What to Do in Ayutthaya
As a UNESCO World Heritage City, Ayutthaya is mostly about exploring the ruin sites and temples peppered across the city. How you do it, though, is the question. While you can jump on a tuk-tuk and hit as many sites as you want, there are more interesting and fun ways to do it.
With a history so intertwined with the rivers, touring the city by boat is one of the best ways to experience Ayutthaya of the bygone era. While river cruises are the most luxurious way to go about it, kayaking probably comes closest to how the locals lived several centuries ago. Another popular activity is riding on elephant back in Ayutthaya Historical Park. But if you really want to try something unique, check out a night cycling tour of the ruin sites. Backlit by strategically placed spotlights, these ancient ruins seem to take on a new life of their own.
Faster and more flexible than river cruises in terms of sightseeing routes, a long-tail boat trip offers a fun alternative to exploring Ayutthaya’s scenic riverside. These narrow boats can navigate through the narrow khlongs (canals), reaching temples and attractions located further inland. If this sounds like a good plan, head over to Pom Phet Pier, Wat Phanunchoeng Pier or the pier in front of Chantara Kasem National Museum to charter a long-tail for the day. The fare depends on the route and duration of your journey.
Cycling and Night Cycling
Besides elephant rides, cycling is a great way to explore the areas around Ayutthaya Historical Park. With the ruin sites relatively close to each other, peddling on two wheels doesn’t feel like a physical challenge but rather a pleasant and enjoyable experience. Outside the park, it could be quite a challenge to ride around due to the narrow roads and busy traffic but it’s still manageable. For something completely different and memorable, try riding around the park at night. After sunset, Ayutthaya turns into a magical place, with a splendid backdrop of the ruin sites at twilight painting the skyline. You can only experience this kind of magic here.
Elephant Rides and Mahout Training
Another activity that’s worth considering if you are thrilled by the thoughts of exploring Ayutthaya’s temple ruins on elephant back. Opposite Khum Khun Phaen in the Ayutthaya Historical Park, Ayutthaya Elephant Camp offers elephant rides as well as daily shows and feeding from 9:00 to 17:00. Ayodhaya Elephant Village (next to Ayodhaya Floating Market) has overnight mahout training programmes, in addition to elephant riding trips to nearby temples, for those interested to get real close up and personal with a pachyderm.
Horse-drawn Carriage Tour
Ideal for families with children as well as couples, the horse-drawn carriage tour of temples and historical monuments is a fun alternative to elephant rides. You might want to shop around for the right price and carriage design that appeals to you (some are covered, others not). Each carriage can carry two to three persons, and the areas to look for them are around Wat Phra Ram in Ayutthaya Historical Park and behind King U-Thong Monument (near Wat Phra Si Sanphet).
Fringed by picturesque temple ruins and rural villages, Ayutthaya’s riverside sets the stage for a scenic river cruise. Catch a glimpse of Ayutthaya of yesteryear as you embark on a river journey down the Pasak and Chao Phraya Rivers. Day cruises usually cover major temples and attractions along the riverbanks, while dinner and overnight cruises feel more romantic, with an unfolding backdrop of the river sunset and candlelight dinner enhancing the mood of the evening.
Perhaps the best way to explore the rivers and klongs (canals) of Ayutthaya, kayaking allows you to reach the areas that are inaccessible to long-tails and cruise ships. Most temples and ruin sites are situated along the riverbanks, with a dock conveniently attached to them, so mooring your kayak won’t be a problem. A local NGO group called Ayutthaya Kayaking Experience (AKE) organises two overnight kayaking events twice a month, along the historic route once traversed by Ayutthaya kings. Day trips (3-4 hours) are also available, or you can rent a kayak and set off on your own.
- Opening Hours: +66 (0)8 1947 2076, +66 (0)8 1294 3325
- Location: The Tanrin Guesthouse & The Seven Seas Restaurant, near the Railway Station