One of the best ways to appreciate the grandeur and significance of Thailand’s history is to absorb the atmosphere of the ruins and monuments of past Thai civilisations.
Visitors can stroll into a thousand years of history at the historical parks of Sukhothai, Lop Buri, Si Satchanalai and Ayutthaya. Out of the historical parks, Phra Pathom Chedi in Nakhon Pathom is an awe-inspiring sight : The tallest Buddhist monument in the world, and also where Buddhism was first taught in this Buddhist country.
One can enjoy the culture just by walking down the street of Chiang Mai. Here at Wat Pa Pao in Chang Phuak (White Elephant) District, for example, are gorgeous examples of Burmese and Shan temple architecture. A short walk southest of the old town are the weather – worn earthen ramparts erected by Chao Kavila, the warrior who in 1776 drove the Burmese out and restored the city to its former glory. Westward is Doi Suthep, a mountain named after the hermit whose modest cave is just above Wat Phar That Doi Suthep. There are many temples in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son and Nan where visitors can enjoy the lean about the northern history and architecture.
History lovers may prefer to wander among the ruins of the mighty Khmer empire of the 11th-12th centuries. The best known is Prasat Hin PhiMai, just outside Nakhon Ratchasima, the largest sandstone sanctuary in Thailand of classic Khmer design. The most spectacular monument is Prasat Phanom Rung in Buri Ram, a towering structure seated on top of an extinct volcano, which took over 17 years to restore. Southern Isan is dotted with khmer shrines in various states of repair.
A must – visit is Phar Borom That Chaiya in which authentic Srivijaya architecture is preserved in perfect condition, or Wat Phra Kaeo ans Wat Hua Wiang also in Surat Thani Province Srivijaya was a group of small communities scattered along the Malay Peninsula from Sumatra in Malaysia to the southern part of Thailand from the 7th to the 13th century. These communities shared common cultural ground in terms of Buddhism, trading, governance, and architecture. Some archaeologists believe that a nerve centre of Srivijaya could be Chaiya in Surat Thani Province, since a number of Srivijaya artifacts and architecture have been unearthed there.