Sukhothai: An Introduction

This is part one of a three-part Sukhothai series

The Sukhothai Kingdom, dating from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries C.E., is historically known as the first capital of Siam (just to clarify, Siam is the name that The Kingdom of Thailand was known by internationally until the mid-twentieth century). Sukhothai Province is, therefore, one of two provinces in Thailand that is home to significant cultural and historical ruins from a former capital city (the other is Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province just northeast of Bangkok, which is home to Siam’s second capital).

Given my love of history and desire to see new places, I was eager to make it to the ruins of Sukhothai prior to my departure from The Kingdom–and boy, am I glad I did. My trip to Sukhothai happened in the five days I had between returning to Bangkok from Europe, and meeting my parents in Bangkok for our travels around Thailand together. What a grand time I had on this solo trip. I’m so thankful I took it upon myself to make this journey in the few extra days I had to myself in Thailand–especially when I could have very easily stayed in bustling Bangkok…I mean, it’s not like Bangkok is hurting for things do see and do. Still, I wanted to experience some place new…and Sukhothai was an absolutely perfect adventure.

Aside from the two lengthy days of travel that it took to get to and from Sukhothai from Bangkok, I spent three full adventurous and memorable days in Sukhothai, one of the lower provinces in Northern Thailand.

Sukhothai Province pointed out in red–Image Citation

Day one was spent relaxing and recovering a bit more from the jet lag that hadn’t yet worn off from my flight back from Europe. I slept in late and spent the rest of the day exploring New Sukhothai–the capital city of the province and a much larger town than I was anticipating.

Day two was spent exploring Sukhothai Historical Park with a fellow traveler from my guest house.

Day three included an adventurous visit to Si Satchanalai District, home of Si Satchanalai Historical Park.

Both historical parks were exciting and memorable adventures in themselves and merit their own posts–but New Sukhothai, where I stayed and spent a reasonable amount of time, is worth a mention of its own.

— — — —

Sukhothai Town is commonly known as New Sukhothai, to distinguish the modern city from Sukhothai Historical Park–or Old Sukhothai–which is located 12 kilometers west of the new town. Though there are guest houses located in Old Sukhothai, many travelers choose to stay in New Sukhothai for traveling convenience (the bus station is located in New Sukhothai) and cost (lodgings closer to the park tend to be more expensive).

Prior to my arrival in Sukhothai, I booked a room for three nights at Ban Thai Guest House in New Sukhothai. It had excellent reviews online and was super cheap (I paid about $23 USD for four nights). I stayed in the cheapest room possible–a small room without air con that had access to a shared bathroom. It was a tad humid at night and the walls were paper thin, but the place was clean and homey and the owners of the guest house were so kind and accommodating. Slightly more expensive bungalows with air con were available, but as a budget traveler who was focused more on experiences, my room at Ban Thai Guest House was perfect. Also, the breakfast at Ban Thai was phenomenal. They’re homemade yogurt with fruit and honey was to die for and I got it every morning.

Three of my four dinners were eaten at Poo Restaurant, which I can hands down say had the best Thai food that I’ve eaten in Thailand–I mean, I ate there three of the four nights I spent in Sukhothai, if that says anything. I had grown relatively tired and disenchanted with Thai food throughout my time in Thailand–too much rice and stir fried vegetables were getting the best of me–but Poo Restaurant reignited my appreciation for Thai dishes. It is right on the main drag of New Sukhothai and hard to miss. If you’re staying in New Sukhothai, I absolutely recommend a stop here. It’s easy to find and the food is wonderful–I recommend ordering the local dish, Sukhothai Noodles.

New Sukhothai is a bustling town and if you have the time to explore it, you should. There isn’t anything super unique to new Sukhothai itself–considering the area is most famous for the ruins of nearby Old Sukhothai–but it’s a nice town to walk around, regardless. There are quite a few little cafes, restaurants, and bars that cater to the backpacker crowd. There are some wats (Buddhist temples) worth checking out and there is also a river that runs through town. I always enjoy exploring new places and New Sukhothai was no exception. I spent the afternoon and evening of my first full day there walking around the town; I walked down the streets, seeing what I could see. I watched the sunset from the river and checked out a local market that I stumbled upon. I also got a cheap Thai massage at a local massage place in town, which was much needed after a string of long flights and bus rides. The owners of the place, who were eager and excited to have a farang (the Thai word for Westerner) visiting their local business, wanted to learn more about me after the massage. I told them I was from the U.S. and had recently finishing up a semester of teaching English in Nakhon Pathom Province; I promptly learned that one of the women was from Nakhon Pathom Province, which was a fun and exciting little fact.

For dinner, I stopped at Pizza House, which was right down the road from my guesthouse. It was highly rated on Trip Advisor and a little bit more expensive than Thai food (as Western food always is in Thailand), but I thoroughly enjoyed the pizza.

I’m not very good at taking pictures of my food or my lodging, but I did snap a photo of this delectable pizza–yes, I did eat the whole thing. 🙂

Though Sukhothai Historical Park and Sri Satchanalai were the highlights of the trip, I thoroughly enjoyed my chill first day in New Sukhothai. I’m glad I took the day to relax a little bit more, too, since the next two days were exhausting. 

Posts about Sukhothai Historical Parck and Sri Satchanalai will come soon, so stayed tuned.

Getting to New Sukhothai

As with all major towns in Thailand, New Sukhothai has a bus station. You can easily get to New Sukhothai from either Bangkok or Chiang Mai.

Buses out of Bangkok leave from Bangkok Bus Terminal (sometimes called Mo Chit Bus Station). I took the BTS (Bangkok sky train) to Mo Chit BTS and then got a taxi for the short ride to the bus terminal. Once at the bus station, look for ticket counters that are selling tickets to the Northern Region and ask for a ticket to Sukhothai. Bangkok Bus Terminal is a major transportation hub, so all signs will be in both Thai and English.

It is about 8 hours to Sukhothai from Bangkok, give or take a few hours depending on traffic/other things.

It is also possible to get to Sukhothai from Eastern Thailand–just make sure to do your research if you’re coming from that way to have an idea of where you need to go/if you need to transfer at any stations to get to Sukhothai (on that note, I definitely spotted a sign for buses to and from Mukdahan, one of the most eastern Thai provinces on the border of Laos, at the Sukhothai Bus Station).

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