To give some background, Sukthothai was the centre of the Sukthothai Kingdom that existed between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries and covered most of central, southern and northern Thailand at its peak. Ramkamhaeng was the kingdom’s most famous ruler and his statue can be found in the centre of today’s Sukhothai historical park. The kingdom was eventually made part of the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 1583.
I love the place. This is partly because I am an avid student of history and therefore adore just looking at old buildings and marveling at how they were put together. I also love Sukhothai in particular due to how accessible it is compared with other historic sites. The main concentration of temples and statues that form the ancient city are within easy walking distance, allowing you to spend an hour or many hours wandering among the structures. Don’t get me wrong, I love Ayutthaya, but a tuk tuk is a requirement to get between the various temples there; I much prefer being able to walk between every area, as you can here.
During my most recent visit while taking a well-earned holiday a few weeks ago, I even managed to stumble across a new temple I had missed before. Just outside the main park is another set of buildings. The name of the new (for me) temple, Wat Si Chum, translates as ‘Temple of the Bodhi Tree’- important, as it was under such a tree that the Buddha is said to have sat when he attained ‘enlightenment’. Here, I found an enormous Buddha statue artistically placed through a narrow walkway into an imposing block of a building. Whitewashed and finger nails painted gold, it was quite breathtaking.
The park is interspersed with ponds and forestry and colourful plants too, making it a truly tranquil experience when compared to the chaos of the cities in the north and south. Sukhothai is a few hours’ drive away from both Bangkok and Chiang Mai, making it a lengthy trip. But to get to the heart of this amazing country, to truly escape the traffic and flocks of tourists and to see something a little less ‘overdone’, it is a trip that is well worth it!