Sukhothai province was once the kingdom and the first capital of Thailand 700 years ago. The word ‘Sukhothai’ means ‘the dawn of happiness’. As the first capital of Thailand, it is one of the important and well-known cities among tourist for its long History.
Most of attractions in Sukhothai relate to Historical backgrounds such as Phra Mae Ya Shrine situated in front of the City Hall, by Yom River. The shrine houses the stone figure of Phra Mae Ya, and it is believed to house the spirit of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great whom is beloved by Sukhothai and Thai people. Noen Prasat Phra Ruang or Sukhothai Palace boundary is the ruin of ancient brick building with lotus-based figures. It is believed that the area was once the pavilion of the kings in Phra Ruang dynasty of ancient Sukhothai. This area makes tourists interested in its mystical and wonderful construction.
For those who are interested in nature, the Khao Naria peak in Ramkhamhaeng National Park is a must. The peak is 1,160 meters high above Sea level with the cliff that visitors can see breathtaking view of Sukhothai city and the nearby city – Pitsanulok. At night, the beautiful lights from the city can be seen from the cliff. The national park also has Herb Garden on the foothill for travellers to get relaxed.
There are a lot of festivals in Sukhothai. Pho Kkung Ramkhamhaeng’s Day Festival takes place around the Monument of Pho Khung Ramkhamhaeng the Great for commemorating his good reputation. People will make merit and give food to monks, have play fireworks, have merry performances all day and night. Every full moon night of the 12th lunar month, there is Loi Krathong and Candle Festival held in Sukhothai Historical Park. There are joyful activities such as floating krathongs, traditional performances, lighting of lanterns and parades which fascinate both Thai and foreign visitors.
Visitors cannot miss tasting a famous snack called Kanom Kliao made from wheat flour and eggs, seasoned with pepper, salt, and made it into a twist-shaped dough, fried and mingled with sugar. Sri Samrong’s fried beans or 200-year fried beans is a famous snack with secret ancient recipe.
Founded in the 13th century, Sukhothai, which literally means “Dawn of Happiness,” was the first truly independent Thai Kingdom and enjoyed a golden age under King Ramkhamhaeng, who is credited with creating the Thai alphabet. The superb temples and monuments of this great city have been lovingly restored, and Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-see for all travelers.
Sukhothai became an independent kingdom when two princes-Pho Khun Pha Muang and Pho Khun Bang Klang Hao combined their forces and drove the Khmers out of Sukhothai, then a major frontier post of the Angkor Empire.
One of Thailand’s finest warriors, King Ramkhamhaeng, second son of Pho Khun Bang Klang Haok, made Sukhothai a powerful and extensive kingdom that even established direct political relations with China. Returning from the funeral of Emperor Kublai Khan, King Ramkhamhaeng brought back Chinese artisans who taught the art of pottery to the Thais. While visitors are eager to pick up today’s Sangkhalok Pottery, antique examples of such are eagerly sought by collectors.
King Ramkhamhaeng also promoted religion and Culture, and through his efforts Buddhism flourished among the population. Inspirational faith gave birth to classic forms of Thai religious arts; images of the Lord Buddha sculptured during the Sukhothai Era are cultural treasures that impart a feeling of peace and serenity.
A total of eight kings ruled Sukhothai but 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 rising power to the south.
Sukhothai, which literally means “Dawn of Happiness,” may be the most romantic of all former Thai capital cities. The superb temples and monuments of this great city have been lovingly restored, and Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-see for all travelers, particularly in the evening when the graceful Buddha images are illuminated by lights, while exploring the grassy, tree lined park via bicycle, or most spectacularly, during the Loy Krathong festival, when hundreds of candle-powered, floating lanterns are released into the sky.
King Ramkhamhaeng, who reigned over Sukhothai’s golden age promoted religion and culture, and brought Chinese artisans back to the city to teach his people the art of pottery. Visitors can visit Villages still engaged in the production of Sangkhalok Pottery as well as Hat Siao cloth, named for the village in Si Satchanalai district, just north of Sukhothai town. This famous hand-woven cloth is produced not far from Si Satchanalai Historical Park, where the ruins of another important historical city can be explored.
The Sukhothai Historical Park is open daily from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. though there are occasional nights the park is open and illuminated by floodlights.