Sukhothai, Thailand: Travel Guide to Historical Park
The city Sukhothai in Thailand with the Historical Park is a real highlight and absolutely worth seeing. It is located about 430 kilometers north of Bangkok and, together with the temple city of Ayutthaya, one of the most important cultural attractions of the country. The impressive Historical Park with its ancient ruins, imposing temples and beautiful Buddha statues is even on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. On a trip to Sukhothai, also called the “Cradle of Thailand”, you will move very closely in the footsteps of the Thai and the Khmer and have the opportunity to dive into the history of the country. On foot or on a relaxed tour by bike, there are many interesting things to discover in the Historical Park and the surrounding area!
In this travel guide we give you all the important information about Sukhothai in Thailand. We show the most beautiful things to do in Sukhothai and what you can experience here. In addition, there are lots of helpful tips about the best accommodations, travel and activities.
General Info & History of Sukhothai
The city of Sukhothai is located about 430 km north of Bangkok and 300 km south of Chiang Mai. Also known as the “Cradle of Thailand“, Sukhothai was founded in the early 13th century and was the first capital of the Siamese Kingdom. Under King Ramkhanghaeng, Sukhothai experienced its heyday and the famous Sukhothai style was created, which can still be admired today in the countless Buddha statues and temples in the old town. The most beautiful things to see are located in the 72 square kilometers Historical Park in Old Sukhothai, where you can visit the remains of this 700 year old temple city. Thanks to its rich cultural heritage, this area is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Things to do in Sukhothai
The main attraction of Old Sukhothai is the Historical Park, which dates back to the ancient time of kings. There is a variety of impressive temples to discover! Most of the sights are located between several lakes and ponds so the whole ambience in the park is really idyllic. The listed attractions below are all located in the Central Zone, which can easily be visited by walk or bicycle. By the way, exploring Sukhothai by bike is one of the best things to do in Sukhothai. Around the area of this Heritage Park are 2 more outer zones, but later more about that.
The Wat Mahathat is the most important temple in Sukhothai and at the same time the most beautiful! Built between 1292 and 1347, this impressive Buddhist temple complex is also known as the Temple of the Great Relic. In its best period, the temple complex comprised 200 chedis. Best time to visit this breath-taking attraction is either early in the morning at sunrise or at sunset. Then you have this grandiose ambience completely for you alone and can shoot incredibly beautiful pictures!
Wat Traphang Ngoen
Wat Tra Phang Ngoen is also located inside Sukhothai Historical Park and is one of the smaller temples of the Central Zone. The atmosphere with the lake is really impressive and the mood, especially in the morning, is uniquely beautiful. Located only a few hundred meters west of Wath Mahathat the Wat Traphang is also worth a visit.
Wat Sa Si
The Wat Sa Si is located in close proximity to the Ramkhamhaeng Monument and impresses with its beautiful location in the middle of the “Silver Lake”. It is one of the most beautiful temples in Sukhothai and we were thrilled! On a walk over the small bridge of the temple ruins, you can admire a fantastically beautiful Buddha statue and the ancient temple ruins.
Also worth a visit is Wat Sorasak, a temple ruin from the 14th century. The chedi is held in “Sukhothai style” has been restored and especially beautiful are the elephants that surround the pedestal.
Around the Historical Park (North and West Zone)
Not far from the Historical Park you should also visit the ancient ruins and temples outside the old city walls. They are a real highlight of Sukhothai and a visit is highly recommended. These temples can be easily visited by bike or scooter. The outer areas surrounding the historic park are divided into the north and west zone where visitors have to extra admission.
Wat Si Chum
Wat Si Chum is one of the top highlights of Sukhothai and undoubtedly the area’s top attraction. Actually, some of the best photos and painting of Thailand are taken/made at this amazingly beautiful temple. A huge Buddha peeks through a seemingly narrow opening and we were amazed by this exceptional temple. If you are a photographer or you just love taking photos, you better visit Wat Si Chum in the morning, later the light fades too much.
Wat Phra Phai Luang
About half a kilometre from the Central Zone is Wat Phra Phai Luang, the Temple of the Great Wind. The heart of these temples are the 3 Khmer style prangs. Also, this attraction is worth seeing and a visit is very recommended.
Many accommodations and agencies around the park offer bicycles and scooters for rent. If you want to learn more about Sukhothai and the history, the meaning of statues and temples, you should definitely join a guided tour! Here are some great providers for guided Bike Tours.
Especially recommended is the visit of Sukhothai during one of the many cultural events and festivals. These include King Ramkhamhaeng’s Great Memorial Fair in January and the Sukhothai Loi Krathong and Candle Festival in November. During that time, the park hosts a huge night market, a great evening program and fireworks. Also, the temples are illuminated, and the park is open until late night.
How to get to Sukhothai
The easiest way to get to Sukhothai is by flight from Bangkok. The city has a small airport and so there are daily flights to Sukhothai. You can find cheap domestic flights online at 12Go.asia, for example.
Another option is getting to Sukhothai by bus. There are good connections to all major cities in Thailand.
It is also possible to travel by train, but you have to get off in Phitsanulok, about 60 kilometers away, and continue by bus or cab to Sukhothai. Many actually plan to stay in Sukhothai when traveling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by train.
Tip: New Sukhothai is about 15 kilometers from the Historical Park in Old Sukhothai. From New Town, you can reach the Historical Park by collective bus or cab.
Where to stay at Sukhotai
There are many hotels and accommodations in Sukhothai-New City as well as in Old Sukhothai. Since Sukhothai city is about 12 kilometres away, we recommend you book accommodation in the Old Sukhothai, in the vicinity of the historic park. You will save time and money and you can visit the park already early in the morning! If you want to get the most of your time, we recommend staying at least 2 days in Sukhothai.
Here are the best and most amazing accommodations in Old Sukhothai…its worth a look!
- Sriwilai Sukhothai: The beautiful Sriwalai Hotel has a large pool and a wonderful view to rice paddy fields. Also good is the proximity to the Historical Park Sukothai, which is easily accessible by bike.
- Pottery Street House: As a budget alternative, we can recommend the Pottery Street House. It is even more central to the history park, in a side street and is therefore very quiet, but still very easy to reach.
- OldTown Boutique House: A real insider tip for Sukhothai! This guesthouse convinces with a great location to the attractins, clean rooms and excellent breakfast!
Find the best Accommodation in Sukhothai:
More about North Thailand:
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. Meaning that if you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.