SUKHOTHAI BUDGET TRAVEL GUIDE (with DIY itinerary, top attractions, tips and how to get there)

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.

Wat Mahathat at the central zone inside the walled area of Sukhothai Historical Park.

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.

A small Buddha image in between two stupas near the east gate of 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. To book your flight, visit Nok Air and Bangkok Air.

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. You may book your bus ticket online via this link: busonlineticket

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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The enormous complex of Wat Mahathat.

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.

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A standing Budda image of Phra Attharot inside a Mandapa at the northeast side of Wat Mahathat.

TOP ATTRACTIONS IN SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK

Here are the best temple ruins and tourist attractions 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.

Sukhothai Historical Park
The immediate view from the east gate at the central zone (where you will enter) leading to the Assembly Hall (located at the back of the center stupa in the photo).
Wat Mahathat Assembly Hall
The Assembly Hall at the east side of Wat Mahathat.
Sukhothai Historical Park
The main lotus bud stupa at the back of the Assembly hall, at the east side of Wat Mahathat complex.
Sukhothai Historical Park
Half part of Wat Mahathat viewed from the Assembly Hall on its east side. At the far left of the photo is a standing Buddha image of Phra Attarot inside a Mandapa. At its center is the main chedi of Wat Mahathat.
Sukhothai Historical Park
Early morning view of Wat Mahathat Ordination Hall located at its center.

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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.

Wat Sa Si
Wat Sa Si, located on a small island northwest of Wat Mahathat. The photo is the very sight you will see upon crossing the bridge to the temple.
Wat Sa Si Sukhothai
The Assembly Hall of Wat Sa Si.

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.

Wat Si Sawai Ordination Hall
Wat Si Sawai Ordination Hall inside the walled central zone of Sukhothai Historical Park.

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.

Wat Tra Phang Ngoen
Wat Tra Phang Ngoen which features the classic Sukhothai style.

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.

Wat Sorasak of Sukhothai Historical Park
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.

Wat Phra Phai Luang Northern Zone
The large complex of Wat Phra Phai Luang.

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.

Wat Si Chum Northern Zone Sukhothai Historical Park
The view of Wat Si Chum as you approach.

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 12-meter high image of Phra Attharot at Wat Saphan Hin.

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 central part of Wat Mahathat Sukhothai
The central part of Wat Mahathat.

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.

Early morning at the Assembly Hall of Wat Mahathat.
Early morning at the Assembly Hall of Wat Mahathat.

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”.

Klook.com

SUKHOTHAI DIY DAY TOUR ITINERARY

ActivityScheduleBudget
Breakfast5:00AM50THB
To Sukhothai Historical Park6:00AM30THB
Sunrise at Wat Mahathat6:30AM
Rent a bike and Pay ticket8:00AM340THB
Back to the Central Zone8:30AM
Wat Sa Si10:00AM
Wat Si Sawai10:30AM
Wat Tra Phang Ngoen11:00AM
Wat Sorasak11:30AM
Lunch12:00PM150THB
Northern Zone
Wat Phra Phai Luang1:00PM
Wat Si Chum1:30PM
Smaller temples3:00PM
Western Zone
Wat Saphan Hin4:00PM
Smaller temples5:00PM
Return Bike6:00PM
Back to New City7:00PM30THB
Dinner9:00PM150THB
Socials10:00PM

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

Vieng Tawan Sukhothai Guesthouse by Thai Thai, Sukhothai, Thailand is a budget hotel near the historical park. Click the photo for rate and availability.
Another top pick budget hotel by Thai Thai Sukhothai Guesthouse. Click the photo for rate and availability.
Scent of Sukhothai Resort is another budget hotel near the historical park. Click the photo for rate and availability.

Other budget hotels at the Old City

NEW CITY TOP PICK ACCOMMODATIONS

Ruean Thai Hotel at the new city is a mid-range accommodation. Click the photo for rate and availability.
The budget Foresto Sukhothai Guesthome at the new city also features a pool. Click the photo for rate and availability.

Other budget hotels at the New City

EXTEND YOUR TRIP

If you are keen on wandering around the temples in Bangkok on a DIY, check this guide; Bangkok Temple Hopping Guide.

More DIY travel guide for Asia destinations:

More travel posts:

Sukhothai Historical Park
Two juxtaposing images of a seating Buddha at Wat Mahathat.

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2 Responses

  1. AJ says:

    Wonderful photos! I love biking (not motorbikes, though). Both Bagan and Angkor Wat are too big for biking. I suppose Sukhothai is not. This makes me want to go there.

    • thefunsizedtraveller says:

      Thanks, AJ. I haven’t gone to Bagan, but yes, Sukhothai is way smaller compared to Angkor Archeological Park. Hope you could make it soon. Keep me posted?