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Sukhothai: 58km (36 miles) E of Phitsanulok; Si Satchanalai: 56km (35 miles) N of Sukhothai

The emergence of Sukhothai ("Dawn of Happiness" in Pali) in 1238 is considered the birth of the first Thai kingdom. Under King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, Sukhothai's influence covered a larger area than that of present-day Thailand. The ruins here are more intact and less encroached upon than those in Ayutthaya, making this the country's most gratifying historical site.

The Sukhothai Historical Park, the main attraction, is a World Heritage Site situated 12km (7 1/2 miles) west of the town of Sukhothai, also known as New Sukhothai. Not surprisingly, the new town lacks any of Old Sukhothai's historic grandeur.

Si Satchanalai, north of New Sukhothai, is another legacy of the Sukhothai kingdom. Visitors often enjoy these ruins the most, and they are certainly worth the 1-day detour.