Found in the 13th century, Sukhothai (literally means
Dawn of Happiness) was the first truly independent Thai Kingdom, which
enjoyed a golden age under King Ramkhamhaeng, credited with creating the
Thai alphabet. The superb temples and monuments of this great city have
been lovingly restored in Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World
Heritage Site and a must-see for all travellers.
Sukhothai is located on the lower edge of the northern region, 427
kilometres north of Bangkok or some 298 kilometres south of Chiang Mai.
The province covers some 6,596 square kilometres and is divided into 9
Amphoes: Muang Sukhothai, Ban Dan Lan Hoi, Khiri Mat, Kong Krailat,
Sawankhalok, Si Nakhon, Si Samrong, Si Satchanalai and Thung Saliam.
Sukhothai was the first kingdom of the Thais in this peninsula. Two
princes-Pho Khun Pha Muang and Pho Khun Bang Klang Hao combined their
forces and fought the Khmers who commanded an extensive empire
throughout this part of the world.
They drove the Khmers out of Sukhothai, a major frontier post of the
Khmer Empire, and established it as their capital in 1238. Pho Khun Bang
Klang Hao, urged by the people to be king, was enthroned with the royal
title of Pho Khun Si Indrathit.
King Si Indrathit had two sons-Pho Khun Ban Mueang and Pho Khun
Ramkhamhaeng. After his death, Pho Khun Ban Mueang succeeded him. His
brother, Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng, ascended the throne in 1278 and reigned
for forty years. He was Thailands first great king.
One of Thailands finest warriors, King Ramkhamhaeng made Sukhothai a
powerful and extensive kingdom which included many parts of what are
today neighbouring countries. A number of ancient cities paid him
King Ramkhamhaeng opened direct political relations with China and made
two trips to China - the first in 1282 to visit Emperor Kublai Khan and
the second in 1300 after Kublai Khans death.
From the second visit, he brought back Chinese artisans who taught the
Thais the art of pottery. Today, the old Sangkhalok Potteries are
eagerly sought by collectors.
A major achievement of King Ramkhamhaeng was the revision of various
forms of Khmer alphabets into a system suitable for the writing of Thai
words. The alphabet that he invented in 1283 was essentially the same as
that in use today.
During his reign, there was prosperity and happiness. There was water in
the paddy-fields and fish in the water.
A stone inscription reads in part, This Muang Sukhothai is good. In the
water there are fish; in the field 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,
King Ramkhamhaeng also promoted religion and culture, and through his
efforts, Buddhism progressed among the people. Inspirational faith gave
birth to classic forms of Thai religious arts. Images of the Lord Buddha
sculptured during the Sukhothai Era are cultural treasures which impart
a feeling of peace and serenity.
A total of eight kings ruled Sukhothai. The gradual decline of Sukhothai
occurred during the reigns of the last two kings. The end of this first
Thai kingdom occurred in 1365 when it became a vassal state of Ayutthaya,
a young and rising power to the south. Ayutthaya became the capital of
Thailand before Thon Buri and Bangkok.
The Website for Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai, and Kamphaeng Phet
How to Get there
Air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to
Sukhothai daily between 9.45 a.m. and 10.20 p.m.,frequently during the
morning. The journey takes 7 hours. Call 0 2936 2852-66 or visit
www.transport.co.th for more information. Private bus companies which
operate daily bus services to Sukhothai are such as Win Tour (Tel: 0
2936 3753 or 0 5561 1039), Phitsanulok Yan Yon (Tel: 0 2936 2924-5, 0
5525 8647) Sukhothai Bus Terminal (Tel: 0 5561 3296)
There are no trains going directly to Sukhothai. One may travel by train
to Phitsanulok and then take a local bus to Sukhothai, about 59
kilometres away. Contact Bangkok Railway Station Tel. 1690, 02223 7010,
0 2223 7020 or visit www.railway.co.th for more information.
Bangkok Airways flies from Bangkok to Sukhothai daily for 1-hour
journey. Sukhothai Airport is about 40 kilometres north of the town. For
more information, call 0 2265 5678, 0 2265 5555 or 0 5564 7224-5 or