Sukhothai was, around the year 1300, the capital of the kingdom of Siam, today Thailand. As such, there is a lot to see in Sukhothai that will surprise you. It was destroyed by various invasions over the years, but today it is mostly reconstructed, incorporating a spectacular panorama of temples and traditional architecture. Altars and temples in honor of Buddha and other idols of this religious current, in addition to other sightseeing places such as a museum and a sculpture to one of the most important Kings of Thailand.
The best thing about Sukhothai is that it is quite far away from the most established tourist route in Thailand, so in general you can travel and enjoy without tumults of other travelers with you. It is ideal to contemplate the antiquity of this magnificent country and a must if you are going to spend some weeks in Thailand. Keep reading and find out what to do in Sukhothai and what are the main attractions to see in the area.
If you want to know more tips to visit this place; as accommodation alternatives, where to eat, transport, etc. You can visit this post where we tell you more specifically about it.
What to see in Sukhothai
Of course, you are here to see the historical and heritage area of Unesco! Next find what to see in Sukhothai and the must-see temples in this ancient capital of the Kingdom of Siam, today known as Thailand. There really is a lot of things to do 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 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 (and they will start asking you to leave the place 30 minutes before). The rest of the temples and areas are not so guarded so you can get lucky and enter later than the closing time or even at night.
Central Park (Inside the walls):
These are the main temples and places to see in Sukhothai within the walls of the compound, but you will see more in the way between them and, if you have time, it is worth giving a look at the other ones too. To give you an idea, there are about 15 temples and architectural constructions within the walls of Ancient Sukhothai.
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. Really amazing and a must-see on your trip to Sukhothai.
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 and a “what to do in Sukhothai” sports you just can not miss. Its architectural style is reminiscent of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, as it is constituted by 3 large pagodas surrounded by walls that protect them. It is very different from the others because it was built as a Hindu temple in honor of Shiva.
Its conservation status is excellent, one of the best-rebuilt ones in the area.
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.
Although this place is not beautiful or nice, it is very important for all locals because they show respect to the enormous development that as a country they achieved thanks to King Ramkhamhaeng, so it is something to see in Sukhothai.
Temples outside the walls
There are many places to visit outside the main walls. We only went to the north area because the west is mostly in ruins and we did not have enough time, but if you will be for a couple of days in Sukhothai you can include the other areas outside the walled city within your list of what to do in Sukhothai.
Remember that if you want to visit these other areas you must pay the 100 THB and the price of motorcycles and bicycles.
The best temples, in our opinion, to see outside the walls of Old Sukhothai 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 15 meters tall seated Buddha figure in which “gold plates” are stuck to his hand by believers for tradition. Of all the temples outside the walls, it is without a doubt the most impressive and the favorite of tourists and travelers. The immensity of the Buddha sculpture makes it a must see in Sukhothai.
There are many other temples and ruins to see, however, these are the main ones and you can travel in a single day if you are on a motorcycle or tuc-tuc. Walking or cycling the are will take more time, but you can still see them all if you are faster and do not stop long times in them. The most important thing is that you need to plan well what do in Sukhothai before your trip.