Ayutthaya, about 70 km north of the capital Bangkok, was once one of the most important, richest and cosmopolitan metropolises far and wide. Today only numerous more or less well-preserved ruins are a reminder of the former glory of the city. Many of the sights have been extensively restored and give an idea of the importance of the city. Between 1350 and 1767 Ayutthaya was even the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, today’s Thailand and thus the cultural and economic center of an empire about the size of Germany and France combined. At times, up to a million people lived in the city. Sight drivers from all over the world stopped at their port and offered their goods for sale.
In 1767 the city was attacked by the Burmese and completely plundered. Many residents were exiled into slavery. The bereaved left Ayutthaya. Ayutthaya was able to recover from this shock very quickly, but the capital was relocated to the region of what is now Bangkok. Little by little, the rest of the citizens left the once so glamorous metropolis. The city was doomed.
Ayutthaya has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1991. Particularly worth seeing – just to name a few highlights – are the Chandra Kasem Palace from the 16th century, Wang Luang, a palace complex from the 15th century or Wat Mahathat, the former ritual center of Ayutthaya.
In 1969 the meticulous restoration and reconstruction of the Ayutthayas began. These measures continue to this day. Although many companies offer day trips, a stay of at least two to three days is recommended for an in-depth study trip. Probably the nicest (and cheapest) way to get there is by train from the capital Bangkok. The journey takes about 1.5 hours. If you are looking for a very special experience, you can find out more on site in Bangkok after a trip by ship. The journey takes the visitor through picturesque landscapes and grants a unique insight into the culture and way of life of the locals.
The Chatuchak weekend market is not only the largest, but also one of the most fascinating markets in Asia. Resembling a huge flea market, the market offers pretty much everything your heart desires, from junk to high-quality branded goods. The more than 10,000 stands in the north of the metropolis of Bangkok are spread over around 1.13 square kilometers. If you really want to explore the Chatuchak weekend market in depth, you should definitely take two days and arrive at 10 a.m. as soon as possible to escape the heat and the crowds. Although officially only open on weekends until 5 p.m., they are often sold here until midnight. It is easy to get lost on the site, which is why it is advisable to keep an eye on the clock tower for orientation.
If you are looking for a bargain, you should have patience and above all negotiating skills. The traders are smart and almost expect to be traded. Don’t be surprised if prices drop very quickly at first. Half the price is far from “bottom”! If you are really interested in something true, it is advisable not to show this too openly – keep walking and strolling by seemingly by chance every now and then. You will see the prices drop a little each time.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market owes its existence to the former Thai Prime Minister Plaek Phibulsongkhram, whose idea was to open a weekend market in every major city in the country. The forerunner of the Chatuchak Weekend Market was established in 1948 in the Phra Nakhon district of Bangkok’s historic city center. In 1980, however, it was decided to convert the area into a public park and relocated the market to the Phahonyothin district. The nearby Chatuchak Park eventually gave the market its name.
There are several ATMs and exchange offices on the premises. Smokers should note that smoking is strictly prohibited in the entire area.
The great palace
One of the biggest tourist magnets in the Thai metropolis of Bangkok is the Grand Palace. The most important sanctuary of Wat Phra Kaeo, the legendary Jade Buddha, is kept in it. The entire palace district covers an area of around 218,000 square meters. The entrance to the palace area, which is surrounded by walls, is the Wissedtschairi gate. From there, the visitors get to the first outer courtyard on a wide street. On the way to the actual palace district you will pass the Museum of Royal Orders and Coins. There is also some very nice handcrafted furniture on display. Two demon figures guarded the gate that leads to the actual sacral area, in the center of which is the temple of the Jade Buddha. The Buddha sits on a golden throne. Another wonderful building is the Phra Mondhop, which is adorned with numerous small glass mosaics. The relatively low building stands between the reliquary chedi and the pantheon. One of the highlights in the interior is a black lacquer bookcase, which is decorated with a mother-of-pearl inlay. By the way, pure silver was used for the bottom of the Phra Mondhop.
The Jade Buddha is the main sanctuary of Wat Phra Kaeo
The oldest tourist attraction in the palace area is the stone throne on which King Ramkhamhaengs, who founded Thailand, sat in the 13th century. The most important building within the religious area is the Phra Ubosot Chapel with the figure of the Jade Buddha. The Buddha is 75 centimeters high and rests on an eleven meter high throne that is gilded. A nine-tier canopy protects the sanctuary. The walls of the chapel are decorated with murals that have been finely restored. They show incidents from the life of the Buddha. After visiting the temple, a walk through the grounds is recommended. The Boromabiman Hall rises behind the large lawn. The wall frescoes inside the building are particularly beautiful. They show the four Indian gods Agni, Varuna, Yahuma and Indra, who are responsible for protecting the universe. Other buildings worth seeing are the Mahamontien building complex and the Dusit Maha Prasat.