"Songkran" is a word from the Sanskrit language which means to "move into" and refers to the orbit of the sun moving into Aries. It marks the end of a 12-month cycle and the beginning of a new solar year. Songkran is therefore the Thai New Year celebrations.
Note: Event dates and programme details may be subject to change. To ensure you have the most updated information, please reconfirm details prior to travel.
Ordinary and air-conditioned buses daily leave Bangkok to Sukhothai at Bangkok's Morchit Bus Terminal. The trip takes approximately 7 hours. For more information, call 0 2537 8055-6, 0 2936 2852-66. Other private bus operators are Win Tour, tel no. 0 5561 1039 or 0 2936 3753 and Pitsanu Yanyon, tel no. 0 5525 8647, 0 55258941 or 0 2936 2924-5.
Leave Bangkok on the Highway no 1. Pass Nakhon Sawan, Kampaengphet, Pran Kratai District, Khirimat District and arrive at Sukhothai. The overall distance is 440 km.
Another alternative itinerary is to leave Bangkok on the Highway no 1. Keep going until the 50th km at the junction at Bang Pa-in District, Ayutthaya. Then take the Highway no 32 to bypass Ayutthaya and head to Nakhon Sawan. Drive further by taking the Highway no 117 to Pitsanulok before using the Highway no 12 to reach Sukhothai. The overall distance is 427 km.
The Railway Authority of Thailand offers sprinter and express train services everyday from Bangkok's Hualampong Railway Station to Pitsanulok's Railway Station. Then catch a bus to Sukhothai for another 59 km. More information, call 1690, 0 2223 7010 or 0 2223 7020.
Bangkok Airways offers flights from Bangkok to Sukhothai. For more information about the arrival and departure timetable, call Bangkok Airways at 02-265-5555.
Sukhothai is the central northern province of Thailand. The name of the city itself means the ‘Dawn of the Happiness'. It is also known among Thais as the first capital of Thailand, founded in the 13th century. Reigning over the city at that time for 120 years was Pra Ruang Dynasty. Its 200-year dominating period is regarded as the ‘golden age' of Thai civilization. One of the greatest rulers of this dynasty, Po Khun (King) Ramkamhaeng was acclaimed as the most influential king who founded the fundamental Thai civilization that is still adopted until the present days. Among all of his achievements are the invention of Thai alphabets, revised from various forms of Khmer alphabets, and the records of the Thai classic religious art forms seen prominently in various styles of the magnificent Sukhothai Buddha images. Anyone who wants to explore the initial debut of the classic Thai cultures must explore the city.
Getting around Sukhothai
Sukhothai Historical Park
Sukhothai Historical Park is one of Thailand's World Heritage Sites, located on Jarodwi-theechong Road, 12 km west of the present city of Sukhothai. It can be reached by taking ‘Song-taew' that will go there via the Highway No. 12, Sukhothai-Tak.
The original capital area of the first Thai kingdom was located at this historical park. Like other glorious powerful capital in the ancient time, the city was surrounded by three stern ramparts and two moats bridged by four gateways. Since the city was the center of the politics, the religion and the economics, inside the ramparts are situated the royal palace, sanctuaries and historical structures as following:
King Ramkamhaeng Monument
is the bronze statue of 3-meter high, built in 1975. It is located north of Wat (temple) Mahathat, besides Jarodwi-theechong Road. The face of the king is similar to the Buddhist images in that period, reflecting that the king was the kind ruler as the father to the children. On a side of the monument, there is an inscription describing his life and the cultural heritages he created and passed on later to the country.
The city ramparts
have three layers and are called ‘Tribune', with the overall dimension of 1,300 x 1,800 meters. The two outmost ramparts were built of clay alternative with two moats bridged by four gateways at the middle of each rectangle side while the innermost rampart is made of laterite.
(Mahathat Temple) is located at the heart of the old city because it was the important temple of Sukhothai Kingdom. The main Mahathat Chedis (stupa) features the magnificent lotus-bud spire, the original architecture of Sukhothai Kingdom. The other eight surrounding chedis were built of laterite and brick in Lanna style. Within the area of the temple, there are more than 200 chedis of various architectural designs, reflecting the glorious moment of those past old days.
Still within the area of the ramparts, other ancient temp feature Wat Chanasongkram, Wat Trapang Ngen, Wat Srasri (sa-si) and Wat Srisawai.
Outside boundery of the ramparts, there are also a lot more temples to explore. At the north of the ramparts is the location of Wat Prapai Luang – the second-most important temple after Wat Mahathat – and Wat Sri Chum, which features secret alleys within its walls. On the west side are Wat Chang Rob, Wat Saphan Hin and Sareetphong Dam. At the south and the east, there are two more temples at each side: Wat Chetuphon and Wat Chedi Si Hong; and Wat Chang Lom and Wat Traphang Thonglang, respectively.
All attraction sites within the park open from 6 am to 9 pm and is charged for the entrance. The best way to explore all of these monasteries, just buy the comprehensive entrance ticket of 30 baht for the local and 150 baht for foreigners. This ticket can be bought till 6 pm and is valid for 30 days after buying. There will be the additional charge if tourists take vehicles within the park. Bikes can be rent in front of the park with 20-baht fee.
Si Satchanalai Historical Park
Si Satchanalai was another important old city area and the World Heritage Site, located just 50 km north of Sukhothai. It can be reached by taking the bus leaving the bus depot at the municipal market on the Sukhothai-Si Satchanalai route.
The park covers the area of 45.14 square km. Originally, it was called Chaliang city and renamed to Si Satchanalai during the reign of Pra Ruang Dynasty. Surrounded by a 12 meter-wide moat, the park hosts 215 historical sites within its compound. However, only 204 sites have been discovered. Among them are some distinctive monasteries as following:
Wat Pra Si Ratanamahathat
is located 3 km southeast of the old city wall. It is part of the royal monastery complex. At the heart of the complex is located the main laterite chedi, built in Ayutthaya architectural style. Around the main Buddhist shrines are the Mon-style Prathat Mutao Chedi and Wihan Songphinong – the laterite construction within which features two devil-defeating Buddha images, and some other ancient constructions.
Wat Chedi Jet Thaew
is regarded one of the most beautiful temples within Sukhothai province. The temple features 33 chedis of various architectural styles, arrayed in rows. It is assumed that chedis at this temple contain ashes of royal members of different dynasties.
Other interesting temples are Wat Khao Phanom Pleng, Wat Khao Suwankhiri, Wat Chang Lom, Wat Nang Paya and Wat Chomchuen. The fact that this shady park is located out of the city makes the site pleasant to stroll and explore.