Just 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Bangkok is the old capitol of Ayutthaya (or Ayuthaya, or even Ayodhaya. No matter how you spell it, its pronounced ah-you-tah-ya.) The city became Thailand's capitol in the mid-14th century and remained the capitol until the late 18th century. About the time that Americans were tossing tea into Boston harbor, the Burmese attacked and sacked Ayutthaya.
The ruins of Wat Si Sanphet, the centerpiece of Ayutthaya's old royal city.
The Ayutthaya period is looked on by many as the time when much of what is now thought of as "Thai style" was developed. In temples, this is when you see a marked transition from the Khmer style prangs to the bell shaped chedi. While Sukothai further north is seen as the birth of the Thai kingdom, Ayutthaya is seen today as its high point. Around Ayutthaya are signs of the Japanese, French, Dutch and Portuguese traders that came to the Thai court. Read more about the history of Ayutthaya for more information.
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Ayutthaya is usually visited as part of a packaged day trip from Bangkok, which usually includes stops at the Bang Pa In palace as well as the Bang Sai royal arts center. You can spend a leisurely day here and see the main sights, or a quick stop, all with relatively low pressure compared to many other tourist sites. From Ayutthaya you can quickly get on an expressway and be back in Bangkok in about an hour. It's relatively easy to do a day trip on your own, so you can go at your own pace and probably spend a lot less money. Read my How To Do Your Own Day Trip article for details.