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Sukhothai

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Centuries old Buddha figures in the Historical Park

Sukhothai (สุโขทัย) is a small city (population 35,713) in Lower Northern Thailand, most famous for the ruins of the ancient city Sukhothai. The name translates as "the dawn of happiness". The province is located on the lower edge of the northern region, 427 kilometres north of Bangkok, and covers some 6,596 square kilometres.

Understand[edit]

The city is a popular tourist destination because it is located near the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai, which was the Thai capital during the 13th Century C.E. The historical Sukhothai was the first capital of Siam founded by King Ramkhamhaeng. The province's temples and monuments have been restored and Sukhothai Historical Park is an area with numerous sites of historical interest which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other interesting places include Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, Ramkhamhaeng National Park, Sri Satchanalai National Park, and The Royal Palace and Wat Mahathat.

History[edit]

Sukhothai was capital of the first kingdom of Siam established some 800 years ago. The exact year is unknown but according to the Fine Arts Office it was between 1238 and 1257.

Established in around 1238 to 1257, Sukhothai literally means “Dawn of Happiness.” Phokhun Si Intharathit was the founder of the Phra Ruang Dynasty, Sukhothai’s first dynasty. For 120 years as the capital of Siam, Sukhothai was ruled by many kings. In this connection, the most dynamic monarch being King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, who created the Thai alphabet, laid the foundation for politics, monarchy, and religion, as well as, expanded its boundary of influence. Though the golden era of Sukhothai no longer exists, tourists should bear in mind that respect and admiration for the renowned ruined twin cities of Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai is highly valued.

Climate[edit]

The best time of the year to see Sukhothai is from November to February when the weather is cooler. Other than that you can go any time of the year.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Bangkok Airways [1] currently serves Sukhothai Airport from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, with twice daily flights stating at around 2,290 baht (1 hour 15 minutes).

Nok Air [2] the number one premium low cost in Thailand operates a Flight + Van Service to Sukhotai. There are two daily flights to Phitsanulok Airport and then, a van to Sukhotai. The total package price is around 1500 baht (2hr 30 minutes).

By train[edit]

Take the (express) train (7 hours from Bangkok or Chiang Mai) to Phitsanulok and go by bus from there (1 hour).

By bus[edit]

Sukhothai only has a small bus station, but the city can be easily reached by buses from far and near.

From Mae Sot: Minibuses run regularly from the station behind the market. The journey takes about 3 hours, passing through Tak on the way. 130 baht.

From Phitsanulok: Frequent buses operate from the main bus terminal and take about 1 hour for the 58 km trip. Note: There is a taxi driver scammer who stands next to the bus ticket window clearly marked Sukhothai and tells you that you are at the wrong bus station and that buses to Sukhothai leave from Bus Station No 2 which he can take you to for a fee. Just ignore him and buy bus ticket from the window.

From Bangkok: There are direct buses from Bangkok Mo Chit Terminal and takes 7 hours, including some stops at bus stations of cities on the way. Understand that at the terminal (Mo Chit), there are several bus companies that offer travel to a given destination. In this instance, Wintour Travel, as of September 2013, charges 356 baht for a first-class air-con bus. The bus leaving Bangkok at 7:00am goes to the Sukhothai Old City and Historical Park. There is a bus returning to Bangkok starting at 8:20am from the Sukhothai Historical Park.

From Chiang Mai: Buses from Arcade bus terminal take about 4 hours. The cheaper local buses make several stops, including Lampang, and take about 5 hours. In this instance, Wintour, as of September 13, 2013, charges 239 baht for a second-class air-con bus. It takes 5.5 hours.

Get around[edit]

The purple #1 songthaew travels to and from the bus station, which is about 3 km out of town. They run the length of Charodwithitong Rd. The fare is 10 baht.

The large blue songthaew to Old Sukhothai leaves from a bus stop Charodwithitong Rd about 100 m west of the bridge. It stops about 750 m from the entrance to the central zone of the historic park. Fare: 20 baht. Drivers often ask 30 baht from foreigners, but if you insist or start to walk away they should agree for 20.

There are also tuk-tuks, which will try to get 600 baht out of you for a trip to the Old City (main ruins)some 15 km out of town. The correct price is about 300 baht,and this is for at least a couple of hours. When you have seen the part you are at and want to move further in the same area, the driver takes you there. In Feb 2012, Reports are that 600 baht is a fair price for a day.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Old Sukhothai (Sukhothai Muang Kao). Located 12 km to the west of today's 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 touts. 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 6 hours or so. There is also a 40 baht guided tour by electric tram available.

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.

The site covers an area of approximately 70 square kilometres (~27 square miles) and is divided into multiple zones. Every zone, of course, has an entrance fee. Admission to each of the zones is 100 baht for foreigners, and 20 baht for Thais. Extra for vehicles, including bicycles (10 baht). The combined ticket (still found in most travel guides) does not exist anymore. Before paying the fee, be sure to check all gates. Not every gate is always guarded, especially after 16:00. The central zone contains the majority of the ruins and a museum. Maps are free at the ticket office. Open from 06:00 to 18:00.

  • Central zone - It contains 11 ruins in 3 square kilometres, interspersed with moats, lakes and bridges to some island-bound ruins. Mat 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.
  • North zone - Wat Phra Phai Luang contains the remains of a number of buildings plus a large prang with stucco reliefs. More impressive is Wat Sri Chum, which contains a massive seated Buddha figure peering through an opening in its enclosure. Look for a stairway on the left as you enter the enclosure; it leads up and behind the Buddha image, though the passage is not always open.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Rent a bike and explore the ruins of Old Sukhothai (walking will kill you). Several rental shops. Price range: 10-50 baht per day.
  • explore by tuktuk the old city of Sukhothai. Prajin (0845-777-189 with local sim card) is a friendly, honest and cheerful tuktuk driver, and he will guide you round, show you the secret animals and pathways and explain in good english about Thai culture. Especially Suitable on warm days. Price range - 300-500B for half day tour.
  • Visit the park at sunrise and admire the Buddha figures in the orange glow of the morning sun.
  • Pay a visit to the ruins at Si Satchanalai Historic Park, 55 km from new Sukhothai. Few tourists, great sites, quiet. Bike rental at entrance.
  • Walk around the fresh market in new Sukhothai in the early morning. Try the tastes of many kinds of local food Sukhothai people like to eat, e.g., sticky rice with deep fried pork, sweet deep fried beef or spicy pork salad wrapped in a banana leaf.
  • Rent a motorbike in new Sukhothai and appreciate the local life-style.
  • Have "Sukhothai" Noodles!! - It's a must!

Buy[edit][add listing]

In Sukhothai Historical Park[edit]

A Buddha figure at the market at the historical park. They are available in all historic styles, sizes and materials. It's forbidden to export Buddha figures from Thailand, even though it is commonly done.

In New Sukhothai[edit]

Thongchai Wittayu: The biggest electronic store in Sukhothai. The products are digital cameras, memory cards, MP3 players, etc. You could ask around when you are hanging out in new Sukhothai, most people know the store.

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Chopper Bar, Pravetnakorn Rd. A rooftop restaurant and bar with good service, live acoustic guitar music, and Thai and Western menu. From 40 baht for main courses.
  • Dream Café, located in downtown New Sukhothai in a charming rustic old Thai house, Dream Café serves up a good selection of Thai and Western dishes. Attentive service, eclectic music and charming décor. There is also a small guest house at the back. Chat with the owner Chabah if she's there, she is a genuine renaissance woman, Thai style. 86/1 Singhawat Rd. Tel +66 55 612 801.
  • Fueng Far, The restaurant that mainly serves for dinner. It could also be a drinking place which you can enjoy sipping beer by the Yom River. The food is called "fish food", for Sukhothai local fish (pla) dishes, especially spicy dishes. E.g., tom yom hua bla (fish head tom yum), look chin pla krai luak jim (pla krai—one type of fish, it's the pla krai fish ball boiled and dipped in spicy sauce), kob phat kra pao (stir fried basil frog). The restaurant is located by the Yom River, it takes 1 minute by motorbike from the beginning of the "Wat Ku Ha Suwan" Soi. It is not recommended you walk there because it is quite dark.
  • Kru Eew, One of Sukhothai noodle restaurants in new Sukhothai. Serving not only Sukhothai noodles, but also Sukhothai-style pad Thai, Vietnamese food, desserts, etc. The restaurant is only opened in the day and mainly serves brunch and lunch.
  • Poo and Kung Charodvithitong Rd. This is a Belgian-run restaurant offering Thai and Western food and a wide selection of cocktails. From 30 baht for main courses.
  • Sukhothai Night Market, There are varieties of local food that you can find in the night market in new Sukhothai. The night market is called "To-rung", it also covers the area that the food stalls are along: "Rachathani" temple's fence.
  • Local Market when crossing the bridge in center of New Sukhothai(when coming from Old Sukhothai) turn second right and you will get to local food market with a few local restaurants - meal about 30 B

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget in the New City[edit]

  • 4T Guesthouse, 22/7 soi.Maeramphan T.Tanee A.Moung Sukhothai 64000, 055-614679 (). Wonderful bungalow-style guesthouse with a pool, in a quiet setting set back from the road, but close to center of town. Great value considering the pool and has good restaurant, and friendly owners. 300-400 baht.  edit
  • Baan Thai, Pravetnakorn Rd. This is a typical guest-house, with a restaurant and a number of rooms available. Rooms contain a fan and share a bathroom, with hot water available. 300 baht.  edit
  • Gardenhouse, Pravetnakorn Road, +66 55 611 395, [3]. A great selection of rooms and bungalows to suit the needs and taste of the budget traveller. Together with a great location in new Sukhothai and a diverse range of facilities and services, Garden House is a great choice for those looking for location and service without the cost. (N17° 00.477 E099° 48.986) 350 baht. (17.007955,99.816413) edit
  • New City Guesthouse, (next to House Sabaidee. There are signs all way from the bus station to town.). Clean rooms with big bed, fan and private bathroom with hot shower at 180 baht per night. Run by a Thai- and English-speaking Japanese woman and her tuk-tuk driving Thai husband.  edit
  • No. 4 Guesthouse, 140/4 Soi Maerampan, Jarodwitheethong Rd (a 500 m walk from the bus station. Look for the signs.), +66 55 610 165. Large, fan-cooled garden bungalows with private bath and verandah with daybed. Has a Thai restaurant, cooking classes and massage available. (N17° 00.710 E099° 48.825) 200-300 baht. (17.011772,99.813752) edit
  • Sila Resort, 3/49 M.1 Wat Khooha Suwan Rd, +66 55 620 344, [4]. Very close to the bus station (2 min drive). Free pickup (go to Bus Station information booth and the girl will phone Sila Resort for pick up). On arrival a free map of Sukhothai and the Old City is provided along with all relevant information. They also provide free transport to the bus that goes to the Old City (8am-11am). Very welcoming and efficient young staff, willing to please. Rooms are nicely decorated, the bungalows are very nice too. Rooms have fan or air-con and shared or en suite bathroom. Also has restaurant. Free bicycles for the 5 min ride into town (be careful of dogs if riding at night). Bill is paid at end of visit (make sure you determine the room price at check in and keep track of your restaurant purchases). 230+ Baht.  edit
  • Le Sukhothai, +66 81 888 6378, [5]. A nice place to stay, near the backpacker area behind 7-11. Clean rooms with free Wi-Fi There is a big difference between the rooms. Take some time to check and bargain the price. You also get two Singha water bottles (500ml) per day and dodgy bicycles to pick from the yard for free. Plus they run a nice homely restaurant with OK prices. The staff are friendly and attentive locals. 250 – 1,500 Baht.  edit
  • TR Guest House, +66 55 611 663, [6]. Family-run guest house. Rooms with fans, and air conditioning, and bungalows with fan. All with private shower and toilet. Price includes free Wi-Fi. Motorbike for rent. Some advice on touring the old and new city. Good for the price. (N17° 00.484 E099° 49.013) 250-600 baht. (17.008099,99.81689) edit
  • Happy Guest House. Simple, uninspiring guest House a bit a way from the bussy main road. Staff is friendly but tries to sell. Bargain hard to get a reasonable price! Free wifi and computer access. 200 - 350 baht.  edit

Mid-range in the New City[edit]

  • At Home Guest House, (In front of Sukhothai Guest House), [7]. Very friendly staff, good information and free maps, very clean rooms with private bathrooms, 24 hour Wi-Fi in all rooms, small restaurant. Tuk-tuk price from bus station is 40 baht (day), 100 baht (night). Issara, the owner, organises great trips around Sukhothai. Wide selection of maps, guides, and travel info at your disposal. 450 to 650 baht for a double room.  edit
  • Lotus Village, 170 Ratchathanee St, +66 55 621 484, [8]. A cozy boutique hotel in the heart of Sukhothai. All rooms are in Thai-style teak houses with verandas, surrounded by fish ponds, lotus flowers, and beautiful tropical gardens. The lobby is an excellent place to relax and read a large selection of magazines, books, and newspapers. Other services include local transport, travel bookings, cars with driver, and guides in French and English.  edit
  • Mountain View Guest House, 23/3 Moo 8, Maung Kao Maung, +66 55 601 111, [9]. Guest house with 6 rooms with swimming pool. Includes breakfast. Owners very helpful and will take you to and from the historical park which is 4 km away. Wi-Fi. Bike, motorbike, chopper, and car rentals. Fan room, 600 baht; A/C, 850 baht; A/C Bungalows 1,000-1,300 baht.  edit
  • Ruean Thai Hotel, 181/20 Soi Pracharuammit Jarodwithithong Rd, +66 55 612 444 (, fax: +66 55 612 456), [10]. A big Thai house with a nice swimming pool in the city. Just take a songthaew to reach the historical park. The hotel team is very helpful and will advise you properly.  edit
  • Hotel Sawasdipong, 56/2-5 Singhawat Rd, +66 55 611 567, [11]. A 50 baht tuk-tuk ride from the bus station. Rooms have air-con, with TV and bar fridge. Has a restaurant, and there are others within walking distance including street stalls. 390 baht, room-only and 500 baht with breakfast for two.  edit
  • Sukhothai Guest House, 68 Wicheanchumnong Rd, +66 55 610 453, [12]. A family guest house with clean rooms, beautiful decorated garden. Relax in front of the room with teak terrace, sharing new experience other travellers. The guest house offers a nice meal in the restaurant. Try the "Penang curry".  edit

Budget in the Old City[edit]

  • Old City Guest House. Nice guesthouse near the main entrance of the Historic Park. The cheaper rooms are a bit creepy and bed have bugs, but the others are big and nice. The guy at the reception is often grumpy but the other staff is friendly. (N17° 01.145 E099° 42.461) 200 - 450 baht.  edit

Mid-range in the Old City[edit]

  • Orchid Hibiscus Guest House, 407/2, Old City Sukhothai, +66 55 633 284. A small guest house with clean rooms, a swimming pool, and Italian/Thai owners. It is within biking distance to the old city, but there are only two restaurants in walking distance of the hotel. The owner is very helpful, but you are never quite sure if he understands your request. The pool, breakfast, and the garden make up for this. From 950 baht, 1500 baht for bungalow double or family.  edit
  • Thai Thai Sukhothai Guesthouse, 95/8 Moo 3 Old City Sukhothai (about 700 matres far from Sukhothai Historical Park), +66 84 932 1006, [13]. Beautiful, bungalow-style guest house right behind the Orchid Hibiscus. Each bungalow is air conditioned and has a small terrace and garden view. You can rent a bicycle directly from reception (50 baht/day). The historical park, restaurant street and 7-11 are only a five minute ride away. Massage in your room possible. From 800 baht in low-season.  edit
  • Wake Up@Muan Kao Boutique Hotel, 1/3 Moo 3 Old City Sukhothai (about 300 matres far from Sukhothai Historical Park), +66 83 4894047, [14]. Beautiful, small family-run guest house near the Muan Kao market, local restaurants, and 7-11. There are self-serviced coffee, tea, cocoa, fruits, and sliced bread. From 800 baht in low-season.  edit

Contact[edit]

Phone numbers in Wikitravel-Thailand are given with the international country code for Thailand (+66) and thus are useful for calling from outside the country. To dial this number, "+66 89 345 678" from within Thailand: 1) drop the "+66", 2) add a zero. 3) Result: dial "089 345 678".

Get out[edit]



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