Photo: Tree shaded ruins at Kamphaeng Phet.

Introduction

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Set astride the wide Ping River and framed by forested mountains in the west, the provincial capital of Kamphaeng Phet is best known for a small but worthwhile historical park. Hang around and you’ll find a fun riverfront with several good markets, spirited locals and very few tourists.


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Kamphaeng Phet, a name that means Diamond Wall, was a key defensive stronghold for the Sukhothai kingdom from the 13th to 15th centuries and remained relevant when it came under the sway of Ayutthaya. “A battlefield on many occasions” according to the excellent National Museum, the city was flattened during the Burma-Siam war of the 1760s. Pieces of original earthen walls still stand around the old city as testaments to its medieval military might.

At Wat Phra Kaeo. Photo taken in or around Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand by David Luekens.

At Wat Phra Kaeo. Photo: David Luekens

While readiness for warfare was paramount, Kamphaeng Phet was also an important commercial and religious arm of Sukhothai. It’s believed that Phra Kaew -- the Emerald Buddha now enshrined in Bangkok as Thailand’s most sacred Buddha image -- was temporarily placed at Kamphaeng Phet’s own Wat Phra Kaeo before flying off to Chiang Rai in 1434.

The remains of several ancient monasteries and monuments are now part of Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park, a UNESCO world heritage site as of 1991. The ruins display a mix of Ayutthaya-period art adorning older architecture from the Sukhothai period, and this makes them unique when compared to the related ruins found at Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai. We feel that Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park is the least impressive of the three, but it’s no ... Travelfish members only (Around 900 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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