Wat Chaiwatthanaram temple, Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand
© Weerasak Saeku/Getty Image
Ruins of a royal temple. Ayutthaya Historical Park, Thailand
When the sunset casts its spell over Thailand, the Wat Chaiwatthanaram Buddhist temple lights up to welcome the night at the Ayutthaya Historical Park. Even though the temple is not part of the nearby Historic City of Ayutthaya (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the ruin is just as divine, exhibiting meticulous details of rich history and architecture. King Prasat Thong—from the dynasty of the Siamese Ayutthaya Kingdom that ruled Southeast Asia between the 14th and 18th centuries—built the sanctuary to symbolise the centre of the universe and connote his aspiration to become the future Buddha. From the Buddhist temple, the Historic City of Ayutthaya can be reached by boat or road. Three rivers link the once-metropolitan city of the Siamese Kingdom to the sea. Now a historical ruin, Ayutthaya was an important point of commerce and diplomacy, with the advantages of the surrounding rivers serving as natural defence.