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Bang Pa-In Royal Palace

The palace is very European in design. The buildings are laid out along an artificial ornamental pond. In what was formerly the public area of the palace, the lake is a long rectangular pool, lines with formal plantings and the odd folly. The most obvious of the ornaments is a modern copy of a Khmer style prang.

At the end of this formal entry promenade the pond takes on a more natural shape. In this pond you see what has become the "signature piece" of Bang Pa In. It is an elegant Thai-style pavilion in the middle of a pond, with the rather daunting title of "The divine seat of personal freedom." It is really the only example of classical Thai architecture within the palace and was built by King Chulalongkorn (Rama V).

If you are interested in visiting this place, you must be "properly dressed" to enter the building, which for men means no shorts, and women must wear a skirt. Sarongs are available in the building next door if you need a wardrobe adjustment. For admission fee, there is a fee of 100 Baht (2.60 USD) to enter the palace grounds. Hours are 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, but the ticket office closes at 3:30 pm.

Wat Niwet Thammaprawat

On a small island in the Chao Phrya river, just across from the Bang Pa-In royal estate and largely unnoticed by the busloads of visitors to that estate, stands what looks at first glance to be an English village. A street of Western-style buildings, complete with fence, trees, and lamp-posts, culminate in a fine if rather colourful neo-Gothic parish church.

The whole thing is actually a wat, a Thai Buddhist temple-monastery complex, and the church (which maintains the Western look inside as well as out) is its wiharn or worship hall.

Wat Niwet was a personal project of the great 19th-century Siamese king Rama V Chulalongkorn, the modernising monarch whose diplomatic and governing skills also kept the kingdom from becoming another Western colony. The king had a great fondness for Western style though this wat (designed by his European architect, a full-time court employee) is a rather extreme case.

Despite its character and attractiveness Wat Niwet gets few visitors, probably because most of those who come to Bang Pa-In are on organised day tours from Bangkok to Ayutthaya and just making a short stop. But if you make a trip specially to take your time at the estate, you get across to it on a cable car from the estate car park operated by the temple (no charge, donation appreciated).

Ayothaya Floating Market

Ayothaya Floating Market covers a vast area of approximately 70 acres and is regarded as the largest tourist attraction in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, in the aspect of cultural heritage conservation. It was established with a primary purpose to serve as both a tourist destination and an educational institution for the preservation of Thai arts and culture, retaining all aspects of Ayutthaya floating market from the past. These include traditional costume, stunning architecture, unique culture and tradition, authentic amusement, folk performance, and the simple lifestyle of Thai people. Ayothaya Floating Market serves as a tourism hub for both domestic and international tourists to enjoy the pleasant environment and gorgeous scenery in a Thai style. While exploring the market, tourists can savor some tasty and delicious food or shop for souvenirs at various stores, scattering around the market.

Ayutthaya Elephant Village

Another activity that’s worth considering if you are thrilled by the thoughts of exploring Ayutthaya’s temple ruins on elephant back. Opposite Khum Khun Phaen in the Ayutthaya Historical Park, Ayutthaya Elephant Camp offers elephant rides as well as daily shows and feeding from 9:00 to 17:00. Ayodhaya Elephant Village (next to Ayodhaya Floating Market) has overnight mahout training programmes, in addition to elephant riding trips to nearby temples, for those interested to get real close up and personal with a pachyderm.

Ayutthaya Historical Park

Ayutthaya Historical Park covers the ruins of the old city of Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province, Thailand. The city of Ayutthaya was founded by King Ramathibodi I in 1351. The city was captured by the Burmese in 1569. Though not pillaged, it lost "many valuable and artistic objects." It was the capital of the country until its destruction by the Burmese Army in 1767.

In 1969 the Fine Arts Department began renovations of the ruins, which became more serious after it was declared a historical park in 1976. A part of the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. Thirty-five kings ruled the Ayutthaya kingdom during its existence.