1 Day in Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand
Do you want to visit Sukhothai during your next stay in Thailand? Want to know everything about the historic park?
You are in the right place!
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you can discover magnificent ancient temples. They symbolize all the wealth and importance of the city when Sukhothai was the capital of the kingdom.
To help you organize your visit, I have prepared this guide to Sukhothai so that you don’t miss any of the most beautiful temples.
So what to do and see in Sukhothai?
How to visit Sukhothai: Practical Information
We start with some practical information for visiting Sukhothai: how to get around the historical park, the different areas to discover, the entrance fee: you will have all the answers to your questions!
First thing to know: the Sukhothai site actually includes several areas quite distant from each other. If you want to visit them all, it will be necessary to plan a means of transport, because it is not possible to go from one area to another on foot.
If you are planning to do a Thailand itinerary by car, then this is the most practical solution. You can move from one area to another with your rental car and park in the car parks available at the entrance.
During our visit to Sukhothai Historical Park in January (high tourist season), we had no problem parking. The cool thing is that the parking lots are free!
The other possible option, which is chosen by the majority of people arriving from Bangkok or Chiang Mai by public transport or by plane (see the section “How to get to Sukhothai”), is to visit Sukhothai by bicycle.
You will have no problem renting a bike for the day. All guesthouses and hotels offer it, and most even offer this service for free, provided you spend a night at their place. There are also several shops towards the entrance to the central area. Count between 30 to 50 Bahts for a bike rental for 1 day.
Faster and less tiring than cycling, you can also consider touring the park on a scooter or motorbike. But in this case, it is better to be used to driving this kind of machine.
If your hotel does not offer this service, do not hesitate to ask the staff for advice, they will be able to direct you to a rental company. Plan between 250 and 300 Bahts to rent a scooter/motorbike for a day in Sukhothai.
If you don’t feel like driving or cycling at all, you can also opt for the services of a tuk-tuk for the day. The driver will take you to the different areas and wait for you. It is however far from being the most economical solution. Rates start at around 200 Bahts per hour and go up to 1200 Bahts for the day. Always try to negotiate a little!
As I told you, Sukhothai Historical Park is made up of 5 areas :
The central area and other areas at the cardinal points (North, South, East and West).
The entrance ticket for the 3 zones: Central, North and West is 100 Bahts per person. Admission is free for the South and East areas, but there really isn’t much to see there.
Namely, that unlike Ayutthaya, there is no pass allowing you to visit the historic site. You will need to pay entry fees when entering each area. You will then have to add 10 Bahts to enter the park by bike, 20 Bahts for a scooter and 50 Bahts by car.
Tips for your Sukhothai itinerary:
To visit Sukhothai, bring hats or caps, sunscreen and plenty of water. Also think about mosquito repellent, it can really be useful!
On the other hand, you do not need to respect specific rules in terms of clothing, unlike other temples where you must cover your legs and shoulders. Ladies, we won’t tell you anything if you’re in shorts!
Temples in Sukhothai
To help you plan your visit to Sukhothai, I now give you the most beautiful temples to see according to each zone.
Visit the central area
This is the must-visit area in Sukhothai. It concentrates the most important temples and especially the most impressive to see.
1) Wat Mahathat: it is the largest temple in Sukhothai. Guarded by 2 large standing Buddhas 9 meters high, it is composed of a central chedi in typical Sukhothai style, surrounded by 8 other smaller chedis. This is for me the most beautiful temple in Sukhothai!
2) Wat Si Sawai: built by the Khmers in the 13th century, this Hindu sanctuary dedicated to Shiva was later converted into a Buddhist temple. It is located south of Wat Mahathat.
3) Wat Traphang Ngoen: its name can literally be translated as the “Temple of the Silver Lake”. Built in the 14th century, it includes a large chedi in the shape of a lotus bud, on the front of which stands a large seated Buddha.
4) Wat Sa si: founded at the end of the 14th century, it is located on a small island accessible by a bridge. The monument consists of a bell-shaped stupa and a walking Buddha statue.
5) The Ta Pha Daeng Shrine: a small temple built by the Khmers in the 12th century. Several images of gods have been discovered engraved in stone.
6) Wat Sorasak: a chedi at the base of which there are 24 statues of elephants which seem to support it.
In addition to the temples, the area includes the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum (additional entry at 150 Baht). It presents a collection of objects discovered on the site and allows you to discover the culture and history of this period.
It is dedicated to King Ramkhamhaeng, considered the forerunner of Thai writing. You can also admire a large statue of the king in the park.
To visit the central area of Sukhothai Historical Park, allow about 2 hours on foot to go around the temples taking your time.
You can also choose to discover it by bike but I find it less practical to have to stop each time or to attach your bike. And if like me, you walk around with all your photo paraphernalia, you also have to put everything away and unpack every time.
For people who cannot walk or pedal, a small train allows you to go around the area in 1 hour. There are no timetables, it leaves when it is full. On the other hand, you will have to content yourself with comments in Thai. Count 40 Bahts per person.
The central area is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Tips for your Sukhothai itinerary:
To visit the main area and benefit from all the historical explanations, you can rent an audio guide at the entrance for 150 Bahts. Available in English.
If you visit Sukhothai on a Saturday, the area stays open later (9pm) and you will have the chance to see the temples illuminated.
Visit the North zone
In the North area, you can mainly discover 2 temples:
- Wat Si Chum is famous for its 12-meter-tall seated Buddha.
- Wat Phra Phai Luang has 3 Khmer style towers but there is not much left to see.
The North zone is open from 6:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Entry at 100 Bahts + 10 B for a bicycle – 20 B for a scooter – 50 B for a car.
This is the area to visit in 2nd, the closest to the central area. It is still doable to go there on foot, but it is better to visit it by bike, scooter or car. You will find parking near each temple.
Visit the West Zone
The western area includes a lot of ruins quite far from each other, which is not very practical even by bike.
The best is to do it by car, but apart from Wat Saphan Hin and its standing Buddha statue enthroned at the top of the hill, there is not really much interest in visiting it.
The area is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Entry at 100 Bahts + 10 B for a bicycle – 20 B for a scooter – 50 B for a car.
East and South Zone
If you have a little time in front of you, you can always go to the East or South zone, but I warn you that the turn is quickly over.
- Wat Chang Lom, a chedi with sculpted elephants
- Wat Chetuphon known for its 4 Buddha statues represented in various positions: sitting, standing, lying, walking.
- Wat Chedi Si Hong with bas reliefs decorated with frescoes of lions and elephants.
How long to visit Sukhothai?
To know how long to plan to visit Sukhothai, it all depends on the areas you want to discover and your means of transport.
If you are traveling by car, allow around 4 hours to cover the central, north and west areas. If you prefer to do only the central area, 2 hours are enough to walk around it and a little more if you are going to visit the museum.
By bike, I recommend that you plan a day to visit these 3 areas.
I don’t include the visit to the East and South zones, because unless you stay several days in Sukhothai (wherever you want to take a quick drive there!), I don’t recommend you to go there.
And then, I don’t know about you, but if you continue your Thailand itinerary via Chiang Mai and/or Chiang Rai having already visited Ayutthaya and Bangkok, you should be careful not to overdose on temples, a syndrome very classic of travelers in the country! 😀
Tips for your Sukhothai itinerary:
If you have very little time to discover the park, the best advice I can give you is to focus only on the central area.
What to do around Sukhothai?
After visiting the historical park, here are some places that I recommend you to see, close to Sukhothai.
The organic farm
About 30 km from Sukhothai Park, near the airport, you can go and discover a vast farm of organic products.
Fruits, vegetables and rice are grown there in the traditional way.
And the most interesting thing is that you can even participate in the life of the farm: plowing, maintenance of the rice fields or even collecting eggs. All stages of rice production, from planting to harvesting are explained.
After a short morning of work, you will be entitled to a Thai cooking class with farm products which will of course end with a tasting!
For half a day at the Organic Agriculture Project, count around 900 Bahts.
Si Satchanalai Historical Park
In the surroundings of Sukhothai, I advise you to visit another historical park a little less known: the historical park of Si Satchanalaï.
It is 60 km north of the city.
On the same principle as Sukhothai, you can discover some temples in ruins including Wat Chang Lom, the most important of Si Satchanalaï.
To visit the park, you can rent a bicycle at the entrance for 30 Bahts.
The entrance ticket is 100 baht and the site opens from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.
Tips for your Sukhothai itinerary:
The site is worth it for its side in the middle of nature and much less touristy but do not expect to see temples as beautiful as those of Sukhothai.
To do if staying several days in the area.
Aren’t you tired of historical parks yet? So here’s one last one for the road!
Kamphaeng Phet is 77 km from Sukhothai. And even if it does not attract crowds of visitors, the historical park is nevertheless listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It also includes several 15th century temples, certainly less well preserved than Sukhothai, but the bike ride to discover them is really pleasant.
Not to be missed: Wat Phra Kaew and its reclining Buddha, behind which are 2 other seated Buddhas. Not to be confused with the temple of the same name which is in Bangkok.
Entrance at 100 Baht.
Accommodation in Sukhothai
Here is my pick of the best accommodations in Sukhothai, depending on your budget. Book as early as possible to get the best rate!
- Vieng Tawan Sukhothai Guesthouse by Thai Thai: Located 1.5 km from the historical park. Warm and comfortable double room from €20, breakfast at €4. Most: the swimming pool, the calm, the reception. An excellent choice for cheap accommodation in Sukhothai!
- Thai Thai Sukhothai Guesthouse: Located 1.5 km from the park. Traditionally decorated double room with wooden furniture and view of the garden from €30, breakfast included. Most: the swimming pool, the very warm welcome, the charm of the establishment.
- Sawasdee Sukhothai Resort: Located 1.5 km from the historical site of Sukhothai. Spacious bungalow, with Thai decor, wooden floors and furniture, from €40, breakfast included. Most: the swimming pool and the really super nice exteriors, the calm, the bike rental and the location for visiting the park. It is our favorite for its price/performance ratio!
- Sriwilai Sukhothai: Located 1.8 km from the park. Spacious and bright double room with balcony overlooking the rice fields from €80, breakfast included. Most: the superb setting, the large infinity pool, the Spa, the calm, the attentive staff. This is our recommendation for a luxury stay in Sukhothai!
Where to eat in Sukhothai
There really aren’t many places to eat near the historical park.
It is better for this to go to the modern part of the city: New Sukhothai. There, you will find plenty of small restaurants and street stalls and you will be spoiled for choice. There is also a small Night Market every evening and a larger riverside market which is only held on Saturday evenings.
And for all those who miss European cuisine, I have the right place to eat an excellent pizza in Sukhothai: the Pizza House restaurant by Somprasong guesthouse.
I admit that I was a little reluctant to test the Thai version pizza because I have often been disappointed by my experiences of “international cuisine” in Asia. Which is quite normal, each country having its specialties and that’s fine!
But this pizza was really good: cooked over a wood fire, very good dough and well filled. Count between 200 and 300 Bahts for a pizza, it’s sure to be more expensive than a typical Thai dish, but it’s worth it!
On the other hand, just a little advice, think about your mosquito repellent before going to eat, it could save you from being devoured. They are not interested in pizza!:-D
How to get to Sukhothai?
Sukhothai is halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. You can therefore easily reach it from its 2 major cities.
I will detail all the possible options depending on the modes of transport and your budget.
Getting to Sukhothai from Bangkok
To cover the 440 km from Bangkok to Sukhothai, there are several possibilities.
This is the option we chose for our Thailand itinerary, which included visiting Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
By car it takes 6 hours.
If you choose to rent a car in Bangkok, the best is to rent it at Don Muang Airport. This will allow you to easily reach the road to Sukhothai avoiding traffic jams in the city center.
From Bangkok, it is possible to take a plane to Sukhothai.
There are generally 2 daily flights operated by Bangkok Airways. The trip takes 1h15 for about 2000 Bahts.
This is the fastest option but it is also the most expensive.
To book your ticket, you can use our flight comparator, in partnership with Skyscanner.
Another option to go from Bangkok to Sukhothai: the bus.
To take the bus, take the BTS (skytrain) in Bangkok to the Mo Chit stop. You will arrive directly at the bus station of the same name.
There are several trips during the day. Count around 300 Bahts for a 7-hour trip.
There is no train station in Sukhothai.
If you take the train in Bangkok, you will have to stop in the city of Phitsalunok. Count between 5h and 7h for fares between 100 and 600 Bahts, depending on the class.
Arrived at Phitsalunok, you will have to take a bus or minibus for Sukhothai. The journey takes 1 hour and costs around 50 Bahts. Departures are very frequent.
Getting to Sukhothai from Chiang Mai
Sukhothai is 300 km from Chiang Mai.
If you make the trip by car, you will take about 4h20.
Although Sukhothai has an airport, there is no direct flight from Chiang Mai.
You will necessarily have a stopover in Bangkok and you will therefore take almost as much time as a bus trip. Not to mention that it is the most expensive option.
From Chiang Mai bus station, a bus ride to Sukhothai takes about 6 hours for 300 Baht.
Several departures during the day.
It is the cheapest option.
As I told you above, there is no train station in Sukhothai.
It is therefore the same as when you come from Bangkok: you will have to get off in the city of Phitsalunok. (6 to 8 hours journey for 100 to 600 Bahts depending on the type of ticket).
Once in Phitsalunok, you will have to take a bus or minibus to Sukhothai ( 1 hour trip – 50 Bahts). There are a lot of departures every day, so don’t worry!
Sukhothai Temples Tourist Map
Here is the tourist map of Sukhothai that they will provide you at the entrance of the site. You can save this plan on your smartphone, it’s always convenient!
Sukhothai or Ayutthaya?
If you are planning your trip to Thailand, you may be wondering which historical park to choose between Sukhothai or Ayutthaya?
The majority of travelers choose to visit only one, for lack of time or because they find that there are too many temples to see. Personally, as I was staying quite a while in Thailand, I was lucky enough to be able to discover both.
And I must say that I really liked both. Yes I know, it does not help you much but if I had to compare them, I would say that the temples of Ayutthaya are more impressive but the environment of Sukhothai park is more natural and less crowded with tourists.
To get an idea before leaving, I advise you to also read my article dedicated to Ayutthaya: The complete guide to visit Ayutthaya.
From Sukhothai, you can go to Ayutthaya by bus: 6 hours direct journey.
Do not hesitate to give me your opinion on the historical park that you preferred in the comments!
Sukhothai: a bit of history!
We end with a little history, to put you in the bath before your visit to the historical park.
There is no explanation on the site, except if you take the audio guide in English.
Sukhothai was the first capital of the Kingdom of Siam from 1238 to 1438.
For 2 centuries , Sukhothai has seen 9 rulers succeed one another, including King Ramkhamhaeng, whom I have already mentioned in this article and who is considered the inventor of Thai writing.
The city was very prosperous, so much so that this period is often referred to as the golden age of Thai civilization.
This may also explain the literal tradition of the name Sukhothai, by “Dawn of Happiness”.
By decision of the king, the capital was then transferred to the city of Ayutthaya, further south, and Sukhothai integrated into this new kingdom.
And you, have you planned to visit Sukhothai during your vacation in Thailand? If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments.
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