This part of the country acts as a bridge between the crowded heartland of modern Thailand to the immediate south and the rolling hills of the North. The region has no big cities, and most tourists do no more than overnight in small, provincial towns near the magnificent ruins of ancient Sukhothai, the first Thai capital. Predominantly, this is ricefarming country, flanked to the east, north, and west by hills. National parks in some of the hilly areas help protect endangered flora and fauna. Magnificent forest scenery and spectacular waterfalls can be found along the western border with Myanmar (Burma), around Mae Sot and remote Umphang. Here, a hint of Myanmar spills across the border in the shape of Karen and Shan tribespeople and Myanmar architecture, goods, and food.
Sukhothai Historical Park is on the itineraries of many tour companies. However, most visitors use public transportation for sights in the region. Phitsanulok, an important transit hub, is the only major town in the region served by the regular train service connecting Bangkok to the North. It also has a small airport, as do Mae Sot and Sukhothai. Highway 1 passes through Kamphaeng Phet and Tak. Local buses run to all towns, and a network of main roads connects nearly all the sights. Only Umphang remains isolated, at the end of a spectacular, winding road from Mae Sot.
Sights at a Glance
Khlong Lan National Park
Sukhothai Historical Park
Si Satchanalai-Chalieng Historical Park
Thung Salaeng Luang