Phitsanulok / Thailand



Phitsanulok / Philok

Phitsanulok (short: Philok) is a Thai city and provincial capital in the north of the central plains of Thailand. It's situated at the banks of the Nan River. Since the Nan River is blocked by the 'Naresuan Dam', it's not usable as a bigger shipping route and therefore is no bigger ship traffic on the waterway. The surroundings are mostly flat plains with rice paddies. But there are also a few mountainous places around; part of it is national park.

Wat Mahathat
'The Prang of Wat Mahathat in Phitsanulok' by Asienreisender

The photo shows the main prang of Wat Mahathat. Image by Asienreisender, 2/2007

The city of Phitsanulok is one of the places in Thailand who are historically significant. It was a bastion against invading Burmese armees and for a time Ayutthaya's second capital. It's nowadays also an industrial center and a traffic hub for the region. The crossing of national road 11 and 12 seven kilometers east of the city center is called the Indochina Crossing. Far distance roads to and fro Kunming/China, Danang/Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur/Malaysia and Ranong/Burma/Myanmar come together here. With about 73,000 inhabitants, Phitsanulok is one of the bigger places in the country. Although the number sounds low, the place is pretty big, an observation I made many times in Thailand.

The city was struck by a desastrous fire in 1957, which destroyed great parts of the place, including many of the historical buildings.

Phitsanulok is also a center for the Thai army in charge of the north of Thailand. The nasty, pretty aggressive Thai dog race Bangkaew origins in Phitsanulok Province.

The Nan River in Phitsanulok
Nan River at Phitsanulok

The Nan River at Phitsanulok with one of the main bridges. All the rubbish in the foreground and tons more of it was left by last night's New Years Party. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

'Inside a Buddha Factory in Phitsanulok' by Asienreisender

Phitsanulok is also famous in Thailand for a number of factories for Buddha statues. Image by Asienreisender, 2/2007

Phitsanulok was, in the time before it came to the Sukothai empire, a northwestern outpost of the Angkorean empire, surrounded by a city wall. Few remains of it are still existing. It fell to the empire of Sukothai in the 14th century.

The city of Phitsanulok was in the 15th century for some decades the second capital of the kingdom of Ayutthaya. In the following time there was a military center here for training troops and war elephants for the Burmese wars.

The Siamese king Naresuan (reign: 1588-1605), who freed Ayutthaya in 1590 from Burmese vassalage, was born here. Naresuan is legendary for an elephant fight and combat against a Burmese prince.

Remarkable for contemporary Phitsanulok is the implementation of a privatized, neoliberal waste-management concept.

King Naresuan's Elephant Fight
'Painting of King Naresuan's Elephant Fight in Wat Rachaburana, Phitsanulok' by Asienreisender

King Naresuan's elephant's fight against Burmese prince Minchit Sra in a battle, depicted in a painting seen in Wat Ratchaburana. Image by Asienreisender, 2013



Garuda at Wat Rat Burana

A garuda at the gable of an ancient building at Wat Rat Burana. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

There are some, but not many remains of the old city wall with remarkable towers left. Most of the old Phitsanulok, mostly wooden buildings, got destroyed in a big fire in 1957, including most of the old city walls. The three most important temples are Wat Mahathat (founded 1357), Wat Rachaburana and Wat Rataburana (which looks oldest, or at least most authentic to me). In Wat Mahathat is an annual festival in the first six days of every year. Masses of people go there for worshipping.

The town's railway station was built in the years short before the First World War. It's designed by the architect Karl Doering in a south German farmer house style.

At the birthplace of king Naresuan is nowadays a shrine placed. Local people go there for worshiping. In former times the palace building was placed here, but now there are merely the foundation walls left. The king is frequently depicted in a pose pouring water out of a mug. That symbolizes anyhow the reestablished independence of Ayutthaya. Honestly, I don't understand the symbolism yet.

Phitsanulok's Railway Station
Phitsanulok Railway Station

Phitsanulok is situated at the north-south railway line connecting Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Image by Asienreisender, 2013

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Published on January 9th, 2013

104 | Phitsanulok

Last update on July 31st, 2016