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||On traveling to Tak Province, expect to discover a place with long history, where natural wonders are magnificently enhanced by ethnic diversity.
Mostly forested and mountainous, Tak is a northern province peacefully situated on the Maenam Ping basin. The province covers an area of 16,406 square kilometers and is 426 kilometers north of Bangkok. As Tak shares natural border with Myanmar, it is highly regarded as a western gateway to Myanmar, and a northern doorway to Thailand's major cities such as Lampang and Chiang Mai.
A province with a long history, Tak was earlier called Mueang Rahang. Historians believe it was built prior to the Sukhothai era and was treated as the western frontier of the Kingdom. Tak was also associated with Thailand's former Great Kings, from King Ramkamhaeng the Great, King Naresuan the Great, King Narai the Great to King Taksin the Great. These four Kings usually called their troop assemblies in Tak. That is why the seal of the province depicts King Naresuan the Great on the royal elephant, pouring sacred water on the ground. This is a symbolic representation of the declaration of the independence of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya during the war with Burma in 1584. Tak was considered the first district to be liberated from the power of the Burmese Kingdom.
Today, Tak is no longer a strategic military frontier between two great nations. It is however a trading gateway to Myanmar at Amphoe Mae Sot, where lots of economic activities take place daily along the border. In addition, the province has the Asian Highway that runs from Thailand's western border towards the northeastern region at Chong Mek (Mae Sot Sukhothai Phitsanulok Ubon Ratchathani - Laos).
Apart from Tak's military and economic importance the province is also an environmental and cultural center with magnificent forests, spectacular waterfalls and caves and fascinating hill tribes such as Karen, Lisu, Musoe (Lahu), Akha, Yao and Hmong.
||Found in the 13th century, Sukhothai (literally means Dawn of Happiness) was the first truly independent Thai Kingdom, which enjoyed a golden age under King Ramkhamhaeng, credited with creating the Thai alphabet. The superb temples and monuments of this great city have been lovingly restored in Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see for all travellers.
Sukhothai is located on the lower edge of the northern region, 427 kilometres north of Bangkok or some 298 kilometres south of Chiang Mai. The province covers some 6,596 square kilometres and is divided into 9 Amphoes: Muang Sukhothai, Ban Dan Lan Hoi, Khiri Mat, Kong Krailat, Sawankhalok, Si Nakhon, Si Samrong, Si Satchanalai and Thung Saliam.
Sukhothai was the first kingdom of the Thais in this peninsula. Two princes-Pho Khun Pha Muang and Pho Khun Bang Klang Hao 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 Mueang and Pho Khun Ramkhamhaeng. After his death, Pho Khun Ban Mueang 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 neighbouring 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 Khans 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 Thon Buri and Bangkok.
||Covering some 105,815 square kilometers, Phitsanulok is 377 kilometers north of Bangkok. It borders Uttaradit Province on the North, Phichit Province on the South, Loei and Phetchabun Provinces on the East, and Kamphaeng Phet and Sukhothai Provinces on the West. Situated on a strategic location dividing Thailands Central and Northern regions, and connecting to the Northeastern region, Phitsanulok is undeniably an important hub and an ideal base for travelers wishing to explore the lower North and western Northeast. Phitsanulok, however, is not just a stopover for tourists, but is a province with promising tourism opportunities.
Phitsanulok City spans the banks of Maenam Nan and has Maenam Kwae Noi running through it. Therefore, it is locally known and historically referred to as Song Kwae City (song means two and kwae means a river). Most of Phitsanulok's terrain is flatlands, with one third of the area being mountain ranges on the north and the east. Its unique natural endowments including natural parks and waterfalls make a trip to Phitsanulok worthwhile.
Apart from its exceptional natural charisma, Phitsanulok provides visitors with an opportunity to explore notable chapters of Thailand's history. For example, remains of an ancient community dating back between 2,000-4,000 years, including old stone axes, was found here. In addition, the old temple of Wat Chula Mani, situated 5 kilometers south of the city, was built even before the Sukhothai Kingdom burst into power.
Phitsanulok prospered along with the powerful Sukhothai (1238-1378) and Ayutthaya (1350 1767) Kingdoms. In particular, it played a strategic role in the Ayutthaya era when it had become the Kingdoms royal capital for 25 years during the reign of King Borom Trailokanat.
Phitsanulok is also the birthplace of King Naresuan the Great (reigned 1590-1605) the legendary King who declared Ayutthayas independence from Burma in 1584. King Naresuan the Great is known for his victorious and honorable single hand combat on elephant back Yutthahatti against a Burmese Crown Prince. His heroic power and strong dedication to expelling the invaders from his motherland saved the country, and truly united the Kingdom which later was known as Siam and currently known as Thailand.
Phitsanulok was also a strategic location for other Ayutthaya Kings as it was a major center for military recruitment and a training camp when Ayutthaya waged wars with Burma.
||Geographically located in the Lower North on the bank of the Ping River, Kamphaeng Phet is 358 kilometres from Bangkok. To its East are riverine flatlands while the western areas are made up of high mountains lush with fertile forests where a number of national parks have been established.
Areas along the river bank at present-day Mueang district used to host several ancient towns which had played a major role as strategic front-line frontiers since Sukhothai was the kingdom's capital down through the times of Ayutthaya and early Rattanakosin (Bangkok) eras. In fact, the name Kamphaeng Phet actually means as strong as walls or forts make of diamonds.
Kamphaeng Phet covers an area of 8,607 square kilometres. It is divided administratively into 9 districts, namely, Mueang Kampheang Phet, Phran Kratai, Khlong Khlung, Khanu Woralaksauri, Sai Ngam, Lan Krabue, Khlong Lan, Sai Thong Watthana and Pang Sila Thong and 2 sub-districts, Bueng Samakkhi and Kosamphi Nakhon.
||Nakhon Sawan Province, also known as Pak Nam Pho is where the rivers of Ping, Wang, Yom, and Nan converge and form the Chao Phraya River, the most important waterway of Thailand.
Nakhon Sawan is in the lower northern part of the country between the North and the Central Region. It is regarded as the doorway to the North and it is the hub of transportation in the Lower North.
||According to most historians, the ancient town of Kanchanaburi was located near Ban Lat Ya, a small village situated approximately 16 kilometers north of the present town. The site was repeatedly recorded in Thai history as an invasion route which the Burmese used to enter Thai Kingdoms.
Kanchanaburi, which has mostly mountainous terrain, covers an area of approximately 19,473 square kilometers and is the third largest province in Thailand after Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima. Situated approximately 129 kilometres west of Bangkok, Kanchanaburi shares a border with Myanmar to the west, Tak and Uthai Thani Provinces to the north, Suphan Buri and Nakhon Pathom Provinces to the east, and Ratchaburi Province to the south.
In north and west Kanchanaburi, the terrain is comprised mainly of mountains and high plains, with the Thanon Thongchai Range acting as a natural border between Thailand and Myanmar. The range is the source of Kanchanaburis two most important rivers Mae Nam Khwae Noi and Mae Nam Khwae Yai, which form the famous Maenam Mae Klong. As a result, several of Thailand's largest Namtok (waterfalls) and most extensive wildlife sanctuaries are found in this area.
The magnificent landscape and charming beauty of Kanchanaburi have resulted in major tourist attractions including several well-known waterfalls, caves which were once inhabited by Neolithic man, pristine national parks, tranquil rivers, virgin forests, and reservoir. Together, they offer an intriguing experience for first-time or repeat visitors. Whether its fishing, rafting, canoeing, mountain biking, bird-watching, star-gazing, golfing, elephant and jungle trekking, or even living in bamboo rafts, Kanchanaburi takes pride in offering them all.
The city of Kanchanaburi is located at the point where two tributaries, the Khwae Noi and Khwae Yai meet and form the Maenam Mae Klong. This is the location of the notorious Death Railway and the Bridge on the River Khwae one of the worlds famous World War II sites which have been immortalized in print and film.
In economic terms, Kanchanaburi has been doing well on a national scale, with over 10 per cent growth annually. Important industries include sugar, agricultural products and jewelry. Tourism is also a main source of income for the locals as the provinces high tourism potential has made Kanchanaburi number one among the west provinces in having the highest number of visitors each year.
Residents of Kanchanaburi are engaged in agricultural activities. Most of the locals are of Thai ancestry with notable Mon and Karen minorities. Rural dwellers enjoy living simply and respecting nature. Moreover folk music and dances dating back at least 500 years are still performed today.