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Visiting Wat Mahathat






Looking across the crumbling ruins of Wat Mahathat – a former royal monastery and the seat of the Supreme Patriarch of the City Dwelling.

Intro: After exploring the elaborate grounds of the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, our day trip to Ayutthaya continued at the former royal monastery ruins of Wat Mahathat.

Looking through the trees towards the temple architecture of Wat Mahathat that we visited as part of our Ayutthaya day tour.

From the Bang Pa-In Royal Palace, we continued on to the Ayutthaya Historical Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site and once one of Southeast Asia’s most prosperous cities. Founded in 1350, it went on to become Siam’s second capital (after Sukhothai), and was visited by traders and merchants from across the world. It was renowned for its temples, palaces and monasteries, and our first ruin for the day was at the former royal monastery of Wat Mahathat.

A close-up shot of one of the decapitated Buddha sculptures at Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya.

It was built sometime in the late 14th century and was one of the most important monasteries in Ayutthaya, partly because of its close proximity to the Grand Palace. It served as the seat of the Supreme Patriarch of the City Dwelling sect throughout the Ayutthaya period, but was heavily ransacked by the Burmese army in 1767 during the fall of Ayutthaya. Many of the Buddha images for which Wat Mahathat was renowned were beheaded, leaving it a somewhat eerie place today.

With the famous Buddha head in the Banyan tree at Ayutthaya’s Wat Mahathat.

Undoubtedly the most popular thing to see at Wat Mahathat is the Buddha head that has been enveloped by the roots of an old Banyan tree, and you must remember to respectfully crouch down with your head BELOW that of the Buddha if you want to have a photo with it!

Looking across the stupas and prangs of Wat Mahathat – once one of Ayutthaya’s most important monasteries.

After seeing the famous Buddha head, we had time to wander around Wat Mahathat, whose ancient prang towers look a little like the Leaning Tower of Pisa today! There were rows of sculpted Buddhas who had been decapitated, but despite the ruined state of the most of the structures, you could see that it must have been quite impressive in its day.

Large groups of other tourists were also visiting Wat Mahathat during our day trip to Ayutthaya.

To be honest, the heat and humidity were quite unbearable, and there were few people on our tour bus who were up for exploring very far. The only other downside of visiting Wat Mahathat was that our bus arrived at the same time as numerous other tour groups (perhaps we were all doing the same Ayutthaya day trip itinerary), and it was difficult to capture photos without other tourists in our shots.

With Mini G enjoying a day sightseeing tour of Wat Mahathat and the Ayutthaya Historical Park.

But if you decide to visit the Ayutthaya Historical Park, Wat Mahathat and its beheaded Buddhas are one of the highlights. Entrance costs 50THB and the Ayutthaya Historical Park is open from 8AM to 6PM, but try and get there as early as possible if you want to avoid the crowds!


  • 1: Be sure to check out the iconic Buddha head encased in the old Banyan tree.
  • 2: If you want to take a picture with yourself and the Buddha head, remember to crouch down to the level of the head. Standing in front of it would be considered disrespectful.
  • 3: If possible, arrive early to avoid the crowds of other tourists visiting these ruins.
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