The fertile plains stretching northward from Bangkok are the nation’s rice basket and the historic heartland of the Tai people. Here lie the impressive ruined cities of the old Sukhothai and Ayutthaya kingdoms. Today this is the country’s most wealthy and densely populated region, with fast-expanding towns surrounded by fields of sugar cane and rice. In the forested hills that border the Central Plains are national parks with spectacular waterfalls and a wide range of wildlife, providing a pleasant scenic contrast.
Si Satchanalai-Chalieng Historical Park encompasses the ruins of one of the most important Sukhothai cities, as well as the remains of an earlier Khmer settlement.
Kamphaeng Phet contains a wealth of Sukhothai-era monuments and ruins and, within the old city walls, a fine museum displaying ceramics such as this 15th-century pot.
Kanchanaburi is near the site of the infamous bridge built over the Khwae Yai River during World War II. A museum and cemetery in the town provide a moving testament to the Asian laborers and Allied troops who died.
Sukhothai Historical Park is one of Thailand’s most memorable sights. Within the vast, abandoned city are the remains of 40 wats.
Lop Buri is an ancient city within easy reach of Bangkok. Although it is not as geared to tourism as Ayutthaya or Sukhothai, it has a variety of Sukhothai and Khmer ruins, such as Prang Sam Yot.
Khao Yai National Park, the first, and still one of the most popular national parks in the country, ranks among the best places to see Thai wildlife.
Ayutthaya was one of the greatest cities in Asia during the 15th and 16th centuries. Extensive ruins scattered through the modern town evoke the splendor of the city’s past.