Palaces and Buildings
There were three palaces in Ayutthaya: the Grand Palace, Chankasem Palace or the Front Palace, and Wang Lang or the Rear Palace.
Currently called “ The Ancient Palace”, this residential dwelling for every king was located close to the city wall. Important buildings inside the Grand Palace compound are:
Wihan Somdet Hall The hall was decorated with gold leaf and surrounded by cloisters. It was used for various royal ceremonies including coronations.
Sanphet Prasat Hall This building, in the same design as Wihan Somdet Hall, was used by the king to welcome foreign envoys and visitors.
Suriyat Amarin Hall A four-gabled building of sandstone and brick, it is close to the riverside city wall. It was used for observing the royal barge processions.
Chakkrawat Phaichayon Hall This three-gabled hall is on the inner eastern city wall in front of the Grand Palace. It was used to view processions and military exercises.
Trimuk Hall Located behind the Sanphet Prasat Hall, this hall is believed to have been the royal consorts’ living quarters with a regal leisure garden.
Banyong Rattanat Hall This four-gabled hall is located on an island in a pond at the back of the Grand Palace.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet Originally used as a royal chapel. This large temple compound contains a line of three tall chedis. This line of chedis has become widely identifiable with the Ayutthaya style.
Wihan Phramongkhon Bophit Phra Mongkhon Bophit, a large bronze cast Buddha image, was originally enshrined outside the Grand Palace to the east, but later transferred to the west and covered. In the 1767 sacking of Ayutthaya, the building and the image were badly damaged by fire; the renovated ensemble is not as finely crafted as the original. The open area east of the Wihan was formerly Sanam Luang, where the royal cremation ceremonies took place.
Wat Phraram This monastery is situated next to a pond, outside the Grand Palace compound to the east, with a pond in front. King Ramesuan had it built where King U-Thong’s royal cremation ceremony took place. It now also functions as Phra Ram Public Park.
Wat Mahathat Located in front of the Grand Palace to the east near Pa Than Bridge, this temple was constructed in King Borom Rachathirat I’s reign.
Wat Ratchaburana This temple is located near Pa Than Bridge opposite Wat Mahathat. King Borom Rachathirat II commanded two Chedis built where Chao Ai and Chao Yi engaged in elephant-back combat during which both were killed. Later, he added a wihan so as tocreate a temple.
Suan Somdet Situated on U-Thong Road to the southwest of the city, this is a large public park with a display of various plants referred to in Thai literature.
Chankasem or Front Palace
This palace beside the Pasak River was built by King Maha Thammaracha, the 17th Ayutthaya monarch, as a residence
for his son. Like other ruins, it was destroyed in 1767 by the Burmese and abandoned. In the mid-19th century, King Rama IV ordered it rebuilt as a residence for his occasional visits to Ayutthaya. Some of the more interesting sites are:
City Wall and Gate These were newly constructed by King Rama IV. The original foundations have since been discovered, revealing that the original area was much larger.
Phlapphla Chaturamuk This wooden four-gabled pavilion is near the east gate of the palace and was a residence of King Rama IV during his visits to Ayutthaya.
Phiman Rattaya Hall A group of buildings located amidst the compound of the Grand Palace which once served as government offices.
Phisai Sanyalak Hall This is a four-storey tower located close to the western side of the Grand Palace. First built under King Narai the Great, but destroyed during the second fall of Ayutthaya. It was reconstructed by King Rama IV as an observatory. The palace is now used as a national museum displaying china, weapons, Buddha images, sculptures and votive tablets of different times, and personal effects of King Rama IV. Open daily 9.00 a.m.-4.00 p.m. except Monday, Tuesday and national holidays.
Wat Senasanaram This ancient temple as Wat Sua is behind Chankasem Palace. The main attractions are two Buddha images: Phra Samphuttha Muni, the principal image enshrined in the Ubosot, and Phra In Plaeng enshrined in the Wihan. Both were taken from Vientiane.
Wat Suwandaram Ratchaworawihan This is a temple within the royal compound, located to the southwest near Pom Phet Fort. Originally called Wat Thong, it was extended and restored several times under the Chakri kings. The upper murals in the Ubosot depict the gathering of the deities, and the lower ones depict stories from the life of the Buddha. The front wall shows the Buddha subduing evil. Within the Wihan, King Naresuan the Great is depicted.
Wang Lang or the Rear Palace
Situated close to the western city wall, this palace was originally a royal garden with only one residential building. King Maha Thammaracha had more buildings built, and it became the palace of King Ekathosarot. Later, it became a residence for royal family members.
Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai This memorial to the first heroine in Thai history is located at Ko Mueang to the west. Suriyothai was King Maha Chakkraphat’s consort. In 1548, he went to repel a Burmese invasion. During the fighting on elephant back, the king was in trouble and Suriyothai, clad as a warrior, rode her elephant at the Burmese
commander, and was cut to death by his sword. The king had her cremated at a place which became named “Wat Suanluang Sopsawan”. In King Rama V’s reign, after a quest for the historical site, the exact location of Wat Suanluang Sopsawan was identified with a large indented stupa, renamed Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai. In 1990, the Chedi was restored.
Wat Lokkayasutha This temple adjacent to Wat Worachettharam features a large reclining Buddha, of stucco-clad brick, 29 m. long. Large hexagonal pillar ruins are thought to be of the Ubosot.
Wat Kasattrathirat Worawihan This temple is located outside Ko Mueang, opposite Chedi Phra Si Suriyothai, beside the Chao Phraya River. It has a prang as its centre.
Wat Chaiwatthanaram Also located beside the river, on the west of the city island, this temple was built by King Prasat Thong in a Khmer-influenced style with a main stupa and lesser stupas along the gallery. It can be reached by river from Chankasem Palace.
Wat Phutthaisawan This temple is situated on the river bank opposite Ko Mueang to the south, in the area where King U-Thong established his city. The most interesting feature is the great principal Buddha image of the early Ayutthaya Period.
Portuguese Village The Portuguese Village or Mu Ban Protuket is located at Samphao Lom, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River to the south of the city. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to trade with the Ayutthaya Kingdom, sending a diplomatic mission to King Ramathibodi II’s court in 1511. The Portuguese also came as military volunteers in the Ayutthaya’s army and as Christian missionaries, and they settled at this site. Remains of San Petro, a Dominican church, and some objects such as tobacco pipes, coins and religious items have been found here.
Wat Phukhao Thong Located 2 km. northeast of the Grand Palace, this temple was constructed in 1387 under King Ramesuan.
Elephant Kraal and Pavilion The kraal and pavilion is located 4 km. from the city along Highway 309. The kraal is formed by a circular teak stockade and earthen wall which was created in 1957. The enclosure was used to pen wild elephants for battle training, while being observed by royalty and other spectators. The king used the pavilion as his vantage point.
Wat Na Phramen Located on the bank of Khlong Sabua opposite the Grand Palace, this temple of unknown age is of a very old typical Thai style. Most interesting is the principal Buddha image in regal attire
and another image in the small Wihan, made of black stone.
Wat Kudidao Located in front of the railway station, this old temple features superb, though deteriorated, decorative craftsmanship.
Wat Samanakottharam Located near Wat Kudidao, this old temple’s main attraction is a large prang having an unusual aspect. It is believed to be based on Chedi Chet Yot at Chiang Mai.
Wat Yai Chaimongkhon or Wat Chao Phraya Thai This temple constructed in the reign of King U-Thong is located outside the city to the southeast. One can see its large chedi from far away. King Naresuan the Great had the chedi built to celebrate his elephant-back victory over the Burmese.
Wat Phananchoeng This temple located south of Ayutthaya existed before the city was founded. The Wihan’s principal image called Phrachao Phananchoeng was built in 1325. Made of stucco in the position of subduing evil, it is most revered by local people.
Japanese Village This former district for Japanese expatriates and visitors is located 1.5 km from Wat Phanancheong at Ko Rien.
Prasat Nakhon Luang Situated on the east bank of the Pa Sak River, this structure was used as the royal accommodation during trips to the Holy Footprint Shrine and to Lop Buri. Assumed to have been constructed under King Songtham, it was improved under King Prasat Thong.
Bang Pa-in Palace The palace is located 18 km. south of Ayutthaya, 58 km. north of Bangkok by rail and 61 km. by road. The grounds are open daily 8.30 a.m.-4.00 p.m. For more information, call+ 66 2224 3273 or +66 3526 1044.
Originally, Bang Pa-in was a riverine island. King Prasat Thong (1630-1655) had a palace built on a lake in the middle of the island as a royal retreat, and it was used by every succeeding Ayutthaya monarch. But when the capital moved to Bangkok, the palace was left unused for 80 years.
Bang Pa-in was revived by King Rama IV (1851-1868), who had a house built there. His son, King Rama V (1868-1910), liked the place immensely, stayed there every year and constructed the splendid ensemble as it is seen today. Important buildings are :
Aisawanthipphaya-at Pavilion An exquisite Thai teak pavilion, was built in the middle of a lake by King Rama V. For reinforcement, King Rama VI had the floor and pillars replaced with concrete.
Warophat Phiman Hall This European-style building was the Throne Hall where the king received his subjects and visitors. In this hall are paintings of the royal historic records, I-nao literature, Phra Aphai Mani literature and the Ramayana epic.
Phra Thinang Utthayan Phumisathian The original two-storey wooden building, resembling a large dacha, was destroyed by fire during restoration. Now, a concrete structure of the same model has been built to replace the original.
King Rama VI Theatre King Rama IV had this theatre built in his consort’s compound. Hemmonthian Thewarat This Khmer-style stone prang, situated under a banyan tree beside the long stream, replaced an old shrine built by villagers.
Saphakhan Ratchaprayun This two-storey building on the river bank outside the palace wall was constructed by King Rama V as the living quarters for courtiers.
Witthunthassana Hall This hall, in the form of a tower, is a three-storey building with a spiral staircase. King Rama V used it to get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area.
Keng Buppha Praphat This Chinese-style pavilion stands within the inner royal compound.
Wehat Chamrun Hall This hall of a Chinese Emperor-style was a gift to King Rama V from Bangkok’s Chinese merchant community.
Monument of Queen Sunantha This marble monument was built by King Rama V to keep the ashes of his beloved consort.
Rachanuson Monument King Rama V, in deep sorrow, had this marble relief memorial built to commemorate his beloved consort and three royal children who passed away at different times in the same year, 1887.
Wat Niwet Thammaprawat On a small island in the Chao Phraya River, opposite the Royal Palace, King Rama V had this Buddhist temple built in the European Neo-Gothic style with stained glass windows. From Bang Pa-in Palace, visitors can reach the temple on a hand-cranked cable car.
Wat Chumphon Nikayaram This temple stands opposite the train station. It was founded in 1632 by King Prasat Thong and restored in the mid-19th century.
Bang Sai Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre
The Centre is located within the extensive grounds of Bang Sai. Farmers from Ayutthaya and other provinces undergo training in folk arts and crafts here. The Centre offers visitors a glimpse of how farmers in Thailand’s four regions live and work, and how their local arts and crafts are produced. The Centre comes under the Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques (SUPPORT) scheme, established by royal patronage in 1976. Products and activities which can be seen here are different kinds of basketry, artificial flowers, handwoven silk and cotton, silk dyeing, wood carving, miniature handmade Thai dolls, and furniture making. All the products are for sale.
Open daily except Monday, 8.30 a.m.-4.00 p.m. For more information,
call +66 3536 6092 or in Bangkok call +66 2225 8165-8 ext. 460.
To get there from Bangkok, take a cruise, or a bus from the Northern Bus Terminal,
or by car take Highway 306 via Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani.
How To Get There
Trains leave from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station.
For more information : Call +66 2220 4334 or Hotline 1690 .
From Bangkok Bus Terminal on Kamphaeng Phet II Road (Tel. +66 2936 2852-66),
Air-conditioned buses leave for Ayutthaya every half-hour from 5.30 a.m. to 7.20 p.m.
Non-air-conditioned buses leave for Bang Pa-in, Bang Sai and Ayutthaya many times
daily from 5.30 a.m. to 7.20 p.m.
1. Take Highway 1 (Phahonyothin Road.) then take Highway 32 to Ayutthaya.
2. Take Highway 304 (Chaeng Wattana Road) or Highway 302 (Ngamwongwan Road),
turn right onto Highway 306 (Tiwanon Road.), then take Highway 3111
(Pathum Thani – Sam Khok – Sena) and turn right at Sena onto Highway 3263.
3. Take Highway 306 through Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani, then take Highway 347.
Boat Trips to Ayutthaya & Bang Pa-in
There are no public boats going to Ayutthaya and Bang Pa-in but several private companies run excursions.
Chao Phraya Express Boat – Tel. +66 2222 5330, Fax. +66 2225 3002.
Oriental Queen & Ayutthaya Princess – Tel. +66 2236 0400-9, Fax. +66 2236 1939.
River Sun Cruise – Tel. +66 2266 9125, +66 2234 2250, +66 2233 287.
Mekhala – Tel. +66 2256 7168-9, Fax. +66 2256 7172.