Time Travel

Thailand's heroic ancient capital, Ayuthaya (p226), is a Unesco World Heritage Site and a major pilgrimage site for anyone interested in Thai history. The remaining red-brick temples, which resisted the Burmese siege in the 18th century, are now resisting the pull of gravity. It is hard to imagine today, but this modern city of temple ruins was once a golden city that bewitched European traders in the heyday of the Asian trade route. Nearby Bang Pa-In, a royal summer palace, is a surviving homage to the world's architectural styles that convened near this port city.

More recent masterpieces of Thai art can be seen in the vivid wall paintings and graceful stucco fa├žades of Phetburi's (p238) numerous temples. A day of wandering can provide views into several of the recognised masterpieces of central Thai art.

The Anaent Qty (p248), an architectural museum in Samut Prakan, has reproduced Thailand's great monuments into a tastefully arranged park. Like Ayuthaya, the Ancient City is best explored by bicycle, when the peaceful grounds and impressive structures will inspire further-flung excursions throughout the country.

Modern history is only a train ride away in Kanchanaburi (p242) where vivid museums, themed excursions and touching monuments bring home the area's tragic setting as a WWII labour camp.

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