The Historians Thailand Bucket List

Oct 02, 12 The Historians  Thailand Bucket List

Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is a deeply spiritual country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula. The land is home to a myriad of styles and cultures from the quiet buddhist schools of the Ratchaburi province to the luxury hotels in Chiang Mai. Its beautiful landscape boasts calm beaches, rich Asian culture and an abundance of famous attractions, highlighting the devout Buddhist religion. Thailand’s turbulent history of prosperity, conflict and disaster is told through stunning ancient temples and landmarks, awaiting any historian enthusiast’s discovery.

Explore ancient ruins

One hour north of bustling Bangkok lies a stark reminder of a capital city’s tragic rise and fall. Founded in 1350 by King U Thong, Ayutthaya was Thailand’s flourishing trade capital and the largest city in the world by 1700. With their reputable wealth, the kings erected mighty temples and religious landmarks, but they were unceremoniously destroyed during the Burmese invasion 60 years later. The ruined city is now a world heritage site, preserving reminders of the best and worst periods in Thai history. Discover temple relics, dating back to the city’s birth, the Royal Palace and Chapel, the spiritual heart of the kingdom, and Wat Na Phramen, the only temple in the city to survive post war attacks.

Visit the Grand Palace

A historian’s visit to Thailand must include a bucket list favourite, the Grand Palace. Built in 1782, when Bangkok became the new capital city, the regal landmark and heart of the Thai kingdom was the official residence of the kings for 150 years. The masterful structure highlights the talent of Thai craftsmen, featuring a mix of Ayutthayan, Thai and Western influenced architecture. Wat Phra Kaew, serves as its most notable feature, housing one of the world’s oldest and most famous Buddhist statues. Crafted in the 14th century, the Emerald Buddha is now part of a ritual, where the King of Thailand changes its robe to welcome the changing seasons. The Grand Palace is still used today, serving as an important venue for Thailand’s special events. Before visiting this landmark, note the strict dress code of long shirts and trousers, and no bare shoulders.

Discover temple legends

Located in the heart of Doi Suthep National Park, at the highest point in Thailand, rests one of the holiest Buddhist sites in the country, Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This 14th century temple is a major pilgrimage destination, its founding of which is shrouded in myth. Marvel at beautifully decorated bell towers and discover one of Thailand’s most sacred golden painted pagodas, all surrounded by illustrated wall paintings, telling the tales of Buddha’s past lives. Climb to the top of the Naga staircase to discover the sacred white elephant, the legend of the temple’s birth.

Step back in time

Sitting on the banks of the northern Yom River are preserved remains of glorious 13th century Sukhothai. The city, meaning “Dawn of Happiness” and formerly named “Muang Chaliang”, was the first independent Thai Kingdom, containing over 130 ancient monuments. Historical Sukhothai was the first capital of Siam, ruled by King Ramkhamhaeng, and its remains are a magical insight into the country’s golden age of prosperity. Close by, the city’s national park and world heritage site is a beautiful escape from the crowds, and a must-visit nighttime adventure to see the magnificent illuminated Buddhas.