The ancient Ayutthaya temples and ruins are UNESCO World Heritage sites near Bangkok. Ang Thong is the gold basin of Thailand, rich in culture where you can immerse yourself and get a peek at the authentic local lifestyle.
Both places, Ayutthaya and Ang Thong, are perfect 1-day destinations from Bangkok city. You will enjoy the visit if you want to learn more about the local culture, history, and lifestyle.
Best way to experience Ayutthaya and Ang Thong in a day
Ayutthaya and Ang Thong are both provinces located to the north of Bangkok. The easiest way to get from Bangkok to Ayutthaya is by car, as the places tend to be apart from each other.
You could take a taxi but this would cost you quite a bit and you would still have to figure out how to prioritize, so to say decide which temples are worthwhile a visit. The number of temples is countless and some are more interesting than others.
The best way to travel and experience the Ayutthaya temples and Ang Thong temples in Thailand is by hiring a guide with a private car. This is what we did and that way we were able to discover some real travel gems!
Local Table experience with TakeMeTour
We booked the Local Table Ang Thong and Ayutthaya temples Tour via TakeMeTour.com. It’s an official campaign by Tourism Authority of Thailand.
Thanks to the Local Table tour, we got to experience the tour beyond sightseeing by enjoying some seriously delicious food in a famous local restaurant called Bokh Toh.
Perks of traveling with a guide from TakeMeTour Thailand:
- The price includes the meal, transport, sight entries, and highway tolls.
- Comfortable AC Car
- You can ask your guide questions about the country, culture, and religion
- The guide will take you to the gemstone places, so to say the interesting and most memorable spots. That way you don’t waste time at a mediocre sight.
- Our guide was the best driver ever!
- Our guide got us snacks, local cool beverages, and water bottles. She was very attentive.
Our local guide, Jareya picked us up at the hotel in Bangkok and showed us around to the Ayutthaya temples and Ang Thong. She hails from Ayutthaya, so this was her turf, allowing us to get to know the real Thailand in comfort with her.
We absolutely recommend that you pick the tour with the Local Table lunch stopover at Bohk Toh. They serve classic Thai specialties and this is your chance to taste well-known Thai dishes such as the authentic massaman curry and pad thai.
View this post on Instagram
Today we visited the ancient former capital of Siam in Thailand, #ayutthaya and the giant Buddha’s of #angthong. Jareya, our guide from @takemetour_thailand took us on a wonderful @localtableth food & travel tour. While we learned about the local history and culture, we got to taste some of the best Thai food we have ever had! Paul’s favorite was the Yum Hua Plee (Spicy Banana Blossom Salad). Helen’s was fell for the Dried Pork Rib Massaman. MORE —> #igstories #takemetour #LocalTableTH #amazingthailand #opentothenewshades #sponsored
This was our menu at the restaurant Bohk Toh:
- Dried Pork Rib Massaman
- Noodleless Pad Thai
- Tom Kha Gai Baan
- Yum Hua Plee (Spicy Banana Blossom Salad)
- Coconut Ice Cream in Coconut Shell
- Fresh Fruit Juice (Watermelon, Coconut, or Pineapple)
Ayutthaya was the former second capital of the Siam empire before it was attacked and destroyed by the Burmese Army in 1767. What remains of the former glorious golden kingdom are still actively used temples as well as a huge area of brick stone ruins.
Did you know? A Buddhist temple in Thailand is known as a Wat and Siam is the former kingdom/country name for Thailand.
The city was an important trading post for the west and the east. Dutch, French, British, and Portugues had each a trading spot given to them in Ayutthaya. The Japanese and Chinese were the prominent trading partners form the east.
Ayutthaya was a globally connected city, which, at its peak, had a population of a million people. Trading and friendly open relations turned it into a rich utopian spot on earth.
The Ayutthaya World Heritage site is a proud 290 ha large and came to its size piece by piece. Each king enlarged and erected their own set of temples and buildings in Ayutthaya.
Ayutthaya temples tour tip: The temples are not situated in walking distance, so it’ s a good idea to travel by car with a knowledgeable local guide in the heat. That way you can make the most of your trip in a timely manner. Also, dress appropriately to visit the temples in pants and with a t-shirt which should cover your shoulders.
Wat Phanan Choeng – Oldest Temple in Ayutthaya
Wat Phanan Choeng is the oldest and most colorful of all Ayutthaya temples, which is still an active place of worship. The teak wood decorated temple houses a giant golden Buddha.
This temple has been maintained a lot, so it’s rather unclear how this UNESCO World Heritage site has been protected.
The emperors of Siam had a special bond with the Chinese and this is very much visible when you visit Wat Phanan Choeng. Behind the main temple, near the channel with the catfish, a shrine was placed for the long-gone Chinese queen who married into the Thai court.
Therefore, the influence of Chinese architecture is ever so present! Legendary Chinese figures and dragon statues decorate this part of the temple which is totally surreal but shows how well other cultures are welcomed here.
Wat Phanan Choeng is a great starting point to visit Ayutthaya. Our Guide, Jareya, lives in the area, so she took us to the right places first. That way we could slowly get into the feeling of the area so that we could understand the location and culture better.
Wat Mahathat – The Temple Ruins
Wat Mahathat is a temple ruin in the Ayutthaya park. Basically, the main attraction here is the Buddha head in the tree. You won’t have to search for it, there are always a bunch of people standing in front of it.
The area of Wat Mahathat Ayutthaya temples is rather large and you can stroll about, admiring of what is left of the ruins. A part of the Wat Mahathat main temple sacked in a way after the Burmese army raided the area.
Most statues have lost their heads due to the military attack, which makes me think why the Buddhist Burmese would do that when they themselves were Buddhists.
I think, it just shows again that religion at times is just used as an excuse to raid another rich kingdom, or in nowadays example, a country. The golden stupas and buddhas must have been shining far beyond the Siam empire’s border to Burma.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon – The Monastery
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon is an active Ayutthaya temple monastery with monks and nuns residing around the old bell-shaped temple complex. Visitors can go up the steep stairs to the elevated based and take a round to the top for the view and see the donation bucket in the shaft.
As in all religions that have originated in the Indian subcontinent, which includes Buddhism, make sure to turn and walk around the tower on top clockwise. That is how it’s done and while someone will tell you that in Buddhist temples and monasteries in India, in Thailand we didn’t see anyone directing the people to do so. However, our guide explained the respectful proper way is to walk around the tower the way it has been directed by their elders, clockwise.
The statues at Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon all have a head and are dressed in bright orange cloth, which are purchased by believers so that the monks can put it around the statues.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon isn’t that large but a lot of visitors come by this temple, so you will notice warnings about pickpockets all over the place. Hence, it is adviced that you walk with your backpack placed to your chest.
Ang Thong is also known as the golden basin or the rice basin of Thailand. This province is touching and is located north-west to the Ayutthaya province.
Farmers here grow 3 times a year rice, with the precious jasmine rice being the most important local crop. This is a very rural province and you will definitely feel it in the air.
In Ang Thong, you will be able to visit Wat Muang and Wat Khun Inthapramun.
Wat Muang – The Chrystal Temple, Hell’s Garden, and the largest Buddha
Wat Muang is rather special and you will spend quite some time here. We were quite surprised when we discovered the place for a few reasons.
The main attraction, which was also mentioned in the tour, is the crystal temple. This particular temple is like a massive shiny mirror on the inside. The hall is decorated with former Buddhist monk statues and saints. Some of the saints are Hindu gods as well as Chinese gods (which is apparently totally normal).
There is also a mummy in the crystal temple of a former Buddhist monk. You can go really close up to the glass coffin and see the mummy which, in my quirky mind and opinion, is totally amazing.
Wat Muang surprised us with the garden which is not just a regular flower garden but a Buddhist hell garden. The place is decorated with statues in all sizes, depicting sinners in pain.
I found hell garden amazing, not only because it was days before Halloween when we visited, but also because I have a thing for the dark side of Buddhism as it is rarely depicted that way in the west. Paul liked it but he wasn’t fully into it the way I was.
At the end of hell’s garden sits the biggest Buddha statue in Thailand. It was under renovation when we visited. You get the best picture from afar with the rice fields.
Wat Khun Inthapramun – The largest reclining Buddha
The main attraction in Wat Khun Inthapramun is the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. Behind the relaxing Buddha is an active temple which can be visited as well, however, the opening times are in the evening hours.
People here too dress up the reclining Buddha with a bright orange stitched together cloth and devotees press a piece of gold paper onto the Buddhas feet.
The reclining Buddha reminded me of the dying Buddha in the Ajanta Buddhist Caves in India. The Buddha is called a reclining Buddha when the eyes are open.
Complete 1 Day Trip Itinerary
We were able to visit Ang Thong and Ayutthaya in a days time thanks to our local guide Jareya. TakeMeTour.com facilitate on their platform a way for you to chat with Jareya before you book the tour.
These were the approximate times in our timetable and we did take our own time when we visited the sights. The tour doesn’t strictly follow a fixed timetable. Our guide was quite flexible but made sure that we were enjoying the full temple hopping experience.
8:00 am Meet up at the Hotel Lobby in Bangwhereverereever you want to be picked up.
9:30 am visit Wat Phanan Choeng
10:30 am visit Wat Mahathat
11:30 am visit Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
12:30 am Lunch at Bohk Tho
2:00 pm visit Wat Muang – Chrystal Temple, Hell’s Garden and largest Buddha Statue of Thailand
3:00 pm visit Wat Khun Inthapramun
3:30 pm drive back to Bangkok which takes about 1 1/2 hour
Essential Travel Tips
We visited Bangkok for a weekend because we couldn’t spare more time away from work but I think thanks to the one-day local table tour we were able to visit all the main points in a timely manner while still enjoying each and every moment.
Flight, Airport, Visa
We flew in with Thai AirAsia because they provide frequent flights and they are well connected with other destination in Asia. Besides you get to take 30 kg along with you which was a blessing. Bangkok is a notorious shopping heaven and you will need every free kg that you can take.
We landed at Don Mueang Airport (which to be honest looked rather old-fashioned). Unfortunately, the Visa situation was a bit messy for us. We wasted a few hours trying to get a visa on arrival for Paul because he is an Indian citizen.
The visa on arrival for Thailand is not as smooth as for India or Sri Lanka. Therefore, if you are an Indian or a Chinese Passport holder, we recommend that you get your visa before you travel to Thailand to avoid the stressful Visa situation at the airport.
Because I’m an Austrian national I had to be separated from my husband, which confused the authorities as well. So asking them at the airport won’t help because they don’t know how to sort married couples from these two different zones. Hence, I ended up waiting another hour in a queue while Paul was already waiting for me on the other side.
Important Tip: You will need to fill out an arrival slip so keep a pen with you. Nobody ever has a pen to lend. A departure slip is attached to the arrival slip. KEEP THE DEPARTURE SLIP, DON’T LOSE IT OR THROW IT AWAY. You will need that little piece of paper when you want to leave the country (and nobody will inform you at any point about that, also the hotels need it for check-in).
Getting around & Accommodation
We booked a private airport transfer from Don Mueang to our hotel. We had a room at The Spades in Ratchathewi which is a super cute boutique accommodation suitable for traveling millennials. They have comfortable rooms and dormitory rooms separately.
Connected to The Spades is the Lemoncurd Tearoom. They serve cupcakes and meals. The day we left, they hosted a Halloween cosplay party. I was yearning to take part in this event!
Ratchathewi is centrally located in Bangkok near the most amazing small food boutique restaurants and countless shopping malls. We walked a lot around because that’s what we do but we did get a Tuktuk at some point because it was raining.
On another day we took the sky train. The counters are at the station and trains are fairly frequent in all directions. It’s very straightforward and the system is kind of easier to understand then say a metro network in Paris or Prague.
At Don Mueang Airport you get a chance to purchase a Tourist 4g Unlimited Data Sim Card from DTAC. It’s essential! I wouldn’t travel anymore without one of these.
The rates are super reasonable and as long as you don’t have a special Japanese flip phone model (because that’s what Paul uses) you can easily insert the Sim Card and use it out of the box.
The DTAC connection was one of the best I have ever experienced, with a seamless browsing experience anywhere in Bangkok and even in the rural areas Ayutthaya and Ang Thong.
You can book your Sim Card in advance with a 20% discount. That way you just need to show your purchase slip and Passport copy (because everyone needs to show a passport copy) at the counter and 5 minutes later you are equipped with a shiny new Thai web connection!
I used the internet all the time to get around on google maps, to translate Thai sentences into English with google language, to keep you guys updated with our IG stories and to convert Thai baht to USD.
The local Currency is the Thai Bhat. Try to get bhats before you enter Thailand or get USD. You can easily exchange USD almost everywhere with the rates being almost all over the same.
If you come from South Africa, Australia or India, try to convert your local currency into USD because the green US notes are favored with the Euro or British Pound. Most currency exchange spots don’t take weak currencies.
Always take your passport along to do a currency exchange, they will need a copy.
Avoid ATMs, except if you need to get a bigger Cash amount. Thai ATMs will take about 220 Bhats for each transaction on top of the regular bank charges. Also, we did have some issues with our cards, it seems as if Maestro cards are not favored. My husband has an Indian Visa Card and while we could type in the pin, it wouldn’t work at the end (although the same card worked all over Europe) and the card got blocked after two attempts.
We visited in October and it was hell hot! It was the break from the rainy season and that’s when it gets beyond hot. The sun is relentless too so think of getting a powerful sunblock (I got lobster red nonetheless).
The best time to visit is November-January when the weather cools down. Some people like to bring along a sun umbrella and that might just be a good idea!
When are you planning to visit Ayutthaya and Ang Thong?
Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comment section further below!
The Local Table Campaign is an official campaign by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. TakeMeTour connects travelers, with a palate for Thai food and a thirst for culture, with local experts.
Other Local Table tours can be booked in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and smaller rural places and cities in Thailand.
The trip, associated with the tourism authority of Thailand, was made possible and was sponsored by TakeMeTours, Thai AirAsia, DTAC and the Spades.