Suffice it to say that Ayutthaya is very deserving of the UNESCO recognition. While I cannot say that I have been to many world heritage sites, I can say that there is a real feeling of depth to visiting Ayutthaya. The area is a bustling modern city with ruins that date back to the 1300's. There is a mix of modern cars, tuk-tuks, and other "normal" looking settings, with the temple complexes playing backdrop to the typical Thai city scene.
We were lucky in the sense that we had a lot of time in the early morning to explore the area before the typical crowds started to arrive.
My suggestion for visiting any site like this is to show up early and leave early. There is a real sense of beauty when you are wandering around the ruins by yourself. For the first small portion of time, the only sounds that I heard were the calls of birds and my own feet moving along the rough gravel paths. That serenity was shattered when the first school group turned their children loose on the area. For a few glorious minutes though, there was a real sense of calm and beauty.
The only complaint that I have about the whole trip is how many people do not understand the fragility of places such as these. There are signs in multiple languages asking people to not deface the ruins, leave rubbish, or climb all over the steps. There are areas that are lower and are OK to walk up, but there are many places that you can tell would be both perilous to the person ascending, and destructive to the irreplaceable cultural artifacts.
Sadly, I saw a few people ignoring these signs. I wish I could say that it was just one or two tourists, but it seems that Thai and foreign alike want to take that extra special selfie on top of a set of 700 year old crumpling stairs.
An interesting thing that I learned is that when you take a picture with any statue that depicts Buddha, you are supposed to be lower than the head of the statue. This makes total sense when thinking about the cultural values, but just a connection that I had never made before.
So, without further rambling, here are some of the better photos that I captured today.