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Published: August 4th 2014
Ayutthaya, also spelled Ayudhya, was a Siamese kingdom that existed from 1351 to 1767. Ayutthaya was friendly towards foreign traders, including the Chinese, Vietnamese (Annamese), Indians, Japanese and Persians, and later the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and French, permitting them to set up villages outside the walls of the capital, also called Ayutthaya.
In the sixteenth century, it was described by foreign traders as one of the biggest and wealthiest cities in the East. The court of King Narai (1656–88) had strong links with that of King Louis XIV of France, whose ambassadors compared the city in size and wealth to Paris.
By 1550, the kingdom's vassals included some city-states in the Malay Peninsula, Sukhothai, and parts of Cambodia.
In foreign accounts, Ayutthaya was called Siam, but many sources say the people of Ayutthaya called themselves Tai, and their kingdom Krung Tai, 'The Tai capital'. The word 'krung' has alternative meanings, as does 'tai', but in this context Tai capital is appropriate.
Ayutthaya is an island at the confluence of three rivers: the Chao Phraya River, the Lopburi River and the Pa Sak River. As the train station is at the east side off the island, most visitors
will need to cross the river by ferry boat. Navigating your way around the island is not particularly hard: U Thong Rd is a ring road that circumvents the island completely. Most temple ruins can be found at the northwest of the island, while accommodation and night life is clustered around the northeast. As non-Siamese peoples were not allowed to live inside the city walls, things foreign are found off the island.
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