After I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Siam’s first ancient capital Sukhothai, I decided to pay a visit to its second and longest lasting capital. Ayutthaya was established in 1351 CE and it flourished from the 14th to the 18th centuries until the Burmese invasion in 1767 CE. Strategically situated on an island 🏝 surrounded by three rivers connecting the city to the sea, it was known as “Venice of the East” due to its hundreds of canals flowing throughout its heart. By the year 1700 CE Ayutthaya’s population had reached close to 1,000,000 making it one of the world’s largest cosmopolitan areas and a center of global diplomacy and commerce. As the wealthiest city 💵 in the Far East, Siam’s second capital and the court of King Narai (1656–88) had strong links with many European monarchs including King Louis XIV of France, whose ambassadors compared the city in size and wealth to Paris.
Did you know that Siam was never colonized?💡It was the only nation in Southeast Asia successfully avoiding colonization by Europeans unlike all of its neighbors, which fell under the control of either the British Empire (India, Burma, Malaysia) or the French Empire (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam). This was mainly due to reforms and modernization carried out by King Rama IV and King Rama V. Siam worked on adopting several European customs and became interested in European technology in an attempt to prevent colonization. The royal diplomatic efforts helped influence the British-French relationship in its favor, preventing the kingdom from falling under European rule.
Nowadays Ayutthaya is massive UNESCO World Heritage complex with beautiful ruins easily accessible by bicycle. I met up with three lovely ladies from France 🇫🇷, Germany 🇩🇪 and Holland 🇳🇱 at my hostel and we cycled in awe around the ancient city. After a long, hot, sweaty day and lots of selfies, we wrapped up with a refreshing lunch and great memories from the splendor of Siam’s last capital.