Ayutthaya Temples- The Second Capital of Thailand

Ayutthaya, Thailand rests just north of Bangkok along the Chao Phraya River.  Founded around 1350, the city eventually became the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai.  Because of it’s central location with easy access to the rest of Asia, Ayutthaya became one of the must important trading centers in the world.  By 1700 the Siamese capital was the world’s largest city with over 1 million inhabitants. Today the Ayutthaya temples and temple ruins are some of the most impressive in all of Asia, drawing huge crowds to the small city.

Ayutthaya successfully held off many western invaders and Thailand was never colonized.  However, the Burmese successfully sacked the city in 1767, riding on elephants and knocking the heads off of every Buddha statue they could find.  The occupation was short lived, as the Chinese had seized the opportunity to move their armies into Burma.  The Burmese forces retreated to their homeland with a majority of the Thai gold, burning the Ayutthaya temples in their retreat.  The following years were plagued by civil war in Siam until control was taken by King Rama I.  The founding member of the Chakri dynasty, which still reigns in Thailand to this day, Rama I relocated the Thai capital from the ruins of Ayutthaya to present day Bangkok.

Today Ayuthhaya is home to some of Asia’s greatest temples, and the history of the place is intruiguing.  The Ayutthaya tempes are an easy day trip from Bangkok by bus or train, taking less than two hours to travel by either.

Renovations at our first temple stop
An ornamental bull

We booked a room at Yimwhan Hostel & Cafe just outside the old city.  They had bikes for rent which we took advantage of and soon found ourselves among the temples.  I purchased a large rainbow bag of corn puffs which I though would be funny to cruise around with in my bike basket.  They tasted terrible and I was a bit disappointed until I was told that the puffs were actually fish food for children to throw into the river.  We went to the river and threw some in as giant catfish swarmed all around.  We laughed about this for a little while, then biked across the river to the more famous Ayutthaya temples.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

There are temples all over the city, but the best area for biking is inside the old city’s moat where the temples are more numerous.

Wat’s Up?

One of the most popular temples for tourists is Wat Mahathat which contains the famous Buddha Head in a Bodhi tree, where one of the knocked-down Buddha heads became entangled in the roots of a giant old fig tree.

Another of our favorites was Wat Ratchaburana which you could climb inside of.  After heading down a very steep set of stairs you reach the crypt which has some ancient paintings on the walls and bats in the ceiling.

Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana
Wat Ratchaburana
The view from Wat Ratchaburana.
It’s always yoga time for this aspiring yoga teacher
Headstands anyone?

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Here is a good website to book your transportation from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.


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The Loy Krathong Festival in Bangkok

The Loy Krathong festival occurs in Thailand every year during November’s full moon.  It was also a perfect time to take my first trip to one of the Bangkok’s most impressive temples!  The Golden Mount, or Wat Saket, is Bangkok’s highest temple and sits at the top of 344 winding steps! Check out the video below which takes you all the way to the top!  It was a spiritual experience to be on top at sunset watching the faithful make their offerings and say their prayers.

Loy Krathong
Vendors selling krathongs by the Phranfa Bridge
The Golden Mount
Buddha at the entrance to Wat Saket
Loy Krathong Wat Saket
Sunset at Wat Saket (The Golden Mount)
The Golden Mount
Looking up at The Golden Mount

Below the temple at the Phranfa Bridge, I got to participate in the Loy Krathong festival.  People release “krathong” offerings — little boats made from banana leaves, flowers, candles, and incense — on the canals and lakes all over the country. The festival originated as a way to honor the river goddess, but it also has Buddhist meaning. “The candle venerates the Buddha with light, while the krathong’s floating symbolizes letting go of all one’s hatred, anger, and defilements.” (Wikipedia) Some people put their fingernail clippings or hair in the boats to “get rid of the bad parts” of themselves.

Loy Krathong Bangkok
My krathong

Thai people are incredibly welcoming to foreigners even when it comes to their holy ceremonies and everyone at the canal urged me to join in on the tradition.  Not one to miss out, I bought my krathong, stuffed a little broken piece of a dreadlock in it, and prayed to release my anger and my doubt, two things I had been struggling with recently. I watched the krathong float away and felt peace.  What an amazing evening!

Loy Krathong Bangkok
Krathongs float away

Enjoy this post about Bangkok’s Loy Krathong Festival? Check out our archives and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @laaventuraproject to keep up with the adventure!

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