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Sukhothai Province

Sukhothai (สุโขทัย) is one of the northern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from north clockwise) Phrae, Uttaradit, Phitsanulok, Kamphaeng Phet, Tak and Lampang. Sukhothai can be translated as Dawn of Happiness.

Geography

Sukhothai is located in the valley of the Yom River on the lower edge of the northern region, 427 kilometres north of Bangkok, and covers some 6,596 square kilometres. The Ramkhamhaeng national park in the south of the province and the Sri Satchanalai in the north-west both protect the mountainous forest areas of the province.

History

Sukhothai, meaning the Dawn of Happiness, was found in the 13th century. The exact year is unknown but according to the Fine Arts Office it was between 1238 and 1257. Founded by Phokhun Si Intharathit. It was the first truly independent Thai (Siamese) Kingdom, which enjoyed a golden age under King Ramkhamhaeng, who was credited with creating the Thai alphabet which is essentially the same as that in use today. He also laid the foundation for politics, monarchy, and religion, as well as, expanded its boundary of influence. Sukhothai was later ruled by many kings. The province is most famous for the historic city of Sukhothai, the capital of the Sukhothai kingdom. It is located about 12 km from the modern New Sukhothai city. Not far from Sukhothai is the Si Satchanalai historical park, a second city of the same time.

The province was at first known as Sawankhalok, it was renamed to Sukhothai in 1939.

Symbols

The provincial seal shows King Ramkhamhaeng the Great sitting on the Managkhasila Asana throne. Under King Ramkhamhaeng the kingdom of Sukhothai did flourished most.

Provincial tree is Afzelia xylocarpa; provincial flower is the Lotus (Nymphaea lotus).

The provincial slogan is Source of national heritage, the Thai alphabets, the best Loy Krathong celebrations, firm foundation of Buddhism, the fine Teen Jok cloth, ancient chinaware, holy Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng’s mother, dawn of happiness.

Administrative divisions

The province is subdivided in 9 districts (Amphoe). These are further subdivided into 86 communes (tambon) and 782 villages (muban).

  1. Mueang Sukhothai
  2. Ban Dan Lan Hoi
  3. Khiri Mat
  4. Kong Krailat
  5. Si Satchanalai

  1. Si Samrong
  2. Sawankhalok
  3. Si Nakhon
  4. Thung Saliam

Transportation

Roads

There are 5 highways connecting Sukhothai:

  • Highway 12 connects the eastern districts starting at Ban Dan Lan Hoi and passing Muang and Kong Krailat districts to Phitsanulok province.
  • Highway 101, starting at Si Satchanalai district, connects the northern districts to the southern districts and passing Sawankhalok, Si Samrong, Muang and Khiri Mat districts to Kamphaeng Phet province.
  • Highway 102 connects Si Satchanalai district to Uttaradit province.
  • Highway 1180 connects Sawankhalok district to Si Nakhon district and Uttaradit province.
  • Highway 1048 connects Sawankhalok district to Thung Saliam district and Lampang province.

Air

The airport is located in Amphur Sawankhalok and is about 30 km away from downtown. Flights operate daily between Sukhothai – Bangkok & Chiang Mai.

Rail Rail system in Sukhothai is one part of northern route from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong central station. Sukhothai is located on the main Chiang Mai – Bangkok line.

Songthaew (public passenger pick-up vehicles)

Songthaews are the most popular form of public transport in the new city and the rural areas. Larger sized Songthaews travel to and from the old and new cities.

Bus

Air-conditioned buses run regularly from Sukhothai Bus Terminal to Bangkok and Chiang Mai, stopping off at other major towns on the way. Non air-conditioned buses are for inter-provincial travel to the other districts.

Others

Tuk-tuks and motorbike-taxis are popular for short journeys within the new town.

Tourism

Sukhothai province is most famous for its historical city of Sukhothai, the first capital of Siam founded by King Ramkhamhaeng. The province’s temples and monuments have been restored well and Sukhothai Historical Park – a place with numerous sites of historical interest has been made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other interesting places include Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, Ramkhamhaeng National Park, Sri Satchanalai National Park and The Royal Palace and Wat Mahathat.

Sights / Attractions

Sukhothai Historical Park Sukhothai Historical Park is located in Tambon Muang Kao, Ampher Muang Sukhothai. It is twelve kilometers away from town. It is opened daily from 8.30 a.m.-4.30 p.m. Ruins of the royal palaces, Buddhist temples, the city gates, walls, moats, dams, ditches, ponds,canals, and the water dyke control system, which were the magical and spiritual centre of the kingdom, are now preserved and have been restored by the Fine Arts Department with the cooperation of UNESCO. It’s not only with a view of fostering Thailand's national identity but of safeguarding a fine example of mankind's cultural heritage.

The park covers the ruins of the ancient glorious Sukhothai Kingdom. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in December 1991. During its golden age, Sukhothai was the centre for administration, religion, and economy. The original city was surrounded by walls with 4 city gates. Today the walls house a number of sites worthy of visiting. They include:

  • The Royal Palace
  • Wat Mahathat,
  • The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum
  • The Ramkhamhaeng Monument
  • Wat Si Sawai
  • Wat Traphang Ngoen
  • Wat Traphang Thong
  • Wat Chana Songkhram,
  • Wat Sa Si
  • Wat Mai
  • San Ta Pha Daeng (the Deity Shrine)

Wat Mahathat The largest temple with a customary main Chedi in lotus-bud shape and an 8 metres high Buddha image.It is located in the middle of town that reflects to prosperity of the Sukhothai architecture within the monastery are housed Phra Rattana Chedi, the pagoda of the temple, which was erected on the Charot Withithong Rd.The museum collection includes gifts from the ex-abbot of Wat Ratchathani and art objects unearthed in Sukhothai and nearby provinces, so if everyone is interested in art objects, Monument of Phor Khun Ramkamhaeng museum is a good place to visit.

Sri Sachanalai Historical Park It is a place that has been registered by the UNESCO as the world’s heritage like Sukhothai historical park. It is situated at Kaeng Luang in Tambon Sri Sachanalai, Amphur Sri Sachanalai, about fifty-two kilometres away from town centre.It is formerly called "Muang Chaliang," was named "Si Satchanalai" during the reign of Phra Ruang when a new administrative centre was established to replace Chaliang. Ruins of 134 monuments have been discovered within the park.

Ramkhamhaeng National Park

Ramkhamhaeng National Park is a place that is widely known as Pa Kho Luang. It covers an area of about 341 square kilometers, or 213,125 rai. It is blessed with wildlife, birds, natural beauties including fertile tropical jungles and mountain. Ramkhamhaeng National Park, within the province of Sukhothai, is surrounded by the districts of Kirimas, Ban Dan Lan Hoi, and the provincial capital of Sukhothai.

Khao Luang Khao Luang is an important source of water for its’ surrounding areas. This exquisite national park with a combined natural and historical background covers an area of 341 square kilometres, and was declared to be a national park on October 27, 1980. High hills and steep cliffs some over 1,200 metres above sea level, together with fascinating falls, different species to plants and wildlife are some of the major attractions available in this park offered to nature loving tourists or visitors. Furthermore, the archaeological and historical sites with ancient remains and relics make the park even more attractive, especially for critics and theologians. The park also contains a lot of natural beauties such as the Khao Luang mountain range, Sai Rung Waterfall, an herbal garden, and the Savannah located in the high country of the Khao Luang range. High country of the Khao Luang mountain range: The 4 main peaks of the park are within the high country. These peaks offer beautiful views. Khao Phu Ka and Khao Phra Mae Ya at 1,200 meters above sea level are the park's highest summits. Looking up from the park's headquarters one can see the outline of a woman, in what some people would say is a very suggestive position, on one of the ridgelines.

Sri Sachanalai National Park Sri Sachanalai National Park was proclaimed a national park on 8 May, 1981. With a total area of 213 square kilometres in Amphoe Si Satchanalai and Amphoe Thung Saliam of Sukhothai Province, Si Satchanalai National Park offers trekking routes through waterfalls and caves. There is Tad Dao Waterfall, originated from the Tha Pae stream The 30-meter-high fall is wonderful. Ideal for rest and relaxation. Thara Wasan Cave, blessed with fantastic stalactites and stalagmites, is located about 1.5 km away from the park's office. Wildlife, in particular hundred thousands of bats is found here.Tad Duan Waterfall, situated about 500 meters away form the office of the park, is ideal for swimming. Coveniently accessible. Everyone can enjoy

Phra Mae Ya Shrine (ศาลพระแม่ย่า) Situated in front of the City Hall, Thanon Nikhon Kasem, by the Yom River, the shrine is highly respected by Sukhothai residents. It houses an idol of Phra Mae Ya, a stone figure with a long face, tapered chin, long halo and dressed as an ancient queen. The idol is supposed to have been built during King Ramkhamhaeng the Great’s reign as a dedication to his late mother Nang Sueang.

In this connection, the word Phra Mae Ya or grandmother in Thai is literally a term of endearment since the local people regarded King Ramkhamhaeng the Great as their father. The statue was formerly housed in a rock shelter of Phra Mae Ya Mountain. The Sukhothai residents later relocated it to the present shrine situated in front of the City Hall. The shrine is also believed to house the spirit of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great. The Phra Mae Ya Fair is held annually in late February.

Sangkhalok Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์สังคโลกสุโขทัย) It is located within Mueang Ake Plaza, Thanon By-pass, just 12 kilometres off the old city. The museum displays more than 2,000 pieces of Sangkhalok ceramic wares collected from various sources both locally and internationally.

Fish Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์ปลาในวรรณคดีเฉลิมพระเกียรติ)

This is located in the Rama IX Park, along Highway No. 12. It displays a variety of fresh water fish mentioned in Thai literature such as the travel poems titled Kap Ho Khlong Nirat Phra Bat and Kap Ho Khlong Praphat Than Thongdaeng, and the Kap He Ruea boat song by Chaofa Thammathibet (Chaofa Kung).

Ramkhamhaeng National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติรามคำแหง)

The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum houses many artefacts found from archaeological excavations in Sukhothai, as well as, those given by the locals. The museum is divided into three premises: the Lai Sue Thai Chet Roi Pi Memorial Building, Museum Building and Outdoor Museum.

Sawankhaworanayok National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติสวรรควรนายก)

The exhibits are in a two-storey building. Upstairs houses sculptural collections from various periods, mostly those formerly collected within the compound of Wat Sawankharam and offered by Phra Sawankhaworanayok. In addition, there are Buddha images, relocated from the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, from the pre-Sukhothai to the early Ayutthaya period.

Centre for Study and Preservation of Sangkhalok Kilns (ศูนย์ศึกษาและอนุรักษ์เตาสังคโลก (เตาทุเรียง)) This compound is considered the industrial area of Si Satchanalai. Numerous celadon wares in perfect and broken conditions have been discovered. The kiln is oval in shape with a curved roof like that of a ferryboat and is 7-8 metres long.

The centre consists of 2 buildings situated on the kiln site area with 2 kilns Nos. 42 (ground level) and 61 (underground) exhibited in situ. There are also exhibitions on artefacts, academic documents, and on the evolution of ancient ceramic wares.

Activities

Agrotourism

Cycling Route along the Orchards

Some visitors enjoy cycling around the orchards and tasting a variety of fruits like pomelo, santol, sapodilla, coconut, star fruit, various kinds of bananas, as well as, the tasty and fleshy plum mango (Bouae Macrophylla) with its chicken-egged size.

Tambon Ban Tuek Community of Amphoe Si Satchanalai. This is a small and peaceful community filled with trees, paddy fields, and scenic mountain ranges, while tourists can enjoy the traditional life of fruit growers. Different types of fruits grown along the hilly terrain include longkong, langsat, mangosteen, durian, banana, pomelo, rambeh and rambutan.

Eco & Soft Adventure Tourism Cycling Route: The Old Town of Sukhothai Trips within the Sukhothai Historical Park are also made by personal or rental bikes.

Spa

As spa is very famous through out the country, even Sukhothai is not left behind. There is the well known Ananda Spa at Ananda Museum Gallery Hotel in Sukhothai.

Local Products

  • Khanom Kliao (ขนมเกลียว) Famous snacks of Sukhothai made from wheat flour and egg, seasoned with salt and pepper, and made it into a twist shaped-dough. Fried until crispy and further glacé. It has a sweet taste and is available everywhere.
  • Sangkhalok ceramics (เครื่องสังคโลก) These replicas arguably look as good as the originals.
  • Thung Luang terra cotta (เครื่องปั้นดินเผา) of Khiri Mat district come in unique patterns. The products include flower pots, vases, basin, water jar, lamps, with perforated decorations of animal fiqures like frogs, bullfrogs, and dogs.
  • Butter-baked Banana (กล้วยอบเนย) A well-known snack of Amphoe Khiri Mat, it resembles another local sweet called Khanom Rang Nok made from sweet potato. This butter-baked banana snack is made from slicing raw banana horizontally, left to dry for half a day, seasoned with salt, deep fried, adding sugar, and giving it a good stir. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and add butter. This product is available everywhere.
  • Local Snacks: Khanom Phing, Thong Muan, Thong Phap, Thong Tan(ขนมผิง ทองม้วน ทองพับ และทองตัน) Famous crispy snacks of various shapes: square, round tube, and thick roll.
  • Fried peanuts (ถั่วทอด) of Si Samrong district, also called “200-year fried peanuts” are a tribute to a technique which has been inherited for many generations. The recipe is a mixture of rice flour, wheat flour, eggs, coconut milk, salt, pepper, chopped wild yam, which are then deep fried.
  • Ancient gold reproductions (ทองโบราณ) of Si Satchanalai district are entirely hand-made by skilled workers. These replicas of the Sukhothai style products include necklaces, wristlets, bangles, earrings, rings, etc.
  • Ancient silver reproductions (เงินโบราณ) These replicas are entirely hand-made with distinctive skill. They are available at all silver shops in Amphoe Si Satchanalai.
  • Hat Siao fabric (ผ้าหาดเสี้ยว) comes with 9 beautiful patterns woven with the use of a supplementary weft technique, done by the descendants of Thai Phuan, who migrated from the north of Vientiane in Laos.
  • Marble Products (ผลิตภัณฑ์หินอ่อน) The marble products from Amphoe Thung Saliam - Thoen include tables, chairs, flower pots and alarm clocks.
  • Fighting cocks (ไก่ชน) This is located at the Chai Phichit cock-fighting ring, 99 Mu. 7, Tambon Mueang Kao, Amphoe Mueang allowing people to enjoy the cock-fighting demonstration and learn about the animal’s lifestyle,

Nightlife

Sukhothai doesn’t really have much of a name for nightlife. Some reviews say the best place to go in the new town is the Chopper bar with its decent rooftop restaurant, live folk music and a Thai and Western menu. Around town, there are a few Thai-style karaoke with hostesses.

Local Culture

Lifestyle

The Thais are a friendly, laid-back, non-aggressive and non-confrontational people who are known world wide for their impressive smiles – even to complete strangers.

The Thai-Chinese make up the majority of Sukhothai’s new town urban folk while the original Thai-Thais prefer their more traditional rural roots in the Sukhothai countryside. The northern Thais in Sukhothai are Lanna in origin and their ancient roots lie in Burma, Tibet and southern China.

The people of Sukhothai are very proud of their heritage and do not take easily to tourists there who don’t show any interest in wishing to learn about their history. Since they look up to King Ramkhamhaeng the Great as their adopted father, all foreign tourists should only mention him with respect.

Festivals

Phor Khun Ramkhamhaeng’s Day Festival (or King Ramkhamhaeng the Great Memorial Fair (งานวันพ่อขุนรามคำแหงมหาราช) Phor Khun Ramkhamhaeng’s Day Festival, annually held on January 17. It honors of the Great King of Sukhothai Kingdom. In this day, people will visit to the Monument of Phor Khun Ramkamhaeng the Great for praising Phor Khun Ramkhamhaeng. People will make merit and present food to a Buddhist priest. At the night, there are merrymaking and many shows that all people can enjoy. There are fireworks too.

Song Nam Aui Than Festival Song Nam Aui Than Festival is annually held on April 12, Songkran Ceremony in the SriSathanalai Historical Park. It exhibits the Buddha image procession from Wat Phra Prang to the Historical Park for people who want to pour the water over the Buddha image.

Si Sachanalai Ordination Celebration Si Sachanalai Ordination Celebration is called by Thais as "Buat Chang Hat Siao", held annually during 7-8 April at Ban Hat Sieo, Ampher Si Sachanalai.It features a spectacular procession of ordination candidates in colourful costumer on the backs of some 20-30 decorated elephants.

Sukhothai Loi Krathong and Candle Festival The tradition derived from traditional beliefs common to communities living along the banks of a river or waterway. It has become a need to worship and supplicate the Khongkla to avoid bad luck, to worship the gods in the Brahmin tradition, or to revere the Buddha's footprint. The celebrations are normally organized in the 12th month when the tide is high and the air is cool. Sukhothai’s Loi Krathong is held annually on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month at the Sukhothai Historical Park. The Krathongs or floats have been made in the form of lotus. There is also a reference, in the Sila Charuek, to candle lighting and playing with firework in a grand festival believed to be similar to the candle lighting and firework as practiced in the current Loi Krathongs Festival. In this festival, there are Nang Nopphamat procession, exhibitions, lighting of lantern at the historical site, Loi Krathong and fireworks over all waterways, and Krathong competition.

Phra Mae Ya Homage Paying Fair and Sukhothai Red Cross Fair (งานสักการะพระแม่ย่าและงานกาชาดจังหวัดสุโขทัย) This is held at the beginning of February every year around the Sukhothai City Hall, Nirakasem Road, Tambon Thani. A procession paying homage to Phra Mae Ya, a local sports competition, an exhibition, a local handicraft demonstration and entertainment, are held.

Si Satchanalai Elephant Back Ordination Procession (ประเพณีบวชพระแห่นาคด้วยช้างของชาวหาดเสี้ยว) A traditional ceremony of the Thai Phuan, citizens of Ban Hat Siao, Si Satchanalai Elephant Back Ordination Procession or Buat Chang is held annually during 7-8 April at Ban Hat Siao, Amphoe Si Satchanalai. The 7th is the crux of the event, when a procession takes place. On the 8th features a spectacular procession of ordination candidates in colourful costumes on the backs of some 20-30 decorated elephants. The ordination ceremony includes head shaving, bathing, and dressing up candidates, as well as, elephants. The procession is held around the village and the Si Satchanalai District Office.

Songkran and Mueang Sawankhalok Festival (งานประเพณีสงกรานต์และเทศกาลเมืองสวรรคโลก ) This takes place during 11-15 April annually on the bank of the Yom River, in front of Wat Sawang Arom, by the Yom River, and at the Stadium of the Sawankhalok Municipal School. The procession of Miss Songkran, the Sawankhalok Food Festival, ceremonies of giving alms to monks and bathing rituals for Buddha images and monks are performed in the festival.

Songkran Festival (งานประเพณีสรงน้ำโอยทาน สงกรานต์ศรีสัชนาลัย) An annual celebration of the Thai New Year is held during 12 - 13 April at Si Satchanalai Historical Park, Amphoe Si Satchanalai; this festival carries forward Sukhothai’s tradition. It was mentioned in the famous stone inscription “The Sukhothai people are generous, abide by precepts, and always give charity”, which is believed to be inscribed during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great of the Sukhothai Kingdom. The highlights of the event include the elephant procession, offering rituals to pay respect to Phra Suea Mueang, the tutelary spirit and kings from the Phra Ruang Dynasty, Miss Songkran beauty queen contest, local sport competitions and cultural performances.

Hae Nam Khuen Hong Festival (งานประเพณีแห่น้ำขึ้นโฮง) This is organized annually during 18 – 19 April at the plaza of Chaopho Mueang Dong Monument, Tambon Ban Tuek, Amphoe Si Satchanalai. The ceremony is held to honour “Muen Nakhon” or “Chaopho Mueang Dong”, the establisher of Dong City. He was talented and courageous, as well as, specialized in catching elephants and utilising them in war. Later, he was executed to prove his loyalty to King Tilokkarat. Then, the villagers organized a ceremony to pay homage to Chaopho Mueang Dong by preparing a more-than-50-elephant parade wonderfully decorated, passing the village to pay respect to the shrine of Chaopho Khao Mung and onward to the plaza of Chaopho Mueang Dong Monument to pay homage to Chaopho Mueang Dong.

Khao Luang Winning Day (งานวันพิชิตยอดเขาหลวง) This is a yearly event that Sukhothai province has organized for tourists and the local people to climb up to the summit of Khao Luang in the Ramkhamhaeng National Park, Amphoe Khiri Mat. The event is held around November every year.

Local Food

Sukhothai has its very own speciality noodle dish called simply Sukhothai Noodles. They area blend of rice noodles (khanom jeen) mixed with crispy pork, garlic, green beans, coriander, chili and peanuts in a broth flavored with dark soy sauce.

Medical Health Care

Sukhothai has two main hospitals:

  • Sukhothai Hospital
  • Srisangworn Sukhothai Hospital

Media/Contact

Local television, satellite TV channels are available. English language newspapers and magazines are available in some bookstores.

Landline telephone, satellite phone and all mobile phone systems are available at Sukhothai downtown and village areas. Internet can be had in hotels, resorts and internet cafés. There are Post Offices in every district.

References

External links

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