Photo: Seated Buddha at Si Satchanalai.


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Set amid forested hills and fields beside the Yom River, the ruins of Si Satchanalai and Chaliang include 11th-century Khmer sanctuaries, Sukhothai-period temples and kilns used to fire pottery as late as the 16th century. The rural setting draws far fewer visitors than Sukhothai, offering a better chance to explore the ruins at your own pace and in your own way.

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Established at a narrow oxbow in the Yom, Chaliang was a far northern outpost of the Angkor empire, which predates the Sukhothai kingdom. A handful of 1,000-year-old Khmer-style monuments were later embellished with Sukhothai-style features, resulting in a layer of artistic styles. Excavations at Wat Chom Chuen revealed that humans lived here in the fourth century, the dawn of the Dvaravati civilisation.

Temple ceremony, Si Satchanalai. Photo taken in or around Si Satchanalai, Thailand by David Luekens.

Temple ceremony, Si Satchanalai. Photo: David Luekens

Just down the road from ancient Chaliang lie the 13th- to 15th-century ruins of Si Satchanalai, a branch of the Sukhothai kingdom that may have been even larger than the capital. It hosted dozens of monasteries, an industrial zone and a palace for the crown prince; the legendary Ramkamhaeng lived here before ascending the throne in 1279. Early Thai art blossomed, evidenced by exquisite lintels, Buddha images, elephant sculptures and a wide array ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 800 words.)

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Si Satchanalai.
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