Things to do in Sukhothai

Things to do in Sukhothai

Sukhothai, just like Ayutthaya, is an ancient city full of old ruins to explore. Exploring these ruins by bicycle was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to Thailand.

In this post, you will find our favorite things to do and plenty of tips for your trip to Sukhothai. We stayed for 2 days in Sukhothai. 

How to get there 

We got there by bus from Ayutthaya which took around 6 hours. You can also get there by bus or train from other cities in Thailand. 
 
If you don’t mind paying a bit extra, you can also travel by hiring a private car and driver for the day.  This is the most comfortable and quickest way to travel. 

Where to stay

We stayed at the Vieng Tawan Sukhothai Guesthouse. Comfortable and clean rooms, nice swimming pool, and really helpful staff. It was just a 10-minute walk from the hotel to the main street of the old town. It was a really nice place to stay and we loved to relax in the swimming pool after exploring the Sukhothai Historical Park. 

How to get around 

Sukhothai consists of an old and a new part. The current, modern city, the new Sukhothai, is the best place to stay overnight and here you will find the most restaurants. However, the Sukhothai Historical Park is in the old town, twelve kilometers away. You can get to the old town by tuk-tuk. 
 
The best way to get around the Sukhothai Historical Park is by bike. There are 3 historical zones, the central, the north and the west, all of them would take a lot of time to cover on foot, especially in the heat so we recommend you hire a bike. 

We rented a bike for 30 THB per day at our hotel but you will find a lot of bike rental shops in front of Sukhothai Historical Park. 

Another option is to take a guided tour on an electric tram provided by the park for 4O THB per person and the tram will stop at every attraction within the park. 

 Entrance fee and opening hours 
The park is divided into 3 zones; the central, the north, and the west. The entrance price is 100 THB per zone for tourists and 20 THB for locals, plus per bicycle 10 THB. 

The Central Zone is open from 6.30 am – 6 pm from Monday- Thursday and open till 9 pm from Friday – Sunday. On Saturday night much of the ruins are illuminated.

The Northern Zone is open daily from 7.30 am – 5.30 pm. 

The Western Zone is open daily from 8 am –  4.30 pm.  

The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum 

This museum is located near the entrance of the Central Zone and is the best starting point for exploring the park ruins. 

The museum is filled with information about Sukhothai as well as other periods of Thai Kingdoms from the breakaway from the Khmer Empire to the Ratanakosin Kingdom that rules the country to this day. 

The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is open daily from 9 am – 4 pm and the entrance fee is 150 THB per person. You can get there by tuk-tuk or on foot depending on where you are staying. 

Wat Trapang Thong 

Right next to the museum you will find Wat Trapang Thong, a temple located in the middle of a pond. It’s a small temple compared to all the others in the area. Within the temple, you will see a well-preserved bell-shaped ancient pagoda that was part of the original temple that stood in the same spot back when it was built in the 14th century. 

The temple is reached by a footbridge across the large lotus-filled pond that surrounds it. 

Wat Trapang Thong is open daily from dusk – dawn and there is no entrance fee. You can get there by tuk-tuk or on foot depending on where you stay. 

Wat Mahathat

After buying our entrance ticket for the park’s central zone we visited Wat Mahathat. Wat Mahathat is the biggest and most impressive temple in the park.

It was built in the late 13th Century and includes a huge lotus-bud-shaped chedi, four corner stupas, four Khmer-style prangs, an assembly hall, and many more. Its believed to be the former spiritual and administrative center of the old capital. 

From the lotus pond inside the Sukhothai Historical Park, you have a beautiful view over Wat Mahathat. This is the best spot to watch the sunset. 

Wat Si Sawai

The second temple we explored was Wat Si Sawai. Located just south of Wat Mahathat, this Buddhist shrine from the 12th  century features three Khmer-style towers. It was originally built by the Khmers as a Hindu temple. 

Wat Traphang Ngoen 

Wat Traphang Ngoen is a small Sukhothai-era temple with a beautiful view of the Silver Lake near it. The temple itself which was built in the 14th Century is not as impressive as the other ones but due to its location by the lake definitely worth a visit. 

Wat Sa Si 

Just north of Wat Traphang Ngoen, you will see find Wat Sa Si located in the middle of the lotus flowers-filled Tra Phang Tra Kuan pond. It’s a classic Sukhothai-style temple containing a large Buddha, one chedi, and columns.

King Ramkhamhaeng Monument 

After cycling around the central zone of the historical park, we were at the King Ramkhamhaeng Monument. King Ramkhamhaeng ruled Sukhothai from 1279-1298. He is considered to be one of the greatest kings of Sukhothai. He introduced the technique of creating Sangkhalok ceramic ware that he learned for the Chinese and he is the founder of the Thai alphabet. 

Wat Phra Phai Luang 

After we had explored the central zone, we cycled north to explore the northern zone. The first temple we explored in the northern zone was Wat Phra Phai Luang. Here we bought the entrance ticket for the zone. 

This old temple is dating back before the founding of the Sukhothai Kingdom.  It was built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII of Angkor (who built the Bayon temple in Siem Reap) in the late 12th century.

The temple features 3 Khmer-style towers, an assembly hall, and a pyramidal pagoda. This may have been the center of Sukhothai when it was ruled by the Khmers of Angkor before the 13th century.  

Wat Sangkhawat 

Wat Sangkhawat is a small but interesting temple located just north of Wat Phra Phai Luang in a dry field. Here you will see an authentic Buddha statue without a head and arms. 

Wat Si Chum 

Next was Wat Si Chum, the largest Buddha statue in Sukhothai measuring 15 meters high. This temple was the highlight of the Sukhothai Historical Park for us. 

Wat Si Chum was built in the 13th century. The temple consists of an open-roof structure where the Buddha is housed and the columns of the old assembly hall in front of it. 

Inside we saw some locals praying with candles and incense sticks in their hands.

Wat Saphan Hin 

After admiring the beauty of Wat Si Chum, we continued southwest along the road to Wat Saphan Hin in the Western Zone of the Sukhothai Historical Park. 

The name of the Wat, which means stone bridge, is a reference to the late path and staircase that lead up to the temple. It’s just a 5 minutes walk to the top. Once you arrive at the top, you will be greeted by a large standing Buddha known as Phra Attharot and you will have a beautiful view over the surrounding area.

Feed the Monks 

The ritual of giving to monks is an integral part of Thai culture. It is a way for the locals to express their gratitude to the monks who devote their lives to educate others about taking the high and right paths in human life. The daily ritual is held early in the morning all across Thailand, and one of the best places to experience it is in Sukhothai at Wat Trapang Thong. 

With dawn, the monks exit the temple and march barefoot in a row led by the senior. They march barefoot to mark the connection to the ground, carrying a special bowl designated for the offering. It is called Bat. 

Monks do not prepare their own meals, so it is custom to bring food. We bought some food at the Wat Trapang Thong market. When the monks march by, locals greet them in the traditional Thai way, placing the offerings in the bowl.

When the monks return to the temple at the end of the round, the offerings are distributed between them all. 

Night Market 

The evening we were in the Sukhothai Historical Park there was a night market in the central zone. We loved hanging around here and trying some local food. 

If you don’t like night markets, in the new town you will find a lot of restaurants. 

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