Phitsanulok is a province situated in the lower part of North Thailand. A rural province, the Phitsanulok landscape is doted with farms, waterfalls, caves and several national parks. The provincial seal depicts the Phra Buddha Chinnarat, one of Thailand’s most beautiful Buddha images. The Nan river flows through the provincial capital Phitsanulok. The town is known for the houseboats on both banks of the river.
History of Phitsanulok
Phitsanulok has a long history. In the 11th century the town was a small outpost of the Khmer empire. Phitsanulok became an important town in the Sukhothai Kingdom. In the second half of the 15th century Phitsanulok was the capital of the Ayutthaya Kingdom for a period of 25 years. The town is the birthplace of King Naresuan who liberated the area from Burmese occupation and expanded the Ayutthaya Kingdom with parts of Burma and Cambodia. Unfortunately, much of the old town was destroyed by a fire in 1955.
To do & see in Phitsanulok
Phitsanulok province houses many natural, historical and cultural attractions that are worth a visit.
Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat
Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat is regarded the most important temple in the province. A Royal temple founded in the 14th century, the temple is famous for the Phra Buddha Chinnarat image, considered by many to be the most beautiful Buddha image in Thailand. The Sukhothai style image measuring 375 centimeters tall was molded around 1357. Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat also features a 36 meter tall Ayutthaya style prang that enshrines Buddha relics and a large standing Buddha image in front of it.
Wat Chulamani is the oldest temple in Phitsanulok; it was founded in the 13th or 14th century during the Sukhothai era. King Boromma Trailokkanat, King of Ayutthaya in the second half of the 15th century ordered a viharn to be build. In 1464 the King and over 2,300 of his attendants ordained as a monk. The King stayed in the temple for over 8 months. Highlights of the temple are a laterite Khmer prang build on a rectangular platform and the roofless mandapa that enshrines a Buddha footprint as well as a stone inscription made during the reign of King Narai.
Wat Chulamani is located off Highway 1063 on the East bank of the Nan river, about 6 kilometers South of Phitsanulok town center.
Chan Palace or “Wang Chan” believed to have been build during the first half of the 15th century was the residence of several Ayutthaya Kings. King Naresuan who ruled the Ayutthaya Kingdom from 1590 until 1605 was born in the Palace. He was one of Thailand’s move loved Kings because of his successful battles against the Burmese.
The site has been excavated by the Thai Fine Arts Department. Little more than brick foundations of the Palace buildings, walls and gates remain today. Among the artifacts that have been excavated are pottery, roof tiles and fine porcelains from several Chinese dynasties, including Ming. On the site of the ancient palace are the remains of two much better preserved Buddhist temples, Wat Sri Sukhot and Wat Wihan Thong, which were probably Royal temples used by Ayutthaya Kings. Chan Palace is located next to Phitthayakhom school off Thepharak road, on the West bank of the Nan river.
Getting to Phitsanulok
Phitsanulok town is located 370 kilometers North of Bangkok. The town can be reached by air, train or bus.
Air Asia serves Phitsanulok from Bangkok Don Mueang airport. Flights take 55 minutes, fares start at 690 Thai Baht one way. Nok Air offers several flights daily from Bangkok Don Mueang airport. Fares for the 50 minute flight start at about 830 Thai Baht one way. For more information, check the Nok Air website.
Trains to Phitsanulok depart from Bangkok Hualamphong station. The trip takes 4½ to 8 hours depending on the type of service. Fares for the 389 kilometers trip are 69, 159, 324 Baht for third, second and first class. For more details, check the State Railway of Thailand website.
Ordinary and air conditioned busses to Phitsanulok depart from Bangkok’s Northern bus terminal Mo Chit II on Kamphaeng Phet 2 road. The trip takes between 5 to 6½ hours depending on the type of service. Fares vary between 250 and 440 Thai Baht.