A Glimpse into Thailand's Past

This past weekend, I took a day trip outside of Bangkok to visit the city of Ayutthaya. This historic city is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was founded in 1350. The city from then on remained the capital of the Siamese Empire until it was burned down in the 18th century. Today, the former capital's remnants serve as a popular tourist attraction. 

Wat Lokaya Sutha

The first stop on my tour was Wat Lokaya Sutha. While most of the structures at this site have been destroyed, the main attraction of this site is the 42-meter-long reclining Buddha statute. The gold coloring on the statute is dissipating as it has been exposed to the elements. In front of the large statute, there is an alter with a smaller, gold replication of the refining buddha on an alter. Throughout our visit, many people came up the alter to make offerings, such as colorful flowers. Our tour guide had us each take turns posing for a picture by the Buddha’s feet, and told using that rubbing the Buddha’s feet will bring us good fortune. 

Wat Phra Si Sanphet

The next stop on my tour was Wat Phra Si Sanphet. This site holds what is regarded as the royal temple of Ayutthaya, once serving as a site where many important religious ceremonies were held by the royal family. One of the most striking features of the site are the three large stupas. These stupas are sealed and hold the ashes of three kings. After exploring the site, I took a small walk to see Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit. I watched as massive crowds of visitors funneled into this modern temple, to see a large golden statute of the sitting Buddha. Outside of the temple, there were many locals selling souvenirs and playing music. 

Wat Mahathat

The next stop on my tour was Wat Mahathat. The most iconic feature of this site is a Buddha head that has been entwined with the roots of a Boddhi tree. While it is unknown how the statute’s head ended up there, our tour guide told us that a popular theory is that it was forgotten and tree roots grew around it. A line of people who were hoping to get a picture with this statue wrapped around the park. 

Lunch Break

Between the fourth and the final site of the day, my tour group took a break to grab lunch at a local Thai restaurant. During lunch, I had the opportunity to meet people from my tour group, enjoy local food, and walk around a nearby street market for desert. 

Wat Chaiwattanaram

After lunch, we went to the final stop on my tour: Wat Chaiwattanaram. The architecture of this site was influenced by the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia. Notably, many of the images of Buddha on this site are missing their heads and hands, as looters have stolen them. My tour guide noted that the heads and hands of the statutes are the statute’s most valuable features, and the sheer size and weight of the statutes made them impossible for looters to remove in whole.

Heading Back to Bangkok

After this site, we headed on a bus back to Bangkok. Though we got stuck in the infamous Bangkok traffic on the way back, I am extremely glad that I took the day trip to get a glimpse into Thailand's rich history.

Buddha at Wat MahathatWat Phra Sri Sanphet

Wat Chaiwatthanaram Reclining Buddha