Things to do on your trip to Sukhothai Thailand

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The city of Sukhothai, located in northern Thailand, dates back to the 13th century and was for 150 years the capital of the ancient kingdom of Siam. There is plenty to do in Sukhothai as the city still retains many of its original monuments and temples. The Sukhothai Historical Park is truly impressive and its ruins will surprise you very pleasantly.

What are the must-see-places in Sukhothai?

Sukhothai Historical Park covers an area of 70 square kilometres and has four zones: north, south, east and west. Between the zones there are more than 35 temples and ruins of interest that we recommend to visit in a single day. 

The entrance fee is 100 baht per area, plus transport, which is explained in the mobility section below. The venue is open from 6:30am to 5:30pm, and on Saturdays until 9:30pm. It is advisable to go early to see the sunrise among the temples and avoid the crowds of tourists. It is also nice to go on Saturday night as the temples are lit up.

Ayutthaya Historical Park generally overshadows Sukhothai Historical Park, as the latter is a bit far from Bangkok, some 450km away. However, its ruins are very well-preserved and if you have the time, a visit is a must. Here are some of the most interesting monuments and buildings to see in Sukhothai.

1. Wat Si Sawai

This is one of the must-see temples in Sukhothai. It is located in the central area, near Wat Mahathat temple, and is one of the oldest temples in the compound, built in the 12th century.

Its main peculiarity is that it was originally designed as a Hindu temple and was later transformed into a Buddhist temple. That is why it has three columns dedicated to the gods Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. The architecture of the temple is characterised by its three towers in the Khmer style, which is widespread throughout Asia and is reminiscent of Cambodian temple architecture. With the change of religion the temple underwent several changes and got new rooms and halls.

2. Wat Sa Si

Things to see in Sukhothai Wat Si Sawai
Things to see in Sukhothai: Wat Si Sawai @valeriafuent_96

This small temple is on the south side inside the wall, and is completely surrounded by water and lotus flowers. It is a really beautiful temple, and the ideal place to watch the sunrise reflected in the water, or the sunset.

Engravings on the wall reveal that the temple was built in the 14th century in honour of King Li Thai. And in terms of architecture, you can see the Singaporean style from the shape and layout of the rooms.

3. Wat Si Chum

This is one of the most impressive temples because of the 15-metre Buddha it houses, which you have probably already seen as it’s a recurring postcard. The original Buddha dates back to the 12th century, but had to be restored due to wear and tear. The statue has its name the Speaking Buddha because of a legend. It says that King Naresuan made one of his soldiers climb up to the Buddha’s head to deliver a motivational speech to the troops.

The temple is also called the Temple of the Sacred Tree. Around it there are several Bodhi trees, through which Buddha attained eternal enlightenment. It is precisely because of the trees that one understands the importance of the temple at the time.

Organise your travel itinerary with Passporter easy and functional. Get inspired by the experiences of other travellers and choose the places that interest you the most, adding them to the route map.

4. Wat Saphan Hin

Wat Saphan Hin temple is probably the least crowded as it’s in the far western part of the park. However, it’s worth the hike for the 12-metre standing Buddha, which can be seen from the beginning of the stone path.

The name of the temple translates as “the stone bridge” because of the rock path that you must cross to reach the temple. This path has a fairly steep incline, another reason why the temple is not so crowded.

5. Wat Mahathat

Also known as the Great Relic Temple, it is the main temple of Sukhothai, and one of the most visited because of the 9-metre Buddha inside. It is located in the central area of the park and dates back to the early 13th century.

It was originally Hindu in design, but with the transformation to Buddhism new rooms and sculptures were built. At the base of the temple you can make out 168 small disciples of buddhas walking with hands clasped in greeting.

Visit Wat Mahathat
Visit Sukhothai: Wat Mahathat @adri_fri

6. National Museum of Ramkhamhaeng

The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is located within the compound and is one of the most famous museums in Thailand for its collection of Buddhist figurines, scriptures and everyday objects that reveal how people lived in ancient times. Admission is 30 baht and the museum is open from 9am to 4pm from Wednesday to Sunday.

What things to do around Sukhothai

Sukhothai is usually left out of Thailand travel itineraries because of its location a little away from the country’s main tourist destinations. However, if you’re already there, there are a number of excursions you can do in the area when you’ve run out of things to do in Sukhothai.

1. Excursion to Si Satchanalai

This is a ruin complex twinned with Sukhothai. It’s completely surrounded by nature and is very pleasant for cycling. From Sukhothaivyou can reach it by bus, which takes about an hour to travel the 60km between them. The bus is available from Sukhothai’s modern station and costs 50 baht. Entrance to Si Satchanalai costs 100 baht.

2. Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of Thailand’s largest cities, and the main cultural centre of northern Thailand. It is about 4 hours from Sukhothai and you can go there by train. In this city we can visit the highest mountain in Thailand, Doi Inthnon, with a height of 2565 metres. Entrance to the national park costs 300 baht. In Chiang Mai you can also visit the temples Wat Phra That Doi Suthep and Wat Suan Dok, the Warorot market, see elephants and swim in the Chiang Mai Grand Canyon.

3. Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya is another ruined city similar to Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai, in fact, its temples are best known for their proximity to Bangkok. Today it is considered a world heritage site because of the collection of historic temples that are preserved and attract thousands of tourists every year. Some of these temples are Wat Yai Chai Mongkhol, Wat Chai Watthanaram and Wat Maha That. The city is 350km from Sukhothai, and can be reached by car or bus.

What things to do in Sukhothai in 1 day

Sukhothai can usually be visited in one day, although it’s true that there’s usually not enough time to see all the buildings. Here’s how best to organise your day so you don’t miss out on anything to do in Sukhothai.

It’s best to get up early to see the sunrise among the temples without crowds. This will also give you more time to visit the site. It’s best to start with the temples inside the wall. This area is not that big, so you can walk from one temple to another. It will take you approximately 4 hours to do this.

After lunch it’s best to hire a tuk tuk (200 baht/hour) or bicycles (100 baht) to visit some of the temples outside. When the sun goes down, it is recommended to return inside the wall to watch the sunset at Wat Sa Si temple.

Where to stay in Sukhothai

In Sukhothai you can stay either in the historic town or in New Sukhothai. The first option is next to the ruins, and can be reached on foot, although it is more expensive as it is a very touristy area. Some of these hotels are:

  • Sukhothai Oldtown Boutique House Hotel: is the closest hotel to the resort. It costs around €25 a night and the price includes breakfast.
  • Sukhothai Garden: is a ten-minute walk from the ruins and costs around €26 a night. The owners are very friendly and the place is cosy. They also lend free bicycles to see the resort and the breakfast is wonderful.

In New Sukhothai, the more modern part of town, accommodation is cheaper, but you’ll need to take a tuk tuk to get to the ruins. Some hotels in this area include:

  • Pai Sukhothai Resort: located in the more commercial area of town, it has a garden and swimming pool. The room rate is €23.
  • 4T Guesthouse: This is a very simple resort, but it has a swimming pool. A stay costs €8 per night.

What are the best restaurants in Sukhothai?

Within Sukhothai Historical Park there are several restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy Thai cuisine, one of the best cuisines in the world. Although it is a very touristy place, there are many quality restaurants such as the ones listed below:

  • Historical Garden Restaurant: is a restaurant that serves traditional Thai dishes at a very good price. You can eat between €2 and €8. They also serve Western dishes and the place is very nice.
  • Say Hi 2: is in the walled area in front of Wat Mahathat. They serve Thai and Western dishes. It’s also a cafe, so there’s a pastry area. You can eat well for about 150 baht per person, the downside is that they only accept cash.
  • Lom&Fon Kitchen: is about 10 minutes from the wall, but it’s worth the detour to sample the traditional Thai dishes prepared by this family-run business. Meals are priced at no more than 150 baht per person.

How to get to Sukhothai

From Spain, flights to Thailand cost between €600 and €1000, so if you can, it’s best to fly from London or Paris, where prices are more affordable. Once you’re at Bangkok or Chaing Mai airport, here are the alternatives for getting to Sukhothai.

From Bangkok you can arrive by bus or plane. The bus can be taken from Mo Chit station, but the plane is the more advisable option because of the distance between the cities. Once at Sukhothai International Airport, you’ll need to take a taxi to get to the old city. Another option is to fly to Phitsanulok and take the bus from there, which takes only an hour.

From Chiang Mai you can get there by bus, which takes about 6 hours and costs 300 baht. You can book an overnight trip to make the most of the day

In the Sukhothai compound, the best way to get around is by bicycle and tuk tuk, especially around the outer wall area.

Sukhothai Historical Park
Sukhothai Historical Park @ainhoabuenav

Travel tips for Sukhothai, Thailand

  • The currency in Thailand is Thai Baht.
  • Have your money exchanged in advance, as currency exchanges at airports are very expensive.
  • Have cover for medical emergencies: travel with insurance.
  • The best time to visit Sukhothai is from December to January, when it’s not so hot.
  • July, August and September are very rainy.
  • It’s best to drink only bottled water, as tap water is not always safe to drink.
  • Beware of unlabelled street products.
  • The grounds are safe, but as with any tourist site, be careful with your belongings.
  • Some restaurants allow cash only.
  • It is sometimes advisable to book excursions outside the park that include transport and food.

How to organise a trip to Sukhothai

Register or download the Passporter App and discover all its possibilities.

  • Get inspired by the experiences of other travellers.
  • Create your own itinerary and add the app’s suggestions to it.
  • Add the stops that interest you most, as well as the restaurants and bars where you want to eat (you can use the points of interest listed in this post as a reference).
  • Organise your itinerary by route days according to their location on the map (you can take inspiration from the routes we present in the post)
  • Check the travel budget that the app calculates according to your travel stops, restaurants, and leisure activities.
  • Make the modifications you need and you’ll be all set for your trip.
  • Share your experience. Upload photos of each of the places you visited on your trip to the app and recommend other travellers what to do in Sukhothai.

If you have doubts on how to do it, you can check our post: How to create a travel itinerary in Passporter.

Frequently asked questions before travelling to Sukhothai

Is Sukhothai more worth visiting or Ayutthaya?

Both destinations are a collection of well-preserved ruined temples, however, each has its advantages and disadvantages. Ayutthaya is much closer to Bangkok, and for the same reason is more touristy, busier and more expensive. But there is also more to do in the surrounding area. Sukhothai is much further away, but there are fewer tourists, it is very cheap and there are many more temples to see. The final decision depends on the time available to visit Thailand.

Do I need a visa to travel to Sukhothai?

From Spain you don’t need a visa, but you do need to have an up-to-date passport.

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