Sukhothai (Dawn of Happiness) in the north of Thailand was the capital of Thailand for about 120 years and under the rule of King Ramkhamhaeng who is said to be responsible for the creation of the Thai alphabet. The city is popular with visitors due to its location near the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai, which was the capital of the first kingdom of Siam during the 13th and 14th Centuries. The outstanding temples and monuments of Old Sukhothai have been lovingly restored in Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site has ruins of the royal palaces, Buddhist temples, the city gates and walls, moats and dykes and the water dyke control system.
The Royal Palace, in the centre of town, covers an area of 160,000 square meters and is surrounded by a moat. The main compound is Noen Phrasat (the Royal Building) a site containing a stone inscribed by King Ramhamhaeng, he set up the throne in the midst of a sugar palm grove where, at his request, a monk preached on Buddhist Sabbath days and the King conducted the affairs of state on other days. The second compound is Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai's main temple and a very important one, allegedly the spiritual centre of the old Sukhothai. The temple’s main chedi is set in the traditional Lotus style, reflecting the Khmer influence. Inside the temple's viharn is a Bronze Buddha image 8 metres tall. The site also features beautiful stucco figures of demons, elephants and lions with angles riding on their backs. The temple exhibits genuine Sukothai art and there are many superb murals within the crypt.