Cycling Ayutthaya: The Best Way to Enjoy the Temples of Thailand’s Ancient Capital

Ayutthaya cycling route

During the 1700s, at a time when the United States was just a colonial outpost, the city of Ayutthaya was home to over a million people. Reigning as the capital of Siam, the city was a huge hub bursting with activity and trade from merchants from across the world. The Ayutthaya Kingdom prevailed from 1350 to 1767, and was a major power in Southeast Asia during this time.

In 1767, a series of socio-economic and political changes, as well as conflicts over succession, weakened the Ayutthaya military and the city was invaded by the Burmese. After a ruthless 14-month-long siege, Ayutthaya fell to its knees, was ravaged by fire, and never recovered.

A new city has since sprung from the ashes, and the ruins of the ancient city are now preserved as the “Ayutthaya Historical Park”, a recognized UNESCO Heritage Site. All that is left today of the old city are the ancient ruins of its temples — a monument to a remarkable kingdom and a bygone age.

The best way to explore Ayutthaya’s temple ruins is by bicycle. The Historical Park is not too large, so you’re able to see all the best temples in one day while maintaining a leisurely pace on your bike.

Read on for my one-day Ayutthaya cycling route and itinerary, which includes 7 of the best temples to visit.

Temple Lingo

Wat: temple
Prang: a large tower-like spire
Chedi: a bell-shaped structure housing a Buddha statue or royal figure remains
Ubosot: the main prayer room
Viharn: the temple hall

Where to hire bikes in Ayutthaya

You won’t struggle to find somewhere to rent a bike in Ayutthaya. Many hostels and guesthouses will have bikes for hire, and there are also numerous bike rental locations in and around the Old Town. I used Tour With Thai and had a good experience with them.

Some more bike rental shops in Ayutthaya include:

Bike rental costs typically costs between 50 – 100 baht for the day, so it’s a really cheap way to explore the city. The bikes are typically city-style fixed-gear bikes, which is ideal for Ayutthaya’s flat topography.

As you explore modern-day Ayutthaya, you’ll see that ruins of the former kingdom are prevalent everywhere. The Historical Park isn’t too huge, so you’ll be able to comfortably cover the highlights on a one-day cycling tour.

Ayutthaya cycling route

Ayutthaya cycling route and itinerary: which temples should you visit?

Ayutthaya is home to a ton of temples. It would take days to visit them all, so I’ve picked the best of the bunch and condensed them into a one-day cycling itinerary. If you’re really temple-mad, you could absolutely spend more time exploring Ayutthaya’s Historical Park, but one day is plenty to get a feel of the architecture of the temples.

This Ayutthaya cycling route will take you to seven temples, including the five main ancient temples dedicated to Buddha — Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Phra Sri Sanphet, Wat Phra Ram and Wat Chai Watthanaram.

I’ve created a map below to help you navigate your way. A suggested bike rental location is marked in red, and the temples are marked in purple.

1. Wat Mahathat and the Buddha Head

Wat Mahathat (translating to Temple of the Great Relic) is one of the largest and most popular temples in Ayutthaya, so I recommend getting there at 8 AM before the crowds start to arrive. The complex is particularly famous for its Buddha head entwined in a tree. No one knows how the head got here, but it’s quite cool to see.

I’d recommend giving yourself at least an hour to explore Wat Mahathat as it has expansive grounds, with chedis, libraries, sanctuaries and hallways to discover.

Location: Tha Wasukri, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Timings: 8 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee: 50 Baht

Wat Mahathat and the Buddha Head
Wat Mahathat and the Buddha Head

2. Wat Ratchaburana

Just across the street from Wat Mahathat is Wat Ratchaburana, which translates to “the temple of Royal Restoration”. Ratchaburana is much less crowded than Wat Mahathat, so you’ll be able to explore it with a little more peace and quiet.

King Borommarachathirat II had this temple constructed in 1424 in memory of his two older brothers, who died fighting over who would be the next King. King Borommarachathirat II ascended the throne when they passed, and had Wat Ratchaburana built on the spot they were cremated. Two chedis were erected on the very spot where the princes died.

Location: Amphoe Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, Chang Wat Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Timings: 8 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee: 50 Baht

Wat Ratchaburana Temple
Wat Ratchaburana Temple

3. Wat Phra Ram

A five-minute bike ride from Wat Ratchaburana will take you to the less-visited Wat Phra Ram. This is a wonderful stop on your Ayutthaya cycling route, as the temple has Buddha images carved on the external walls and several ornate stupas.

Location: Pratu Chai Sub-district, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Timings: 8:30 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee: 50 Baht

Wat Phra Ram
Wat Phra Ram

4. Wat Phra Si Sanphet

A short 300-metre cycle will bring you to Wat Phra Si Sanphet.

This monastery was thought to be the most important temple in Ayutthaya and was situated within the Grand Palace grounds. It served as a model for the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.

Location: Pratuchai, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Timings: 8 AM to 5 PM
Entry Fee: 50 Baht

Wat Phra Si Sanphet
Wat Phra Si Sanphet

5. Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit

Next to Wat Phra Si Sanphet is Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit, a beautiful sanctuary hall housing one of Thailand’s largest Buddha statues. Standing at 12.45 metres high and constructed of brick and bronze, it’s an impressive sight.

Location: Phai Ling, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Timings: 8 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: 20 Baht

Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit
Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit

6. Wat Lokaya Sutharam

A short cycle will take you to Wat Lokaya Sutharam, a temple with a 42-metre-long reclining Buddha statue surrounded by ruins. It’s an impressive sight, but you won’t need to spend very long here.

Location: Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Timings: 8 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: Free

Wat Lokaya Sutharam
Wat Lokaya Sutharam

7. Wat Chai Watthanaram

Wat Chai Watthanaram is the final temple on your Ayutthaya cycle tour. It’s the furthest temple from the centre of town, about a 10/15 minute cycle from Wat Lokaya Sutharam.

Wat Chai Watthanaram is one of Ayutthaya’s best-known temples. It was constructed in 1630 by King Prasat Thong as a memorial to his mother (Chai Watthanaram translates to long reign and glorious era).

Unfortunately, floods in 2011 caused a fair amount of damage and many of the statues of Buddha within the temple complex are beheaded, presumably by the Burmese when they attacked Ayutthaya. Regardless, this is a seriously impressive sight.

Wat Chai Wattahanaram is the perfect place to enjoy the late afternoon sun before cycling back into Ayutthaya for a well-deserved pad thai and a Chang.

Location: Ban Pom, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand
Timings: 8 AM to 6 PM
Entry Fee: 50 Baht

Wat Chai Watthanaram
Wat Chai Watthanaram

And there we have it: a one-day Ayutthaya cycling route to help you see the best of the Ayutthaya Historical Park!

Tip: If you’re not sure about navigating Ayutthaya by bike on your own, you’ll be pleased to know there are some great cycling tours available on Viator. Check out this half-day bike tour or this full-day bike tour.

Ayutthaya essentials

Here’s what you need to know when planning your trip to Ayutthaya.

Where: Two excellent budget hostels include Plus Hostel and Early Bird Hostel. If you’d prefer a guesthouse, Siri Guesthouse is a brilliant choice.

When: November to January is the best time to visit Ayutthaya as there is little rainfall during these months.

How: You can visit Ayutthaya as part of an organised day tour from Bangkok, take the train from Bangkok’s Hualamphong station, or take a minivan from Bangkok’s Mo Chit Bus Station.

Thank you for reading! If you found this post useful, I’d be grateful if you would consider using the affiliate links below when planning your travels. I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. This will help me to keep this blog running. Thanks for your support – Lauren.

Hotels – Booking.com
Hostels – Hostelworld
Cheap flights – Skyscanner
Travel insurance – World Nomads
Outdoor gear – Decathlon / GO Outdoors
Cycling gear – Chain Reaction Cycles

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  1. Thanks for the great report! I am going to visit Ayutthaya in March and cannot wait.

    I heard somewhere they have a stamping card for the temples to save a little money. Have you heard of this?

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