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|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.
|A province in the Lower North, Uttradit has a long history developing through the years since pre-historic time.
The site of the original town, then called Bang Pho Tha It, was located on the right bank of the Nan River. It flourished as a port for goods transportation. As a result, King Rama V elevated its status into a province and re-named it Uttradit, literally the Port of the North.
Uttradit is located 491 kilometres from Bangkok and covers an area of 7,838 square kilometres and is divided into the following districts: Muang, Tron, Laplae, Phichai, Tha Pla, Nam Pat, Fak Tha, Ban Khok, and Thong Saen Khan.
|Although geographically located in the northeast or I-San, Loei has many things in common with the northern region – namely its numerous high hills and mountains and its wintry as well as foggy climate. Literally speaking, the province deserves its name “Loei” which means ‘beyond’ or ‘to the furthest extreme’ as Loei lies in the northernmost part of the Northeastern region. Most notable is that Loei is the only province in Thailand where the temperature can drop to as low as zero Celsius in winter while it can become hotter than any province during summer. In short, Loei’s geography and climate is unique when compared to other I-San provinces.
Situated along the Phetchabun Mountain Range, Loei, a province that rises approximately 400 meters above sea level, is dubbed “the land of seas of mountains, the coolest in Siam”. Covering an area of 11,424 square kilometers (equivalent to 7.14 million rai of land), Loei Province, which is 520 kilometers from Bangkok shares a border with Laos to the north with the Khong and Heung Rivers forming the natural border, with Khon Kaen and Phetchabun Provinces to the south, with Nong Bua Lamphu, Udon Thani, Nong Khai and Khon Kaen Provinces to the east, and with Phitsanulok Province to the west. The province can be divided into three main areas: the high mountains in the west, the plains at the foot of the hills in the south and the east, and the lowlands in the basins of the Khong and the Loei Rivers.
Loei Province has an abundance of precious resources such as forests and natural resources. Of equal importance, however, is its unusual mix of northern and northeastern culture which is treasured by both locals and visitors. This remarkable cultural blend has produced more than one local dialect but only one local identity.
Attractions within the province that should be explored include Phu Kradung, Phu Luang and Phu Reua National parks, as well as Tha Li and Chiang Khan Districts.
Administratively, Loei is divided into 12 districts (Amphoes) : Mueang, Wang Saphung, Phu Kradueng, Chiang Khan, Pak Chom, Tha Li, Phu Ruea, Dan Sai, Na Haeo, Na Duang, Phu Luang, Pha Khao, Erawan and Nong Hin.
|Famous for its horse-drawn carriages and with a rooster as its provincial emblem, Lampang boasts a long history of human settlements on the Wang River basin, some of which dating back to more than 1,000 years. It is rich in archaeological evidence reflecting ancient civilisations of Hariphunchai, Lanna and Burma.
Lampang is administratively divided into the following districts: Muang, Thoen, Mae Phrik, Ngao, Ko Kha, Wang Nuea, Mae Tha, Chae Hom, Sop Prap, Seom Ngam, Hang Chat, Mae Mo and Mueang Pan
|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.
|Situated in the Lower North some 345 kilometres from Bangkok, Pichit is accessible by both road and rail. Nurtured by two rivers, the Yom and the Nan running parallel to one another north to south, the land is agriculturally fertile. Once the site of an ancient town dating back almost a thousand years ago, Phichit has played in a major role in the history of both Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.
Known as the land of the crocodiles, it has been home to this ferocious reptile which has thrived in its waters. There are today several fresh-water crocodile farms. Phichit features in the Thai epic Krai Thong composed by King Rama II which tells of Chalawa
Phichit is administratively divided into the following districts: Muang, Pho Prathap Chang, Taphan hin, Bang Mun Nak, Pho Thale, Sam Ngam, Wang Sai Phun, Thap Khlo, Sak Lek, Dong Charoen, Bueng Na Rang and Wachirabarami
|346 kilometres from Bangkok, Phetchabun borders on three regions, the North, the Central and the Northeast. The central part of the province is on the Pa Sak river basin with mountain ranges running along both the western and eastern sectors. Because of the fertility of the land, Phetchabun has always been an agriculturally productive area. The very name of the province actually means the land of crops and foods.
Today, Phetchabun is a province with rich tourism potential. Its climate is pleasant due to the mountainous and forested areas and it has a history of richness and prosperity for more than 1,400 years. As and Sukhothai styles have been discovered.
Phetchabun is administratively divided into the following districts: Muang, Lom Sak, Lom Kao, Chon Daen, Nong Phai, Wichian Buri, Si Thep, Bueng Sam Phan, Wang Pong, Nam Nao and Khao Kho.