- Location: Central Thailand
Population: About 787,653
Area: About 2,556.6 square km
Telephone area code: 066-014
Lying on the large fertile plain of the Menam Chao Phraya valley, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya (or simply 'Ayutthaya') is one of Thailand's major tourist attractions. The province is about 76km from Bangkok, covers an area of 2,556 square kilometers and consists of 16 amphoes. The ancient Ayutthaya city was once Thai capital for 417 years, from the 14th to 18th century and used to be considered as the most spectacular city on Earth with its political power and economic fame which were recognized in the world.
Ayutthaya was founded by King U-Thong in 1350. During the reign of Ayutthaya kingdom, it was dominated by 33 kings of 5 different dynasties until the Burmese sacked it in 1767. The Kingdom of Ayutthaya reached its top in the fields of sovereignty, wealth, military might, international commerce and culture in the 16th century as its territory was broadened beyond present-day Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar. During the 17th century, most traders, diplomats and foreign visitors coming to Ayutthaya claimed it to be the most striking and gorgeous city they had ever visited. It has original name Krung Kao and in 1919 it was renamed Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya.
The old Thai capital of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya is a Thailand’s historical and striking highlight and among the most impressive ruined cities of Asia. It has become an interesting historic spot interested by a large number of tourists in the world. Unlike other tourist destinations, Ayutthaya is not endowed with picturesque scenery, but its calm sacred atmosphere along with the remains of the ruins from destruction by the Burmese army in 1767. Through the ruins, visitors can witness a glimpse of old Ayutthaya with more than 400 spectacular Buddhist monasteries. Other interesting sites are Wat Mongkhon Bophit with the biggest bronze Buddha image of Thailand, Wat Phananchoeng – a place of worship, and Chao Sam Phraya Museum with worthy artistic treasures, etc. Besides, Ayutthaya is famed for its architecture which is alluring mix of Khmer & Sukhothai styles as well as religious & historical monuments. You can see them in Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre which displays reconstructions from the past; Chao Sam Phraya National Museum with various antique bronze Buddha statues; Wihan Phra Monglzhon Bophit, the largest bronze images; Wat Phra Si Samphet temple, etc. Especially, the Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Historical Park, a historical site was recognized as a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1991 and has become a popular tourist attraction.
In addition, Ayutthaya also hosts various interesting festivals such as Bang Sai Arts and Crafts Center Fair (end January) with many displays and competitions of arts and crafts products and cultural performances; Songkran Festival (April 13) with traditional procession and beauty contest; Wai Khru Bucha Tao Ceremony (April-May) by knife-makers; Ayutthaya World Heritage Fair (December), etc. Each of them offers its own characteristics with a lot of traditional ceremonies, activities and exciting performances.