• Post category:Asia / Thailand

Ayutthaya, the former capital of what became Thailand, stands as a captivating day trip destination from bustling Bangkok. Initially contemplating a solo journey, I opted for a last-minute change, joining a guided day tour instead. In sharing my experience, I aim to help you choose the best Ayutthaya day trip itinerary and tour to make your visit truly memorable.

Three monks in front of Ayutthaya Ruins during my day trip from Bangkok
Wat Lokaya Sutha

Responsible travel tip: Some tours in Ayutthaya offer to ride an elephant. Obviously, their place isn’t among the cars and tuk-tuks, but the situation is actually worse. Elephants used for rides are not well-treated. They have been abused to be turned into submission. This isn’t a practice that should be encouraged for tourism. Read this for more information.

A couple of tourists riding an elephant in the street in Ayutthaya with traffic in the opposite lane
It is not ethical to ride elephants

Things to know before your Ayutthaya day trip

There is almost no information about the sites in Ayutthaya.

I bet most people in my group (mostly Europeans, Australians and Americans) had never heard of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya before planning their Bangkok itinerary. Many just end up there because it’s listed as one of the best day trips from the Thai capital and a great place to visit in Thailand. Well, that’s at least my story.

And if you go to Ayutthaya without a guided tour, don’t expect to learn much more. So I recommend some pre-reading to make the most of your visit as the sites often lack detailed information when I visited. You may even want to bring notes about the different ruins and temples. Your experience will be a lot more interesting if you familiarize yourself with the rich history.

Wat Phra Mahathat in Ayutthaya
Wat Phra Mahathat

Do you need a SIM card for you trip to Thailand? We find that when travelling abroad, nothing beats the ease of setting up and topping up an eSIM. It’s very convenient as you can plan ahead and don’t waste time during your trip visiting a shop. Plus, you can say goodbye to the anxiety of risking your precious home SIM card. We use Airalo* and have always been satisfied with their service. You can check your phone compatibility here*. Alternatively, if you want a cheaper plan or a physical SIM card, you can purchase a SIM card online* and pick it up at the airport; that’s what I did on my first trip to Thailand.

Unveiling Ayutthaya’s rich history

Established in 1350 between three rivers, Ayutthaya served as the capital of the Siamese kingdom – now called Thailand but also called Ayutthaya kingdom at that time – for over four centuries. A city of global significance in the 17th century, even one of the world’s largest cities, Ayutthaya met its downfall when the Burmese army (Burma is now known as Myanmar) razed it in the 18th century. The subsequent Chinese invasion resulted in the restoration of the Siamese Kingdom, with the capital shifting to Bangkok along the Chao Phraya River.

Each building you visit when wandering around the ruins of Ayutthaya has its own story.

Wat Worachettharam
Wat Worachettharam

Tips to craft your Ayutthaya day trip itinerary

Visiting Ayutthaya independently requires some planning. With many ruins and temples scattered across the area, selection is crucial to optimize your day. If you don’t have time to prepare for your Ayutthaya day trip from Bangkok, join a tour.

Don’t expect to walk around the ruins from one building to another. The area has many ruins and temples- much more than I imagined. So you don’t want to spend too much time going from one to another when you’re just there for the day. Plus, you’ll already be walking a lot while visiting the ruins.

My plan to visit Ayutthaya by myself – and why I did not do it

I initially planned to go to Ayutthaya by myself by train from Hua Lamphong (Bangkok train station). Once in Ayutthaya, I had planned to hire a tuk-tuk for the day. If you’re brave enough to cycle in the heat, hiring bikes is also an option. I had all the info I needed to make this trip happen.

But I felt unwell the night before. So I went for an easier and more comfortable option where I wouldn’t have to think or make any effort. It seemed wiser to travel with aircon and English-speaking people. At the last minute, I booked a day trip from Bangkok to visit Ayutthaya, and they picked me up a few hours later, in the early morning, in front of my hotel.

I usually prefer to do things my way and not follow a schedule when I’m travelling. Luckily, the format wasn’t too bad: the guide would give us an introduction about the site, and then we all had time by ourselves to discover it at our own pace. I just regretted the number of people and the guide’s poor communication skills.

After the itinerary, I’ll share some tips to choose the best Ayutthaya day tour.

An Ayutthaya day trip itinerary

It’s not possible to see all the places in Ayutthaya during a one-day visit. But I found one day was enough as it’s quite tiring and a bit repetitive. However, it is a headache to pick the best places to visit.

A well-structured itinerary can cover key attractions. Here’s a condensed guide based on my experience. With the tour, we stayed about 50 minutes at each of these places:

1. Wat Phukhao Thong

The area was under renovation, but the high white chedi was finished and open for visitors. I felt that the renovations and the perfect white make the building look brand new and remove the ancient charms. The views from up there were quite good. Plan this one early in the day to avoid the heat as you climb up. It’s quite far away from the other ruins, so I wouldn’t have picked it for my itinerary.

2. Wat Lokaya Sutha

The 37-metre-long and 8-meter-high reclining Buddha is impressive. There are ruins of a monastery’s floors, walls and pillars behind it.

Reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya with a group of tourist in front of it looking small
Reclining Buddha in Ayutthaya taken with the foot of Buddha on the foreground.

3. Wat Worachettharam

The tour didn’t stop there. But I noticed Wat Worachettharam from the car as we were driving to Wat Lokaya Sutha. It wasn’t far to walk to, so I managed to squeeze it in. I loved contemplating the beautiful seated Buddha in front of a bell-shaped chedi all by myself.

4. Wat Phra Mahathat

I only knew it for the Buddha’s head in the banyan tree, and the beauty of the ruins nearby surprised me. Of all the places I visited during my Ayutthaya day trip, Wat Phra Mahathat was my favourite.

Wat Phra Mahathat Ayutthaya
Ayutthaya - Wat Phra Mahathat - Buddha's head in Banyan Tree
Ayutthaya - Wat Phra Mahathat ruins

5. Wat Phra Si Sanphet

It’s the largest temple in Ayutthaya, and the three chedis are impressive. There’s a market nearby where you can buy food for lunch.

Ayutthaya Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet

6. Wat Mongkhon Bophit

Wat Mongkhon Bophit is at the same place as Wat Phra Si Sanphet. There’s a large Buddha image in this temple.

Wat Mongkhon Bophit in Ayutthaya

7. Bang Pa-In Royal Palace (Summer Palace)

This stop wasn’t in Ayutthaya. I would have preferred to add one more site in Ayutthaya than this Palace. It’s a relaxing place to visit, but its historical and architectural interests are limited compared to Ayutthaya. I didn’t connect with the place; not much was happening.

The palace was initially constructed in 1632. But most of the buildings remaining were built at the end of the 19th century.

I had on my list other places that my Ayutthaya tour didn’t include.

Unfortunately, as I booked a tour at the very last minute, I didn’t find one to match my dream itinerary and didn’t visit:

  1. Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon | I couldn’t believe the tour wouldn’t stop at this one as it looks to me like one of the must-sees when in Ayutthaya. It was the first one on my list after seeing images of its beautiful reclining Buddha, its large chedi, and its row of Buddha images.
  2. Wat Chaiwatthanaram | I was told many prangs and statues are still intact there. But if I could have visited it, I may have opted for a boat tour as the photos taken from the river look stunning. But I love looking at the details too, so I’m sure I’d have walked there just after. At least I’ve kept something exciting to do if I ever go back to Ayutthaya.
  3. Wat Ratchaburana | From Wat Phra Mahathat, I could see the beautiful prang (tower) in the distance. Some statues there are remarkably well-preserved, and I’d have been interested in seeing them.
  4. Sunset boat tour | This one may not have been possible if I had organised my own day tour from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. I am unsure at what time the last train leaves, but I wouldn’t have taken any risks to get stuck for the night. I didn’t find a day trip tour from Bangkok that included a sunset boat tour. Maybe it’s a sign that staying overnight in Ayutthaya* is worth it!
Ayutthaya Day Trip Wat Ratchaburana prang
Wat Ratchaburana prang

The best tour to Ayutthaya

The best tour to Ayutthaya is the one that will meet your needs and expectations.

That’s a bit of an obvious statement, but the ideal Ayutthaya tour depends on individual preferences. Private tours cater to specific needs but come with a higher price tag. For budget-conscious travelers, key considerations when selecting a tour include:

  • Transport: Choose between private cars, buses, or even boat options for the journey from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.
  • Itinerary: Assess the sites covered by the tour, ensuring they align with your preferences.
  • Group size: Smaller groups often provide a more intimate experience.
  • Guide’s knowledge: Check reviews to gauge the guide’s communication skills and depth of knowledge.

Selecting the right tour operator

Explore tour options on platforms such as TakeMeTour*, Viator*, GetYourGuide*, and Klook*. Learn from my experience, scrutinize reviews, and consider the following:

  • TakeMeTour*: Advocates ethical tourism, offering limited group sizes for a personalized experience. I booked another tour from Bangkok* through them (not to Ayutthaya) and had a wonderful time.
  • Viator*: Offers diverse Ayutthaya tours, but individual experiences may vary. I booked my Ayutthaya tour* with them and it didn’t meet my expectations (three times more people than indicated, guide with poor skills, contact details provided were in Hong Kong). Viator has many other tours to Ayutthaya* on offer and as they took my feedback seriously, I’d use them again if needed. But, avoid this particular tour, unless you need one at the last minute. It was the only one I found that I could book late on the night before.
  • GetYourGuide*: They offer a good selection of tours but I haven’t used their services so I cannot comment on them.
  • Klook*: Active in Bangkok, but I haven’t heard a lot about the quality of their tours so I cannot comment.


There are many ways to visit Ayutthaya, and I advise considering transport before even the itinerary and the size of the group.

It takes about two hours to go from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. The first thing to consider is the vehicle in which you’ll be driven from Bangkok to Ayutthaya.

Joining your guide in their private car is the most comfortable way to travel to Ayutthaya (but not the most sustainable). If you’re on a small bus, try not to sit at the back if you tend to have a sore back. The road isn’t too bad, but you’d still feel it.

Some tours offer to go back to Bangkok by boat on the Chao Phraya River. I love the idea as that’s how the river was used in the past and probably very scenic. However, it means spending less time in Ayutthaya.

I haven’t seen tours that offer to go from Ayutthaya to Bangkok by train, but note that only first-class tickets will have air-con.

Once in Ayutthaya, there are many options to visit the different sites:

  • By tuk-tuk
  • By bike
  • By mini-bus
  • By coach
  • By car
  • By foot

As far as I know, there isn’t one better than the other; it’s just a different experience.

But for a day trip, walking isn’t the best choice as your time is limited. And I didn’t see any tour offering this option.

Bikes in front of ruins in Ayutthaya


If you’re opting for a tour because you don’t want to bother selecting the sites you want to visit, then the itinerary criteria won’t be important to you. But note the tours don’t all go to the same places.

Hopefully, my itinerary was enough to help you choose the spots you want to visit in Ayutthaya. I really regretted not seeing Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon and Wat Chaiwatthanaram. And I ended up bored at Bang Pa-In Royal Palace – which isn’t even in Ayutthaya.

You may also consider the option to do a river cruise. You may even go all the way back to Bangkok by boat (this tour offers the option* – and it has excellent reviews).

Here’s a small selection of interesting Ayutthaya day trip itineraries with a tour:

Size of the group

I don’t like big groups. I find it hard to connect with the guide (and sometimes just hear him or her), ask questions and even take great photos. And we always waste time waiting for somebody. That’s why my experience with TakeMeTour* on another day trip from Bangkok was so perfect for me.

Cheaper tours tend to have larger groups, so that’s something to keep in mind. If the information on the booking page isn’t available, you may want to confirm the number of participants in advance. We were almost 40 on the tour I joined through! (despite the description saying we’d be max. 15 –sight-).

Knowledge of the guide

Reading the comments is the best way to check the guide’s skills. That’s why I like and recommend TakeMeTour* as they connect you directly to a specific guide – not a tour operator. With the reviews, it’s easy to rate the guide’s skills. My guide via TakeMeTour* was fluent in English, easy to understand and happy to answer questions.

I had a different experience in Ayutthaya (booked through Viator*) as the guide had an extreme accent that was hard to understand, repeated the same information many times in a very unlogical way, and never stopped for questions. We all felt like being in primary school, waiting for the bell to ring so we could run away. It wasn’t really a disappointment as I read a few complaints about it in the feedback before booking. Again, it was my only option that day to visit Ayutthaya. And I don’t regret seizing the opportunity. It was a lovely day trip away from Bangkok.

Have you visited Ayutthaya? Did you book a tour or go by yourself? What are your favourite places there? Share your recommendations in the comments below!

Places to see on an Ayutthaya Day Trip

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Photo of ruins in Ayutthaya with text over it: Ayutthaya, day trip to the former capital of Thailand, 80km from Bangkok
Photo of a buddha head inside fig tree roots with text over it: Aytthaya. Thailand, tips to choose the best day tour from Bangkok
Photo of a temple with text over it: Ayutthaya, Thailand, tips for your day trip from Bangkok
Photo of the reclining buddha with text over it: Ayutthaya, Thailand, important things to know for your day trip from Bangkok


Eloise is the creator and writer of MyFavouriteEscapes.com. She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

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