Although nakhon si thammarat is featured on few tourist itineraries, the most historic town in the south is a lively center with several attractions. under the name of ligor, it is thought to have been the capital of tambralinga, a peninsular kingdom prior to the 7th century. From the 7th–13th centuries it was an important city of the srivijaya empire, when it became a religious center with the sanskrit name nagara sri dhammaraja, meaning “city of the sacred dharma king.” Many indian traders settled in nakhon – as the town is popularly known – and hindu shrines are a feature here, together with nang talung shadow puppet plays and intricately etched nielloware
Wat Phra Mahathat
Wat Phra Mahathat is one of Thailand’s most sacred temples. Although its age is disputed, the wat is thought to be at least 1,500 years old. The present chedi dates from the 13th century and was supposedly built to house relics of the Buddha that were brought here from Sri Lanka. It is 255 ft (77 m) high and topped with gold variously estimated to weigh between 1,350 and 2,200 lbs (600 and 1,000 kg). The Wihan Luang chapel has an intricately painted 18th-century ceiling, although the Wihan Phra Ma hall is perhaps more impressive. It features an elaborate, emerald-inlay door from the Sukhothai period, carved with the figures of Phrom and Vishnu. A small museum displays an evocative but unlabeled selection of archaeological finds, jewelry, and religious sculptures including Dvaravati pieces from the 6th to 13th centuries.
Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum
The centerpiece of this branch of the National Museum is the 9th-century statue of Vishnu in the Pala style of South India. It was found in the base of a tree in Kapong district near Takua Pha in Phangnga, then a major transit point for Indians colonizing the south. Two rare bronze drums made by the Dong Son people of northern Vietnam are another highlight. The Thai gallery displays religious art from Dvaravati and Srivijayan periods to the Rattanakosin era. Look out for Buddha images in the distinctive local Sing style, characterized by stumpy features and animated faces
Shadow Puppet Theater (Suchart House)
The nang talung workshop of Suchart Subsin keeps alive a uniquely Southeast Asian form of entertainment in danger of dying out. Visitors can watch the puppets being cut from leather and buy the finished product. Sometimes impromptu shows are staged.
Ho Phra Buddha Sihing
Rachadamnoen Rd. Open Wed–Sun. The Phra Buddha Sing is one of Thailand’s most revered images. The replica kept in this shrine is of an original cast in Sri Lanka in AD 157 and brought to Nakhon at the end of the 13th century. Local artisans put their characteristic stamp on the Buddha by giving it a half smile, a rounder face, and a full chest. It is similar to Buddha images in Wat Phra Sing in Chiang Mai.
Ho Phra Narai
Rachadamnoen Rd. Open daily. Five lingas (phallic sculptures) discovered on the site of this shrine may date from before AD 1000. They are now in the Wat Mahathat Museum.
Tha Chang Road
The tradition of gold and silver shops along this road dates from 1804, when migrants from Saiburi district moved to Nakhon. Only skilled gold- and silversmiths were allowed to settle here, to the west of Sanam Na Muang parade ground.
Ancient City Wall & North Gat
Just E of Rachadamnoen Rd. The ancient city wall originally contained an area 440 yds by 2,450 yds (400 m by 2,230 m). The red brick North Gate is a reconstruction.
Wat Sao Thong Tong
Rachadamnoen Rd. Open daily. Adjoining the compound of Wang Tawan Tok temple, this wat’s main attraction is the Southern Thai wooden house, started in 1888 and finished in 1901. It is actually three houses joined together and features delicately carved wooden door panels, gables, and window surrounds. The Architects’ Association of Thailand gave a conservation award to the building in 1993. ( Bovorn Bazaar
Rachadamnoen Rd. Open daily. The city center bazaar is a peaceful courtyard and popular meeting place with cafés, bars, and two good restaurants.