Handily located mid-way up the railway line between Bangkok and Chiang Mai, the likeable provincial capital of Phitsanulok makes a useful and pleasant stopover with reasonable hotels and good transport connections, especially to the historical centres of Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet. The main sight in town is the country's second most important Buddha image, enshrined in historic Wat Mahathat and the focus of pilgrimages from all over Thailand; it is complemented by one of the best ethnology collections in Thailand, at the Folklore Museum.
Phitsanulok hosts two lively food festivals every year, once during the Western New Year period (December 25 to January 1) and again at Songkhran, the Thai New Year (April 9–15); almost every restaurant in town participates, selling their trademark dishes from special stalls set up along the east bank of the river. Entertainment includes performances of traditional Thai dance. Later in the year, on the third weekend of September, traditional longboat races are staged on the Nan River, in front of Wat Mahathat.