Updated as of July 2019
Summary: This blog shares a budget travel guide for Sukhothai, Thailand with a DIY itinerary that is good for one day; estimated budget is 750+THB per person which covers expenses for tour and entrance, food and transportation only. Further, this Sukhothai blog is intended for first-time backpackers and budget travelers, either solo, family or traveling in group.
SUKHOTHAI AT A GLANCE
SUKHOTHAI, or the dawn of happiness, is arguably the cradle of Siam where Thai art, architecture and language started to flourish. Located 6 hours away north of Bangkok, Sukhothai steadily presents itself as a rural beauty despite being founded as an independent kingdom as early as 1238, the first among the prominent kingdoms in all of Thailand.
Tourists pay a visit to Sukhothai for its world renowned historical park that snuggles 190 heritage sites including 26 monasteries that are considerably some of Thailand’s most fascinating temple structures, and are spread out into 5 zones on a 70 square kilometer area.
Of the five, the central zone is hands down the largest and most visited for its wide array of temple ruins that are sprawling incessantly on varied locations around its area. The central zone is also rimmed with some of the most impressive city moats, temple columns and spires writhed with strangler trees and hedges – making it the first choice when going around the vast Sukhothai historical park.
HOW TO GET TO SUKHOTHAI
Getting to Sukhothai by plane is only possible from Bangkok through any of its two airports. A trip to Sukhothai from the capital would take for about 2 hours.
From Sukhothai airport, take the shuttle service to get to the old or new city. Travel time is roughly 30 minutes, fare is around 300THB.
Getting a direct trip to Sukhothai by land is possible by bus from Bangkok at Mo Chit 2 terminal.
For all other major destinations in Thailand like Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, tourists would have to get to Phitsanulok first either on a bus or train, then get on another bus bound for Sukhothai for an hour long travel.
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HOW TO GET AROUND SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK
Sukhothai is divided into two parts: the New city, which has the more accommodations and food establishments; and the Old, where the historical park is located. To get from the new city to the old, which has a distance of 12 kilometers, you can take the blue bus or songthaews at Jarodvithi Thong road for 20THB, travel time is 20 minutes, or hire a tuktuk for a day tour for 600THB, or rent a motorbike for 300 to 500THB per day.
In getting around Sukhothai Historical Park, the more popular option is by a bicycle which can be rented outside the park for 30THB for whole day from 6:00AM to 6:00PM.
Note: Sukhothai Historical Park is miles in capacity which makes walking a poor option if you opt to cover all interesting sites in a day. Motorbike is also not permitted at the inner section of the park and parking can be difficult on your stop over, making bicycle a more efficient transport between the two.
TOP ATTRACTIONS IN SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK
Here are the best temple ruins and tourist spots in Sukhothai Historical Park that you can cover in a day when going on a bicycle tour. Please know that the list is specific to the three major zones in the heritage park as they are deemed the most unique and visit-worthy. Further, the top attractions are enumerated in an order that will serve as guide in your full day DIY travel itinerary, which can be insightful for first-time travelers. It starts off with the interesting sights inside the central zone, then to the northern zone, and finally to the western zone.
Note: Admission to all five zones is 350THB. If you wish to only visit one to three zones, each has a separate admission fee of 100THB. If you go on a bike, you would have to pay an additional 10THB for the gate pass good for 1 day. You can purchase the ticket at the central zone gate.
THE CENTRAL ZONE
The central zone is where you want to spend most of your time as it tucks away most of the interesting and complex temple ruins in all of Sukhothai Historical Park.
Kick off your bicycle tour at WAT MAHATHAT, which translates to “the temple of the great relic”, the largest and most important in all of the temple structures in Sukhothai Historical Park. It is the very first temple complex from the gate of central zone, on its east side. Check out the photos and familiarize some of the sections of Wat Mahathat.
Walk right of Wat Mahathat from its Ordination Hall to reach WAT SA SI, just across King Ram Khamhaeng Monument. The small temple complex is composed of a well-preserved bell shape Sinhalese style chedi where enshrined the ashes of King Li Thai.
Opposite of Wat Sa Si, at the far left of Wat Mahathat is WAT SI SAWAI
composed of three large Khmer-style pagodas next to its laterite-made Ordination Hall.
Right across the Ordination Hall of Wat Mahathat, in between Wat Sa Si and Wat Si Sawai is WAT TRA PHANG NGOEN, the silver lake temple which features a large sitting Buddha image at its viharn and a classic Sukhothai-style walking buddha at its right section.
On your way to the Northern zone, past Wat Sa Si and King Ram Khamhaeng Monument is WAT SORASAK with its 24 elephant guardians surrounding its chedi.
THE NORTHERN ZONE
After getting entwined with the best sights at the central zone, enter the Northern zone through the Sanluang Gate west of Wat Sorasak. You will be welcomed by the ever stunning view of WAT PHRA PHAI LUANG, built even before the founding of Sukhothai kingdom. The temple is large and styled in Khmer prangs with fine stucco reliefs.
Farther left is a small temple that contains a massive 15-meter high seating Buddha image with gold-plated nails, WAT SI CHUM. The most-photographed of all temple structures for its beholding scene of hidden Buddha image.
THE WESTERN ZONE
The Northern zone is already outside the walled section, follow the road left of Wat Si Chum until your reach the Western zone where settles the spectacular WAT SAPHAN HIN. Although not as preserved as the others, the temple takes pride of the Buddha image of Phra Attharot standing at 12 meters high.
The western section gathers a rather less crowd so take as many photos as you can to cap off your Sukhothai Historical Park DIY day tour!
SUKHOTHAI SAMPLE ITINERARY
In coming up with your Sukhothai itinerary, you need to allot a full day for Sukhothai historical park. Other days can be appropriated to other tourist sights like Si Satchanalai National park, Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, Ban Na Ton Chan, night market, and Chinatown depending on the number of days you want to stay.
The sample itinerary below is only good for 1 day and mostly covers Sukhothai Historical Park; estimated budget is 750+THB per person which covers expenses for tour and entrance, food and transportation only.
It is possible to cover most of the best interesting sights in the historical park for one day, especially around its three major zones: central, northern and western . You kick off early to catch the sunrise at Wat Mahathat and the lotus flowers in full bloom at the pond across its ordination hall, and end your itinerary with a good meal at the night market at the New city.
Few things to note for this Sukhothai DIY Itinerary:
- The Sukhothai Historical Park pass is only good for one day.
- All needed information on how to reach each temple attraction at the historical park are laid out in the Top Attractions section. Feel free to read, including the captions of each photo to be guided.
- The temples are made of bricks which more or less look the same from afar so it’s easy to get templed out. Manage your pace and take time to check out the finest details to better appreciate each temple.
- A typical architecture of Sukhothai temple is the classic lotus-bud chedi that are conical in shape, the usual feature you will see; however, some designs progress and take on certain influences from Sinhalese and Srivijaya like that of Wat Sa Si.
- A good place to eat for good and affordable food choices are the night market and restaurants at Jarot Withithong before and after the bridge at the New city.
Klook offers a discounted Half Day and Whole Day Biking Tours in Sukhothai. Click the link for details.
Look for more Klook discounted tours for Sukhothai and other major destinations in Thailand using the search box below. Type the destination and click “search”.
SUKHOTHAI DIY DAY TOUR ITINERARY
|To Sukhothai Historical Park||6:00AM||30THB|
|Sunrise at Wat Mahathat||6:30AM||–|
|Rent a bike and Pay ticket||8:00AM||340THB|
|Back to the Central Zone||8:30AM||–|
|Wat Sa Si||10:00AM||–|
|Wat Si Sawai||10:30AM||–|
|Wat Tra Phang Ngoen||11:00AM||–|
|Wat Phra Phai Luang||1:00PM||–|
|Wat Si Chum||1:30PM||–|
|Wat Saphan Hin||4:00PM||–|
|Back to New City||7:00PM||30THB|
WHERE TO STAY IN SUKHOTHAI
Here are top-value accommodations in Sukhothai both from the New and Old city. If you only want to visit the historical park, it’s best to get an accommodation at the Old city for a more hassle-free experience.
OLD CITY TOP PICK ACCOMMODATIONS
Other budget hotels at the Old City
- Old City Boutique House. Click here for rate and availability.
- Ma Room Place. Click here for rate and availability.
- Siam Villa. Click here for rate and availability.
NEW CITY TOP PICK ACCOMMODATIONS
Other budget hotels at the New City
- Sawasdipong Hotel. Click here for rate and availability.
- KTT Resort. Click here for rate and availability.
- Blue House. Click here for rate and availability.
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BE A RESPONSIBLE TRAVELER
And lastly, don’t forget to be awesome! 😉
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