Nakhon Si Thammarat Old Town
According to historical records, the southern city of Nakhon Si Thammarat has been prospering since 2,000 years ago, longer than Sukhothai, Siam’s first capital city. That’s no real surprise though, as this land has always been rich with unique charms in terms of religion, art and the prominent cultures of Thailand and the Southeast Asian region. In former times, Nakhon Si Thammarat was a coastal trading center that attracted large crowds, leading to some diverse cultural influences. Among the original visitors were Indians who introduced and disseminated Buddhism into the kingdom before it gradually spread across the Suvarnabhumi peninsular.
Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan is a large ancient temple and the spiritual sanctuary of Buddhist laymen. Its Langka-shaped Phra Mahathat (Great Stupa) enshrines the Buddha’s relics and is both the symbol and the origin of a famous merit-making festival, “Hae Pha Khuen That” Festival. According to Buddhist beliefs, to pay a greater and more intimate homage to the Lord Buddha, the festival participants would join the robe parade before wrapping their robes around the base of Phra Mahathat on Makha Bucha Day and Visakha Bucha Day. The festival is a gathering of faithful and pure-hearted Buddhist followers and a learning centre of living art and culture that visitors may experience through Phra Bot Robe painting, folk market organization, local food selling, and mixing Khao Ya Khu (Glutinous Rice in Coconut Milk and Sugarcane Syrup) as well as observing Southern folk performances like Ta Lung (Shadow Puppet) and Manorah Dance.
In Nakhon Si Thammarat Old Town, there are still remains of the ancient city walls that safeguarded the city from the enemy intrusions in the past. Built in the Si Wichai period, these city walls started out as earthen walls before they were influenced by Chiang Mai and westerners like the Portuguese who brought in masonry and installed cannon stations, which evolved into the sturdier Chateau style cannon forts which can still be seen today.
The old city and its locals are keen to welcome visitors and share stories from days gone by and ideas for times yet to come. Visitors should reciprocate this warm welcome by helping to conserve these cultures and being respectful to those with different lifestyles as well as feeling free to start a conversation with the friendly local people to increase understanding and show appreciation for their hospitality. There’s also the opportunity to support community products, especially the exclusively local “Mang Khut Khat” or sweet and crunchy young mangosteens.
- Worship Buddha’s relics at Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan.
- Discover the artistic identity and exemplary artifacts from the Si Wichai period and add to the vibe of a trip in Nakhon Si Thammarat Old Town at Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan Museum.
- Taste authentic local flavors and support community products at Lat Na Phra That (the Flea Market in front of Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan).
Best Time to Visit
- All year round.
- Wat Phra Mahathat Woramahawihan Open 8.30 a.m.-4.30 p.m.
- Phrathat Night Market every Saturday 4 p.m.-9 p.m.