North of Bangkok, and once its predecessor as the Capital of the Thai people, the ruins of Ayuthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site, provide an impressive insight into the rich history of early Thai civilisation.


Built over a period of 400 years from around 1350 AD and continually developed during the reigns of thirty three kings on an island in the Chao Phraya river, intersected with canals, many of its structures are best viewed afloat.

Although much of the city was destroyed by the Burmese invasion of 1767, even in its ruinous state, the buildings are an awesome testament to the magnificence of the Ayuthaya Empire.

Wat Phra Si Samphet is one of Ayuthaya's most famous structures, in large part because of its impressive stature as a backdrop in the Bon Jovi video for 'This ain't a love song' and its use in the film 'Mortal Kombat'.

In the centre of the island can be found Ayuthaya’s oldest temple, Wat Phra Ram and its lake, adjacent to Wang Luang Palace and its finest temples, Wat Ratchaburana and Wat Phra Mahathat, which provide an unusual photographic opportunity to capture the stone Buddha head, overgrown and absorbed into a Banyan tree.  

There are three museums on the site, including the Chao Sam Phraya Museum, with its collection of treasures and artefacts, and the high-tech displays of the Ayuthaya Historical Study Centre.


En-route to Ayuthaya, upriver from Bangkok, Bang Pa-In is an array of pavilions and palaces, once used as a summer retreat for the Thai monarchy, built during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Landscaped amid canals and gardens, the buildings are a luxurious blending of both Thai and western styles.