There are plenty of things to do in Ayutthaya to keep travelers busy all day. Crowned a UNESCO World Heritage site, Ayutthaya is famous for the historical park where you can explore ancient ruins, temples, and palaces – all Instagram picture perfects. Other fun attractions to substitute or add to a day full of history and temple ruins are rustic villages, museums, elephant sanctuaries, and even floating markets to hang out and pick up cute souvenirs to take home. If you’re a foodie, you’ll find Ayutthaya a heaven – restaurants and street vendors serving traditional Thai dishes and granny-recipe desserts dot every street corner. Now read on our suggestion of things to do in Ayutthaya, plan your day(s), out, and be prepared for a time full of fun!
You can leisurely spend 3 days in Ayutthaya. But thanks to its proximity to Bangkok, it’s easy to do Ayutthaya in one day. If you need a fun-full day of Ayutthaya history, ancient ruins, delicious food, and a river adventure, check out our Ancient Ayutthaya Food & History Tour.
Fun Thing to Do in Ayutthaya #1
Ayutthaya Historical Park (Ayutthaya Old City)
The historical park or the Old City should top your list of things to do in Ayutthaya. If you skip it, you don’t do Ayutthaya right! The 715 acre of land is dotted with over 400 temples (wat in Thai) and palaces sitting on manicured grass lawns with big shady trees. All are the remnants of about 400 years (1350 to 1767) when Ayutthaya was the center and capital of Siam (Thailand to-be). Though the temples and palaces are merely ruins now, they’re very picturesque and well maintained, Among the top sites to visit are the 3 Royal Palaces. Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the most important temple of the city, features three very large stupas that were once gilded. Wat Phanan Choeng is known for its 19 meter tall gilded Buddha image. The Old City is located on an island surrounded by three rivers – a strategic and well-calculated location to guard the city off its enemies. Off the islands, lie settlements of foreign nations such as Portugal, Dutch, France which heavily traded with the kingdom. To get a comprehensive overview of the city’s history and a proper introduction, we recommend you start off at Chao Sam Phraya Museum.
THINGS TO DO IN AYUTTHAYA HISTORICAL PARK
Visit Wat Mahathat and take a photo of the head of a Buddha image overgrown by a huge fig tree.
See St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in the French quarter and the spooky graveyard in the Portuguese village.
Visit Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon and be amazed by its large stupa and row of seated Buddha images
HOW: Opens 8.30am to 5pm, daily. Entrance fee: 50 THB for foreign nationals. The best way to explore the city at a leisure pace is on a 2-wheeler. Bicycles are available for rent everywhere.
Fun Thing to Do in Ayutthaya #2
Bang Pa In Palace
A summer dwelling of Siamese kings and their consorts, the palace complex comprises beautiful buildings in European and Thai architecture in a large park-like compound. The palace was founded by King Prasat Thong in 1632 (Ayutthaya era), but many of the edifices were built 250 years later in the Bangkok era. Historical evidences have it that King Ekathotsarot, the father of King Prasat Thong, was shipwrecked near an island where he met a local woman. The king and the woman gave birth to a son, King Prasat Thong, who built a palace on the premise where his parents had met. When the Burmese raided the Ayutthaya kingdom, the palace was left abandoned. Nearly 200 years later, the revival of the palace was ordered done by King Mongkut (Rama IV) of the Bangkok era. King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) expanded the complex and added Versaillesque buildings and gardens as we see today.
HIGHLIGHTS OF BANG PA IN PALACE
Phra Thinang Wehart Chamrun is a Chinese-style palace and a throne room. It has beautiful ornamental tiles and elaborate furnishings.
Aisawan Thiphya or the ‘floating’ pavilion, is an archetypal Thai pavilion set in a pond. It’s said that young royals always read their poetry in afternoons here.
Wat Niwet Thammaprawat is a Buddhist temple built to emulate a Gothic Christian church.
HOW: Explore the compound on foot or hire a golf cart for 5 persons (400 THB = 1st hour; then 100 THB/hour) The palace is located 18 km from Ayutthaya Historical Park, and is on the way from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.
Fun Thing to Do in Ayutthaya #3
Eat Giant River Prawns
Ayutthaya offers so many local delicacies, be it sweet or savory. Thai foodies would say, if you’re in Ayutthaya and don’t try giant river prawns, you haven’t really arrived in Ayutthaya! Available at several riverside restaurants, giant freshwater prawns come from fishing in the waters around Ayutthaya as well as from farms. Order is by kilograms. They’re then grilled and served with Thai spicy seafood sauce. The best part is the head’s fat which is salty and creamy. One way to eat it is to take the fat out of the head and mix it with hot steamed rice. After the first bite, you won’t want to trade it with anything!
HOW: Ancient Ayutthaya Food & History Tour features one of the best riverside restaurants serving grilled giant river prawns. Take this tour with us to taste this delicious local delicacy!
Fun Thing to Do in Ayutthaya #4
Learn to Make Roti Sai Mai
A Thai favorite snack and Ayutthaya’s most preferred sweets, Roti Sai Mai is a thin round roti wrapping around colorful candy floss. Believed to be adapted from a Muslim-Indian sweet recipe, the snack is usually sold by Thai Muslim vendors. There is a big Muslim community in Ayutthaya – the best place to get Roti Sai Mai if a local needs to! Natural fruits and leafy greens are used to make color of the candy floss and the roti. Green is acquired from pandan leaves, for example. Once you’re at a stall, don’t only pick up a Roti Sai Mai bag and leave. Try to see how it’s made. It’s super fun to watch! The roti itself is made of gooey dough spread on a heated pan by hand. A vendor who does it every day can do it very quickly yet get a perfectly round cooked roti without getting his/her hand burnt.
HOW: Though you’re not aiming to make this snack at home, trying to make it when you’re in Thailand is another fun thing to do in Ayutthaya and to get a local experience. If you take a food tour with us to Ayutthaya, we do stop at a Roti Sai Mai stall where you can spend time trying to make it and taste one of the best Roti Sai Mai in Ayutthaya fresh from the hot pan!
Fun Thing to Do in Ayutthaya #5
Ayothaya Floating Market
The market is primarily set up for Thai tourists. So it might not be as traditional, yet it’s very local. It is beautifully laid out with traditional wooden Thai stilt houses sitting alongside artificial canals. Bridges connect sections and are spots to take photos. The highlight of the market is food and there is plenty of it you won’t leave hungry. In the center of the market, you can find dishes cooked on boats and served to customers sitting and eating on decks next to the boats. It feels like a daily fair here and gets even more crowded on weekends. Shops and stalls sell clothes, toys, and souvenirs. There are short boat trips and even petting zoos where you can feed water buffaloes and sheep with grass. Traditional dance shows take over stages in different arenas every day (at noon, 5pm, and 7pm). On weekends, there is another show at 11am. There is no entry fee to the shows.
THINGS TO DO IN AYUTTHAYA (AYOTHAYA) FLOATING MARKET
Take a short roll boat ride around the floating market. A ride takes 20 minutes and costs 20 THB/person for Thais and foreigners.
Believe it or not. But in this floating market, you can feed fish with baby bottles!
Watch dance shows and theatre plays. They’re about Ayutthaya’s history and local ways of life. The shows are conducted in Thai but it’s easy to understand and follow along.
HOW: Open daily from 9a, to 7pm. Entry fee is 200 THB for foreigners. The market is a walkable distance (500 meters) from Ayutthaya Railway Station.
Fun Thing to Do in Ayutthaya #6
Million Toy Museum
Founded by associate professor Krirk Yoonpun, a children’s literature professor at Srinakharinwirot University, illustrator and author of children book, the museum houses numerous Thai and imported toys from the past and present. The toys spread on 2 floors. The ground floor displays an exhibition on Thai ways of life, homeware, and toys from Sukhothai, Ayutthaya, and Rattanakosin eras. Toys from other countries are on the second floor. The second floor displays old toys from all over the world. Toys made from wood, tin, and later on, plastic show the revolution of toy making in each society.
HOW: Opens from 9am to 4pm daily except Monday. Look for Pratuchai School intersection on the GPS. Million Toy Museum is located at the intersection. 50 THB/ adult and 20 THB/child entrance fee.
Fun Thing to Do in Ayutthaya #7
Boat Trip Around Ayutthaya Island
Several tour operators in Ayutthaya offer short long-tail boat rides, as well as lunch and dinner cruises on the Chao Phraya river. You can book with them or head to the pier on your own. The most popular long-tail boat tour stops at Wat Phutthaisawan, Wat Chaiwatthanaram and Wat Phanan Choeng – a few of the best temples around the island. But keep in mind this is not a private trip. Boat drivers and travel agents usually gather as many tourists as they can. Though day boat rides are convenient especially if you’re heading back to Bangkok in the evening, we highly recommend a dinner cruise as it’s the only time you can see the temples illuminated and glowing against the dark sky.
Contact Ayutthaya Boat and Travel for a local operator
Our Ancient Ayutthaya Food & History tour offers a short ‘private’ long-tail boat ride around the island along with sightseeing Ayutthaya’s key attractions and delicious food tasting
Long-tail boats are available at the pier at the northeast corner of the island near Hua Ro Market. Expect to pay 500 – 1,000 THB per hour to charter a boat.