The remains of this ancient city had been registered as a national historic site back in 1936, and conservation work began in earnest in 1953, but in 1976 the decision was finally made to develop the area as a 70 sq.km historical park. On December 12, 1991, the historic park went through a further transition when it was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
Sukhothai, regarded by historians as the first capital of Thailand, was one of the most important kingdoms in Thai history. Wat Si Chum sits just outside the city walls of Sukhothai, at the northwest corner. It is famous for a large sitting Buddha statue whose lap is over 11 meters wide, and occupies almost the entire vihara (prayer hall).
Last year 827,000 people visited the Sukhothai Historical Park, including about 400,000 visitors during the Loy Krathong Festival in November, when the park hosts its biggest celebration.
Sukhothai lies about half way between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, and for many these ancient ruins rival—and some say even surpass—those of Ayutthaya.