Points of Interest
Experience a historical Thai adventure as you cruise along the Chao Phraya River in the comfort of our luxurious Anantara Cruise in Bangkok and witness striking landmarks of a bygone era. From Nakhon Sawan province, the Chao Phraya River journeys south for more than 360 kilometres before emptying into the Gulf of Thailand at Pak Nam. In the 17th century, it was one of the busiest river routes in Asia, particularly the final stretch leading to the great city of Ayutthaya. Today, a trip up the historic waterway will introduce you to stunning temples, fascinating museums and folk traditions.
Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn)
Embark on a Chao Phraya river cruise and capture the magnificence of the Temple of Dawn. Standing on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi, Wat Arun has existed since the days when Ayutthaya was still the capital of Thailand. Today, it is one of Bangkok’s best known landmarks, famous for its uniquely decorated chedis covered with thousands of pieces of multicoloured Chinese Porcelain.
Bang Pa In
Be enraptured by the luxurious setting of our Chao Phraya cruise as you sail along the Bang Pa In Royal Palace. Located slightly south of Ayutthaya and dating back to the 17th century, Bang Pa In Palace was used as a country residence by the Ayutthayan Royal Families. When the capital was moved to Bangkok, King Rama V restored the palace compound as it now appears today, with various distinctive buildings, such as the Chinese style pavilion and the famous Thai pavilion in the middle of the lake.
Wat Niwet Thammaprawat
Constructed at the command of King Rama V in 1878, Wat Niwet Thammaprawat was built in the style of an English Gothic church. The temple’s stained glass windows and unusual architecture make it one of the most distinctive Buddhist temples in Thailand.
Wat Phra Si Sanphet
The most important monastery located in Ayutthaya’s Grand Palace is Wat Phra Si Sanphet, built during the 15th century. Formerly a residential palace, it was later used as a royal chapel, but no monks or novices have ever inhabited the Wat, as is the normal practice at other temples. Its ruins are one of Ayutthaya’s most beautiful sites.
Wat Mongkhon Bophit
Adjacent to Wat Phra Si Sanphet on the palace grounds is the Wiharn Phra Mongkhon Bophit, which houses a large bronze-cast Buddha image originally enshrined outside the Grand Palace to the east. The original sanctuary (wiharn) and Buddha image was badly destroyed by fire during the second fall of Ayutthaya.
A tall Pagoda built by King Ramesuan in 1384, Wat Mahathat houses a relic of Lord Buddha, several golden Buddha images and many other objects in gold, ruby and crystal. Believed to be one of Ayutthaya’s oldest temples, Wat Mahathat is located in front of the Grand Palace, next to Pa Than Bridge. Its central prang, of which only the base remains, once rose to a height of 50 metres. Traces of the original stucco decorations can still be seen on some of the surrounding chedis.
Chao Sam Phraya National Museum
This museum houses various bronze Buddha images, antiques made of gold and decorated with precious jewels, famous carved panels and local artefacts of the Ayutthaya period. Of note is a receptacle in the Thai pavilion that contains relics of the Lord Buddha and other objects of art that are more than 500 years old.
The Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre
Since 1990, a special feature has set this national research institute apart from other museums: it does not focus on collecting and arranging priceless antiques such as Buddha images, pottery and jewellery, leaving visitors to imagine for themselves what the Ayutthaya Kingdom was like. Instead, its aim is to use historical evidence to recreate the social and cultural life of Ayutthaya through accurate scale models of various structures, places, and activities. Maps of Ayutthaya drawn by foreigners, overseas contracts, replicas of traditional Thai houses, models of ancient palaces and the Elephant Kraal are all displayed in the museum, a visit not to be missed.
Ekaraj the Drum Making Village
The residents of this village began making drums in 1927. After the harvest, villagers carve the soft wood from the silk or rain tree, and then fit it with cow or buffalo skin for the drum head. View the whole process from wood lathing to the final tuning of the skin. All sizes of drums are still produced with exquisite craftsmanship.
Wat Phra Phuttha Saiyat Pa Mok (Wat Pa Mok)
According to the chronicle, King Naresuan rested with his army here to pay respect to the Reclining Buddha before his great white elephant battle with the Burmese Crown Prince, King Maha Uparacha. Now a royal grade monastery (Wora Wihan), this temple is an integration of two former buildings, Wat Chi Pakhao and Wat Talat. During the reign of King Thaisa of Ayutthaya, the temple was known as Wat Pamok because of the existence of so many “Mok” or Apocynarea trees in the area. At 22.58 metres long, the Reclining Buddha is one of Thailand’s oldest and most beautiful.
Potters of Koh Kret
Pottery making was one the traditional skills brought by Mon refugees to the river island of Koh Kret in the 18th century. Today, Mon people continue to earn their income as their ancestors did by producing simple, utilitarian flower pots. However, they also make more elaborate Mon-style creations such as decorated water jars and lightly glazed cooking pots similar to those found in the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Each worker can produce approximately 300 pots a day.