Introduction

Sukhothai which literally means "Dawn of Happiness" with an area of 6,596 sq.kms., is about 427 km (267 miles) north of Bangkok and was founded in 1238. Sukhothai was the capital of Thailand for approximately 120 years.

Historical Background

Sukhothai was the first kingdom of the Thais in this peninsula. Two princes-Pho Khun Pha Muang of Muang Rad and Pho Khun Bang Klang Hao of Muang Bangyang combined their forces and fought the Khmers who commanded an extensive empire throughout this part of the world.
They drove the Khmers out of Sukhothai, a major frontier post of the Khmer Empire, and established it as their capital in 1238. Pho Khun Bang Klang Hao, urged by the people to be king, was enthroned with the royal title of Pho Khun Si Indrathit.
King Si Indrathit had two sons-Pho Khun Ban Muang and Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng. After his death, Pho Khun Ban Muang succeeded him. His
brother, Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng, ascended the throne in 1278 and reigned for forty years. He was Thailand's first great king.
One of Thailand's finest warriors, King Ramkhamhaeng made Sukhothai a powerful and extensive kingdom which included many parts of what are today neighboring countries. A number of ancient cities paid him tribute.

King Ramkhamhaeng opened direct political relations with China and made two trips to China-the first in 1282 to visit Emperor Kublai Khan and the second in 1300 after Kublai Khan's death.
From the second visit, he brought back Chinese artisans who taught the Thais the art of pottery. Today, the old "Sangkhalok Potteries" are eagerly sought by collectors.
A major achievement of King Ramkhamhaeng was the revision of various forms of Khmer alphabets into a system suitable for the writing of Thai words. The alphabet that he invented in 1283 was essentially the same as that in use today.

During his reign, there was prosperity and happiness. There was water in the paddy fields and fish in the water. A stone inscription reads in part, "This Muang Sukhothai is good. In the water there are fish; in the field there is rice. The ruler does not levy a tax on the people who travel along the road together, leading their oxen on the way to trade and riding their horses on the way to sell. Whoever wants to trade in elephants, so trades. Whoever wants to trade in horses, so trades. Whoever wants to trade in silver and gold, so trades."
King Ramkhamhaeng also promoted religion and culture, and through his efforts, Buddhism progressed among the people. Inspirational faith gave birth to classic forms of Thai religious arts. Images of the Lord Buddha sculptured during the Sukhothai Era are cultural treasures which impart a feeling of peace and serenity.
A total of eight kings ruled Sukhothai. The gradual decline of Sukhothai occurred during the reigns of the last two kings. The end of this first Thai kingdom occurred in 1365 when it became a vassal state of Ayutthaya, a young and rising power to the south. Ayutthaya became the capital of Thailand before B
angkok.

How to get there

By Bus
Both air and non air-conditioned buses leave Bangkok for Sukhothai daily from the Northern Bus Terminal, Kamphaeng Phet Road. Tel. 537-8055-6 
By Train
There are no trains going directly to Sukhothai. One may travel by train to Phitsanulok and then take a local bus to Sukhothai, some 50 km away. Contact Bangkok Railway Station Tel. 223-7010, 223-7020 
By Plane
BANGKOK AIRWAYS flies one flight daily at 8.20 hrs. from Bangkok to
Sukhothai then on to Chiang Mai. For more information please contact Tel. 229-3456 - 63
By Car
Those with private cars will find it enjoyable to drive from Bangkok by having the opportunity of really seeing rural Thailand. They will travel through a number of provinces: Ayutthaya, capital of Thailand before Bangkok; Saraburi with its temple of Lord Buddha's Footprint; Lopburi with its ancient Khmer temple; Chai Nat with its huge irrigation dam; Nakhon Sawan where major rivers converge to form Maenam Chao Phraya; Phitsanulok with its various attractions; Kamphaeng Phet and Tak with their striking views of hills and rivers.

Festivals

SI SATCHANALAI ORDINATION CELEBRATION or "Buat Chang" is a local event held annually during 7-8 April at Ban Hat Sieo, Amphoe Si Satchanalai. It features a spectacular procession of ordination candidates in colorful costumes on the backs of some 20-30 decorated elephants.

SONGKRAN FESTIVAL is an annual celebration of the Thai New Year, 13 April. The festival was mentioned in the famous stone inscription believed to be inscribed during the reign of King Ramkhamhaeng the Great of the Sukhothai Kingdom.

LOI KRATHONG AND CANDLE FESTIVAL is held annually on the full moon night of the 12th lunar month at Sukhothai Historical Park. Activities during the festival include krathong floating, a fireworks display, and local games and performances amid the glamorous atmosphere of Sukhothai Historical Park.

SUKHOTHAI NIGHT
Set up in Sukhothai Historical Park with performances of various activities. The objective is to model the Loy Krathong festival for those who missed the actual performance. 
The program simulates every activity held on Loy Krathong night. The show will last on hour by serving typical classical style dinner. 

The tourists who want to participate in the program can contact Sukhothai Tourism Business Club at Tel. (055) 613075

 

Information provided by Tourism Authority of Thailand

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