A Unesco World Heritage historical park thrives alongside the familiar bustle of modern Thailand in the city-island of Ayutthaya
(Clockwise from top left) In Wat Thammikarat, just outside the Ayutthaya Historical Park, a black Buddha is surrounded by statues of roosters; a bowl of kuay teow reua (boat noodles), a classic dish in the city-island surrounded by the waters of the Chao Phraya river; delicious street food at the very lively Bang Lan Night Market; Saffron-robed buddhas at Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
Ayutthaya, surrounded by the Chao Phraya river and its tributaries, was the capital of the Kingdom of Siam for four centuries until it was invaded by the Burmese in 1767. Today, river tours sail past various attractions, including reenactments of a colorful past staged on the bridges.
(Clockwise from top left) A devotee at the reclining Buddha of Wat Lokayasutharam; making roti samai, or fresh-griddled roti flavored with pandan and filled with angel-hair candy floss, a legacy of ancient Muslims who settled in Ayutthaya; Handmade souvenirs at Wat Phuttai Suwam, a temple built in the 1350s; a Buddha head in the sinewy grip of Wat Phra Mahathat’s overgrown corners
The Wat Khun Phrom ferry crosses the Chao Phraya several times a day and into the night, shuttling between Ayutthaya and the neighborhoods across the water, where mosques and churches stand as reminders of the centuries-old international settlements — Persian, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Cham Muslim and Indian — that were allowed to set up camp outside the capital.