Thailand – Getting to know Ayutthaya & Khao Yai NP

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and a treasure trove of early Siamese artefacts, the city of Ayutthaya was established as the capital of Siam (now Thailand) over 650 years ago, on the fertile lands at the crossroads of the Chao Phraya, Pasak and Lopburi Rivers. The region is also home to Khao Yai National Park, with its fabulous array of creatures.

Thailand Ayutthaya & Khao Yai NP Travel Guide

Soon after it was founded, Ayutthaya became a major international trading centre and marketplace for merchants from China, India, Persia and Europe, who came in search of rice, timber, incense, textiles and other exotic goods. Ayutthaya remained the capital for over 400 years until the Burmese invaded, destroying the city in 1767. Today the archaeological park in the centre of the former capital has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is full of fascinating early Siamese artefacts.

Get off the trail in Khao Yai National Park

To the east of Ayutthaya and deep within a lush tropical mountain range, the Khao Yai National Park covers over 2,100 square kilometres, including one of the largest areas of monsoon forest in Asia, and protects 66 species of mammals. Asian black bears, Malayan sun bears, Asian elephants, gibbons, and recently even tigers, which seem to be making a comeback after disappearing from the area, all call the park home.

320 bird species (including several hornbills) and over 3,000 plant varieties also thrive here – the orchids, which bloom between June and July, are particularly splendid.

Overlooked by 1351m Khao Rom, the highest peak in the Sankamphaeng Range, the park is known for its spectacular waterfalls, and in 2005 it was afforded, along with several neighbouring parks, UNESCO World Heritage status.

Whether you want to wander for an hour or hike for four days, Khao Yai is full of excellent trails, through vegetation that ranges from evergreen rainforest to savannah.

Good facilities are in place to help you enjoy the park to its fullest, including a friendly visitor centre and observation towers, which are scattered throughout the park to give you every chance of spotting its wildlife, not to mentioning absorbing the wonderful views.

Kayaking and rafting are available, and camping is permitted in designated camping zones for those with a head for adventure.

What to do in Ayutthaya

Explore hundreds of sites of historical interest, including temples, shrines, monasteries, stupas, the 16th century royal palace – all surrounded by lush rice fields, canals and waterways. The nearby Bang Pa In, the summer palace built by Rama V, is another site of interest.

A rice barge cruise through the rivers and canals is a wonderful way to discover a part of Thailand untouched by the huge development work carried out in the nearby, present day capital, Bangkok.

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Photos of Ayutthaya


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    • Matt
    • Asia Specialist
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    • Asia Specialist and New Zealand Specialist
    • Emily
    • Thailand and Asia Specialist

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