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Travel Postcard: 48 Hours in Phitsanulok, Thailand

Travel Postcard: 48 Hours in Phitsanulok, Thailand

A general view of a Buddha statue is seen at the Sukhothai historical park in Sukhothai September 17, 2009.[Agencies]

 

PHITSANULOK, Thailand - Got 48 hours in Phitsanulok, a riverside town in central Thailand? This will help you make the most of a stay in this pilgrimage and party town, known locally as Phi-Lok.

 

SATURDAY

 

8:30 a.m. - Kick off the weekend with an Asian breakfast of congee with meat balls or stir-fried vegetables with steamed rice at the Grand Riverside.

 

10:00 a.m. - Visit the Wang Chan, a former Chan palace, where King Naresuan was born in 1555. The palace compound has a shrine which depicts the king proclaiming the Ayuthaya kingdom's independence from Burma.

 

12:00 p.m. - Head to the Wat Ratcha Burana, a 14th century Buddhist temple built in Sukhothai style and go for a tarot reading by a parrot.

 

Just across the river is the Wat Phra Si Rathana Mahathat, a pilgrimage site that houses the bronze Phra Phutta Chinarat, the most famous Buddha image in the country after Bangkok's Emerald Buddha.

 

1:30 p.m. - To enjoy a traditional Phitsanulok lunch, follow the pilgrims to Pa Lai, a noodle shop famous for its "hanging-legs" rice noodles.

 

3:00 p.m. - In the mood for a late-afternoon adventure? Head around 20 km (12 miles) out of town and go rafting on the Mae Nam Nan River.

 

5:30 p.m. - Still feeling energetic? When the sun goes down, Phitsanulok gets into fitness mode. Go for a jog on the riverside promenade or join a mass aerobics class.

 

In case you need a more relaxed workout, how about tai-chi with the town's older generation?

 

7:30 p.m. - Go bargain hunting at the night market with its collection of clothes, souvenirs, antiques and bronze Buddha statues. The market also has massage parlors and outdoor food courts.

 

9:00 p.m. - Cap off the day with dinner and drinks at the "flying vegetables" food stalls by the riverside. Watch the chefs toss water-spinach and baby corn in the air from the wok before they land on your plate.

 

SUNDAY

 

9:00 a.m. - Drive through the lush green countryside to the UNESCO World Heritage historic old town of Sukhothai, the site of the oldest Thai civilization. Begin with a visit to the Sukhothai museum to learn about the town's architectural gems and the history of the Thai language.

 

11:00 a.m. - Walk up to the Wat Saphaan Hin which has a Buddha statue 300 meters above sea level. Enjoy a picnic brunch on the hill, with its views of the fertile Sukhothai plains, followed by a stroll in the nearby forest.

 

1:30 p.m. - The highlight of Sukhothai is the Wat Mahathat, famous for its lotus-bud stupa. The temple complex, surrounded by lotus ponds, has various sanctuaries and chapels with Buddha images.

 

4:00 p.m. - Back in Phitsanulok, go for a relaxing foot massage near the riverfront or if you prefer a more holistic treatment go to the Grand Riverside's spa for an aromatherapy body massage.

 

7:00 p.m. - Get on board for a dinner cruise at the Phae Fa Thai floating restaurant. Tuck into prawn-fried rice and red curry to the sound of Thai pop performed by a live band.

 

The guitar-playing band makes sure the party goes on well into the night against the backdrop of the bustling night market and well-lit riverside Buddhist temples.