From the World Heritage inscription for the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns:
Situated in the lower northern region of present-day Thailand, the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns is a serial property consisting of three physically closely related ancient towns. The total property area is 11,852 ha., comprising Sukhothai 7,000 ha., Si Satchanalai 4,514 ha., and Kamphaeng Phet 338 ha. Sukhothai was the political and administrative capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 15th centuries. Si Satchanalai was the spiritual center of the kingdom and the site of numerous temples and Buddhist monasteries. Si Satchanalai was also the center of the all-important ceramic export industry. The third town, Kamphaeng Phet, was located at the kingdom’s southern frontier and had important military functions in protecting the kingdom from foreign intruders as well as providing security for the kingdom’s extensive trading network. All three towns shared a common infrastructure to control water resources and were linked by a major highway known as the Thanon Phra Ruang after the king who constructed it.
Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai, and Kamphaeng Phet all shared a common language and alphabet, a common administrative and legal system, and other features which leave no doubt as to their unity as a single political entity. All three towns also boasted a number of fine monuments and works of monumental sculpture, illustrating the beginning of Thai architecture and art known as the “Sukhothai style.”
Under royal patronage, Buddhism flourished and many impressive monasteries were constructed of brick covered with carved stucco, illustrating the idealized beauty and the superhuman characteristics (mahapurisalakkhana) of the Lord Buddha and His Teachings. It is from the remains of these religious monuments that today we best know and appreciate the achievements of the people of the Historic Town of Sukhothai and AssociatedHistoricTowns.
The Kingdom of Sukhothai is accredited with the invention and development of many of the unique identifying characteristics of Siamese (Thai) culture, many of them attributed directly to the kingdom’s most famous and beloved King Ramkhamhaeng, who is considered the Founding Father of the Thai Nation.
Sukhothai is what I wish Angkor would become. While not nearly as large as Angkor, the grounds of Sukhothai is still very large, I’d estimate about the size of Central Park in New York. It is also cared for like a park. The grass is trimmed, the roads are in good shape, there are paved walking paths, and everyone just looks nice. They also offer bikes for going to the various temples, which is a very popular option.
It is one of the least visited tourist attractions I’ve been to in Thailand. It is about midway between Chaing Mai and Bangkok. I’d highly recommend it as a stop if you are going from Bangkok to the north.
View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Thailand.
View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.