Sukhothai is a small historical city in Lower Northern Thailand. It is the capital of the province of the same name. It is well known for the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai. The name literally translates as “the dawn of happiness”.
This ancient city is located on the lower edge of the North Thailand province. Sukhothai is located 427 kilometres north from the capital city of Bangkok. The best way to reach is by taking a deluxe air-conditioned bus.
There are direct buses from Bangkok Mo Chit Terminal which take six-seven hours, including some stops at cities on the way. Sukhothai also has an airport which has a couple of daily direct flights from Bangkok.
The best way of getting around the city is by hopping on to the many Songthaews which ply between various points of the city. There are two Songthaews that operate, the blue and purple. The latter ferry people between the bus station and the city centre while the former is an elongated bus kind of a setup with a Songthaew makeup and plies between old and new Sukhothai.
The star attraction is located 12 km west of today’s new Sukhothai, this was the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom from 1238 to 1438 and contains many ruins from that period. Its importance has been internationally recognised and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The old city is a popular tourist attraction, and the site has seen much restoration since the 1960s. It is well-maintained, exceptionally clean, and well furnished with vendors, and only a few tourists. The heavy restoration is worth noting, since with some ruins and Buddha figures it can lead to a feeling that it is a little over-sanitised, especially in the central zone. The other zones are much less “restored” and trips down unmarked tracks can lead to ruins in their untouched state.
The best way to see the ruins in the Sukhothai National Historic Park is by bicycle. These can be rented from a shop opposite from the main park entrance. It is feasible to walk around the central and northern zones in six hours or so.
It contains 11 ruins in 3 square kilometres, interspersed with moats, lakes and bridges to some island-bound ruins. Wat Mahathat is one of the most spectacular, with a large seated Buddha figure set amongst the pillars of a now ruined sala, and a central chedi flanked by two standing Buddha figures. Wat Sra Sri also has a large chedi and Buddha figure, but is reached by a bridge to the island. There are some nice views from the other side of the lake.
The best time to see the ruins is mornings when it’s a little cooler and before the buses arrive, at noon when they have lunch, or after 16:00.
Eating option in Sukhothai is in plenty with beef and pork preparation being the signature dishes of this place. Around the junction in New Sukhothai there are cafes which serve western food ranging from burgers to pizzas and even Indian cuisine.
Accommodation options are best in New Sukhothai with a range of budget backpacker guest houses and hotels. It’s important to note that Sukhothai is a place which tends to get very hot during the day time and an air-con room is an absolute must.
is a great place to spend a couple of days exploring the ruins and cycling around the historical park. A couple of days are more than enough to soak in the experience.
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