River Kwai Jungle Rafts
Ayutthaya and Bang Pa-In tell a lot about Thailand’s past. Both places are heart-stopping fun to visit. Not without reason was this tour honoured a 2023 Viator Experience Award.
Your journey through Thailand’s history begins at your Bangkok hotel when you are picked up by our guide. Ayutthaya is just under two hours’ drive from the Thai capital.
Ayutthaya was a prosperous kingdom of its own for hundreds of years, until the Burmese largely destroyed it in the mid-18th century. Fortunately, the ruins of temples and palaces still show the grandeur of Ayutthaya.
Wat Phu Khao Thong is the first temple we visit. Located in a swamp area outside ancient Ayutthaya, it could only be reached by boat in the 14th century. The temple has an eventful history in which parts were destroyed in wars and new temple buildings were added. The monastery, however, is as old as the temple and still in use. The most notable structure is the robust 50-metre-high stupa that gave the temple the name The Monastery of the Golden Mount.
After this, we head to the heart of the former kingdom. Three hefty stupas are the main reminders of what was once Ayutthaya’s proudest hub. Here stood a palace and a temple, Wat Phra Si Sanphet, reserved for members of the royal entourage. Before lunch, we also visit the nearly 13-metre-high bronze Buddha of the Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit. It is believed to have been built as early as the 15th century. It survived war and lightning strikes.
After lunch and before heading to the summer palace Bang Pa-In, we check out the Wat Lokaya Sutha temple, where a nearly 40-metre-long and 8-metre-high reclining Buddha is very much worth seeing.
BANG PA-IN SUMMER PALACE
The Bang Pa-In summer palace looks like a large park with ponds and flowers, and with striking classical Thai buildings spaced here and there. A royal residence was built on this site as early as the 16th century, but it took centuries for Bang Pa-In to really take shape. The influential kings Mongkut and Chulalongkorn built the palace into what it is today in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The latter king in particular (the first Thai king to travel to Europe) was very influenced by what he saw there. It explains why Bang Pa-In features mansions, shrines, statues and pavilions reminiscent of Europe, ancient Thailand, as well as China. After a leisurely look around this summer palace, we will drive back to your hotel in Bangkok.