The former Thai capitals of Ayuthaya, Lopburi, Kamphaeng Phet, Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai and Chiang Mai offer a range of Buddhist temple architecture, most of it dating from the 11th to 17th centuries. The Thai government has developed several of these sites into historÂ¬ical parks, complete with museums and impressive restorations. For Khmer and Lao temple architecture, head to northeastern Thailand (called Isan by Thai people), where hundreds of Khmer ruins dating from the 8th to 13th centuries (including Angkor-period monuments) dot the countryside.
WatÂ Mahathat Sukhothai Historical Park, Sukhothai Province
Ayuthaya Just an hour or two (depending on the traffic) north of Bangkok, this former royal capital harbours many 14th- to 18th-century temple ruins on an ‘island’ created by two rivers and a canal. Although the surrounding urban environment detracts a bit from the World Heritageâ€”designated monuments, the Ayuthaya Historical Park is perfect for those with limited time.
Lopburi This central-Thai city is well worth a visit because it features a mix of Khmer and Thai monuments. The former palace of King Narai (17th century), whose chief adviser was the Greek adventurer Con- stantine Phaulkon, is particularly impressive.Chiang Mai & Lampang These thoroughly northern-Thai cities feature many older wooden temples built in the Shan, Burmese and Lanna styles. Wat Phra That Lampang Luang, thought to be Thailand’s oldest surviving wooden temple, makes for a fascinating side trip from Chiang Mai.Sukhothai & Si Satchanalai Both of these former royal cities in northern Thailand have been made into historical parks that feature
temple ruins dating back to Thailand’s ‘Golden Age’, the Sukhothai era from the 13th to 15th centuries. The two World Heritage parks are well maintained; the one at Si Satchanalai has more of an off-the-beatenÂtrack atmosphere because it is less visited.
Northeastern Thailand The most impressive sites are those at Prasat Hin Phimai and Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung (abbreviated to Phanom Rung), but don’t neglect some of the smaller, out-of-the-way spots if you have the time and inclination. Dozens of famous Lao
temples can be found along the banks of the Mekong River from, and Nong Khai Provinces to Ubon Ratchathani Province.
Temple ruins, Sukhothai Historical Park