of Sukhothai pay homage to the mightiest of the Sukhothai kings,
Ramkhamhaeng the Great. This larger than life statue holds a book
in his right hand. His sword lies to his left.
Pink lotuses now colonize the ancient irrigation
tram, which whisks around the main attractions at frequent intervals.
For budget travellers, there are plenty of cheap guesthouses clustered
nearby the park entrance for around 150 baht/ night up whilst, while
for those requiring a little more luxury, the Pailyn Hotel, four
kilometres east of the park, offers top-end accommodation from 1,
200 baht/ night for a twin room (Tel (055) 613310).
the largest and most impressive monument at this World Heritage
Site is Wat Mahathat, considered to be the spiritual and administrative
centre of the capital. A maze of columns and approximately 200 chedis,
as well as some fine Buddha images almost overwhelm visitors. These
stupas represent various architectural styles. The lotus bud shape
is the definitive style of Sukhothai, but there are also chedis
in the earlier styles of Hari-punchai/Lanna and Sri Lanka. Two impressive
statues of the standing Buddha, 12 metres tall, flank the main one.
Wat Sri Sawai, 350 metres south of Wat Mahathat, is impressive,
not for its size, but for the distinctiveness of its architecture.
It has three massive prang, shaped like corn cobs, in the Lop Buri
style, intricately decorated with stucco images of Garuda (a giant
bird-like god hatched from an egg incubated for 1, 000 years), Naga
(a snake-like creature), and other beings from Hindu mythology.
This structure was clearly a Hindu sanctuary, originally built in
the Khmer-dominated, pre-Sukhothai period, before being expanded
and transformed into a Buddhist temple after the foundation of the
Wat Sa Si is attractive for its location. Standing
in the middle of a reservoir, the ruins are reached via a bridge.
They include an elegant Sinhalese-style chedi, which retains its
long tapering spire, as well as a large Buddha image, an ordination
hall and viharn (assembly hall). This temple was saved from almost
certain destruction by the re-routing of a road, which used to run
right through the middle of the site.
Altogether, there are
21 structures within the old city walls and a further 70 sites in
four other groups within a five kilometre radius. For detailed descriptions,
visitors should obtain a copy of the bilingual A Guide to Sukhothai,
Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet Historical Parks published by
the Office of Archeology and National Museums, Fine Arts Department,
and available from the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum near the park