-U Guest House). Old, small Thai house, family-run, where you can feel like living in a Thai family. Backpacker atmosphere with basic and clean single/double rooms. One big room with air-con and private bathroom. The owner (Sato) is very relaxed and helpful. Bike and motorbike rental and Thai meals available. Double (fan), 160-200 Thai Baht; single (fan), 150 Thai Baht.
- Chang House, Naresuan Road, Soi 1. Very nice and familiar place, the owner is very friendly, as well as the very beautiful daughter, there also some friendly Thai people who frequently go there at night. Good food for the right price. Cheap beer and drinks. Tables outside on the road and it’s completely open.
- The Lima Place, 139 Moo 2 Bankao (1.5 kilometers from Ayutthaya Railway Station). Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The hotel has 75 rooms. 562/618 Thai Baht for air-con king/twin bed; fan room king/twin bed, 450/506 Thai Baht.
- Mint Guest House (In the alley in front of the train station). Clean rooms with fan and a separate washroom. Plus points: it’s within sight of the train station and night market manned by a friendly, jovial owner. It’s a bit off the main attractions, but motorbikes can be rented for a mere 150 Thai Baht a day. 200 Thai Baht.
- P-U Guest House (Hidden off Soi Torgorsor, keep walking north until you see the P-U sign on the left, at the end of the small lane). Despite its name, the place provides rooms for a decent price (~800 Thai Baht for twin with fan and private bath, not including breakfast, making this one of the most expensive places on Soi Farang. One hour free Wi-Fi only. 800-1,200 Thai Baht.
- Sherwood House (Known to locals as the MM Pool), 1/25 Dechawut Road. In the heart of downtown, this cosy guest house has five rooms and a free swimming pool. Around the corner from a food fair and walking distance from the on-island ruins. The house has a decent restaurant offering both Thai food and Western food, and bicycle rentals. Free Wi-Fi. Fan double, 290 Thai Baht; air-con double, 390 Thai Baht. Shared bath.
- Tanrin Boutique Guest House (Behind train station). Check-out: 12:00. The basic room for 300 Thai Baht comes with fan, bathroom and small terrace and free hot water. Friendly staff. 300-600 Thai Baht. (updated May 2017)
- Thong Chai Guest House (on a road directly opposite Wat Ratchaburana). Away from the action, but closer to the sights, this guest house offering fan-only rooms at 200 Thai Baht a night with private baths, this is a more Thai-oriented guest house. Watch out, this is maybe too basic for you. Compared to what you get in Bangkok for 200 Thai Baht this is worse: no place to hang up the towel. You get a soap, but there is no place to put it in the bathroom. No sink: You can’t wash your stuff. No flush (this is indeed Thai style). 200 Thai Baht.
- Toto House (Immediately to the left of Ayutthaya Guesthouse). This place is right beside Ayutthaya Guesthouse on Soi 2 (the wooden fronted building on the left.) Good clean fan rooms that seemed freshly painted and with new furniture. Comfortable double beds. Clean Western toilets across the corridor with bum gun and shower adjoining. Friendly and helpful owner. Plenty of sockets in the room to charge stuff. Bring your own towel. Free Wi-Fi that works in the rooms. Good value. Fan double from 150 Thai Baht.
- Baan Lotus, 20 Pa-Maphrao Road. Rebuilt teak houses in a wonderful garden, and a deck with tables and hammock built over a lotus-filled pond. The elderly lady who runs the establishment does hand-washed laundry at a reasonable price and can arrange reliable tuk-tuk tours of the historic sites. Free Wi-Fi, bicycle rental at the usual price. Air-con 600 Thai Baht, fan 500 Thai Baht.
- Baantebpitak, 15/15 Pathon Road, Pathon Soi 3 (10 min walk from Wat Maha That). Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Charming guesthouse. Close to the historical park, offers great comfort to those who wanted to stay close to the ruins and away from busy tourist streets. It is close to the main ruins on the island and local night markets. A la carte breakfast. Swimming pool, satellite TV, hot shower, fridge, free tea & coffee & Wi-Fi in rooms. 1,200-2,200 Thai Baht.
- The Old Palace Resort, 1/35 Moo 5, Tavasukree (Near Wat Na Phra Men). Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Family-run resort in the quiet northern part of Ayutthaya. The fee for small wooden bungalow includes breakfast and free Wi-Fi. 800 Thai Baht.
- Promtong Mansion, 23 Pathon Road, Pathon Soi 19 (5 min walk from Wat Maha That). Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 11:00. Close to downtown, this guest house offers great comfort to those who wanted to stay close to the ruins & away from busy tourist street. It is next to Sherwood House, and is close to the main ruins on the island & local night markets. A la carte breakfast, tax & vat included. Satellite TV, hot shower, fridge, free tea & coffee & Wi-Fi in rooms. Deluxe & family rooms available. Single fan/air-con:500/700 Thai Baht. Double fan/air-con:700/1,000 Thai Baht. Twin fan/air-con:800/1,000 Thai Baht.
- Somjai Place Ayutthaya, 69/16 Buawaan Soi Rattranachai District (In the heart of the city) , fax: +66 35 322145, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Free Wi-Fi and LAN, showers, desks, coin-operated washing machine. Close by: Wat Phra Mahathat (5-10 min walk, 1 km); Wat Ratburana (7-15 min walk, 1.2 km); Chao Prom Market (5-7 min walk, 500 m). Ayutthaya Railway Station (5-10 min walk, 1 km), minibus and bus stops to other districts and provinces, (5-7 min walk, distance 400-600 m).
Wear long trousers/skirts to temples, and no sleeveless T-shirts or revealing blouses. Treat Buddha images with utmost respect, just as you would in the rest of Thailand.
Stay safe in Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya has a lot of hungry stray dogs in poor condition. They can particularly be a problem in the off-season when there aren’t so many people in the streets. While largely docile and harmless, to avoid being chased around by a pack of them it is best not to walk around alone, particularly at night. For those accustomed to travel in developing areas, there should be no problem.
When cycling around the town beware of motorcyclists. Do not put any valuable items in your handlebar basket, as they may be snatched at traffic lights. Also, female travellers have been groped by passing-by motorcyclists, so beware if someone slows down next to you.
There are many hospitals, clinics and pharmacies in Ayutthaya. Several major ones are:
- Ayutthaya Hospital
- Navanakorn Hospital
- Sena Hospital
- Ratchathani Hospital
- Supamitr Sena Hospital
- Peravech Hospital
- Wangnoi Hospital
- Rojanavech Hospital
- Bang Pa-In — famous for its eccentric palace and only 20 km to the south
- Kanchanaburi — the famous bridge over the River Kwai and numerous World War II museums
- Khao Yai National Park — first and largest national park of the country
- Lopburi — the next destination if you take the train north, with monkeys and ancient ruins
- Nakhon Ratchasima — gateway to the Isaan region
- Sukhothai — another former capital of Siam with impressive ancient ruins
Hua Hin Cha-am | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
Hua Hin Travel Guide
Hua Hin is a district in the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province of Thailand, 295 kilometers from Bangkok and 90 km from the provincial capital. It is the oldest and most traditional of Thailand’s beach resorts combining the attractions of a modern holiday destination with the charm and fascination of a still active fishing port. Beaches are located in the east of the province, including a 5km stretch of white sand and clear water. Although it has developed to cater for tourists from all over the world, the resort which began its development over 70 years ago, remains popular with Thais too, a good sign for those looking for an authentic experience.
The resort was originally founded in 1830s, when farmers, moving south to escape the results of a severe drought in the agricultural area of Phetchaburi, found a small village beside white sands and rows of rock, and settled in. The tranquil fishing village was turned into a ‘Royal resort’ becoming popular among Siam’s nobility and smart-set.
Accessibility was greatly enhanced by the construction of the railway from Bangkok, which brought visitors from wider social groups, and kick-started the industry which would bring tourists from other countries. The first hotel – The Railway Hotel – was built in 1921 and it still stands today continuing to serve tourists as the Sofitel Central.
Hua Hin was made famous in the early 1920s by King Rama VII, who decided it was an ideal getaway from the steamy metropolis of Bangkok. He built a summer palace and this was echoed when King Rama VII ordered the construction of the Palace of Klaikangwon (“far from worries”). The latter is still much used by the Thai Royal Family today.
The resort continued to develop slowly, protected to some extent by its Royal reputation. Its fishing port grew alongside golf courses and all the big hotel chains are now represented. Many of Bangkok’s rich and famous and a growing number of expats have built their own summer homes along the bay, making the resort more cosmopolitan every year.
Development has taken over much of the prime government land, so the coast road suffers from obstructed views of the sea these days, but Hua Hin is trying hard to retain its beach-side atmosphere. Compared to Pattaya, the resort remains relatively serene and attracts families and older travelers. The beach has a gradual slope, into clear warm water which so far has escaped pollution of any kind.
Further afield, the Prachuap Khiri Khan Province is a charming region, where limestone cliffs and islands, bays and beaches, are home to a national park, and several temples, and travelling through this area will be a welcome experience for those hoping to avoid the tourist traps found further South. Driving from Bangkok through Prachuap Khiri Khan takes around three hours, a journey punctuated by summer palaces, huge temples, beautifully kept gardens and salt flats.
Visitors head to Hua Hin all year round. The area has one of the lowest rainfalls in the country, and there’s usually a gentle sea breeze to punctuate the heat, particularly welcome in the summer season between March and September.
Stay with our Hotel Partners in Hua Hin
The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.
Flights to Hua Hin
Cheap Flights to Hua Hin
|Origin||Departure at||Return at||Find tickets|
Things to see and do in Hua Hin
As you would expect with a resort boasting a 5km clean white beach, sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling are popular pastimes. Swimming is safe, and with one of the driest climates across Thailand, there’s plenty of opportunity to dry off in the sun afterwards.
Possibly due to its noble history and elegant clientele, Hua Hin has the highest density of world class golf courses anywhere in Thailand, although it has yet to be discovered by the international golf tournament circuit. Green-fees and other costs are surprisingly low, given that course maintenance and services are superb. The Royal Hua Hin course is one of many, but considered to be the best.
Shop till you drop
Chatchai Market is colourful and inexpensive and is one of Hua Hin’s major attractions. Vendors gather nightly in the centre of town, where they cook fresh gulf seafood for hordes of hungry Thais and provide a spectacle for visitors. As well as plentiful food shops, it offers much that will appeal to souvenir hunters too.
Klai Kangwon (which means ‘Far From Worries’ ) is the Royal Palace built by King Rama VII in 1928. It was designed by Prince Iddhidehsarn Kridakara, an architect and the Director of the Fine Arts Department at the time, and officially opened in 1929. Further structures have been added over time, including a mansion ordered by King Bhumibol (Rama IX) for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, and accommodation for the royal entourage, built in the style of the original buildings so as to preserve the harmony of the palace. Although Klai Kangwon is still in regular use by the Royal family, it is also open to the public.
Hop on a train
Or more importantly, visit the railway station. Built in the reign of Rama IV, the brightly painted wooden buildings somehow combine traditional Thai ideas with a Victorian feel, and in 2009 Hua Hin made it onto NewsWeek’s Best Stations list, in great company such as New York’s Grand Central, and London’s St Pancras.
Although one of the joys of Hua Hin is its serenity and calm, if you’re keen to take in more, its fairly easy to find trips which will take you to many of the other southern beach destinations such as Koh Nangyaun, Koh Toa, Koh Samui, Phuket, Krabi and Koa Sok. You may find however that some of these legendary destinations have suffered more at the hands of the global tourist industry than Hua Hin has.
Khao Takiab is referred as Monkey Mountain, but as well as the mischievous residents, it also boasts a hilltop temple with sensational views of Hua Hin, a pagoda-style shrine and a giant golden Buddha which faces the sunrise.
Walk in the Park
The region boasts several parks, and natural attractions, such as the Kangajan National Park, and the Koa Sam Roi Yod Marine Park. You’ll find miles of good walking, amongst lakes, caves and waterfalls, and you’ll be in the company of as elephants, tigers, wild dogs and leopards.
Eat, drink and sleep in Hua Hin
As more affluent ex-pats from all over the world gather to weather the winter, or snap up beachfront properties in Hua Hin, the restaurant scene becomes more cosmopolitan. French, Italian, German and Scandinavian restaurants are all here, in case anyone feels homesick. However, there are also rustic seafood restaurants, especially on the pier, and at several of these you can choose your own fish from the fish market right outside and waiters will bring you the finished result.
There are plenty of simpler local restaurants both inside and out on the streets where you can sample authentic Thai food too.
If you want to try to cook your own Thai food in Hua Hin, the very best place to buy your ingredients, not because it’s the cheapest, but because it is a fabulous experience, is the night market. Right in the centre of town, it opens at 18:00. It’s also a terrific place to buy handicrafts, souvenirs and clothing.
The Chatchai market is a great day market and the place to go for the best street food, as vendors grill, fry, boil and dress the fabulous local fish and shellfish, but don’t forget to leave room for a real local speciality. Roti Hua Hin is a delicious dough-based snack filled with strawberries, custard or raisins.
In a side street just off the market is the Hua Hin Thai Show, a pagoda-style restaurant which combines great food with a nightly musical performance, where you can sample folk with your fish or classical over your clams.
Unlike many Thai resorts, here you will also find more elegant dining, including Thai and Vietnamese food with a more upmarket touch for a real treat. Monsoon is the most romantic and expensive, but it’s worth it for the wine list and the elegant atmosphere. If your budget doesn’t run to dinner, you can enjoy afternoon tea on its teak-decked terrace.
Hua Hin isn’t as lively as many of its neighbours, but that doesn’t mean it’s no go for night life. There are quite a few live music venues, including El Murphy’s the Irish bar, which has its own local band rocking the town with rock and blues classics. There are a couple of country music pubs, and several nightclubs, but for a really classy experience, head to Satchmo’s where a vibrant Filipino band will serenade you as you drink the best Mojito outside Mexico.
Hua Hin has more than its share of upmarket and luxury accommodation. All the main hotel chains are here, and most have lovely grounds, top facilities and restaurants. There are elegant luxury boutique-style hotels too, many with villas and private pools. Sadly, there aren’t as many budget options as there used to be, but if you’re prepared to do some research you can find clean an friendly guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts at reasonable rates. If you’re planning to stay a while, a rental apartment can be a good option; many of the holiday homes owned by people who live abroad can be rented for at least part of the year. Wherever you stay, Hua Hin is an oasis of calm in a country of exciting contrasts.
Hotels/Resorts in Hua Hin
Hotels Hua Hin: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|Hua Hin Marriott Resort and Spa||★★★★★|
|G Hua Hin Resort & Mall||★★★★|
|Hilton Hua Hin Resort & Spa - SHA Certified||★★★★★|
|Hop Inn Hua Hin||★★|
|Anantara Hua Hin Resort||★★★★★|
|Centara Grand Beach Resort & Villas Hua Hin||★★★★★|
|Blu Marine Hua Hin Resort and Villas||★★★|
|Asira Boutique HuaHin||★★★★|
|Amari Hua Hin - SHA Certified||★★★★★|
|Bann Lom Le Guest House||★★|
|The Herbs Hotel Hua Hin||★★★★|
|Corner Cafe Bed & Breakfast||★★|
|Whale Hua Hin - SHA Certified||★★★★|
|Putahracsa Hua Hin Resort||★★★★★|
|InterContinental Hua Hin Resort, an IHG Hotel||★★★★★|
|Dadddy's home Huahin||★★|
|Ruenkanok Thaihouse Resort||★★★|
|Hyatt Regency Hua Hin||★★★★★|
|Villa Baan Malinee||★★★|
Lopburi | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
Lopburi (ลพบุรี), also Lop Buri or Lob Buri is a historic city 3 hours north of Bangkok in the Chao Phraya Basin region of Thailand. Lopburi has a mountain called Khao Chan Daeng. Understand Lopburi is very laid back, and its convenient location less than 3 hours (~180 km) from Bangkok makes it a good […]
Lopburi is very laid back, and its convenient location less than 3 hours (~180 km) from Bangkok makes it a good place to escape the stress and pollution of the capital.
History of Lopburi
Lopburi is one of the oldest cities in Thailand, a former capital and the second capital after Ayutthaya was established in 1350. It was abandoned after King Narai passed away in 1688, but parts were restored in 1856 by King Mongkut (King Rama IV) and in 1864 it was made the summer capital.
Lopburi had been an important part of the Khmer Empire and later a part of the Ayutthaya kingdom. It was Ayutthaya’s second capital under the reign of King Narai the Great, who used to spend eight months a year in Lopburi. Later on King Mongkut of the Bangkok Chakri Dynasty used to reside here. Thus the remains of almost all periods of Thai history can be found.
There are two central areas in Lopburi: New Town and Old Town. Most of the important sites, plus the train station, are in the Old Town; buses arrive and depart from the New Town.
Visit our Hotel Partners in Lopburi
The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.
Lopburi is famous for the hundreds of crab-eating macaques that overrun the Old Town, especially in the area around Phra Prang Sam Yot and Phra Kaan Shrine, and there’s even a monkey temple/amusement park where you can buy snacks to feed to them.
Keep an eye out for monkeys hanging from trees and wires and sitting on roofs and ledges, and be aware that they have some unpleasant bad habits including defecating on unsuspecting pedestrians from their overhead perches, jumping on people to snatch food and stealing bags that they suspect may contain something edible.
At night nothing much is going on in the Old Town, thus the street dogs consider everybody running around after midnight very suspicious. While most of them will just look at you, some might bark, run behind you and jump at you. While common at night, it is very rare during the day.
From Ayutthaya, local buses run every 20 minutes, take around 2 hours and cost 35 Thai Baht.
There is a minibus service from Mo Chit to Lopburi.
Travel by minivan in Lopburi
From Bangkok, air-con vans leave from Victory Monument, take about 2 hours and cost 110 Thai Baht. There are multiple van services in the area, so if the timing for one service does not work try another.
Air-con vans also leave from the main Mo Chit (northern) bus station for the same price. The last minibus normally departs around 18:00.
Trains from/to Bangkok main Hualamphong station take about 3 hours. Take the Northern Line from Hua Lamphong Railway Station everyday, many rounds per day.
Trains from/to Ayutthaya take about one hour and cost 13 Thai Baht for third class.
- From Bangkok, take Hwy 1 (Phahonyothin Road) passing Phra Phutthabat District, Saraburi, onto Lopburi. The total distance is 153 km.
- From Bangkok, take Hwy 32 which separates from Hwy 1, passing Ayutthaya. There are three routes as follows:
- Enter Bang Pahan District, passing Nakhon Luang District into Rte 3196. Then, pass Ban Phraek District onto Lopburi.
- Enter at the Ang Thong Interchange to Tha Ruea District and turn left onto Rte 3196, passing Ban Phraek District onto Lopburi.
- Pass Ang Thong, Singburi, and take Rte 311 (Singburi–Lopburi), passing Tha Wung District onto Lopburi.
The blue local bus (8 Thai Baht) circles constantly between the bus station about 2 km from the town centre, passing Phra Kahn Shrine, going south on Sorasak Road, and ending up in front of the TAT office on Phraya Kamuad Road.
- Ban Vichayen (Narai Maharat Road). Daily, 08:30-16:00. The remains of Constantine Phaulkon’s residence, built in the reign of King Narai the Great. Only the outer walls of the three main buildings remain, in a small grassy area. 30 Thai Baht.
- Phra Kahn Shrine (Narai Maharat Road). The site of a small shrine, the remains of a Khmer prang, a few stalls and lots of monkeys. The stalls sell offerings to be dedicated at the shrine, and food and drink. The monkeys eat the food, drink, offerings and anything else going. Good for a few photos. There are signs warning of purse-grabbing by the monkeys, but they appear docile if not provoked. 50 Thai Baht.
- Phra Narai Ratchanivet (King Narai’s Palace) (Entrance on Sorasak Road on the east wall). W-Su, 8:30-16:00, closed M-Tu and holidays. Built in 1677 by French, Italian, and Portuguese engineers, the palace was used by King Narai to host receptions for foreign envoys. Restored in 1856 by King Mongkut, it was converted into a museum in 1924. The palace grounds consists of the remains of various buildings in an enclosed park, with the central palace serving as the Somdet Phra Narai Museum, which houses prehistoric exhibits, along with Buddha images of Dvaravati, Lopburi and Khmer styles; and King Mongkut’s bedroom. Foreigners 150 Thai Baht, Thais 30 Thai Baht.
- Phra Prang Sam Yot. A Khmer-style temple known for its three linked towers. Entrance fee, foreigners 50 Thai Baht and Thais 10 Thai Baht.
- Wat Phra Phutthabat (17 km southeast of Lopburi. Take any Saraburi bus (Bus 104) which leaves the main bus station every 20 min and takes 30 min to get to the side road 1 km from the wat). 21 Thai Baht.
- Wat Phra Sri Rattanamahathat. Built in the 13th Century, this is one of the town’s most important monasteries; visitors can view a bas relief illustrating the Buddha’s life on the central prang. No monkeys. Admission, foreigners 50 Thai Baht, Thais 10 Thai Baht.
- Wat Sao Thong Thong (On Rue De France). A viharn in the compound of a working wat, also has a small amulet market in the grounds. Previously used as a Christian chapel and a mosque, it has now been restored and features a large Buddha figure, with several smaller Lopburi-era Buddhas in wall niches. Free.
- Rock Climbing (จีนแล) (Near Suwannahong Temple (Jiin Lay 2), Baan Nong Kham). At Jiin Lay Mountain.
If you are going to be in Lopburi long-term, you will need the services of the two department stores. There is a Big C mall in town, with a KFC, along with a Tesco Lotus in the Monkey Mall further down. The latter has a very large outdoor market in the evenings.
The street vendors in the Old Town are very nice and have all kinds of tasty things. In the evenings, a lot of street food stalls are set up on a road in front of railway station.
- Bualuang, 46/1 Moo 3, Tasala (In the New Town, about 6 km from old city). Cash only.
- Louis Steakhouse (On Phahon Yothin east of the large roundabout around 1/2 km from Big C under the pedestrian overpass). A great restaurant owned by a Belgian. A great change if you are looking for something a little different from Thai food.
- New World Steak House (Just west of Sakal, the large town centre with the fountains, just to your left before you cross a bridge, at the lights (look for a rather large hotel next to it)). Good English cuisine. Run by Barry and Noi, an Englishman and his Thai wife. The prices are higher than typical Thai food, but the steaks are huge, the Shepherd’s pie is excellent, and sometimes has tacos.
- White House (Just behind (north of) the Tourism office (TAT)). Romantic Western architecture with a beautiful yard and second floor, offers good food. Crab meat fried rice and red curry is very good. The owner, Mr Piak, speaks English and will tell you everything you need to know, even if you don’t dine there.
You might find the nightlife in Lopburi fairly quiet for a town of its size but there are a selection of places to catch a drink in the evening. Old Town has a few curbside bars, which are excellent for those who are still new to Thailand, as there are usually some foreigners about. There is also a small club (look for the large “Ben More” sign) next to a local park near the train station in the Old Town, but it is a little pricier than average.
The centre of town has a variety of places, from hole in the wall local dives, to “The Bank”, a disco that is frequented by Lopburi’s young crowd, but is not recommended for foreigners unless you know your way around well. Uptown has few drinking establishments on the main road, but there are a variety of karaoke bars and such down the back roads. Some of these out-of-the-way places are OK for a drink and some offer short-term female company but this not recommended for the newcomers.
- Butterfly Bar, Phayakamjad Road (Across street from Narai Palace). 12:00-. Nice little street side bar with beer, whisky and food. Gung and Steve are great hosts and the bar stays open until there is no one remaining. There are usually a few Westerners hanging around. 50 Thai Baht.
Where to stay in Lopburi
Hotels in the Old Town offer generally similar medium scale standards for 140-500 Thai Baht. The monkeys run around freely, but usually stay in just one small area. Depending on your preference you can choose a place with lots of monkeys running (and hanging) around, or opt for somewhere with low or no monkey presence.
Places with lots of monkeys
- Lopburi City Hotel. Probably the best of the hotels within the monkey area, and enclosed in a big “cage” that keeps the monkeys out, so you can open the windows. All rooms are air-con. 300+ Thai Baht.
- Muang Tong Hotel. The least likable hotel in the monkey area. It’s not enclosed in a “cage”, so opening the windows isn’t a good idea. However, it does have the best view of the monkey area and the Phra Prang Sam Yot temple. Rooms have Thai-style bathrooms with squat toilets.
- Sri Indra Hotel. Enclosed in a big “cage” that keeps the monkeys out, so you can open the windows. The rooms are neat and clean, but don’t expect more. 200+ Thai Baht.
Places with few monkeys
- Lopburi Asia Hotel (Close to King Narai Palace.). Rooms are low to medium standard. 200+ Thai Baht.
- Nett Hotel. Good location, with a small food market in front, and no monkeys running around. Rooms range from medium standard to a decent standard. 180+ Thai Baht.
- Noom Guesthouse, 15-17 Phayakamjad Road, ✉ email@example.com. Has fan rooms, also offers motorcycle rentals and rock climbing, and is close to an Internet café. Serves English breakfast, 08:00-11:30.
- Suphon Phong Hotel (Very close to the train station and to Wat Phra Sri Ratanamahatat). Has only two good points: location and price. 140 Thai Baht.
- Lopburi Inn, 28/9 Narai Maharat Road. Holds a dinner party each November for the monkeys. The hotel has a shuttle and may be willing to pick you up from the train station.
- Lopburi Inn Resort. The only hotel in town with a swimming pool.
Pattaya | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak
The City of Pattaya on the East coast of the Gulf of Thailand is a self-governing region about 165km Southeast of Bangkok. For centuries, it was a small fishing village, but when American servicemen ventured down the coast from their base in Nakhon Ratchasima in 1959, in search of rest and relaxation during the Vietnam War, the package holiday industry took off with a bang, and Pattaya began to develop into the popular beach resort of today.
Now, the fishermens’ huts have long gone, as the region lures sun-worshippers and hedonists in their millions every year. A seemingly unlimited flow of dollars fuelled the local economy which for decades wasn’t as careful as it might have been about the rapid development and free-for-all glitz and glamour which drove the city’s progress, but more recently, it is striving to position itself as a more family-friendly destination.
Nowadays, the nearby temples of the Pratamnak Hill look down on a bustling metropolis, packed with hotels, stores, high-rise apartment blocks, bars and restaurants. Pleasure-seekers revel in the nightlife, with its pulsing beat, and head for the beaches of Naklua, Pattaya and Jomtien by day.
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Broadly speaking, the city is divided into several regions. Central Pattaya offers countless shops and restaurants, and plentiful nightlife, but is definitely not for those in search of a quiet night’s sleep. Likewise, South Pattaya, which encompasses the word-famous Walking Street, a tourist attraction in itself, which draws foreigners and Thai nationals alike, primarily for the after-dark entertainment. This is also the City’s red-light district, and go-go bars and brothels line the street which runs from the south end of Beach Road to the Bali Hai Pier. However, Walking Street also includes seafood restaurants, live music venues, beer bars, discos and sports bars and has an impressive collection of neon signs for those who want to be where the action is.
There’s no escaping the hurly burly in Pattaya, but if you’re looking for a slightly more peaceful experience, you’ll head to one of the beaches. Pattaya’s beaches are everything expected of Thailand’s famed beaches. Gorgeous, clean and well facilitated. Jomtien is popular with package tour operators and families, whilst if you head up to Naklua and North Pattaya you’ll find that although there are still plenty of bars and restaurants, the entertainment isn’t quite as relentless. If you seek out the more remote corners of Naklua you may even get a hint of the region’s traditional history as a fishing town. Few tourists bother, but for traditionalists, it’s worth a visit.
The tropical climate divides the year into three, from November to February the air is warm and dry, getting hotter and more humid through to May, and the rainy season runs from June to October.
Overall, Pattaya is not for the faint-hearted, or those in search of solitude or a cultural experience, but it will reward the laid-back traveller with just a hint of a spirit of adventure.
Things to see and do
Shop till you drop
Over the fifty or so years since the first GIs showed up in search of the sun, Pattaya has developed into a hive of activity, not least for those in search of retail therapy. The city is full of shops, including Asia’s largest beachfront shopping mall, the Central Festival Pattaya Beach Mall, attached to the Hilton Hotel.
Take to the water
If you’ve any energy left after the thrills of the night, all the beaches offer a wide range of watersports, which attract as many Thai visitors, heading to Pattaya for the weekend from Bankok. Jet-ski-ing and parasailing are the norm, and small boats are available for hire, or skippered trips.
One of the joys of a Thai beach holiday is the wealth of offshore islands, many of which can be reached by small boat or ferry in a matter of minutes. From Pattaya, head off to Ko Larn, Ko Sak or Ko Krok, known as the ‘near islands’ about 7k from Pattaya, or journey further towards the ‘far islands’ Ko Phai, Ko Man Wichai, Ko Hu Chang or Ko Klung Badan. Many of the islands have public beaches, less crowded than those on the mainland, and lots offer scuba diving and other water-based fun.
See the sights
If you’re in search of something a little more cultural, look out for the Wat Khao Phra Bat Temple, which overlooks Pattaya Bay and features a 18metre-high Buddha.
The Sanctuary of Truth is set on a rocky point of the coast just north of Pattaya, in the small town of Naklua. It’s a work in progress, started by an eccentric billionaire who began the ambitious construction 20 years ago. The Sanctuary is rather more adventure park than spiritual haven, but you can still take in this fascinating construction project, made entirely from wood, by a team of 250 woodcarvers.
Billed as a world-leading adventure park, the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden features impressive elephant and Thai cultural shows, in one of the biggest botanical gardens in Southeast Asia. Despite the cultural differences between east and west, it is still possible to appreciate the conservation projects at work here, while palms and orchids, education facilities and plenty of food and drink choices contribute to a rewarding family day out.
Back to the hustle and bustle of an activity-fuelled holiday and you might want to check out the private Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, Mini Siam model village, the Pattaya Crocodile Farm, the Silverlake Winery, Aquarium, or any of the many amusement and waterparks dotted around the region.
Time your trip carefully, and you may find yourself caught up in one of the many festivals which take place throughout the year. Bikers will enjoy Burapa Pattaya Bike Week in February which brings together motorcyles and international music, whiles those who prefer their entertainment without engine noise will enjoy March’s Pattaya International Music festival, or the Songkran festival, which lasts for several days in April. Regattas, dance parties, beauty pageants, gay celebrations and traditional light festivals are here in abundance, there’s something going on here every day of the year, and if you hit Chinese New Year, there’ll be dragons, lion dances and fireworks too.
Eat, drink and sleep
The Thais are very casual when it comes to eating and drinking. This is a busy place with lots going on, nobody is going to notice if you eat with your hands, spit out your seeds, or put your elbows on the table. Eateries pop up in the most unlikely doorways so watch out for those special little places – particularly on Second Road and in Naklau. These are the most likely places for real Thai food and if you’re sensible you will follow the locals to the best places. Anywhere with a queue is bound to be good. Street food is one of the joys of South East Asian dining, don’t miss the opportunity to experiment.
However, as this is such a multinational tourist destination, you may find it difficult to find a truly authentic Thai culinary experience along the main drags. You’re as likely to find an American diner, Italian spaghetti house or Greek emporium so it’s worth seeking out the quieter corners and watching to see where the locals eat.
Most formal meals consist of a meat or a fish dish, fried or steamed vegetables, a curry, stir-fried dishes of meat and vegetables and a soup. If you decide to enjoy a traditional meal, expect to take time over it. You’ll experience flavours including lemon grass and coriander, plenty of chilli, and flavourings such as fish sauce and Java Root. Most Thai meals are centred on rice or noodles.
Drink flows freely in Thailand, and the traditional accompaniment to a Thai meal is local beer or rice whisky. However, this is Pattaya, and you can’t travel more than a few metres without finding yourself in a bar. The designs, interior décor, themes and even the drinks may not be traditional, but you’ll find plenty of company as you pile into the drink. It’s unlikely you’ll be trying to stay sober, but if you do, ask for a melon ice drink, or a citrus banana punch, two of Thailand’s favourite non-alcoholic tipples.
As you’d expect in a city dedicated to tourists and good times, there are as many places to stay as there are fish in the sea. From the huge sky-scraper international hotel chains, to smaller, funkier one-off establishments, it’s easy to find a room which will suit your particular needs. Staff are helpful and friendly, although facilities vary greatly, so check out the things that matter to you.
However for a more authentic experience, go for a self-catering apartment, or a smaller Bed and Breakfast, although it’s advisable to check out feedback from previous guests. For those on a budget or a gap year, there are plenty of hostels and backpacker hangouts too, and these can be had for a song as long as you don’t mind the person in the bed next to you singing all night. Basically, it depends on how much of your time in this vibrant colourful mecca of pleasure you’re planning to spend in your hotel room.
Hotels Pattaya: Popularity
|Hotel||Stars||Discount||Price before and discount||Select dates|
|Siam@Siam Design Hotel Pattaya||★★★★★|
|Centara Grand Mirage Beach Resort Pattaya||★★★★★||-28%||973 703|
|Holiday Inn Pattaya, an IHG Hotel||★★★★||-20%||506 407|
|Hilton Pattaya||★★★★★||-15%||809 690|
|Dusit Thani Pattaya||★★★★★||-20%||535 426|
|Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya||★★★★||-37%||535 339|
|Avani Pattaya Resort||★★★★★||-41%||694 407|
|Grande Centre Point Pattaya||★★★★★||-22%||776 607|
|Mercure Pattaya Ocean Resort||★★★★||-18%||311 254|
|The Bayview Hotel Pattaya||★★★★|
|Swiss Paradise Boutique Villa||★★★|
|Adelphi Pattaya||★★★★||-16%||213 178|
|Cape Dara Resort||★★★★★||-23%||161 124|
|Royal Cliff Beach Hotel||★★★★★||-28%||748 539|
|Centara Pattaya Hotel||★★★★|
|Arden Hotel and Residence by At Mind||★★★★||-7%||249 232|
|Grand Scenaria Hotel|
|Pullman Pattaya Hotel G||★★★★★||-25%||546 410|
|Pattaya Discovery Beach Hotel||★★★★||-32%||383 261|
|D Varee Jomtien Beach Pattaya Hotel|
|A-One Star Hotel||★★★||-52%||109 52|
|Rita Resort & Residence||★★★|
|Amari Pattaya||★★★★★||-27%||781 573|
|Ibis Pattaya||★★★||-16%||158 133|
|Butterfly Garden Boutique Residence by Frasier||★★★★|
|Centra by Centara Maris Resort Jomtien||★★★★||-19%||378 308|
|InterContinental Pattaya Resort, an IHG Hotel||★★★★★||-25%||765 571|
|Jomtien Palm Beach Hotel and Resort||★★★★|