- Sukhothai travel guide and what to see in Sukhothai
- Important information to plan a trip to Sukhothai in Thailand
- What to see in Sukhothai
- Central Park (Inside the walls):
- Temples outside the walls
Sukhothai travel guide and what to see in Sukhothai
In this post, you will find a complete guide to travel to Sukhothai. You’ll see relevant topics to plan your trip, like what to see in Sukhothai, how to tour Sukhothai, where to sleep in Sukhothai and much more.
A little bit of history before traveling to Sukhothai
Sukhothai was the first capital of the Kingdom of Siam, and unlike its successor (Ayutthaya), was not destroyed so the state of preservation of its temples is magnificent. It was capital as such between 1279 and 1438, year in which it was absorbed by the Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Thanks to Sukhothai and his kings we appreciate what Thailand is today; During this period, the bases of the Buddhism Theravada were established, which up to now practiced 95% of the population, the Thai alphabet was written and the monarchy was strengthened with the support of the people.
Since 1991, Unesco declared the park a World Heritage Site and is highly protected. To visit it, you should know that today there are two Sukhothai, the “new” and the “old”. As you will imagine in the old one is the park, which is divided into 3 zones: the central, the north and the west; the central one is the main and most beautiful one. You will also find several restaurants and hotels that are only there for the benefit of tourists. In the New Sukhothai is the current city, which is 12 km from the old site, where you will find most of the hotel offer.
Important information to plan a trip to Sukhothai in Thailand
When to visit Sukhothai
The best time to travel to Sukhothai is from November to March, on the dry winter season. There will be less rain and the heat is not as oppressive as the rest of the year. From March to May it is also dry, but much hotter. During the rest of the year, you can also visit Sukhothai, but you risk very rainy days. The good thing is that it will be the low season and therefore the prices and the number of people visiting will be lower too.
How to get to Sukhothai
Then we tell you how to get to Sukhothai and the different alternatives.
The nearest airport is Phitsanulok airport.
The nearest train station is in Phitsanulok, which you can reach from the north or the south.
If you arrive in Phitsanulok, head to Phitsanulok’s Baw Khaw Saw bus terminal 4 kilometers east of the city center. Take a bus (they leave every hour) to Sukhothai, which is 1 hour will leave you in New Sukhothai. We did something more extreme and we rented a motorbike for the days we were visiting the place and went in it to the old capital. It was hard to find where to rent, but there is a place that we mark on the map. We had no problem and the owner complied with everything agreed.
- From the south (Bangkok) take the bus at the Mo Chit station (which we talked about in the Bangkok post). In 6 or 7 hours it will leave you only 15 minutes away from New Sukhothai.
- From the north the buses will leave you in the same place. The road from Chiang Mai takes about 4 hours.
Reach ancient Sukhothai from the New Sukhothai:
- The buses stop very close to the bridge on the main street of the city. For 30 THB they leave you in the park from 06:30 to 17:00. They leave every 30 minutes approximately.
- You can get there by renting a motorcycle or tuk-tuk.
Cultural visit. Here you will only find the ruins of the old city and amazing temples.
Comfortable shoes and lots of water. The temples do not have a dress code because they are historical vestiges and are not in use for religious purposes.
As we explained, getting to the old Sukhothai from the New Sukhothai is very easy by bus. If you rent a motorcycle, you can also use it. Just follow the main road and go straight at the fork, there is nowhere to get lost.
To move inside the temples you can:
Rent a bicycle:
They rent them in several places near the entrance for 30 THB. To enter the site you must pay another 10 THB.
Enter on your rented motorcycle:
You will be charged 20 THB extra for entering a motorcycle.
You can tour the walled city (or central area) for THB 40. The train moves through the most popular temples and spots and is perfect for persons with babies, little kids, and elders.
If you have little time, for about 200 THB an hour you can hire a tuk-tuk.
The central park is quite small so you could do it on foot in 2 to 3 hours calmly. There may be a lot of heat and sun, so a good hat and sunscreen are essential. To travel the rest of the park better take another means of transport because of the distance.
The cheapest and best quality places are in New Sukhothai. You will easily find a double room with AC, breakfast, and pool for 25 to 30 dollars a night. The best is to stay near the bridge from where the buses leave to the old area.
In New Sukhothai, there are several restaurants near the bridge. We marked on the map two places that we liked a lot, an international brewery and other bars/restaurants with good music, wave, and food.
In the old area, arriving by the main street, there are several local food stalls that also offer international dishes. The typical food of the area is the “Sukhothai Noodles”.
We did not see many sites that are worth mentioning. There are souvenir stalls on the outskirts of the central park but there was nothing that we had not seen before.
What to see in Sukhothai
Of course, you are here to see the historical and heritage area of Unesco! And our Sukhothai travel guide would not be complete if we did not tell you what to see in Sukhothai.
The historic park is formed by a walled enclosure of about 4 kms2 where most of the main temples are, and other surrounding areas that in total make 70 kms2 of the historical park. You will see the ruins everywhere, remember that Sukhothai was a capital in its early years, but here we will recommend the main ones to make the most of your visit if you have only one day.
The main entrance to the walled area is in the east of the park, and the information zone to the north, outside the walls. Some basic information:
- Price per Area: 100 THB. They will charge you 10 THB separately for bicycle and 20 THB per motorcycle if you enter with these means of transport. In the central zone, it is secure that you will have to pay for the ticket, but in the other areas maybe you would not need it because the temples are not always guarded.
- Museum Ramkhamhaeng National price: 150THB
- Hours: 08:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The central area really closes at this time, the rest of the temples are not so guarded so you can get lucky and enter later.
Central Park (Inside the walls):
These are the main temples and places to visit, but you’ll see more in the way between them and it’s worth taking a look at them all. There are about 15 temples inside the walls.
2 standing Buddhas flank the entrance to what is the main temple of the complex and the largest in size. In a Kramer style with 4 stupas representing the cardinal points and a Buddha sitting in the center, it is one of the must-sees. You can go everywhere but with respect.
Wat Traphang Ngoen
It means “silver monastery of the lake” and as you can imagine it is in a lake surrounded by lotus flowers.
The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum
If you have time, you can visit this museum to understand more about the historical context of the capital and the era itself. We did not visit it, but some people we met recommended it to us a lot.
Wat Si Sawai
One of the oldest buildings, reminiscent of Angkor Wat in Cambodia. It is in very good condition. It is very different from the others because it was built as a Hindu temple in honor of Shiva.
Wat Sa Si
Surrounded by water that can be accessed by crossing a wooden bridge. It is small in comparison to other structures, but very beautiful. In it, you will see a great Buddha and a stupa of the Lanka style (style originally from Sri Lanka). The prayer space is east on its own inner island.
Monument to King Ramkhamhaeng
One of the most beloved kings of Thailand thanks to everything that was achieved during his reign; mainly the Thai alphabet and the expansion and consolidation of the empire.
Temples outside the walls
Here you can lose yourself. We only went north because the west is mostly in ruins. Remember that if you want to visit other areas you must pay the 100 THB and the price of motorcycles and bicycles.
The ones you can not miss are:
Wat Phrapai Luang
It is much more in ruins than the downtown area but it is worth the visit. It was built in the 12th century just in a period of transition from Kramer art to Thai art. You will find many sculptures of Buddha because it was one of the first that was built when he went from Hinduism to Buddhism in the country.
Wat Si Chum
Famous for hosting a figure of Buddha sitting 15 meters high in which traditionally stick “gold sheets” in his hand.