When thinking about a city filled with culinary and cultural treasures passed down through the generations, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya must come to mind. This 672-year-old city is a culmination of its glory days as the kingdom’s capital and trade centre, welcoming merchants sailing in from around the world, bringing myriad influences and innovations that blended into the local cuisine. Chinese, Portuguese, Japanese, Indian, and Muslim are just some of the cultures that have helped shape Ayutthaya’s unique identity, from ship decks to palace halls. For those who want the full Ayutthaya experience, here’s a must-try list of delicious dishes and tasty treats that also reveal insights into the city’s heritage.
Enjoy Ayutthaya-style Thai desserts
No discussion about the history of Ayutthaya’s cuisine is complete without mentioning Thao Thong Kip Ma, or Maria Guyomar de Pinha. Half Portuguese, half Japanese, she lived in the Japanese quarter, which has been memorialised as one of Ayutthaya’s more popular attractions. Many people know Thao Thong Kip Ma as the original creator of foi thong, thong yip, and thong yot, the famous signature Thai sweets. Originally only served at the palace to visiting dignitaries, these vibrant treats became popular beyond the royal walls, especially at village festivals and traditional ceremonies.
As the birthplace of these Thai desserts, Ayutthaya is filled with shops selling sweets packaged perfectly for gifts as well as many dessert cafes all over the city. You can choose to nibble treats at a cafe with views of the ancient ruins of Wat Ratchaburana, or a rustic cafe surrounded by rice fields, or even a colourfully decorated riverside cafe along the Chao Phraya. Some spots even go above and beyond beautiful interiors.
Now, you can find hip and modern cafes in Ayutthaya that pair traditional Thai desserts with contemporary beverages. There are even dessert bars serving sweets with mocktails and cocktails with each bite and sip reflecting the city’s delicious heritage paired with its modern style.
Dive into street food at markets on land and water
Another fun part of a tasty trip to Ayutthaya are the many markets, both on land and water, offering a vast selection of delectable dishes and fantastic flavours. Start with the Kong Khong Market, famous for its desserts and local specialities sold by vendors in traditional dress as this market’s atmosphere turns back the clock to Ayutthaya of old. Then, there’s the Hua Ro Market, a long-established fresh market, featuring hawkers who have been selling their delicious wares for over 40 years, including fried clams, phad Thai, fried tofu, noodle soup, and traditional fresh coconut ice cream. The Ayutthaya Floating Market offers glimpses into the city’s past when the waterfront bustled with business, much like at the Wat Tha Karong Floating Market, where visitors can also sample Thai desserts and local favourites as well as shop for OTOP (One Product, One Tambon) products from Ayutthaya and nearby districts. For night owls, there is the Ayutthaya Night Market, abuzz with street food and souvenirs, making it a must-see for visitors to Ayutthaya.
Don’t miss out on Ayutthaya’s seasonal dishes - grilled prawns and freshwater fish
What's the hottest menu item in Ayutthaya? The answer is grilled river prawns served at countless restaurants in Ayutthaya, including Bib Gourmand recipients listed in the MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022 like Joong Borikan and Ruanthai Kungpao. For example, at Baan Ta-Koh-Rai, they offer various prawn dishes, including sangwa kung (prawns in spicy tamarind sauce) and grilled river prawns depending on the season.
Another Ayutthaya speciality that can’t be missed is grilled freshwater fish served with neem and sweet sauce, where different restaurants will feature different fish, such as snakehead fish or catfish.
Try Roti Sai Mai
Ayutthaya main roads are teeming with roti sai mai (roti-wrapped candy floss) shops on either side. The Muslim community of Ayutthaya came up with this sugary snack rather than just selling regular roti. Ayutthaya’s roti sai mai is known for the freshly made roti, as the different shops compete to make the thinnest yet chewiest roti to complement the perfectly sweet candy floss. You can also find roti of different flavours made with white or wheat flour. The MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2022 awarded Bib Gourmands to two locations: Roti Sai Mai Abeedeen-Pranom Sangaroon and Roti Sai Mai Mae Pom.
While travelling, don’t forget to wear a mask, wash your hands, and protect your health. Also, be on the lookout for the SHA logo. SHA is a project involving the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), Ministry of Tourism and Sports, Ministry of Public Health, and others. The SHA certification verifies the safety, hygiene, and the sanitation quality of products and services of Thai businesses in order to ensure a safe travel experience for all travellers.
For more information about this project, please visit thailandsha.tourismthailand.org. Or get more information for your trip with the TAT Call Centre on 1672 or on Facebook at the TAT Contact Centre.