KAMPHAENG PHET and PHITSANULOK: two (un)necessary detours

Actually, I’d visited Kamphaeng Phet and Phitsanulok for different reasons: The first – although metaphorically as well as geographically a bit off the beaten tracks – is a nice break from the large tourist crowds. Although there is a wonderful archeologic site hidden in what seems to be a bewitched forest, most visitors skip Kamphaeng Phet altogether.


Archeological Park at the center of Kamphaeng Phet, Thailand

At Kamphaeng Phet, you even don’t have to go to the archeological park – there are majestic ruins to be admired right in the center of the city!


Phitsanulok cannot be avoided when travelling from Sukhothai up north by train. But it’s totally okay to keep this phitstop rather brief.



Strategically located between culture tourist spot Ayutthaya and culture tourist spot Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet is a nice retreat if you care for a day without any tourists. I first took the train from Lopburi to Pak Nam Pho where cabs are already waiting to bring the passengers to the bus station from where you continue for another hour.

bus to kamphaeng phet
This bus is…red.

From Kamphaeng Phet station I took a shared taxi that after dropping off all the other passengers took me to my accommodation. And what an accommodation that was!

Every room, i.e. the reception and all the guest rooms, were stuffed from floor to ceiling with terrible trinkets and plush toys – it was scary; like in a horror movie where they could come alive any moment. Ironically there was a big sign in my room that all this junk is not to play with, but to look at.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t keen to do either.


hotel room kamphaeng phet

Tchotchkes everywhere.

So that was the downside, but besides this chamber of horror, Kamphaeng Phet is great. There is an archeological park with the city pillar shrine and the Wat Phra Keo and Wat Phra That temple remnants and huge trees and lush plants in the very center of the town – just across the road from the hotel. You can walk or cycle up and down the streets and alleys, observing average Thai life or visit the national museum right behind the archeological park.




Wat Phra Keo and Wat Phra That
Very comforting that there’s beauty laying around just across the street.

And most of all less than 2 miles from the city, there is the huge historical park with the temples Wat Chang Rop, Wat Singh, and Wat Phra Si Iriyabot, which is absolutely worth a visit. Once you get there by bike, you can ride also inside the park from site to site, which is a very relaxing way of spending the day.

Wat Chang Rop
The most famous of them all: Wat Chang Rop.


kids at kamphaeng pet
Orange Is the New Black: My fellow visitors at the historical park.

At night there is a very pleasant night market with many food stands to choose from, so I cannot recommend a restaurant – just eat your way through each and every stall, you won’t be starving, that’s for sure.

That’s it for Kamphaeng Phet, but like I said, I enjoyed very much spending a tranquil day a little apart from the classic tourist route.



If you don’t have to go to Phitsanulok, just skip it: There are so many nicer places to see in Thailand.


Coming from Sukhothai and heading for Chiang Mai, I had no chance to avoid it since it’s the nearest train station. I went there at noon, booked myself in a cheap hotel near the train station and strolled along Menam Nan river. There are many quite inviting coffee places overlooking the river, people are getting massages or doing Thai Chi, it’s pleasant. Up North, there are some temples, and I find Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahthat the most beautiful.


Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahthat
Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahthat

Next to the train station is a local farmers market, and on the river there’s a night market with many good restaurant overlooking the river.

Since the night train from Phitsanulok left…at night, I had booked a room to wait since I didn’t feel like hanging out till after midnight at some public place. Sometimes, if you can afford it, it’s good to waste money for a little comfort. I was able to take a shower and get a little rest before going to the train station. And don’t worry, since Thai trains are quite unpunctual I still had to spend an hour on the platform.

train to chiang mai
Night Train to Chiang Mai. There is a comfortable bed behind each of these curtains. Tip: The lower beds are bigger than the upper ones.

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