Visiting Sukhothai Historical Park

Ancient Ruins at Sukhothai Historical Park

Visiting Sukhothai Historical Park was a highlight of my trip to Thailand. Thailand has multiple ancient ruin sites to choose from and two of the more popular ones are Ayuthaya, near Bangkok and Sukhothai Historical Park. Both are UNESCO world heritage sites. I knew from previous research that it would take a little more effort to visit Sukhothai rather than the more popular Ayutthaya.  However, this was also part of the appeal.

When our plane from Bangkok to Sukhothai touched down at the airport and I looked around, I knew I had made the right decision.

Sukhothai runway at the airport

Sitting on our tram on the Sukhothai runway as our bags are loaded off the plane.

The tiny little airport was beautiful and welcoming.  Our first stop was to grab our bags and then we were off to find a ride to our hotel. The information desk was very helpful and showed us where to go to get a shuttle into town (no Grab here).   We walked over to the shuttle desk where we discovered it would cost 330 baht per person for the 45 km ride into town.  Although initially surprised at the cost, we considered that there really weren’t any other options, and this was possibly the last and only shuttle into town.  So we concluded it was well worth the price and hopped on board!

Sukhothai Airport Terminal

Sukhothai Airport Terminal

Elephant welcome sign at Sukhothai airport.

Welcome sign at Sukhothai airport.

The drive into town went past farms and rural houses on stilts. The sun was setting and the gentle breezes were blowing though the palm trees as we drove past. I could feel myself begin to relax.  You see although I enjoy visiting the big cities every now and then, I tend to only want to take them in small doses.  And Bangkok was so hot, humid and busy, that I was ready for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Sukhothai was starting to feel like just what I needed.

Small Town Culture

From the moment we touched down in Sukhothai I felt like I was finally beginning my vacation in Thailand.  Small towns reveal the local culture in a way that no big city can.  It gives you a window into what daily life is like for the average person in that country.

And without a huge list of tourist “must-sees”, you can take it slower.  Wander the streets, say hi to the locals, visit the local produce market and hang out at a cafe.  Observe.

In Sukhothai, I was able to do all these things.  Plus it is full of ancient history.  Sukhothai was once the capital of the Kingdom of Siam during the 13th and 14th centuries (talk about ancient).  Visiting Sukhothai Historical Park gives a glimpse into the beginnings of what we now know as Thailand.

Biking in Sukhothai Historical Park

Biking in Sukhothai Historical Park

Biking Around Sukhothai Historical Park

We stayed at Sukhothai Garden Guesthouse where they provide free bicycles to all their guests. So the next day, after breakfast we grabbed some bikes and headed out.  Riding bicycles is always fun, whether I’m at home or abroad.  I feel like I suddenly turn into a kid and everything is more enjoyable.

From Sukhothai Garden, it was a 5-minute ride over to the Historical Park.  I paid the entry fee to see the temple ruins in the central portion of the park as well as a 10 baht per bicycle surcharge.  Then we were off.  (If you don’t have a bike, you can rent one there, or if you’d rather sit back and relax you can also ride a hop on hop off tram that goes to each of the main stops.)

However, as you’ve probably guessed, I think bicycling is the way to go! You have more freedom to see what you want when you want and the breeze blowing thru your hair makes it all worthwhile (plus it helps cool you off).

Visiting Sukhothai Historical Park only takes a couple of hours out of your day (and that’s at a leisurely pace).  In that time you can ride around and see all of the sites within this main central area. Try getting there when it opens and you will be rewarded with cooler temperatures and almost no crowds!

It was so much fun just bicycling around the park, stopping at anything that caught our eyes and just enjoying a day of exploring.

Biking by the water in Sukhothai Historical Park

Monument at Sukhothai Historical Park

Large Buddah at Sukhothai Historical Park

Large Buddha at Sukhothai Historical Park

Tall temple at Sukhothai Historical Park

One of the many ancient temples at Sukhothai Historical Park

Smoothie Break!

After we visited the ruins and temples in the central area of the park,  we rode back into town and stopped at a smoothie stand to take a break from the sun.  We were SO hot!  Oh, that reminds me – make sure you bring water bottles to the park!  We used some folding re-usable silicone bottles that we refill at our guesthouse. They are very convenient to have while traveling. The ones we use are very similar to these on Amazon.

I had a pineapple smoothie and my hubby had a mango one.  We sat under an umbrella with a fan blowing on our back and just enjoyed people watching.  It was so relaxing and just what we needed after biking around the park all morning.

Sitting underneath an umbrella drinking smoothies

Smoothies and people watching while cooling off.

Feeling energized by our smoothies we biked out of town to visit more temple ruins.  They are scattered around the town and many of them are free!  We rode our bikes to Wat Chang Lom. I saw pictures of it online with the elephant sculptures and knew I wanted to visit it when I came.  There are some great shade trees in the back where you can just sit and relax for a while if you want.  Then continue biking on down the path.

Wat Chang Lom elephant temple in Sukhothai

Wat Chang Lom

Stone elephant carved in monument

I just love elephants!

We biked down the path and then randomly turned down streets and explored neighborhoods before making a pit stop at the 7 Eleven for a Slurpee and a Popsicle.  Then we rode back to the Sukhothai Garden Guesthouse to hide from the sun for a few hours.

Bicycle path thru Sukhothai Thailand

Bike path thru Sukhothai best way to see the sites!

You will pass this sign along the bike path showing you where there are temple sites to see.

Bicycle path sign for temples in Sukhothai

Bicycle path sign to the various sites

After our air-conditioned break, we walked back into town and went over to the Saturday market to look at the produce stands and just mingle with the locals.  We tried a new fruit, that reminded us both of a small pear.  We were finally felt ready to eat lunch (when we’re hot we don’t get hungry), so we had lunch at Baitong Thai and again just people watched.

Small brown fruit like pears.

The brown fruit we bought at the local market. Reminded me of miniature pears.

The atmosphere in Sukhothai was so relaxing.  It was such a needed break after our time in Bangkok.  We spent two nights here and I wish we would have had a third night. I highly recommend at least 2 full days for your visit here.

Ancient buddah statue in Sukhothai

Discovering the ancient monuments throughout Sukhothai

Selfie outside ruins in Sukhothai

We had a great time in Sukhothai. And my hubby brought that hat under protest from me, but it turned out to be very useful against the heat! Even if it was less than fashionable.

Helpful Tips when visiting Sukhothai Historical Park:

Getting here from Bangkok to Sukhothai: There are options to take the train from Bangkok to Phitsanulok station (5-8 hour ride) and then a 1-hour bus from there to Sukhothai.  However, we chose to go with the 1.5 hr flight from Bangkok to Sukhothai.  We paid $60 USD per person and the time we saved was well worth it!

Where to Stay: We stayed at the Sukhothai Garden Guesthouse and loved it!  We would stay here again.  They have a large and varied breakfast buffet as well as free bicycles to use around town.  The staff was very nice and the rooms were clean. Bottled was provided every day and in the common room where breakfast was served, they had water and hot water as well as fruit and noodle cups for snacks.

     Sukhothai Garden:
119 Muangkao Muangkao Muang Chang Wat Sukhothai 64210, Thailand
https://www.facebook.com/sukhothaigarden
Book thru Expedia

Where We Ate:

At the end of the block from the guesthouse is: Sureerat Restaurant and across the street is: Baitong Restaurant.  There are a lot of options along the main street in the Sukhothai Historical City area.  I don’t actually know the name of the smoothie stand we stopped at, but it had a big Fruit Shake sign over it and it was next to The Coffee Cup Cafe.  Explore and find some of your own favorite spots!

Fees for Visiting Sukhothai Historical Park

We biked to the park, there is a 10 baht fee to bring your own bike in, but worth it!  They have paper maps you can ask for, but there are also maps posted around the park to see while biking.  Really though it is a big loop, so just stop when you come to a monument or temple and then bike around in a big circle seeing all the sites.  Take time to sit by the water, and just enjoy the calm feeling of this park in the morning. For more information on fees and the park, you can visit the Sukhothai Historical Park website.

Special Note: On weekends during the high season they will open the park up after hours and illuminate the main temple sites with lighting.  So definitely ask about this if you happen to stay in Sukhothai on a weekend.

Sukhothai to Chiang Mai (bus to Chiang Mai)

We took a bus from Wintour Bus Station.  It was about a 3-minute walk from our hotel.  We noticed a sign outside that said to book tickets the day before you want to leave. I don’t know if they are sticklers about this, but we didn’t take any chances and bought our tickets the night before.  It was a good thing too as the bus was completely filled the day of departure. The journey took around 5 hours to get to the Chiang Mai bus station.  It was air-conditioned and they do make a few stops along the way to drop off and pick up other passengers.  There is one 20 minute stop where you can use the restroom and purchase food or drinks if you want to.

Wintour Bus Station: Mueang Kao, Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai 64210, Thailand

Please drop me a comment if you have any further questions on visiting Sukhothai.  If you’re in Bangkok check out the Better Moon x Refill Station for some fabulous coffee and food.

Happy Travels!

bridge over water to temple in Sukhothai Thailand

Bridge to Wat Sa-Si

 

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