Wat Phra Si Sanphet

In 1491, Wat Phra Si Sanphet was located inside the compound of the Grand Palace-the foundations of which are still visible-and served as the royal chapel, as Wat Phra Kaeo does in Bangkok. This Wang Lung Palace (Royal Palace) was built by King U-Thong upon the founding of the city. Used as a residential palace, it became a monastery in the reign of King Ramathibodi I. When King Borom Trai Lokanat commanded the construction of new living quarters, this residential palace was transformed into a temple,and the establishment of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. In Ayutthaya's heyday, this was the largest temple in the city. The three main chedis which have been restored contain the ashes of three Ayutthaya kings. The temple is situated at the northern end of Si Sanphet Road. The royal chapel does not have any monks and novice inhabitants. Admission fee is 50 bahts.

Ayutthaya Historical Park provides the audio tour in English described for Wat Phra Si Sanphet, Wat Chai Watthanaram, and Wat Mahathat. Available at Ayutthaya Historical Park ticketing counter. The fee is 150 baht.

Viharn Phra Mongkol Bopitah

This chapel is located to the south of Wat Phra Si Sanphet. A large bronze seated Buddha image (Phra Mongkhon Bophit) was originally enshrined outside the Grand Palace to the east. It could be dated to the 15th century and was originally intended to stand in the open air. Later, King Songtham commanded it to be transferred to the west, where it is currently enshrined and covered with a Mondop.

Wat Phra Ram

Though founded in 1369, the ruins of Wat Phra Ram date mostly from its restoration in the 15th century. Its main feature is a well-proportioned prang situated on a stepped terrace adorned with chedis. Some of the prang's stucco decorations, including Buddha images in the walking and standing poses, still remain.

Wat Phu Khao Thong

The Phu Khao Thong chedi is situated about two kilometres northwest of the city island. It was built by King Ramesuan in 1387. Burengnong, the Burmese king, built three layers of the large superimposed base in the Burmese style after he seized Ayutthaya in 1569 and named it Phu Khao Thong. The main body of the Thai-style chedi was built later.

Wat Nah Phra Meru

Formerly known as Wat Phra Merurachikaram, the temple is located across the river north of the palace. Although the date of construction is unknown, the temple has been restored a number of times but still has a finely proportioned ubosot and viharn.

Wat Yai Chaimongkon

Located to the Southeast of the island, this temples lofty chedi is visible from most of the town. The monastery was built in 1900 by King U-thong who granted the temple with the name Wat Pa Kaew. The intention was to create a center of Buddhist studies (Ceylonese Sect). As the temple used to be headed by a patriarch, local people also called it Wat Chao Phraya Thai.

Wat Sena Sanaram

This ancient temple, which is located behind Chankasem Palace houses two Buddha images that were transferred from Vientiane.

Wat Suwan Dararam Ratchaworawihan

The temple is located inside the city wall to the southeast of the town island near Pom Phet. It was formerly known as “Wat Thong” and was constructed by King Rama I’s father since the Ayutthaya period. When King Rama I was crowned as the first king of the Rattanakosin period, he had the temple re-established and renamed it “Wat Suwan Dararam” to suggest his parents’ names.

The temple’s Phra Ubosot – Ordination Hall – is of the late Ayutthaya style, being situated on a boat-like concave foundation. Its gable depicts the God Vishnu on his mount Garuda. Inside, there are murals of angels on the upper parts and scenes from the Jataka stories on the lower parts of the side walls. The front wall to which the principal Buddha image is facing depicts the scene of the Buddha Subduing Mara from the life of the Lord Buddha, with the Mother Earth Goddess in the centre. Unlike the Phra Ubosot, Phra Wihan – Lecture Hall – does not have a concave foundation and has pillars with a cap of elongated lotus petals. It was built in the reign of King Rama II. Inside, there are fine murals depicting the story of King Naresuan the Great painted in the reign of King Rama VII, which are the prototype of Don Chedi Monument in Suphan Buri.

Thaen Phra Si Maha Pho A platform with lotus petals decoration supporting the sacred Bodhi tree, the shoot of which was brought from India by King Rama IV. There is a brick belfry of a western style nearby. The 2-tiered square structure with a pointed arch door downstairs and a bell tower upstairs is believed to have been built in the reign of King Rama IV during the major renovation.

To get there, use the same route as Chanthara Kasem National Museum, turn right at the T-junction for another 1 kilometre.

Wat Lokkayasutha

This monastery is over a kilometer behind Wat Suanluangsopsawan adjacent to Wat Worachettharam. Accessible by the road inside the compound of the Distillery Plant, or through the road behind the Phlapphla Trimuk (three-gabled roof pavilion), the monastery is in the area of the Ancient Palace. Proceed past Wat Woraphot and Wat Worachettharam until reaching the open-air site of the large reclining Buddha, which is made of brick and covered with plaster, is approximately 29 meters long. The ruins of large hexagonal pillars near the image are believed to be the ruins of the Ubosot.

Wat Kasattrathirat Worawihan

Located outside the city island, opposite Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai, on the bank of the Chao Phraya River is another interesting temple worth visiting. Formerly known as Kasattra or Kasattraram, the ancient temple is of the Ayutthaya period with a main Prang (stupa) at its centre.

Wat Kudidao

Located to the east in front of the railway station, this old monastery was beautifully constructed with better craftsmanship than many other temples as can be seen from the remaining ruins which have been left deteriorate.

Wat Samanakottharam

Located near Wat Kudidao, this temple was renovated by Chao Phraya Kosa (Lek) and Phraya Kosa (Pan) during the reign of King Narai the Great. The main attraction is a large and unusual prang believed to be an imitation of the design of Chedi Chet Yot of Chiang Mai.

Wat Phananchoeng

Overlooking the river on the opposite bank from the main city, Wat Phanan Choeng was founded shortly before the establishment of Ayutthaya as the Kingdoms capital. Its main building enshrines a huge, seated Buddha image, that is 57 feet tall an object of particular devotion to Thais of Chinese origin. This principal image called Phrachao Phananchoeng was built of stucco in the attitude of subduing evil in 1325. The temple is a popular stopover for riverboat cruises along the Maenam Chao Phraya. This temple can be reached by boat from the fortress ruins.

Wat Tum

Thong Road, 6 – 7 kilometres from Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, the temple covers an area of approximately 15 rai. There is no evidence as to when it was constructed and by whom. It is believed to have existed since the Ayothaya period before the establishment of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya and must have once been abandoned after the fall of the Kingdom in 1767, before being renovated in the reign of King Rama I and has resumed a status as a monastic temple ever since. Wat Tum has also served as a temple for a war strategy ceremony for at least 1,000 years presumably since the foundation of Ayutthaya. The temple houses a special Buddha image of which the top part above the forehead can be lifted and the head finial known as Ketumala can be removed. There is a hollow inside the head deep down nearly to the throat containing drops of seeping drinkable clean water that never runs dry. It is a bronze crowned and bejewelled image of the Buddha seated in the gesture of subduing Mara, measuring 87 centimetres in width and 150 centimetres in height. Originally named “Luangpho Thongsuksamrit”, the image is currently called “Luangpho Suk” and is of an unknown origin. The head of the image will be opened on the first day of each month.

Wat Niwet Thamprawat

This temple, which was built Rama V (Chulalongkorn), looks more like a Gothic Christian church than a Thai temple. Visitors can access the temple by crossing the river in a small trolley-like cable car. The crossing is free of charge. There are several nice boat trips departing from Bangkok to Bang Pa-In Palace, especially through cruise tours. The Palace is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily with an admission fee of 50 bahts. Tel: 035 261004 or 035 2243273 for more details.