Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand during the period 1350-1767. The modern town is nothing special, but it has a well-preserved complex of temple and palace ruins bordered by three rivers (these natural moats were important in protecting the city). Although the ruins at Sukhothai are better preserved and more extensive, Ayutthaya is so close to Bangkok that most travelers are likely to see only these-and they will still walk away impressed. Most tours don't allow enough time to see all the ruins and the two museums in town, but will visit enough of them to give you an idea of what the area has to offer. If you're traveling independently, you can take an early train there from Bangkok, tour the sights, then travel by boat 7 mi/11 km downriver to Bang Pa-In (a king's summer palace, built in Chinese traditional architecture). Boat rides take about an hour and provide great views of rural life along the river. From Bang Pa-In, take the train back to Bangkok. 55 mi/85 km north o!
Thailand's capital city is large (pop. 5,876,000), modern and progressive, but it doesn't intimidate visitors-the buildings aren't too tall, the people are usually polite, the sidewalks aren't overly crowded, and it has one of the lowest crime rates (against tourists, at least) in the world. We feel safe walking the streets after dark, when it's cooler.
The City of Angels does, however, have more than its share of traffic jams, noise and pollution. You'll find that you can often get to places faster by walking than by taking a taxi or bus. We recommend that you use the water taxis whenever possible-many of the city's attractions are near some of their regular stops on the river (maps are available).
Bangkok's temples, despite being in the center of a thriving modern metropolis, are some of the finest in all of Asia. The most spectacular are in the same complex: the Gran

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