Sukhothai Historical Park
This is located 12 kilometres from town on the Sukhothai-Tak Highway and can be reached by local bus or hired motored tricycle from town.
The park is open daily from 8.30 a.m.- 4.30 p.m.
Admission is 100 baht each. A package ticket is also available at 350 baht cach.
The park also offers tram services as well as bicycles for rent to explore around its large area.
The Tourist Service Centre in the park (Tel: 0 5569 7527, 0 5569 7310) provides information, as well as displays models of historical buildings and structures in old Sukhothai.
Ruins of the royal palaces, Buddhist temples, the city gates, walls, moats, dams, ditches, ponds, canals, and the water dyke control system, which was the magical and spiritual centre of the kingdom, are now preserved and have been restored by the Fine Arts Department with the cooperation of UNESCO, not only with a view of fostering Thailand’s national identity but of safeguarding a fine example of mankind’s cultural heritage.
Places of interest in Sukhothai Historical Park are as follows:-
Inside the city wall
The city wall is located in the centre of the historical park and surrounded by earthen ramparts. The city has a rectangular shape with 1,300 metres width and 1,800 metres long. The walls contain four main gates. A stone inscription mentions that King Ramkhamhaeng set up a bell at one of the gates. If his subjects needed help, they would ring the bell and the King would come out to settle disputes and dispense justice.
Inside the town stand 35 monuments including Buddhist temples and many other structures.
The Royal Palace and Wat Mahathat
The royal palace lies in the centre of the town and covers an area of 160,000 square metres. This area is surrounded by a moat and contains two main compounds; the royal building and the sanctuary in the palace. In the royal compound exist the ruins of the royal building called Noen Phrasat.
Here, the famous stone inscription of King Ramkhamhaeng was found by King Mongkut (Rama IV) in the 19th century together with a piece of the stone throne called “Manangkhasila-at”. King Ramhamhaeng set up the throne in the midst of a sugar-palm grove where, at his request, a monk preached on Buddhist Sabbath days and the King conducted the affairs of state on other days. This throne was later installed in Bangkok’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
A sanctuary lying to the west behind the Royal Palace compound is Wat Mahathat. It is Sukhothai’s largest temple with a customary main chedi in lotus-bud shape and a ruined viharn. At the base of the chedi stands Buddhist disciples in adoration, and on the pedestal are seated Buddha images. In front of this reliquary is a large viharn formerly containing a remarkable seated bronze Buddha image of the Sukhothai style, which was cast and installed by King Lithai of Sukhothai in 1362. At the end of the 18th century, the image was removed to the Viharn Luang of Wat Suthat in Bangkok by the order of King Rama I and has since been named Phra Si Sakaya Muni. In front of the large viharn is another smaller viharn which was probably built during the Ayutthaya period. Its main Buddha image (8 metres high) was installed inside a separate building. In front of the southern image, a piece of sculpture called “Khom Dam Din” (a Khmer who came by way of walking underground) was found, and is now kept in the Mae Ya Shrine near the Sukhothai City Hall. On the south stands a pedestal of a large chedi built up in steps, the lowest platform is adorned with beautiful stucco figures of demons, elephants and lions with angles riding on their backs. Mural painting adorns this chedi.
King Ramkhamhaeng Monument
Situated to the north of Wat Mahathat, the bronze statue of King Ramkhamhaeng sits on a throne with bas-relief at the base depicting the King’s life.
Wat Si Sawai
Situated among magnificent scenery southwest of Wat Mahathat is Wat Si Sawai. Three prangs (pagodas) are surrounded by a laterite wall. Inside the wall, the viharn in the west, built of laterite, is separated from the main prang which was constructed in the Lop Buri or Hindu-style, but the other also constructed beside the prangs are Buddhist viharns. The Crown Prince of that time who later become King Rama VI found a trace of the Hindu sculpture Sayomphu, the greatest Hindu God in this sanctuary. In his opinion, this ruin was once a Hindu shrine, but was later converted into a Buddhist monastery.
Situated to the west of Wat Mahathat is Wat Traphang-Ngoen with its square pedestal, main sanctuary, and stucco standing Buddha image in four niches. There is a viharn in front, and in the east of the pond, there is an island with an ubosot. This edifice has already crumbled and only its pedestal and laterite columns still remain. Many monuments and magnificent scenery are visible from this location.
Wat Chana Songkhram
Situated to the north of Wat Mahathat is Wat Chana Songkhram. Its main sanctuary is a round Singhalese-style chedi. In front of the chedi exists the base of a viharn and behind the former stands an ubosot. Bases of twelve small chedis are also visible. Near Charot Withithong Road is a strange chedi having three bases, one on top of the other.
Situated near Wat Chana Songkhram is Wat Sa Si. Around a Singhalese-style chedi is the main sanctuary on an island in the middle of Traphang Trakuan Pond. A large viharn contains a stucco Buddha image. To the south stands nine chedis of different sizes.
San-Ta-Pha-Daeng or Deity Shrine
Situated to the north of Wat Mahathat is San Ta Pha Daeng. This monument consists of only one laterite prang with a staircase in the front. Sandstone Hindu divine objects (Lop Buri-style) were discovered here.
Situated to the north of Wat Mahathat is Wat Mai. Wat Mai, having a brick viharn as the main sanctuary, is in the Ayutthaya style. The columns of the viharn are made of laterite. A bronze image of the Buddha under a Naga (Lop Buri-style statue) was found here and is now preserved in the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum.
The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum
The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum was built in 1960 and open on 25 January, 1964. The museum collection includes gifts from the ex-abbot of Wat Ratchathani and art objects unearthed in Sukhothai and nearby provinces. It is open daily from 8.30 a.m.-3.30 p.m. Admission is 30 baht. Tel: 0 5569 7367 www.thailandmuseum.com
Wat Traphang Thong
Situated to the east of Wat Mahathat is Wat Traphang Thong. The monastery is located on an island in the middle of a large pond. A ruined laterite Singhalese-style chedi is on the island. In front of it, a new mondop contains the Lord Buddha’s Footprint slab that was created by King Lithai in 1390 on Samanakut or Phra Bat Yai Hill. This footprint was removed to the new mondop some years ago. An annual fair to worship this sacred Lord Buddha’s Footprint takes place at the same time as the Loi Krathong Festival.
Outside the City Wall
The Sites in the North
Wat Phra Phai Luang
This temple lies about 500 metres north of San Luang Gate (northern gate). This sanctuary, formerly a Khmer-Hindu shrine but later converted into a Buddhist monastery, is surrounded by a moat. It is second in importance to Wat Mahathat. Inside, there are three prangs like Wat Si Sawai, but the southern and the central ones have crumbled leaving only the northern one decorated with stucco figures. In front of these prangs are a viharn and a crumbled chedi; the later has a pedestal decorated with stucco seated Buddha images. A mondop contains Buddha images in four postures; sitting, reclining, standing, and walking. They are now all in ruins. A Sivalinga (Phallic emblem of Hindu gods) was unearthed in the compound of this sanctuary.
Ruins of the Old Celadon Factory (Thuriang Kiln)
Thuriang Kiln is a site where Sukhothai celadons were made. Kilns exist in an area measuring 100 by 700 metres. Each kiln is divided into three sections; the fire area, the pottery baking oven, and the flue. The pottery found here is usually decorated by three different painted designs on their bottom: a disc, a fish, and a flower. Forty-nine kilns and small edifices are visible. To the north, a pond has been dug into the stone.
Wat Si Chum
This lies about 1,500 metres north of Wat Mahathat and was originally surrounded by a moat. A square mondop which is the main sanctuary, contains a monumental stucco-over-brick Buddha image in the attitude of Subduing Mara called “Phra Achana.” which is 11.30 meters width.
The mondop is 32 metres square and 15 metres high, and the walls are 3 metres thick. There is a passageway in the left inner wall itself which leads to the above crossbeam. On the ceiling of the passageway are more than fifty engraved slate slabs illustrating Jataka scenes.
The sites in the West
Wat Saphan Hin
This is situated on a hill 200 metres high. A pathway of slate slabs leads to the sanctuary yard.
Wat Chang Rop
This is situated in the Aranyik area. A chedi is decorated with an elephant emerging from the base. A viharn base and laterite columns are in front of the Chedi.
This earthwork dam was formed to hold back water between Phra Bat Yai and Kio-Ai-Ma Hills and restored by Thailand’s Irrigation Department. Water from the dam will be used as a reserve whenever the water level in other reservoirs goes down. This dam is referred to in the Sukhothai inscription.
The Site in the South
A mondop enshrines four Buddha images in different postures: sitting, standing, walking, and reclining. The outer walls of the mondop still retains a section in the form of a slate pillar-balustraded window. There is an entrance to the mondop to the north. Just behind the mondop is a small sanctuary which contains a Buddha image known locally as Phra Si Ariya Maitreya, the Lord Buddha of the Future.
The Sites in the East
Wat Chang Lom is located to the north of Charot Withithong Road with a bell-shaped chedi of Ceylonese influence standing as the centre. The chedi is situated on a 3-tiered square base with a platform decorated with a row of elephants seen by their front halves supporting the round chedi.
This type of elephant-decorated chedi is to be seen in many ancient towns of the Sukhothai period; for example, Kamphaeng Phet and Si Satchanalai.
Wat Traphang Thonglang
A square mondop is the main sanctuary. In front of the mondop to the east, is the viharn and beyond the viharn stands an ubosot. The outer wall of the mondop is beautifully decorated by stucco figures in niches. The southern side portrays the Lord Buddha flanked by angels decending from Tavatimsa Heaven. To the west portrays the Lord Buddha preaching to his father and relatives. The northern side depicts the episode when the Lord Buddha returned to preach to his wife. These stucco figures, especially those on the south side, are masterpieces of Sukhothai art.
The Website for Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai, and Kamphaeng Phet