This past summer, I had the opportunity to take some of my MIT friends who were visiting Thailand around. Since two of them had already spent quite some time around the country (and Bangkok), I decided we should go on a half-day trip to Ayutthaya, an ancient capital of Thailand located 85 km north of Bangkok.
This post is a combination of the few things we visited, plus additional tips & suggestions of mine based on personal experience, research, and family recommendations. I hope those who are interested in visiting Ayutthaya find these information useful, whether you're a foreigner visiting Thailand or just a local looking for a break from the big city!
We only had a couple of hours in Ayutthaya, so we hit up what I think are Ayutthaya's must-haves: river prawns, old city historical ruins, and Roti Sai Mai. We had lunch as soon as we arrived at Pa Porn's Noodles, one of my mom's favorite spots. I called in advance to reserve one set of river prawns - these are famous and limited in number depending on the day, so it's safest to reserve your share! She's also famous for her traditional noodle dishes, pictured above.
Apart from the river prawns, Ayutthaya is also famous for its boat noodles. There are so many amazing food options to choose from in this town, so here are some of my suggestions:
Sala Ayutthaya (Hotel & Restaurant)
Trendy hotel with a restaurant boasting one of the best views you'll find in Ayutthaya!
9/2 Moo 4, U-Thong Road,
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
+66-35242588 / Facebook
Pa Porn's Noodles (ร้านก๋วยเตี๋ยวหมูโบราณป้าพร)
Pictured above, a family favorite river prawn and noodles place.
121/2 Moo 8, Uthong Road
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
+66-35251676 / Facebook
Ruan Thai Kung Pao (เรือนไทยกุ้งเผา วัดเชิงเลน)
Amazing & fresh river prawns located right by the river. Gets incredibly packed, so be sure to reserve your table way in advance!
Moo 4 1/2 Thetsaban 10 Alley,
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13190, Thailand
+66-35367730 / Facebook
My friends have had their fair share of temples from traveling around Thailand for the past month, so we only visited one small temple: Wat Phra Ram. It was quiet and small relative to the other sites I've visited, but it was a nice taste of the Ayutthaya battle ruins without the tourist chaos. It was conveniently located near the Rama Public Park, which was perfect for a little post-lunch stroll.
For those seeking to visit the greatest of Ayutthaya's temples and take in as much of the UNESCO World Heritage Site as possible, I've listed some alternate temples here. I wouldn't recommend Wat Phra Ram if this is your first time in Ayutthaya, unless you're looking for a quick quiet site to stroll around to kill time. (Quick fact: Wat is the Thai word for temple!)
Wat Phra Si Sanphet (วัดพระศรีสรรเพชญ์)
Largest temple in Ayutthaya, located inside the former royal palace. Home to the iconic "Ayutthaya" photo of the 3 distinctive stupas (jedi's).
Wat Yai Chai Mang Khon (วัดใหญ่ชัยมงคล)
The name literally means enormous. Its stupa (jedi) is visible across Ayutthaya. Also home to the giant reclining Buddha.
Wat Chaiwattanarm (วัดไชยวัฒนาราม)
A larger and more impressive version of Wat Phra Ram (pictured) with its towering prangs and stupas which are accessed by steep steps.
Wat Phra Mahathat (วัดมหาธาตุ)
Home to the famous Buddha head nested in tree roots.
Ayutthaya is very well-known for its Roti Sai Mai, a Thai version of cotton candy 'Sai Mai' (or candy floss) wrapped in a thin sweet crepe 'Roti'. It's very light and not overbearingly sweet (unlike most American desserts!) There are several famous stalls that sell Roti Sai Mai in Ayutthaya and you'll be in pretty good hands trying any of them.
We visited my grandma's all-time favorite stall "Roti Sai Mai Mae Pom" (simply translated to Mother Pom's Roti Saimai) where the owner greeted us with a huge smile and even invited us to try several wraps for free (even though we insisted on paying!) We ended up buying several bags for ourselves and as gifts for my family. The best part of all this is that Mae Pom sells these for only 80 Baht/Kilogram, whereas you'll find that some other stores sell these for up to 200 Bath/Kilogram!
Roti Sai Mai Mae Pom (โรตีสายไหมแม่ป้อม)
Pictured above. Affordable and my family's favorite Roti Sai Mai stall!
+66-897896931 / Facebook
Because we wanted to make it back to the city before rush hour, coupled with the fact that it started raining, we spent the evening back in Bangkok wandering around Siam. Our evening was filled with ice cream, tea, beer, and a dinner feast. We then proceeded to burn some of our dinner with karaoke, which was a nice end to our day.
Ayutthaya is a famous destination for Bangkok schools to take young children on day-trips because of its rich history. This makes Ayutthaya one of those places I've visited several times but, apart from the history, don't actually know much about. It was not until the past 5 years that I've come to appreciate and remember travel and food, so it's my mission to explore more of my home country every time I go back for a visit. It's not far from Bangkok at all, but gives you a completely unique environment and is a great chance to escape from the city life. Hope you found this post useful and if you have your own Ayutthaya favorites, definitely let me know in the comments. I'd love to check them out!
Photos by me.