From Bangkok to Ayutthaya: Bridging the Past and Present

How do you get from Bangkok to Ayutthaya? Do you take the Ayutthaya Bangkok train, or is the Ayutthaya bus trip a better option? Both will be cheap, but are they easy? What about booking an Ayutthaya day trip itinerary through a tour company? We will explore all these options in our ultimate guide, but first, a bit of history.

Ayutthaya offers a glimpse into Thailand’s past. The city was the capital of Siam (now called The Kingdom of Thailand) for over 400 years. Founded in the mid-thirteenth century, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai.

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First, a brief history lesson

The city occupied a prime location between China, India, and the Malay lands to the south. This positioned Ayutthaya as one of the trading centres of Asia and for a time, the world.

It is reported by around the year 1700, Ayutthaya had become the world’s largest city, with a total population of over 1 million people.

Map of Ayutthaya was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1351 to 1767

The trade route made Ayutthaya of great interest to merchants from regions such as the Arab world, China, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands, and France. Just as quickly as this amazing centre, with gold-laden palaces, temples, and floating vessels from all over the world, rose, it all ended.

In 1767, the Burmese army resumed their long-fought hostilities with Thailand and almost completely burnt the city to the ground.

These repeated attacks by the Burmese resulted in the Thai Government looking for a new capital ultimately deciding to move to what is now Bangkok.

Today Ayutthaya is famous for what was left standing, the ruins of an ancient capital.

Thousands of visitors arrive at the Ayutthaya Historic Site every day to marvel at the pagodas, the heads of giant Buddha statues left when they topped to the ground, the many prang (reliquary towers), and the moats that surrounded the once grand palace buildings.

Is Ayutthaya worth visiting?

Making a day trip to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the ancient city of Ayutthaya is one of the top things to do in Thailand and a must for those with an interest in history.

In fact, an Ayutthaya day trip is probably the most exciting and easily accessible day trip you can take from Bangkok.

Ayutthaya offers blue skies for most of the year

As you walk around Ayutthaya Historic park you can’t but help imagine what Ayutthaya must have been like centuries ago when it was a thriving city.

Was it bustling with shops and merchants selling things from all parts of the world? Did the Royal Family parade down the main road in carriages or on elephants? How much gold filled and covered the temples?

The best way to learn the answers to these questions is to hire a guide or join a tour, but first, let’s work out the best way to get to Ayutthaya Historical Park.

How to get to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

If you are someone who doesn’t love organised tours or if you’re on a budget trip, here are your transport options for a visit to the archeological sites of the ancient kingdom.

Bangkok to Ayutthaya train

Train travel is a great way to visit the ancient capital and it will also help you save money. So how do you do it?

Well, it’s relatively easy. We chose the train for our first visit and even as Thailand first timers it was a stress-free, if rather hot experience.

Train ticket to Bangkok from Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is on the main Bangkok to Chiang Mai line and the journey takes between 80 minutes on an express and up to 2 hours on the slow trains.

Which Bangkok station does the Ayutthaya train leave from in 2023?

Things have changed a lot with the February 2023 opening of the new Krung Thep Aphiwat Terminal (KTA) in Bangkok.

There are still some special trains that go to Ayutthaya from Hua Lamphong railway station but most services now depart from the new terminal.

Krung Thep Aphiwat is pronounced
Krung = groong | Thep = tep | Aphiwat = a-pi-wat

Richard Barrow @

To begin your day trip, you will need to get to the correct train station. There are plenty of articles online with outdated information. As of 2023, Krung Thep Aphiwant Central Station is the best choice for this trip.

There are three fast trains from the new terminal each day to Ayutthaya. We recommend you aim for the 7.30 am from KTA that arrives at Ayutthaya Railway Station at 8.37 am or the slightly faster service that leaves at 9:05 am and arrives at 9.54 am. There are also trains at 6:10 am, 7:10 am, and 10:35 am that all take approximately 48-90 minutes to reach the ancient capital.

The Blue MRT and Red line trains will deliver you to the new central terminal.

There is a free shuttle bus for ticket holders that travels from Hualamphong station to Krung Thep Aphiwat Central station. The journey takes about 25 minutes and there are four services per hour. Allow extra time in peak hours.

There are a few different ticket classes, but there is no need for first-class tickets on this quick trip. Be sure to choose an air-conditioned seat though, you will regret it if you don’t!

If you are really budgeting, a third-class ticket is ok, but it is unconditioned. It comes down to how much you like the humidity!

Tickets can be booked online up to the day before travel, but on the day can only be purchased at the ticket office.

A special excursion train operates several times a year (SP901) departs from Hua Lamphong (in Chinatown) at 8.10 am and arrives in Ayutthaya at 10:25 am.

The return service (SP902) departs Ayutthaya at 4:40 pm and arrives in Bangkok at 6:25 pm.

The Ayutthaya train station is small and easily navigated. If you have a return ticket on the Ayutthaya Bangkok train, you can jump on any train heading back to the city.

Ayutthaya Station

Once you arrive at the station, there will be plenty of tuk tuk drivers ready to show you around.

Tuk tuk drivers know the area well, so pick one who speaks your language, negotiate a price you are both happy with and you will likely have a good day out.

On one visit, we found ourselves with a reggae-loving driver who was great fun and made our experience really memorable.

We met our reggae loving tuk tuk driver at the train station

Alternatively, you can rent a bicycle from the station and get some exercise while you tour the site.

Driving to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

Ayutthaya is 81 kilometers north of Bangkok. The trip will take you between one hour and 15 minutes and one hour and 45 minutes depending on traffic.

The drive is relatively easy if you are comfortable driving on the left. You travel via a highway, passing Don Mueang International Airport on the way out of Bangkok, before turning off to Ayutthaya close to the town.

The roads between Bangkok and Ayutthaya are in good condition

A combination of Route 32 and Route 9 will lead you out of the city into Ayutthaya. There is parking near the historical site. You can drive to Ayutthaya from Pattaya in a similar amount of time.

Taking the Bus to Ayutthaya from Bangkok

If you prefer, you can also take a bus to Ayutthaya. Make your way to Mo chit Bus Terminal (aka the Northern Bus Terminal) in the north of Bangkok and book a minibus transfer.

Be aware the BTS Mo Chit station and the public bus station are NOT in the same place. It’s about a 30-minute walk between the two, so we suggest you catch a grab a taxi or Grab to get to the bus station.

Once at Mo Chit, ask at the ticket counters where to book the minibus to Ayutthaya. Minivans leave regularly in the mornings so there is no need to book tickets.

Most Bangkok Ayutthaya minivans make stops along the way to the ancient capital. Your journey will usually end at the Ayutthaya Bus Terminal.

Others stop at the Chao Phrom market, which is close to the historic site and near Wat Mahathat.

Once you arrive at the Ayutthaya bus terminal, you can hire bicycles to get around or choose from one of the many tuk-tuk drivers waiting patiently for you to arrive.

A newer option is to check out the ride-sharing app InDrive which lets you set your own price for the trip from Bangkok and then presents you with a list of suitable drivers.

Must-sees temples in Ayutthaya UNESCO World Heritage Site

You could easily spend 2 or 3 days in Ayutthaya exploring, but on a day trip, you will probably need to stick to the main temples and most visited sites.

Most of the temples have a small entrance fee of 50-100 Baht. You can buy a day pass that covers most temples but saves time queuing at each stop.

These five temples are included on almost all the day trip itineraries and are a good mix if you only have one day to visit.

Wat Lokayasutharam

Sometimes written as Wat Lokaya Sutha (The temple of the Earth) this is the home of the biggest reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya. At 42 metres long and 8 metres high and often draped in orange, it is quite a sight.

The reclining buddha at the Wat Lokayasutharam 

The temple was built in the 14th century, and the Buddha statue is believed to date back to the 16th century. It is one of the largest and most physically imposing reclining Buddha statues in Thailand.

There is no entry fee to visit Wat Lokaya Sutha. The temple is open from 9 am to 6 pm daily.

Wat Mahathat

Also known as The temple of the Great Relic, Wat Mahathat is possibly one of the most instagrammed sites at Ayutthaya thanks to the famous buddha head in the trunk of a Banyan tree in the grounds.

Aside from the buddha head, it’s an important stop on your Ayutthaya day trip.

Wat Mahathat

You can find Wat Mahathat in the centre of old Ayutthaya. There is a lot more to see here, though than just the Banyan tree! This temple, which dates back to 1374, was once a Royal Monastery.

Only the base of the enormous prang is still standing, the rest toppled over last century but most of its buildings were destroyed when the entire complex was set on fire as Ayutthaya fell.

It was inside this cavernous Khmer-style prang that Buddhist ‘relics’ were enshrined, as Wat Mahathat was the seat of the Supreme Patriarch of Buddhism.

The Tempe Ruins of the Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya
The Tempe Ruins of the Wat Mahathat

Wat Mahathat is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily. Entry is 50฿ for foreigners

Wat Chaiwatthanaram

A Khmer-style temple built by King Prasat Thong for a memorial to his mother in 1630. On the riverfront, this is one of the largest temples in Ayuthaya and one temple that is particularly lovely at sunrise and sunset.

 Wat Chaiwatthanaram 

Wat Chaiwatthanaram is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily. Entry is 50฿ for foreigners

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon

The temple is known for its large reclining Buddha statue, which is over 50 meters long and covered in gold leaf.

Built in the 14th century, its main attraction is a large, gold-plated chedi (stupa) that stands at the centre of the temple grounds.

The chedi is surrounded by other smaller chedis, as well as a number of other structures, including a main hall, a library, and a hall of Buddha images.

Photo of the large seated Buddha statue at Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand

In addition to its religious significance, Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is also an important historical site.

It was the site of a famous battle during the Ayutthaya period, and the temple grounds contain a number of old weapons and artifacts from that time.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily and entry is 20฿ for foreigners

Wat Phra Si Sanphet (Wat Phra Sri Sanphet)

Wat Phra Si Sanphet is considered the most significant structure in Ayutthaya Historical Park.

It is a monastery temple complex within the Grand Palace grounds that was the model for the Bangkok temple that was built to contain the Emerald Buddha.

the Wat Phra Si Sanphet at sunset in the City Ayutthaya in the Province of Ayutthaya in Thailand
Wat Phra Si Sanphet at sunset

The temple was once part of the royal palace and is home to three imposing chedis (stupas) that contain the ashes of past kings.

The temple’s central courtyard is surrounded by impressive columns and stone Buddha images.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily and entry is 20฿ for foreigners

If you want to see more of the city than its temples, you really need to stay overnight or for a few days.

Chao Sam Phraya National Museum

An air-conditioned escape from the sun is a damn good reason to schedule a visit to Chao Sam Phraya National Museum however spending some time here will help you gain a deeper understanding of the Ayutthaya period and the role it played in shaping modern-day Thailand.

Relics from Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Mahathat can be found at the Museum

The exhibits cover everything from ancient tools and weapons to intricately crafted artwork and sculptures.

The museum is open from 9 am-4 pm (5 pm on weekends) Tuesday to Sunday. The entry fee is 150฿.

How to get around Ayutthaya

Once you arrive in the ancient city, you will be inundated with taxi drivers and tuk-tuks. You could also choose to rent a bicycle for the day. If you are on a tight budget, this is the cheapest option but before you decide, have a good think about how hot it is!

We went with a tuk-tuk driver on our first visit. It’s a fun way to see the sites and the drivers usually know the area very well.

How to choose the Best Ayutthaya Day Tours from Bangkok

If public bus, train, or driving yourself seems a hassle, an organised Bangkok to Ayutthaya tour is your best bet.

There are many Ayutthaya tours running from Bangkok daily. You can join a small group tour, book a private tour, travel by train to Ayutthaya station, and then join a local tour or even choose a tour that travels via the Chao Phraya river.

What are the benefits of going on an organized day trip?

  • You can usually organise a pickup and drop off at your accommodation with group tours
  • You will have a guide that will share information on the journey out to the Ayutthaya ancient site.
  • No need to spend the day trying to navigate google maps to find the temples you want to see
  • The entrance fee to the sights is usually included saving time queueing to pay.
  • Guided tours of the temples when you visit Ayutthaya historical park.

In no particular order, these are tours we think tick all the boxes.

Ayutthaya Day Tour from Bangkok by Boat

Best choice to avoid time on the highways

Sit back and relax on your journey from Bangkok to the Ayutthaya by luxury boat. As you cruise down the river, you can enjoy the breeze and take in the sights from the water.

When you reach Ayutthaya, you will explore ancient ruins of monasteries, popular temples, and palaces at a relaxing pace in an air-conditioned vehicle.

The Royal Palace at Bang Pa-In

At the end of the day, you will cruise back along the Chao Phraya River from Ayutthaya back to River City pier in Bangkok, enjoying a late buffet lunch along the way.

What sites does the Ayutthaya day tour by bus and boat include?

  • A 1.5hr guided tour of the remarkable Bang Pa-In Summer Palace
  • A guided tour of Wat Lokayasutharam, home of the biggest reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya
  • A guided tour of Wat Mahatat, where the head of a Buddha is tangled in a tree trunk and root
  • A guided tour of Wat Na Phra Men
  • Hotel pickup and drop off from central Bangkok hotels (if option selected)

How long is the Ayutthaya group tour by bus and boat? This tour lasts for approximately 9 hours with 6 hours in Ayutthaya.

Customers rated this tour 4.2 out of 5 from over 1580 reviews on Get Your Guide

Colors of Ayutthaya: UNESCO Heritage 6-hour Bicycle Tour

Best Choice for fit and active travellers on a budget

This tour begins at 10 am a short walk from Ayutthaya Train Station where you will be fitted with a suitable bicycle. Along with visiting the ancient temples of the Ayutthaya Historical Park, you will explore the surrounding countryside and enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Wat Chai Wattanaram

The tour includes the following stops:

  • Wat Mahathat – Where you can see the Buddha in the tree truck
  • Wat Pra Sri Snaphet where you will visit the 3 distinctive pagodas
  • A visit to a local market to taste pastries and other snacks
  • Visit Wat Lokayasutharam where you will see the biggest reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya
  • Ride past the beautiful temple of Wat Chai Wattanaram on the west banks of the Chao Phraya River.

The tour ends back near the station for your return to Bangkok by train.
Customer rating 4.8 out of 5 reviews on Get Your Guide

From Bangkok: Ayutthaya Private Full-Day UNESCO Trip

Best choice if you have a number of people in your group

Visit 5 UNESCO-listed temples and the National Museum, on this 10-hour day trip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. You will travel to the Ancient city, the former capital of Thailand by air-conditioned minivan or small coach depending on your group’s size.

Headless Buddha statue in meditation posture at the ruins in Wat Phra Sri Sanphet Historical Park

What does the 5 UNESCO Temples tour offer?

On this day trip to the ancient city of Ayutthaya, the former capital of Thailand you will spend time in the Ayutthaya Historical Park

  • Marvel at Wat Phra Sri Sanphet and the Royal Palace grounds,
  • Journey to Wat Mahathat, one of the oldest and most significant temples and home of the Buddha head in a Bodhi tree root.
  • Visit Wat Ratchaburana where gold treasures were found in 1957
  • Explore the collections in the Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
  • Enjoy lunch at Krungsri River Hotel before visiting more important monasteries

Customer rating 4.7 out of 5 from 327 reviews on Get Your Guide

Frequently asked questions about visiting Ayutthaya

  • Why is Ayutthaya worth visiting? As someone who has experienced the magic of Ayutthaya first-hand, I can confidently say that it is absolutely worth visiting. It’s home to some of the most stunning examples of Thai architecture you’ll ever see. I was also surprised by the natural beauty of the landscape. Its position, where three rivers meet, results in lots of beautiful greenery and peaceful waterways.
  • How long should I stay in Ayutthaya? – You can see plenty on a day tour but a 1-2 day stay is rewarding and a lovely break from the big city noise of Bangkok
  • When is the best time to visit Ayutthaya? You can visit year-round although you will find ideal weather in the winter between November and March and also in June and July. February to June is very hot. It gets very wet in September and October. Ideally
  • What time do the temples in Ayutthaya open? Some of the temples can be viewed 24 hours. The general opening hours are 8 am to 5 pm.
  • Do I need to wear special clothes? Can I wear shorts or tank tops in Ayutthaya? You can wear shorts while travelling to Ayutthaya, however you will need to cover up when visiting the temples.
  • What to pack when visiting Ayutthaya? Sunscreen and a hat are a must, lightweight clothing, and something to cover your shoulders when you visit the temples.
  • Where to eat in Ayutthaya? Check out this guide from TravelFish for the best Ayutthaya eats