Showing posts with label Sukhothai. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sukhothai. Show all posts

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thailand: Si Satchanalai Historical Park in Sukhothai Province

Si Satchanalai Historical Park is one of three ancient towns included in the World Heritage inscription Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns. If Sukhothai was the political and administrative capital, Si Satchanalai served as the spiritual center of the kingdom, with its many temples and Buddhist monasteries. The town is 90 kilometers from Sukhothai.

As part of the tourism workshop we attended in Sukhothai, the plan was to bike all the way to Si Satchanalai. But plans were changed and we took a van to Sawankhalok, and did the bicycle tour to Si Satchanalai from there. The 40-kilometer bike trip ended at Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, a first class royal temple three kilometers outside the Si Satchanalai wall.

Other major temples and sites are located within the old town of Si Satchanalai. Wat Chedi Chet Thaeo is one of the most beautiful temples of Sukhothai Province. Its features include a main chedi and 33 subordinate chedis. The temple is believed to have kept the cremated remains of the Sukhothai royal family.

Wat Chang Lom's main landmark is a bell-shaped chedi on a platform supported by 39 stucco elephants. Between the chedi and the platform are niches with statues of Buddha subduing Mara.

Delicate stucco reliefs have survived on one of the walls of Wat Nang Phaya. The wall is protected by a roof to prevent further damage from the elements.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thailand: Sukhothai Historical Park

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Sukhothai, Thailand was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam during the 13th and 14th centuries. Most of the ruins of this ancient city are located within the Sukhothai Historical Park. Together with Si Satchanalai and Kampaheng Phet, they form the Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns, a World Heritage Site. And since it is a World Heritage Site, it was definitely on my bucketlist!

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
During my first visit, despite the gloomy skies, I still went ahead with the seven hour bus ride from Bangkok to Sukhothai just to visit its famed temples. I had learned upon my arrival that much of Sukhothai was submerged under water just a few days before. In fact, there were sandbags all over the place and you could see that the water level of the rivers was high. On the way to the park, it was still raining. But when I arrived, the rain suddenly stopped and the sun came out later in the day. So I was lucky!

While it's not difficult to walk around the park, you can rent a bike or hire a motorbike or tuktuk to speed up your pace visiting the ruins scattered around the park. I hired a motorbike with driver from my hostel to take me around.

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Last year, I was back again in Sukhothai for a workshop of the ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee. This time, the weather was beautiful and the sun was out! Wat Mahathat was the largest and principal temple of Sukhothai. The wat is surrounded by a wall that is said to represent the outer wall of the universe. Around the wall is a moat representing the cosmic ocean. The large Buddha images and chedi spires in the lotus-bud motif are iconic images which adorn many photos from Sukhothai. If you look closely, you will see that some of the original bas relief details layared with stucco can still be seen at Wat Mahathat.

There are so many ruins and historical sites in the park. And depending on your level of interest (for some, if you've seen one, you've seen them all), you can try to visit all the major ones, about twenty or so, or select the more interesting sites if you want to take it slow.

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Another famous temple is Wat Si Sawai which features three Khmer-style towers. It reminds me of Angkor Wat, and was in fact, built by the Khmers as a Hindu temple. Wat Sa Si is a temple that is built on an island in the middle of Traphang Trakuan Pond.

Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Then there is Wat Si Chum which features an eleven-meter Buddha image covered in stucco seated inside a brick Mandapa building. This 13th century temple is also known as the Temple of the Bodhi Tree. I had a photo taken right beside the Buddha's large hand that has been covered in gold leaf offered by devotees.

I can't remember how many temples I got to visit. I tried to visit them all since it's a single ticket for all the temples within the inner city, and another ticket for all those outside. Hopefully you don't get all templed-out before seeing them all because each Sukhothai temple is definitely worth a visit.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thailand: Bicycle tour from Sukhothai to Si Satchanalai

Sukhothai, Thailand
I never thought I'd have fun biking that far! When I arrived at the Sukhothai Airport for a tourism workshop, my Thai colleague told me that he had assigned me to a group that would bike 70 kilometers from Sukhothai to Si Satchanalai. I thought he was joking and laughed off the idea.

Bicycle Tour, Sukhothai, Thailand
When the workshop started the next day I realized he was serious! The ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee was in Sukhothai to try out different tourism experiences in order to make recommendations for a tourism plan they were finalizing. While most teams were comfortably seated in air-conditioned vans, moving from one attraction to another, one group was assigned to try out the bicycle tours through the Sukhothai countryside hosted by Sukhothai Bicycle Tour.

Bicycle Tour, Sukhothai, Thailand
Bicycle Tour, Sukhothai, Thailand
Just looking at the large roadmap taped to the wall during the orientation was daunting enough. But the next day, I was glad to hear that our team leader had cut the ride to 40 kilometers and we would take a van to Sawankalok, which was half the way to Si Satchanalai.

Cricket Farm in Sukhothai, Thailand
Cricket Farm in Sukhothai, Thailand
The group rode through small rural villages, on concrete roads to small narrow dirt paths that bended left and right, following the course of a river. We did rest stops at interesting, and at times, odd places. A cricket farm caught our attention. I didn't realize those deep-fried bugs sold along Bangkok's colorful streets were grown in backyard farms like these.

Salapao vendor in Sukhothai, Thailand
I heard a salapao vendor motor by and caught up with him to buy some hot steamed pork buns. I was quite hungry and this is what I needed! At each rest stop, we were also served fruits such as bananas, longkong (lansones) and mangosteen, crackers and drinks.

Traditional rooster cage in Sawankalok, Thailand
A colorful temple also served as another rest stop before we biked through a small sugar cane field. I didn't know what got into my head but a steep incline up ahead challenged me to bike even faster. I reached the top without any walking but suffered from cramps as a result. So I called it a day after 30 kilometers of biking. Not bad for someone who hasn't biked for years!

Weaver in Si Satchanalai, Thailand
Si Satchanalai Historical Park, Thailand
Good thing these bike tours come with a back-up team plus a support vehicle that has drinks and snacks for the bikers during the rest stops. So I rode the last 10 kilometers in a pick-up truck to the Si Satchanalai Historical Park, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. We explored the temples and got to see some of the colorful local activities before heading for a sumptuous lunch at a farm near the Sukhothai Airport.

If you want to try out the bike tours in Sukhothai, e-mail

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Thailand: Ayutthaya, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket & Sukhothai

Thailand was the first country I traveled abroad to without my parents. Complete with the necessary DSWD Travel Clearance, I flew to Bangkok in 1996 to attend a high school student council convention in Pattaya. I've been there numerous times since including memorable visits on the Ship for Southeast Asian Youth Program (SSEAYP) in 2002 and for the Thailand Medical Tourism Blog Contest last year, when I finally got to visit Chiang Mai. I was back again this year. And after years of wanting to visit Phuket and Sukhothai, I finally did. Here are photos from Ayutthaya and Sukhothai, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Bangkok, Phuket and my visit to Chiang Mai last year.

September 17-18 - Ayutthaya and Bangkok, Thailand
September 18-20 - Phuket, Thailand
September 21 - Sukhothai, Thailand
September 23 - Bangkok, Thailand
November 23 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
November 24 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
November 25 - Chiang Mai, Thailand
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