Located 85 km north of Bangkok, the kingdom of Ayutthaya was the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai. The city was founded around 1350 and served as the trading capital of Asia and even the world because of its strategic location between India, China, and the Malay Archipelago. Around the 1700s, Ayutthaya was claimed to be the largest city in the world with around 1 million inhabitants including merchants from countries such as France, Netherlands, Portugal, Japan, and even Arab countries. Some claimed it was the finest city in the world. And it remained so until 1767 when Burmese invaded Ayutthaya and burnt the city to almost ashes.
What remains today are the relics of the temples, palaces, and building from that age as they were the only structures made out of stone. In 1991, Ayutthaya was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The island of Ayutthaya is at the confluence of three important rivers namely the Chao Phraya river, the Lopburi River and the Pa Sak River.
If you are taking a train to the city, you will have to cross the river via ferry boat as the train station is located east of the island. Navigating around the city is comparatively easy as the whole island is encircled by a ring road known as U Thong Road.
All your events and nightlife is to the northeast of the island while the temple ruins and such sights are to the northwest.
Its proximity to Bangkok makes it a popular weekend destination for locals living in the city and for tourists visiting Bangkok on holiday.
The most preferred and easy way to get to Ayutthaya is to take a train from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong railway station. It takes around 90 minutes. If you are staying on the east or centre of the island that you need to take a ferry boat to cross over the river to the other side to your hotel. You can also take a minivan (leaving every half hour from the Victory Monument, Bangkok) which takes about an hour and 60 baht and drops you to the Naresuan road. I would not advise buses from Bangkok to Ayutthaya because it would require you to first travel to the north part of the city and then further up to Ayutthaya.