Sukhothai is located on the lower edge of the northern region, with the provincial capital situated some 450 km. north of Bangkok and some 350 km. south of Chiang Mai. The province covers 6,596 sq. km. and is above all noted as the centre of the old Thai kingdom of
Sukhothai, with major historical remains at Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai. Its main natural attraction is Khao Luang mountain park. The provincial capital, sometimes called New Sukhothai, is a small town lying on the Yom River whose main business is serving tourists who visit the nearby Sukhothai Historical Park.
Founded in the 13th century, Sukhothai was the first truly independent Thai kingdom, and it enjoyed a golden age under the great King Ramkhamhaeng. Abandoned and overgrown for many centuries, the superb temples and monuments of this splendid city have been restored in Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A must-see for all travel-lers, Sukhothai is one of the most important historical sites in Southeast Asia.
Sukhothai, which means “Dawn of Happiness”, was the first kingdom of the Thais, formed after Thai forces drove the Khmers out of the city, a major frontier post of the Khmer Empire, and established it as their capital in 1238. The first king’s son, Ramkhamhaeng, ascended the throne in 1278 and reigned for forty years. A fine warrior, King Ramkhamhaeng the Great made Sukhothai a powerful and extensive kingdom which included many parts of what are today neighbouring countries.
King Ramkhamhaeng the Great opened direct political relations with China and made two trips there, from which he brought back Chinese artisans who taught the Thai fine pottery techniques, resulting in the famous Sawankhalok ceramics. A major achievement of his reign was the revision of various forms of the Khmer alphabet into a system suitable for the writing of Thai. The alphabet that the king invented in 1283 is essentially the same that is used today.
King Ramkhamhaeng the Great’s reign is noted for prosperity and happiness,
as recorded in a stone inscription well-known to Thais. “This realm of Sukhothai is good. In the water there are fish; in the fields there is rice. The ruler does not levy a tax on the people who travel along the road together, leading their oxen on the way to trade and riding their horses on the way to sell. Whoever wants to trade in elephants, so trades. Whoever wants to trade in horses, so trades. Whoever wants to trade in silver and gold, so trades.” King Ramkhamhaeng the Great also promoted religion and culture, and through his efforts Buddhism progressed among the people. Inspirational faith gave birth to classic forms of Thai religious art. Images of the Buddha sculpted during the Sukhothai era are cultural treasures which impart a feeling of peace and serenity. Eight kings ruled Sukhothai, whose gradual decline occurred during the last two reigns. The end of the first Thai kingdom came in 1365 when it was reduced to a vassal state by Ayutthaya, a young and rising Thai power to the south, which became the capital for four centuries,
succeeded by Bangkok.
How to Get There
From Bangkok, take Highway 1 then Highway 32 north to Nakhon Sawan. Highway 32 becomes Highway 1 again, follow all the way to
Kamphaeng Phet, then take Highway 101 to Sukhothai.
Air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok Bus Terminal on Kamphaeng Phet II Road for Sukhothai (7-hour journey).
For more information, call (66) 2 936 2852 to 66
or visit www.transport.co.th
Win Tour (66) 2 936 3753 or (66) 5561 1039
Phitsanulok Yan Yon (66) 2936 2924 to 5, (66) 5525 8647
The nearest railway station is at Phitsanulok, from where there are frequent bus services to Sukhothai, some 50 km. away. Trains depart from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station.
Tel.(66) 2220 4444 or Hotline 1690
and Intercity Transportation in Thailand Page
for more information.
Bangkok Airways flies from Bangkok to Sukhothai daily (1 hour). Sukhothai Airport is about 40 km. north of the town.
For more information, Tel. (66) 2265 5555, Hotline 1771