Si Satchanalai Historical Park

Lose yourself in the ruins

Photo of , , Si Satchanalai

What we say: 4 stars

Although the ancient ruins of Si Satchanalai don't quite stack up to the best Sukhothai has to offer, they are stunning in their own right.

The park's quieter, more remote atmosphere adds a particular tranquility that's similar to the western zone of Sukhothai historical park. Si Satchanalai historical park is no more than one third of the size of Sukhothai, but it's completely surrounded by forests with the swift Yom River cutting directly northeast of the park.

One of the unexpected highlights are the thousands of white cranes that occupy the forested hills around Wat Khao Suwan Khiri. They have literally taken over Si Satchanalai, and while the graceful birds add to the park's unique allure, "white showers" of bird poo are common at the hilltop ruins, so much so that many locals resort to using umbrellas when outside.

The most impressive ruins include the centrally located Wat Chedi Thaeo, a large temple complex that includes a soaring chedi with a lotus-shaped top and 33 smaller chedis, and nearby Wat Chang Lom, which boasts an imposing Sri Lankan-style chedi surrounded by 39 elephant sculptures at its base. Although only the legs of many elephants are all that remain, a few retain detailed faces and eyes.

Near the aforementioned white crane "village", Wat Khao Phanom Phloeng is a massive laterite chedi that occupies the top of a leafy hill, and Wat Khao Suwan Khiri, while smaller, is ringed by crane-filled trees and features an ancient Sukhothai-style Buddha image that's still in excellent condition. Both of these hilltop temples are reached by long stone staircases through the jungle and the entire area has something of an abandoned feel that's reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie. Admission to the main historical park is 100 baht per person.

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