Phitsanulok straddles the Nan River, with most of the sightseeing attractions and commercial outlets concentrated on the east bank. This is where the nicest four- and five-star hotels in the city center are located. Tourists regularly spend a night here while traveling to Sukothai, which is another 120 kilometers to the northwest.
Phitsanulok has a proud history, as it served as capital of Siam for a quarter century under King Naresuan the Great. A fire ravaged the city in the 1950s, but a few impressive historic sites have survived. Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat is known around the country for its 14th-century bronze Buddha image. It’s in the same exclusive category as the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.
The temple is the focal point of the city center. It’s backed by modern development including Topland Convention Center and shopping complex. The finest accommodation in city centre adjoins the complex, welcoming a mix of business and convention travelers along with tourists in transit.
There isn’t much in the way of a pronounced nightlife in Phitsanulok, but major hotels in the city centre have their own offerings. Of course, as a city with a 100,000 residents, Phitsanulok has plenty of affordable street food, basic Thai restaurants and karaoke bars on offer. In fact, this is one of the best places to get a feeling for everyday life in modern Thailand without wading through the touts and souvenir markets found in more touristy cities. Most travelers arrive overland, though Phitsanulok has its own airport.