The ancient Thai Kindom reaches back thousands years, yet even today living evidence of vanished civilizatons are never far from view. National treasures, the impressively restored ruins dot the country and are superb source of historical knowledge. Proud reminders of a glorious past, aged temple spires pierce the horizon with dusty redbrick remparts, fringed by manicured lawns and under the watchful protection of monumental Budha statues with their chiselled weathered features.
Uncover classic architectures, artistic styles, complex customes and beliefs of these distant civilizations, how they flourished and what brought about their eventual downfalls. It's a history lesson that no textbook could possibly convey.
Immaculately maintained and bolstered by significant on-site museums, the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Ayutthaya and Sukhothai are a must-see on any visitors list. Centered around Buddhist architecture, the atmospheric and deserted ruins excude a peace and spirituality rarely captured in modern life.
Dating back to Thailand's 'Golden Age', the northern city of Sukhothai was Thailand's first capital, heralding and innovative period of architecture and religious imagery. Established in the 13th century, the extensive compound of temples and palaces are resplendently enhanced by pond and moats, and you can easily ride around them by bicycle.
Less than two hours from Bangkok, the once majestic city of Ayutthaya was dubbed the original 'Venice of the East'. Supplanting Sukhothai as the second Siamese capital, Ayutthaya rose as an importants regional trading centre for over four centuries. Ayutthaya is circled by rivers and canals. You can enjoy exploring the site cruising aboard a smal long-tail boat or see it from atop an elephant.
Evidence of foreign intervention can be found in the numerous crumbling Khmer ruins that strew the countryside, particularly in the Northeast or Isan region, with key sites in Nakhon Ratchasima, Buriram and Sisaket.
To get a feel for Thailand and its history, a visit to the kingdom's ancient sites is absolutely essential.
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