Ayutthaya

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    Ayutthaya or to give it its full title Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya was originally the capital of Thailand. It was founded around 1350 and was the second capital of old Siam after Sukhothai. Throughout the centuries, its ideal location between China, India and the Malay Archipelago saw Ayutthaya develop into the trading capital of Asia and possibly even the world. It is hard to imagine seeing it now, but by 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total population of 1 million.

    Ayutthaya is about 50 miles to north of Bangkok and can be reached either by road, rail or boat. It is actually an island at the confluence of three rivers: the Chao Phraya, the Lopburi and the Pa Sak. The train station is on the east side off the island, visitors arriving by road will need to cross the river by ferry boat. Getting round the island is easy. A ring road, U Thong Rd, circumvents the island completely. Tuk Tuks and Songteows operate everywhere and are a great way of getting about. Most of temple ruins are found to the northwest of the island. Originally no non-Siamese were allowed to live inside the city walls, all foreign businesses are found off the island. Most accommodation and night life has developed around the northeast.

    The ancient temples and ruins here are what draws the crowds. They are everywhere and make for an extremely interested day out. It is here at Wat Mahathat that you will find the famous Buddha head entwined within the roots of a tree that has become one of the most recognisable images from Thailand.