Phitsanulok is by no means an ancient city, but it is one of the oldest and important historic cities in Thailand, founded 600 years ago. Its location in between the two rivers of Nan and Khwae Noi gave the moniker Song Khwae, which means ‘two rivers’ in Thai. Travellers often make this a pit stop on their way to Sukhothai Kingdom, an archaic destination revered for its many historic temples and monuments. Phitsanulok’s charm lies in the unspoiled beauty of its temples, Thai architecture and natural landscape.
Best of Phitsanulok
1. Phitsanulok Tour Tramway
One of the best ways to sightsee around Phitsanulok, from the slow and steady comfort of a tram! On this 45 minutes ride, you can see the sights around Phitsanulok such a Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat Woramahawihan, Phraya Chakri Raft Dweller Museum, Ekathotsarot Bridge, Jail, Town Wall, Wat Wihan Thong, King Naresuan the Great Shrine, Chan Palace and City Pillar Shrine. The tour starts and ends at Wat Yai, costing THB 30 for adult and THB 20 for child.
2. Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
Known among the locals as Wat Yai, it was built in 1357 by King Phaya Lta. Buddhist devotees and tourists flock here to see the Phra Phuttha Cinnarat, a golden statue of Buddha that is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Thailand.
A signature of Phitsanulok, the house-boats are perched along the scenic banks of the Nan River. What used to be the way of living for the people of Phitsanulok many years ago, the recent times have seen them being converted into restaurants and cafes. Come at night to enjoy sumptuous Thai food accompanied by the beautiful river scene.
3. Sgt. Maj. Thawee Folklore Museum
A private museum established by Sgt. Maj. Dr. Thavee Buranakhate that highlights artefacts and photographs on the local culture from the past era – a very interesting way to understand and learn about the local society.
4. Loi Krathong Festival
Celebrated annually during the full moon on the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar, it is a visually stunning festival not-to-be-missed! On this night, people will send out their krathongs (a container that floats on water usually made from banana tree barks, spider lily plant, or even bread) decorated with flowers, candles, or coins, into the river to let go of negative thoughts as well as to honour Lord Buddha.
6. Phu Hin Rong Kla
The mountainous terrain of Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park is a rare gem waiting to be explored. From high mountain peaks towering at 1,800 metres above ground to odd rock formations and rare flowering species, it promises an adventure of a lifetime. The area is also part of the Luang Prabang rainforest region.
The ancient city of Sukhothai is Thailand’s first capital, and is a great place to get a feel of the ancient glorious kingdom of Thailand. The Sukhothai Historical Park is an important area where you’ll find most of the province’s restored temples and monuments, and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can hire a tuk tuk to bring you around but it is best to explore by renting a bicycle. Beautiful ruins such as Wat Mahathat and Wat Sra Sri are located alongside moats, lakes and bridges.
Transfers are available from Don Mueang Airport, Bangkok directly to Sukhothai via AirAsia City Transfer (a combination of DMK-PHS flight as well as van transfer from Phitsanulok Airport to Sukhothai Historical Park – to be booked via AirAsia channels with Sukhothai as the final destination).