Lying between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Sukhotai was the capital of the first Siamese kingdom from 1257 to 1379. Today, it embodies the historical symbols most cherished by the people of Thailand, who actually form the bulk of visitors, with a visiting rate of over 80%. Nicknamed the "city of happiness", Sukhotai symbolises the emergence of the Siamese nation and its ensuing artistic and political fervour. From this golden age, in the midst of peaceful paddy fields, many monuments have survived, notably temples and stupas with perfect lines, as well as majestic brick Buddhas shrouded in saffron robes. From 1277 to 1317, the city was ruled by Rama Khamhaeng, a charismatic king who gave his name to the present National Museum in a garden at the heart of the archeological site. A few kilometres to the north, the ancient cities of Si Satchanalai and Chaliang, dating back to the same era but not restored as such, equally exude much charm.
The city was founded in 1238.© Potowizard / 123RF
Sukhothai has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991.© SANCHAI LOONGROONG / 123RF
Wat Chang Lom is a Buddhist temple.© EASYVOYAGE
The name of this place means "surrounded by elephants".© blanscape
Elephants stand guard at the entrance to the city.© Rattanapat Wingpud / 123RF