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Ayutthaya, Thailand

Nov 8, 2018

Sak Yant tattoos and four other things to do in Thailand’s ancient capital city

Duration: 3 days, 2 nights
Destination: Auytthaya, Thailand
Language: Thai
Currency: Thai Baht
You’re in Bangkok and want to get out of the city to see more of the culture and history of Thailand during your stay. Ayutthaya, the ancient capital of Thailand, is roughly 80 km north of Bangkok. You could visit the city for a day or stay overnight. The city is not one of Thailand’s A-list tourist destinations, however, to see a more relaxed and authentic look at Thai culture and history, the place should be on your to-see list of places to visit while staying in Bangkok.
  • Sight Seeing 95% 95%
  • Food 90% 90%
  • Transportation 60% 60%
  • Activities 85% 85%
The pace and tempo of the city is jarring after some time spent in Bangkok. It is much slower, laid back relaxed living. There are no towering skyscrapers. No neon lights and signs to wash out the night sky. You could feel the city almost “go to sleep” by 9 pm. If you have the chance to make it an overnight stay, I highly recommend it.


1. Wat Pom Raman – Best place to get San Yant tattoo

Far outside of the city center, Wat Pom Raman provides traditional Sak Yant tattoo ceremony. Ajarn use a modern tattoo gun to apply the tattoo rather than the traditional bamboo rod. Map

2. Wat Mahathat – Best cultural activity

The temple ruins are right in the center of the city, next to the historical park. Explore the ancient construction and see the Buddha head embedded in the Banyan tree. Go early to avoid mid-day heat.  Map

3. Sala Ayutthaya Eatery and Bar – Best place to eat

Open-air patio seating right on the Chao Phraya river with a view of Wat Phutthaisawan Temple across the river. Excellent fresh fruit smoothies and grilled seafood. Map

Ayutthaya, Th - Fresh pineapple juice and watermelon juice blend drinks at Coffee Old City restaurant. Photo by CS Owsley

Stay in a really cool guesthouse

The Sixty guesthouse sits across the street from Wat Mahathat, the highlight of ancient temples in the city, with a view of the ruins from the second floor balcony, where guests can enjoy morning coffee and biscuits while taking in the view.

Ride an elephant

Across from Vihara Phra Mongkhon Bophit, there is an elephant park where visitors can ride an elephant on a short tour of the city, and shop the gift shop filled with elephant themed souvenirs. 

See ancient temples and ruins

Ayutthaya is the original capital of Thailand, during its time of the Kingdom of Siam, and filled with vast ruins of ancient temples. Some are still functioning, others have been dedicated to the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Visiting the temples and ancient grounds is the top attraction for tourists visiting the city. 

Get a Sak Yant tattoo

Sak Yant (“Sak” meaning tattoo and “yant” a mystical diagram) is a special tattoo performed by monks (or by dedicated tattoo artists under the direction and supervision of a monk) meant to act as a form of talisman or protective prayer which serves to protect the bearer when they remain pure, or true, to their beliefs. The tattoo is inked in a designated area of the temple, then the person will kneel in front of the monk at the head of the temple for a special blessing to seal the Sak Yant.  

Watch sunset on the river while drinking fresh fruit drinks

The center of Ayutthaya rests in a meander of the Chao Phraya river, with plenty of riverside hotels and restaurants hosting patios to enjoy the slow tranquil scene. Sala hotel and restaurant sits across from Wat Phutthaisawan , with a large open-air dining patio to enjoy sunset and a high-end dining experience. 


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