Thailand has a long and rich history which dates back to prehistoric times. But if you’re visiting, it can be tough trying to decide which sites to visit, and which to skip. Here is a list of five of the top ancient sites not to miss.
Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya was an ancient city in Thailand, which served as the country’s capital for over 400 years, before it was destroyed by the Burmese army. The historical park covers the whole city, which now consists of ruins of temples and palaces. Although it would take you about a week to see everything Ayutthaya has to offer, there are some sites you simply can’t miss. Wat Chaiwattanaram is definitely one of them. This royal temple was the location of important religious ceremonies, and was the burial site for the royal family. The temple is home to over 120 impressive gold Buddha statues. Another site you can’t leave Ayutthaya without seeing is Wat Phra Mahthat – the face of Buddha in the tree. It was common for the Burmese soldiers to decapitate the heads of Buddha statues after taking a city, and this one was taken up by a tree, which has since grown to be enormous, and now features Buddha’s face in its trunk.
Temple of the reclining Buddha
Wat Pho, or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bangkok. Not only is it the largest of the temple complexes in the city, but it houses the famous reclining Buddha, a gold statue which lies 46 metres across and 15 metres tall. Wat Pho also attracts visitors for another reason, the massages. It’s known to be the best school of massage in Thailand, so if you’re feeling a little weary from your travels you can treat yourself to the ultimate Thai massage and then wonder through Wat Pho with a new lease on life.
The Grand Palace
The Grand Palace is a fitting name for this imperial palace. While the entire three-storey palace complex is mind-blowingly beautiful site, with its intricately decorated galleries and walls, the true magic of it is the Emerald Buddha. The 26 inch tall Buddha is made from precious stone and was carved in a seated yoga position. According to legend, a Chedi was struck by lightning and broke, and within it they found a Buddha made of plaster. The flaky plaster was chipped off and revealed a beautiful emerald Buddha. The statue has its own temple, which tourists may visit, but only the King is permitted to approach the statue, and only in his full ceremonial dress.
Wiang Kum Kam
Thailand’s lost city of Wiang Kum Kam is a one of a kind sight. It was once the capital of Lanna kingdom, but the king was forced to relocate to a new site, because the riverside city flooded. The flooding persisted and the city was lost and forgotten. Almost 1000 years later, ruins were discovered and the city was excavated, but archaeologists discovered that the site dates back even further, dating back at least two centuries. The temples and ruins surrounded by thick jungle make the site a truly amazing experience.
Sukhothai is an incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site in Thailand. It was the first capital of the ancient city of Siam and today the palace and 26 temples still remain. The site’s most impressive structure is the giant Buddha statue in the Wat Si Chum Temple. The seated Buddha is 15 metres tall and 11 metres wide. Once completely covered in gold leaf, only shreds of the gold remain, giving it a commanding feeling.