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NORTHERN THAILAND'S HIGHLIGHTS

thai romanization
Puzzled about
Thai romanization system ?


 

Sukhothai: Province The Dawn of Happiness  
 Sukhothai

     Province
      The Dawn of Happiness
 

  By Dararai


Sukhothai Province was the first capital of the Thai kingdom which was established in 1238 and reached its zenith of prosperity during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great (1279-1300). It was during this period that Sukhothai extended its territory right down to the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. What is more, Ramkhamhaeng is credited with the creation of the Thai alphabet and the adoption of Theravada Buddhism as the state religion.


King Ramkhamhaeng the Great

The Sukhothai Kingdom fell to Ayutthaya in 1378 AD but was still ruled by Sukhothai kings until 1438 AD with King Maha Thammaracha IV as the last king. Then it was completely annexed as a part of the Ayutthaya Kingdom.


Sukhothai Historical Park


Several hundred years later, the ruins of Sukhothai were rediscovered by King Rama IV (1851-1868) when he was a wandering monk. Before that, nobody in this country realized that there was anything left from the ancient city which was once the nerve centre of a rich and powerful kingdom whose sphere of influence extended right to the tip of the Malay Peninsula.

The name Sukhothai is the combination of two Thai words -- suk (happiness) + u-thai (the dawn) meaning "the dawn of happiness".

Full of World Heritage sites* designated by UNESCO, Sukhothai is frequented by tourists who come to explore the grandeur of this ancient kingdom. To serve as a guide to this province, interesting attractions of Sukhothai Province are described here and grouped under the names of the counties in which they are situated.


*World Heritage sites in Sukhothai include remains of the towns of Sukhothai, Sisatchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet.

Attractions in Muang County

Phra Maeya Shrine, situated in front of the City Hall, is highly respected by Sukhothai residents. It houses an idol of Phra Maeya with long hair in the ancient queen attire. The statue is supposed to have been built during King Ramkhamhaeng's reign as a dedication to his late mother Nang Sueang.


The Sukhothai Celadon Museum

The Sukhothai Celadon Museum is located at Muang Ek Plaza on Bypass Road. On display are more than 2,000 pieces of priceless old celadon (or sangkhalok in Thai) both from domestic and foreign sites.

The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is situated in front of the Sukhothai Historical Park. The exhibitions include artefacts unearthed in Sukhothai and nearby provinces.


Wat Sa Si in the Sukhothai Historical Park


The Sukhothai Historical Park This is 12 km west of Sukhothai Town on Charot Withi Thong Road. The park was designated by UNESCO a World Heritage site in December 1991. It is where several ancient ruins having great value are located. Most ruins are Buddhist temples and royal palaces. The significant ones are Wat Mahathat, Wat Si Chum and Wat Chang Lom. Wat Mahathat is the largest and most impressive spot in this park. It has stupas representing various architectural influences. Two awesome 12-metre-tall standing statues of the Buddha are enshrined in the compound.


Phra Achana Buddha image in
a ruined vihara of Wat Si Chum

Wat Si Chum is well known for a large sitting Buddha image, Phra Achana, with a 11.30-metre lap width. Its name means one who is dauntless. Wat Chang Lom features a main bell-shaped chedi with 32 elephant statues around its base.


Phra Maeya Shrine

Attractions in Khirimat County

Ramkhamhaeng (Khao Luang) National Park covers an area of 341 sq km straddling several counties of Sukhothai. This is a national park with a historical background of the Sukhothai Period. Attractions in the park are as follows: Khao Luang Mount is 1,200 metres above sea level and features impressive scenery of Sukhothai Town. Suan Lumphini Wan is a herb garden at the foot of Khao Luang. The head office of the park is here.


Sai Rung Waterfall in Ramkhamhaeng
National Park (Photo by courtesy of TAT)

Sai Rung Waterfall This four-leap waterfall is located to the west of Khao Luang. The water jumping down the sheer cliff reflects the sunlight and creates a beautiful rainbow. The recommended time to see the rainbow is from 11.00 to 16.00 hrs. The Buddha Footprints at the foot of Tham Phrabat Hill Engraved with the 108 auspicious signs, its age is about 600 years. Phra Maeya Cave is a huge rock shed formerly used to house Phra Maeya statue before it was transferred to the present site in front of the City Hall. Phra Ruang Road This 123-km road connecting Kamphaeng Phet and Sukhothai provinces is assumed to be constructed 700 hundred years ago to serve as a strategic route and can be said to be the first highway of the country.


Items on display at the Ramkhamhaeng
National Museum

Attractions in Sawankhalok County

The Sawankhaworanayok National Museum is 38 km from Sukhothai town. The upper floor of the museum exhibits sculptures, particularly Buddha images ranging from the pre-Sukhothai Age to the Early Rattanakosin. The lower floor showcases celadon excavated in Si Satchanalai County and treasures from under the sea of the Gulf of Thailand.

Attractions in Si Satchanalai County

Si Satchanalai Historical Park is located on the bank of the Yom River. Formerly called "Muang Chaliang", Si Satchanalai was an important producer of glazed ceramics called Sangkhalok wares (celadon). Over 500 kilns have been excavated so far in Si Satchanalai town and there is evidence of the ceramics being once shipped to as far as China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Among the remains of the 19 ruins inside the city wall, highlights are Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Wat Chang Lom, Wat Chedi Chet Thaew and Wat Nang Phaya. Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat is 3 km to the south of the ancient Si Satchanalai's wall. At the centre of the temple, there is a laterite prang on a square base. A steep staircase in front of the huge prang leads to a room where a reliquary is enshrined.


Wat Chang Lom

Wat Chang Lom, the compound to the right of the entrance is distinctly Sri Langkan in style, with a characteristic stupa and 39 laterite elephant buttresses. The elephants at Wat Chang Lom are quite different from those found at other temples. They represent standing elephants that are taller than life-size ones. Wat Chedi Chet Thaew is located to the south of Wat Chang Lom.


Wat Chedi Chet Thaew

The most important constructions at this temple are the main chedi with lotus bud-shaped top and 33 subordinate chedis believed to contain the remains of the Sukhothai royal family. Wat Nang Phaya, southeast to Wat Chedi Chet Thaew, is known for the exterior of the vihara made of laterite blocks, which was decorated with highly elaborate stucco, in the art style of the early Ayutthaya period. The main chedi in the Sri Langkan style, another focus of this temple, is supported by a high base, once decorated with sculptures of elephants similar to those at Wat Chang Lom.

Si Satchanalai National Park covers an area of 319 sq km of several counties. Interesting spots in the park are such as: Tat Duan, Tat Dao and Huai Sai Khao waterfalls which are surrounded by lush forests and ideal for recreation and Khangkhao (bat) Cave, a large cave with stalagmites and stalactites inhabited by hundreds of thousands of bats.


Biking and elephant trekking
are choices for visitors to go
round the historical parks.

These are parts of interesting attractions in Sukhothai Province, many more are waiting for you to discover their charm.

To thoroughly explore Sukhothai, you should plan your itinerary well as there are so many things to see. For more information, please contact TAT Northern Office Region 3 on tel: 0 5525 2742-3, fax: +66 (0) 5523 1063. You can also opt to consult a travel agent to arrange a tour programme for you.

How to get to Sukhothai

Sukhothai Province is 427 km north of Bangkok and can be reached by either way as follows:

By car: From Bangkok, use Highway 1. Drive past Nakhon Sawan and Kamphaeng Phet provinces to enter Highway 101. Then you will pass Phran Kratai and Khirimat counties and finally reach Sukhothai.

By bus:
Buses and air-conditioned buses to Sukhothai are available daily at the North & Northeast Bus Terminal (Mochit). It takes about 7 hours to arrive at Sukhothai.

By plane:
Direct flights to Sukhothai are operated by Thai Airways International, tel: 0 2356 1111.

Special thanks to TAT Northern Office Region 3 (tel: 0 5525 2742-3) for arranging a press tour to Sukhothai.


For the correct pronunciation of romanized Thai words, see
Romanization System of the Thai Language.

Related links
Thailand Tourist Destinations
Sukhothai: Historical Park Traces of an ancient civilization
Sukhothai: Historical Park, a world heritage site by UNESCO


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