Thailand Top 20: Day Trip to Ayutthaya
|Celestial Gaze: Seated Buddha at Ayutthaya's Wat Yai Chai Mongkol Chedi (PhotoDisc)|
Taking a history lesson probably isn't the first thing on your to-do list in a vivacious, 24/7 place like Bangkok. However, the rich history of this country will fascinate even those with the attention span of a five-year-old. The best way to get straight to the heart of Thai history is to take a day tour from Bangkok to Ayutthaya, the former Thai capital. Located about 50 miles north of Bangkok, this ruin-dense city was the capital of the kingdom of Siam for 417 years until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1767, when the capital was moved to Thonburi, then Bangkok.
Ayutthaya's excellent location at the junction of three rivers helped establish the city as a major trading center. Its strategic position was also thought to make the area easy to protect, though the Thai people found out otherwise when the Burmese attacked and Ayutthaya's pre-eminence faded. At its height, however, Ayutthaya was one of the most important trading bases in the region, bringing an incredible amount of wealth to its leaders and prompting the construction of magnificent buildings and temples to underscore this power.
Day tours to these spectacular remnants of old Thailand are easy to arrange through most hotels, whether in a backpackers' haunt or at the luxurious Oriental. Operators will pick you up at a central location (or your hotel) and drive you to the old city, show you the sights, and then put you on a boat for a return trip to Bangkok down the Chao Phraya River, complete with a belly-stuffing Thai buffet.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication