and all facilities being in the new town. The old town of Sukothai consists mainly of the large Historical Park, where most of the remains of the original city can be seen. To explore the Historical Park, the best method of transport is bicycle, these can be hired nearby the front entrance. The whole Historical Park covers an area of about 70 square kms so many many of the sites are better reached by car. To get to Sukothai it takes 5-6 hrs to drive from Chiang Mai. Alternatively, the train stops at nearby Phitsanuloke or there are flights (from Bangkok or Chiang Mai) to Phitsanuloke or Sukothai itself.
The History of Sukothai dates back to 1238, founded by two Thai generals, who helped to push the Khmers from this area. For over a century a society developed in Sukothai, which is seen to be the Thailand as we know it today. Theravada Buddism was introduced and Sukothai became a thriving religious and commercial centre. The ceramics industry also flourished centred in the town of Si Satchanalai. This continued on until Sukothai eventually lost its power and became a vassal state of Ayutthaya in the 15th century.
The Ruins - many of these are worth a visit, the most important being:
Wat Mahathat was the spiritual centre of the city. It was the king's temple and therefore the symbol of his power.There are many ruins of chedis and viharns just within this compound; the stupas feature the famous lotus bud style (a feature of Sukothai style temple architecture).
Wat Sri Sawai by contrast features typical Khmer architecture. It could have been a Khmer shrine before the Sukothai kingdom was established, supported by the fact that there are Buddhist additions that have been made to it at a later date.
Wat Trapang Ngoen features an impressive lotus bud chedi and is set on an island giving it an impressive setting surrounded by water.
Outside the main park one of the most impressive temples is Wat Si Chum. Within a small walled compound you can see a majestic 50 feet tall sitting Buddha. There is a passageway running up the wall to the same level as the top of the Buddha and it is said this was used to make the Buddha 'speak' to certain worshippers, ie. a person would be sent up beforehand and act as the 'Buddhas voice'.
Also worth visiting are Wat Chang Lom and Wat Saphan Hin.
Si Satchanalai was the most important satellite town of Sukothai (57kms from Sukothai). This town also has its own ruins and is worth exploring.
Wat Chang Lom has a magnificent chedi on a square base featuring 39 life sized stucco elephants.
Wat Chedi Jet Taew features seven rows of chedis thought to enshrine the royalty of Si Satchanalai.
Wat Nang Phaya is famous for its stucco reliefs on the viharn walls
Sawankhaloke was the site of many ceramics kilns in the Sukothai era. The area became famous because of its fine quality clay and ceramic products were exported to many countries in Asia. Today you can see some of the ancient kilns that have been unearthed, along with samples of the products that were made there.