The ancient city of Ayutthaya was the capital of Thailand from the mid-13th to late 17th centuries until it was invaded and pillaged by Burmese troops.

It was during the Ayutthaya period that the Thai people established themselves culturally and economically, building a large number of Buddhist monuments and palatial buildings, as well as a canal which circles the town. Before the Burmese invasion, it is estimated that the population of Ayutthaya was roughly 1 million. Modern Ayutthaya is a quiet town which lies just 85km north of Bangkok at the confluence of the Chao Phraya, La Sak and Lopburi rivers. A visit to Ayutthaya paints a picture of small-town Thai life as well as a dramatic glimpse of its historic past, which now lies in ruins. I visited this city while traveling on a rice barge on the river.