Category Archives: Phitsanulok

Phitsanulok: Great History, Scenery

“This province is home to a revered Buddha image and four of the nation’s most beautiful national parks”

Known to the locals as simply Phi-lok, Phitsanulok is an ideal base for those wishing to explore the North and the western part of Isaan. And that’s what most folk do – just pass through and completely forget to even think of having a look around this amazing province.
Situated on the banks of the Nan River, the provincial town is home to arguably the country’s second most revered Buddha image, Phra Buddha Chinnarat (second only to the Emerald Buddha).
The temple housing this Buddha image is located in the middle of town and welcomes literally thousands of devotees a day from all over Thailand.

It was here that King Naresuan the Great was born and Pumpuang Duangjan, the beloved Queen of Thai Country Music, collapsed and died at the tender age of 31 in 1992.
Getting out of town, Phitsanulok has four national parks with unique natural endowments such as pristine virgin forest, waterfalls and a diversity of animals and plants, including endangered animals.

Considered one of the most fabulous sites in Thailand, Phu Hin Rong National Park, 125 kilometres from the provincial town and 1,000 metres above sea level, is famed for not only one of the most spectacular views in Thailand but also its extremely odd-looking stone formations.
The province is also home to a few unspoilt waterfalls, which most Thai folk have no idea about.

The location of Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park, because of its high terrain, remote mountain location and close proximity to Laos, was chosen as the headquarters of the now-defunct CPT (Communist Party of Thailand) from 1967-1982. For those interested in a bit of Commie history, you can still see remains of living conditions, air-raid shelters and buildings. There is also a CPT museum.

So, the next time you are heading to the North, don’t forget the delights of Phitsanulok. You certainly will not be disappointed!

More tourist information about Phitsanulok at

Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat


During my recent road trip to the north of Thailand, I made a point of visiting Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat in Phitsanulok. This is a popular pilgrimage site to see what many people call, “the most beautiful Buddha image in the Kingdom”.  It is certainly one of the most revered and is undoubtedly worth several visits. This was my fourth. People have been known to go there and back in one day in order to make merit, even though it takes them at least five hours by car from Bangkok.


There isn’t really a lot of things to do in Phitsanulok. However, it is a major transport hub for the north. If you are taking the train between Bangkok and Chiang Mai then I would strongly suggest you stop off here on your way back down. Visit this temple to pay respect and to admire the beauty of the craftsmanship, and then catch a bus across to Sukhothai, the ancient capital city of Thailand. Phitsanulok is only five hours away by bus from Chiang Mai and then it is only another hour to Sukhothai. I would suggest sleeping in Sukhothai. If you find you need somewhere to stay in Phitsanulok then try the area around the train station. There are quite a few hotels there starting from about 500 baht per night with air-conditioning. From your hotel, walk to the Nan River in the late afternoon where you will find many restaurants with not only fine views but a pleasant breeze. There is a market and other shops in this area too.


The main attraction is of course Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat, which is shortened to Wat Phra Si or Wat Yai by the locals. The entrance fee for foreigners is clearly stated as 40 baht. However, I entered through the side gate near the river and so didn’t notice until I had left. It didn’t really matter as I much prefer to make my own donation at the temple rather than encouraging monks to collect entrance fees. After all, they are not supposed to handle money. After you have visited the Buddha image, don’t forget to walk around to the back to see this standing Buddha with a prang behind it. In contrast to the main hall, this area was deserted. The cloisters at the back of the temple also has a nice variety of Buddha images. While I was there, two coach loads of foreign tourists stopped here. I believe this is a popular stop for tours from Bangkok to the north of Thailand. Don’t forget to visit yourself the next time you are in Thailand.