Influences from successive empires – among them the Khmer and Sukhothai – have left behind a number of historical ruins that modern tourists can still explore to this day.
1.1. Ayutthaya Historical Park
This former capital of the Thai empire was invaded by the Burmese in 1767, leaving this city of 400 temples in ruins. When King Taksin finally drove out the Burmese, he moved the capital to what is now Bangkok. Despite its demotion, the present-day site of Ayutthaya remains a magnificent place, full of architectural remnants that hearken back to both Khmer and early Sukhothai styles. The 715-acre park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
1.2. Sukhothai Historical Park
The 70-square-meter Sukhothai Historical Park encapsulates the remains of the ancient city of Sukhothai, the former capital of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries. The remains of a royal palace and 26 temples can be found in Sukhothai Park, all brilliant examples of the artistic classification later called “Sukhothai style”. Travelers can easily explore the site by walking or bicycling through; Sukhothai highlights Wat Mahathat and Wat Si Chum are a must-see.
1.3. Ban Chiang Archaeological Site
Registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, the Ban Chiang Archaeological Site is a treasure trove of Neolithic and Bronze Age artifacts – a single large mound at the site yielded priceless pottery and bronze implements, suggesting a fairly advanced civilization capable of wet-rice agriculture and animal domestication. Many of the unearthed artifacts can be seen at the nearby Ban Chiang National Museum.
1.4. Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall
The Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall stands out from the rest of the buildings in the Dusit Palace Complex, thanks to its Italian Renaissance façade, commissioned in 1906 by King Rama V. Its exterior is constructed from authentic Italian Carrara marble; its interior is graced with frescoes that depict the rise of the Chakri Dynasty; and its halls host a collection of masterpieces created by the craftsmen of the Sirikit Institute – among them a model of a golden royal barge.