Your desire to take in Thailand’s historical past may not be the overriding reason to holiday here, but you can’t really come to Thailand and not visit a temple or two and by far the most spectacular are those found in the city of Ayutthaya, Thailand's ancient capital, just an hour north of Bangkok and a great combination with Kanchanaburi (River Kwai).

The crowning glory of Siam

Ayutthaya was the 2nd Capital from the 14th to 18th Century and the crowning glory of Siam, when what we recognise as “Thai Style” was developed.Ayunthaya 2

Characterised by prangs (reliquary towers) and gigantic monasteries that point towards its past importance, today it’s a relaxed day out away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok and ideally explored by foot or even better by bike.

As soon as you arrive it becomes apparent why it was chosen and in turn became so successful. Built on an island at the confluence of three rivers, perfect for trade and protection, it become a melting pot for trading nations and swelled to over a million inhabitants to become the largest city in the world.

Internal strife eventually weakened the kingdom and the end officially came when it was sacked and looted by the Burmese in 1767.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site

This intriguing heritage and portrait of a developing world led UNESCO to declare it a World Heritage Site and archaeological park. Through painstaking work a lot of the city has been restored and although effectively still a series of ruins you get a real feel of the scale and splendour of its historical pomp. On the island itself you will find hundreds of sites of historical interest including temples, museums and the Royal Palace. Trading nations were permitted to set up home outside the city walls and here you’re able to explore restored villages, as well as some of the most photogenic temples. Come back at night and you see the city literally in a different light, as the leading sites are dramatically lit up.

A great staging post to tour north

Ayutthaya can also act as a good staging post on a tour north, often combined with Sukhothai and Kanchanaburi.

Spice up the journey from Bangkok by taking the train with the locals or perhaps joining a more exclusive rice barge cruise along the rivers and canals.

All our holidays include a private guide, essential to make the most from your visit and bring the fascinating history alive.