A pretty town in the northern part of the central Thailand plains, Sukhothai has a grand past, and it is this history that attracts visitors to its designated historical parks. From 1238 to 1438, it was the centre of the Kingdom of Sukhothai, known to be the first Siamese Kingdom. Its power and influence were matched by the impressive extent of its territory – it covered much of today’s central and southern Thailand, and out into modern day Myanmar and Laos.
Sukhothai was the Kingdom’s political and administrative centre. The rulers and their engineers conceived and built structures and systems that were hugely innovative for the time, such as an extensive water-system to serve the daily lives of those that lived and worshipped in the city, canals for transportation, and city moats for protection. Within the city walls were ornate Buddhist temples, and other grand buildings that were typically constructed from brick, enhanced with beautifully carved stucco. The Sukhothai Kingdom was responsible for the establishment of an art and architectural approach known today as the Sukhothai Style. This was the foundation of Thai-style traditional art and architecture, that is so distinctive today.
The religious centre of the Kingdom was located approximately 55-kilometres north at Si Satchanalai. The area is easily accessible by road from Sukhothai, and the historical park that has been designated here covers an enormous area of temples that similar to those at Sukhothai were of brick construction with elaborate stucco carvings. The brick structures of temples are remarkably well preserved – the extensive area is dotted with beautiful chedis, pagodas and wats, amongst serene, lush gardens.
Both Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai may be explored on foot, but we suggest exploring the extensive grounds on a guided bicycle tour. There are some inviting small boutique hotels close to Sukhothai Historical Park that offer comfortable and characterful accommodation. Our favourite is the charming small Tharaburi Resort with its beautifully appointed rooms and lush outdoor pool.
Sukhothai can be reached by short flight from Bangkok, and boasts one of Thailand’s most delightful airports, built in classic Thai architectural design. Travelling onwards, the fascinating city of Chiang Mai is a pleasant drive through the tropical northern Thai countryside.
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