Written by SeenThat on 01 Aug, 2008
193 temples can be visited nowadays in the Sukhothai ruins; optimistically, the name means "Dawn of Happiness."Principalities and Kingdoms Modern Thailand is the third Thai kingdom; to understand Sukhothai - the first one - some knowledge of the far past is necessary. Originally, Thais migrated…Read More
193 temples can be visited nowadays in the Sukhothai ruins; optimistically, the name means "Dawn of Happiness."Principalities and Kingdoms Modern Thailand is the third Thai kingdom; to understand Sukhothai - the first one - some knowledge of the far past is necessary. Originally, Thais migrated south of Xishuangbanna in Yunnan as the result of the pressure created by Chinese-Han migrating south. The process was slow and resulted in a wide spread of settlements by closely related people, it took some time before the modern Thai identity evolved.Early in their history, these groups were organized in city-states, usually called principalities; the Tai ones included Chiang Saen (founded in the early eight century) and Mueang Sua (modern Luang Prabang, founded in 728AC). The main Thai principalities were: Suvarnabhumi (Bangkok's new airport was named after it), Dvaravati, Lavo (modern Lopburi), Hariphunchai, Singhanavati, Pan Pan, Raktamaritika, Langkasuka, Srivijaya, Tambralinga, Lanna (modern Chiang Mai) and others. Slowly - through endless alliances and their shifts - a homogeneous culture began to emerge; attempts to consolidate it lead to the creation of a larger kingdom.Sukhothai was the first large-scale Thai kingdom, and existed as such between 1238 and 1448AC. Its successor was Ayutthaya (1351-1767AC). After the destruction of the last by the Burmese, the modern Thai kingdom was born; it was founded in Thonburi, but moved in 1782 across the river to Bangkok. In 1932 it was transformed into a constitutional monarchy.Kingdom of SukhothaiThe city of Sukhothai was part of the Angkor Khmer empire until 1238AC, when two Thai chieftains, Bang Klang Hao and Pha Muang, declared their independence and established a Thai-ruled kingdom; the first one became the first king of Sukhotai, calling himself Pho Khun Si Indrathit; this event is widely considered as the founding of the modern Thai nation. Sukhothai expanded by forming mandala-style alliances with the other Thai principalities, and adopted Theravada Buddhism as the state religion. Intrathit was succeeded by his son Pho Khun Ban Muang, who was followed in 1278 by his brother, Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng. Under King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, the kingdom enjoyed its golden age; he is credited with designing the Thai alphabet, traditionally dated from 1283, the year the Ramkhamhaeng stone stele was written in the the earliest known Thai writing.At its peak the kingdom stretched from Martaban (in modern Myanmar) to Luang Prabang (in Laos) and south to Nakhon Sri Thammarat, a territory larger than modern Thailand, although the mandala system implied a very decentralized entity. After his death, Ramkhamhaeng was succeeded by his son, Loethai, and the kingdom began to disintegrate. The vassal kingdoms, first Uttaradit in the north, then the Laotian ones - Luang Prabang and Vientiane - liberated themselves from their overlord. In 1319 the Mon state to the west broke away, and in 1321 Lanna took over Tak. To the south the city of Suphanburi also broke free. Meanwhile, Ayutthaya rose in strength; Sukhothai became a tributary state of Ayutthaya between 1365 and 1378. In 1378 King Thammaracha II of Sukhothai had to submit to this new power and in 1412 Ayutthaya installed a chief resident. King Thammaracha IV was installed on the throne by Ayutthaya; around 1430 he moved his capital to Phitsanulok. After his death in 1438AC the kingdom became a province of Ayutthaya. Close
On Provincial NamesRural Thailand can be a bit confusing, especially while reading local signs. Often cities are referred by other than the official name and rural locations bear the name of well known cities. This is the result of the country's administrative organization into provinces…Read More
On Provincial NamesRural Thailand can be a bit confusing, especially while reading local signs. Often cities are referred by other than the official name and rural locations bear the name of well known cities. This is the result of the country's administrative organization into provinces (changwat) and not into metropolitan areas. For example, nowadays Sukhothai is the name of a province; its capital would usually be simply referred to as "muang" (city) while referred to within the province, because most often there is only one city within a province. Sukhothai's "muang" is Suriyothai, which - in its role as capital - may be referred to as Sukhothai (or in this case as New Sukhothai), its province's name, once outside the province's borders. Moreover, such towns usually have unclear borders, with vast zones where city and farm overlap, creating thus a difficulty in even recognizing the town. Making things even more complex, names change; the province was renamed Sukhothai in 1939, until then it was known as Sawankhalok, a name that still can be seen there.SuriyothaiSuriyothai - modern Sukhothai's province capital - is located about 430 kilometers north of Bangkok in the valley of the Yom River, a Chao Phraya River tributary. The Sukhothai ruins and town are located twelve kilometers westwards on the main road spanning the province. With a population of less than forty thousand and no attractions within the town, it is of little interest to travelers.Area's AttractionsTwelve kilometers west of Suriyothai is the Sukhothai Historical Park; it opens daily between 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM. It was the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom and offers to the travelers one of the best historical sites in South East Asia.Fifty two kilometers from the city is the Sri Sachanalai Historical Park, also - as Sukhothai - recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It is known also as "Muang Chaliang," and features ruins of 134 monuments.Nearby is the Ramkhamhaeng National Park, also known as Pa Kho Luang. Tis big park offers unspoiled wildlife and rainforest; reaching an altitude of 1200m above the sea level, it features waterfalls, cliffs, caves and unexplored ruins. The highest waterfall - reaching 30m - is called Tad Dao. Information on how to reach it - and other sites like the Thara Wasan Cave - is available at the park entrance. the cave (1.5km) and the waterfall (0.5km) are near it.Secondary attractions within the park are the Sai Rung Waterfall, which has water only during the rainy season; the Buddha Footprint at the foot of the Tham Phrabath hill, which strangely is only 600 years old, posing thus questions regarding its true nature; the now destroyed Narai Cave where the statue of Phra Bodhisattva Awalokitesuan was; the Phra Mae Ya Cave here the statue of Phra Mae Ya was (now it can be seen in the town hall); the Phrabath Yai Mountain and the Kew Eye Ma Hill.EventsA Buddhist festival in nature, Phor Khun Ramkhamhaeng honors on January 17th, a Sukhothai king of that name. In such events, people do merit - puja, an important Buddhist concept - by visiting relevant monuments and Buddhist institutions in the area. Being Ramkhamhaeng the most important king of the Sukhothai Kingdom the choice here was obvious; at that night a food festival can be enjoyed on the streets.Held on April 12th in the Sri Sachanalai Historical Park, the Song Nam Aui Than Festival festival consists of a Songkran Buddhist ceremony, in which an image procession advances from Wat Phra Prang to the Historical park.An unusual event is the Si Sachanalai Ordination Celebration on April 7th, in Ban Hat Sieo, when a procession of monks ordination candidates are lead atop decorated elephants.Loi Krathong is celebrated around Thailand, and in Sukhothai as well, on days 13 to 15 (the new moon) of the 12th lunar month. Krathong - flower arrangements carrying candles - are put to float on the rivers. Copious amounts of food and fireworks follow the event. Close
Written by summers.d on 29 Oct, 2005
Full and correct name is Wat Phra Sri Ratana Mahatat, but everybody says Wat Yai (I think this means Big Temple). Short flight from Bangkok to Phitsanulok. They served a kind of meal in a box. I was one of the few who actually ate…Read More
Full and correct name is Wat Phra Sri Ratana Mahatat, but everybody says Wat Yai (I think this means Big Temple). Short flight from Bangkok to Phitsanulok. They served a kind of meal in a box. I was one of the few who actually ate the food. The others all requested plastic bags and took the food with them. Never seen that before.
Taxi to town was 150 baht ($3.75). The highway into town had flashing lights built into the road to mark the lanes. Never seen that before. Checked in at the Amarin Nakorn Hotel. Clean, comfortable, 800 baht ($20). Took a walk around town. Big night market along the river Nan – very crowded and very hot, even after the sun went down. Found the famous flying vegetables restaurant (where the cook throws the veggies to the waiters, supposedly). I stood around for a few minutes and never saw it happen.
Back to the hotel – only Thai TV. Watched Bremen vs. Leberkussen (German football) with Thai commentary. Hard bed. (Many Thai people sleep on the floor.) My room included a breakfast consisting of an omelet, ham, toast, coffee, and juice. Took a samlor (3-wheel pedicab) to Wat Yai, home of Thailand’s most famous Buddha. Why are all the samlor drivers so emaciated, and why do they all have bad teeth? Speed freaks? Just a few minutes across town. One open market after another. Tens of thousands of bananas. Regional capital = market town, I guess. Wat Yai turns out to be not very big. Lots of tourists, mostly Thai Buddhists ‘making merit’ for their next incarnation. Got some pictures, wandered around. Bought a brass bell and samlored back to my hotel. Noticed that the samlor drivers all wear the same red T-shirt. I guess it’s an official uniform.
The hotel van took me to the bus station to go to Sukhothai. The driver helped me to get my ticket, which cost 38 baht ($1). The bus left on time. It’s a comfortable bus, like several others I’ve ridden. They’re known as VIP busses…Read More
The hotel van took me to the bus station to go to Sukhothai. The driver helped me to get my ticket, which cost 38 baht ($1). The bus left on time. It’s a comfortable bus, like several others I’ve ridden. They’re known as VIP busses and have reclining seats and air-conditioning with individual air nozzles. Side curtains are available to block the sun if you like. I sat by the window and watched first the town and then the countryside go by. We picked up a few more people along the way. Then, as we approached Sukhothai, we dropped people off here and there.
At the Historic Park (also a UNESCO World Heritage sight), I paid the fees and took a 20-minute bus tour while my driver waited. After that, he drove me all around. We would stop and he would park while I took pictures. He took me to several sights the bus tour did not include. Some were outside the park proper in the surrounding fields. It got to be very sunny and hot (go early). Many people rent bicycles. That's a good way to go if you’re fit. My arthritis makes that a non-starter for me. We left the park and the driver took me to the Ramkamhaeng National Museum nearby, where I saw a lot of artwork that had been removed over the centuries and taken to other cities (archeology, maps, artifacts, statuary, etc.).