Ayutthaya (pop. 76,000) was the capital city of the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya and one of the world's largest and most sophisticated cities until it was sacked by the Burmese in 1756. Today, Ayutthaya is one of Thailand's greatest historical treasures, with abundant evidence of its former grandeur. As a bonus, it's easily reached in a day trip from Bangkok.   

Much of the ancient city's architecture, art, and literature were destroyed in 1767 when Ayutthaya was sacked by Hsinbyushin of the Alaungpaya dynasty, but several temples still stand. The modern town of Ayutthaya is set among the ruins of the ancient city, and its treasures are preserved in the National Museum. Ayutthaya was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991.