Ancient Ruins in North Thailand

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Ancient Ruins in North Thailand

There are different ways of looking at Thailand’s geography. Some people would include Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai, and Kamphaeng Phet in Central Thailand. Because we are passionate about history we have included these ancient ruins in North Thailand. Some people decided to make the distinction between upper and lower North Thailand. According to them, Lower North Thailand consists of the provinces Phichit, Sukhothai, Nakhon Sawan, Petchabun, Phitsanulok, Kamphaeng Phet, and Tak. Upper North Thailand is all the provinces north of the lower provinces: Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, Nan, Uttaradit, Mae Hong Son, Lampang, Phayao, and Lamphun. I fully agree with them. This explains the inclusion of three ancient cities that form the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns.

Temple ruin with protruding elephants ruined cities in north thailand ancient ruins in north thailand
Wat Sorasak at Sukhothai Historical Park

Wiang Kum Kam, the ruined city

The ruined city of Wiang Kum Kam is just south of Chiang Mai. King Mangrai started construction of this city in 1286/7. It was only briefly his residence. In 1292 he moved to a location which is now Wat Chiang Man and founded Chiang Mai in 1296. Wiang Kum Kam was located on the Ping River, which ran a different course in those days. The city was prone to flooding and ultimately abandoned in the 16th century.

Old chedi and trees Wiang Kum Kam
The ruins of Wat E-Kang

Wiang Tha Kan, the forgotten ancient city

The ruins of Wiang Tha Kan are about 30 km south of Chiang Mai. For archaeology buffs they are worth visiting but also for people who want to see beautiful ruins in a typical lovely rural Northern Thai landscape. A bicycle is the preferred mode of transportation. The ruins of Wiang Tha Kan are much less visited than those of Wiang Kum Kam.

Ruined temple ancient ruins in North Thailand Wiang Tha Kan
Wat Ku Mai Daeng

The magnificent ruins of Wiang Lo

Few people are familiar with Wiang Lo. It is an archaeological site about 70km southwest of Chiang Rai. The ruins of this ancient city are located in and around the village Wiang Lo, Chun district, Phayao province. They are believed to date back to the 15th and 16th century. The ruins of Wiang Lo are certainly not the most visited ancient ruins in North Thailand. I don’t anyone else who has been there and I know quite a few people in North Thailand.

ruin with rice fields
Wat Sri Chum Gate at Wiang Lo

The Ancient City of Chiang Saen

Chiang Saen is a small and quiet town on the Mekong River. Across the river is the people’s Republic of Laos. It is one of the oldest fortified settlements in North Thailand and once was one of the most important centers of political power. Chiang Saen is one of my favorite towns in the North. The Historical Park is worthy of an extensive visit. The old city walls are pretty spectacular. Also this historical park is great for cycling. An article is upcoming.

Ruined temple ruined cities in north thailand
Wat Mung Muang in Old Chiang Saen

Sukhothai Historical Park, the capital of the Kingdom

Of the three historical parks that form the UNESCO World Heritage Site the Sukhothai Historical Park is the most popular and well-known. It was the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom which existed from 1238 until 1438. Sukhothai is firmly on the tourist map, both for local and for international visitors. The best way to explore the park is by bicycle which are available for rent. Sukhothai Historical Park is a delightful place. An article in under preparation.

Standing Buddha statue
Wat Saphan Hin at Sukhothai Historical Park

Si Satchanalai, the outpost of the Sukhothai Kingdom

Si or Sri Satchanalai Historical Park is 55 km north of Sukhothai Historical Park. For quite a few people this is their favorite historical park of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Indeed, Sri Satchanalai is a spectacular historical park, which has a more remote feeling that the other two parks. There are no hotels close to the park. Also here a bicycle is the ideal mode of transportation. Good quality bicycles are for rent opposite the entrance. An article is under preparation.

Ruined temple with dark sky Si Satchanalai
Wat Chang Lom at Si Satchanalai

The Royal City of Kamphaeng Phet

Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park is about 75 km southwest of Sukhothai Historical Park. The ruins of Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park are spread out over several locations. These zones are either in or close to the new town of Kamphaeng Phet. This historical park is not the route of many tourists. It is probably the least visited park of the UNESCO World Heritage Site but certainly not less interesting, as far as I am concerned anyway. An article about Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park is under preparation.

Ruined chedi with Buddha statue
Wat Phra Kaew at Kamphaeng Phet