Hua Raw Market. Johan Fantenberg / Creative Commons
Thailand has such a rich culinary heritage, it’s easy to get a taste of it in its marketplaces and street corners. Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, its ancient capital for more than four centuries since it was founded in 1350, is one of the best places in the country to go and eat. It’s largely due to its place in history and in the Silk Route, where rice noodles from China, spices from India, rice-flour sweets from Japan, and other culinary influences passed and converged.
Since Ayutthaya is only around 85 kilometres from Bangkok, you can visit it on a daytrip or stay the night to have two days of sightseeing and sampling of local cuisine. After you make the requisite stops at the Bang Pa-in Royal Palace and the temples and ruins of the old kingdom, enjoy a lunch of Kung Phao Ayutthaya or succulently sweet roasted river prawns with spicy sauce and other Ayutthaya dishes such as the spicy sour soup Tom Yam Kung and the red curry shrimp Chu-chi Kung.
Finish off your meal with some Thai-style sweets like the Roti Sai Mai Ayutthaya or candyfloss roti along Uthong Road.
For your other meals, head off to the city’s Hua Ro market. The bustling 200-year-old marketplace of fresh and ready-to-eat foods that stretch along the Prasak River is where you can find many noodle shops selling “boat” noodles or kuay tiao ruea, which trace their roots centuries ago from Chinese vendors that used to sell bowls of rice noodles in a dark brown pork broth. Have a comforting bowl before taking a long-tailed boat, docked in the market to pick up tourists for a tour around the island.
Kung Phao Ayuthaya. Image © Tourism Authority of Thailand
Froghead tuktuk in Ayutthaya. Image © Tourism Authority of Thailand
Candyfloss roti dessert. Image © Tourism Authority of Thailand
Ayutthaya River cruise. Image © Tourism Authority of Thailand
Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
Take a food tour of the rest of Southeast Asia, by visiting Singapore’s hawker centers, especially those clustered in its cultural precincts; the Old District in Hanoi, Vietnam; and the foodie cities of Melaka, Ipoh, and Penang in Malaysia.