Two hours away from busy hustling city of Bangkok, there lies an ancient city named Ayutthaya to be explored with kids. When I step into the city, it feels like I step into a realm where time comes to a standstill. With its serene and enigmatic ambience, Ayutthaya vibes somehow makes you feel like being transported back to a bygone area.
The captivating historic city of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 by Siamese Kingdom. During its golden age between 14th to 18th century, Ayutthaya became one of the world’s largest cosmopolitan urban area and was known for its global commerce. Ayutthaya was strageticalluy situated on an island encircled by three rivers, which served as a link between the city and the sea. This location was also carefully chosen due to its elevation above the tidal bore of the gulf of Siam during that era, effectively safeguarding the city from potential attacks by other nations.
In 1767, the Burmese Army invaded Ayutthaya, devastating the city by setting it ablaze and compelling its residents to flee. Even to this day, the remnants of ancient empires can be witnessed in Ayutthaya, with the sight of fragmented walls strewn across the city.
Ayutthaya has its magical way to offer you a unique experience like no other. In this blog post, we will explore top 5 things to do with kids in Ayutthaya. I know that traveling with kids could be troublesome but trust me it is worth it. I could see how my kids were mesmerized when they saw the ruined temples and castles, and how they questioned how people back then built those magnificent temples without technology.
Eat Some Kuay Teow Reua (Thai Boat Noodles)
Whenever you travel with kids, make sure their tummies are full. I would suggest to fill their tummy with Ayutthaya’s best-known dish, boat noodles. During the years of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, vendors would cook noodles on board small boats and sell them to people on shore or on other boats.
Boat noodles is a Thai noodle dish (you can choose your noodles : wide flat, egg noodles, vermicelli, etc) that contains pork beef, submerged in a flavourful dark soy sauce and other spices broth. It’s usually served with leafy greens, bean sprouts and meatballs.
There are many boat noodles places, but our favorite place is Wat Yai Noodle. This restaurant is located just across Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon, with spacious seating areas and parking spot. Personally, we like this place since it has fully AC room which makes this place more kids friendly. If you are here, don’t forget to try their pork satay.
Wat Yai Chai Mongkhon
Our second stop is one step away from the boat noodle restaurant. This temple is believed to be built in the early of Ayutthaya’s era. A big pagoda was constructed during the reign of King Naresuan the Great, to commemorate his single-handed victory against the heir apparent of Hongsawadi in a fight on elephant’s back.
Other than the huge pagoda, you will find a big reclining Buddha image, just outside the pantheon. Compared to other temples, this temple’s area is quite compact so it won’t take more than an hour to discover all corners.
Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit
The main picture of Wat Phra Mongkhon Bophit is the large bronze Buddha image, named Phra Mongkhon Bophit, which is close to 17 meters high. This statue was sculpted in 1538 in the reign of King Chairacha at Wat Chi Chiang Sai. After the ruined of Wat Chi Ching Sai, Phra Mongkhon Bophit was also badly damaged due to lightning. Later around 1767 during Burmese invasion, again the bronze Buddha image was badly destroyed but still left hanging. Only after 1920-1950s finally the Phra Mongkhon Bophit restored after several attempts restoration. In 1992, Phra Mongkhon Bophit was fully covered with golden leaf to celebrate the 60th birthday of H.M. Queen Sirikit.
So almost in every temple in Thailand , you can pray to Buddha and there usually is a fortune-teller corner.
All you gotta do is pray first to ask your question and pick one bucket of chopsticks. Shake the bucket until one chopstick falls down to the floor. There is a number written on the fallen chopstick, which you will then visit the administration inside the chapel and ask for a letter according to your number.
I got number 1 on my fallen chopstick and this is the letter that I got 😀 My husband and my son also got their own numbers. Fun to do with kids during our Ayutthaya exploration.
Elephant Back Riding of Ayutthaya
Nearby the last temple that we visited, there is an elephant sanctuary place called Ayutthaya Elephant Palace & Royal Kraal. We haven’t tried elephant back riding since we moved to Bangkok. The kids were both thrilled but also scared. You have to pay around 500 baht for 10 minutes ride just around the place. I felt bad towards the elephants so I guess that would be our first and last time riding an elephant. You could also feed the elephants by purchasing the fruits and vegetables in a basket cost around 50 to 150 baht.
The largest ancient temple site of Ayutthaya’s historical site was built in 1630 by King Prasat Thong in the traditional style with Khmer influences. Thus you will might resembles the architecture of Wat Chai Watthanaram as being similar to Angkor Wat in Cambodia. This was the royal temple used by the King and other Royal family members. This monastery was looted and destroyed during Burmese invasion in 1767 but lately restored in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
At the center of the Wat Chaiwatthanaram is a 35 meter tall Khmer style prang (a corncob shaped tower). The Khmer style in this temple represents a blend of universe in Buddhist and Hindus cosmology.
I spent almost two hours in this temple, soaking all the culture richness and completely in an awe of how majestic this place used to be. Every time I visit a historical ancient place like this, my mind would wander, imagining life back then. While being mesmerized with every Chedi and stupa here, my kids had fun running around and they found cute bugs.
It was such a wonderful exploration day despite the scorching heat of May. The kids had so much fun in Ayutthaya and I had my mind blown by the world’s mysterious surprise one more time ( psst… I am a die hard fan of history). If you have any plan for a short getaway from Bangkok, now is the time to visit Ayutthaya July onwards, since the weather in Bangkok is much cooler than in the first half-year. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen and your portable fan would be your best companion. Until then!