For a brief span in the 14th century, after the decline of Sukhothai and before the rise of Ayutthaya, Phitsanulok was the kingdom's capital. Further back in history, Phitsanulok was a Khmer outpost called Song Kwae—today only an ancient monastery remains of that incarnation. The new city, which had to relocate 5 km (3 miles) from the old site, is a modern provincial administrative seat with few architectural blessings.
There are outstanding attractions, however, such as the Phra Buddha Chinnarat inside Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat. And make sure to walk along the Nan River, lined with tempting food stalls in the evening. On the far side are many houseboats, which are popular among Thais.