Ayutthaya is an island at the confluence of three rivers: the Chao Phraya River, the Lopburi River and the Pa Sak River. As the train station is at the east side off the island, most visitors will need to cross the river by ferry boat. Navigating your way around the island is not particularly hard: U Thong Rd is a ring road that circumvents the island completely. Most temple ruins can be found at the northwest of the island, while accommodation and night life is clustered around the northeast. As non-Siamese peoples were not allowed to live inside the city walls, things foreign are found off the island.
Between 1350 and 1767 Ayutthaya was the capital of Siam, which at its peak ruled over an area larger than England and France combined. Home to over a million people, the island city was one of Asia’s major trading ports and international merchants visiting from around the globe were left in awe.
The empire fell in 1767 when an invading Burmese army thoroughly sacked the city, looting most of its treasures and enslaving thousands of its citizens. Independence was restored within a year, but the capital was moved to what is now Bangkok and Ayutthaya was left largely abandoned for decades. Major restoration work began in 1969 and it’s now a Unesco World Heritage.
Ayutthaya was an impressive site, with three palaces, more than 400 temples and a population that reached nearly 1,000,000. In 1767, the Burmese attacked and conquered Ayutthaya however and the capital was moved to Bangkok. The ruins of Ayutthaya are now a major attraction for those visiting Thailand. It is just 80 km (50 miles) north of Bangkok, and is easily reached by train, boat, bus or van.