The question most travellers ask in Thailand: Ayutthaya or Sukhothai?
Both historical cities are known for their Angkor Watt style ruins. Ayutthaya is two hours north from Bangkok, while Sukhothai is smack bang in the middle of Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
I had heard so much about Ayutthaya, I decided to go to Sukhothai instead since I figured it would be less touristy… And I was right. I must’ve seen about 30 foreigners there in total during my 2 day stopover. If you’re travelling solo and want a peaceful break from the chaotic cities, this is it!
BUT, be aware. The only thing to do in Sukhothai is visiting the ancient ruins, so if you’ve already seen so many you can’t stand to look at another one, save this gem for another trip.
Getting to Sukhothai
From Bangkok, you can take a bus from Mo Chit bus terminal to Sukhothai. Air-con buses leave every 30 minutes and cost 280 ($8) baht for second class and 350 ($10) baht for first class. VIP is also available for 70 baht extra. After the horrific tiresome 7 hour journey, you can take a motorbike taxi or a songthaews (shared taxi) to New Sukhothai where most accommodation will be.
There is no train station in Sukhothai. The only option would be to take a train to Phitsanulok, and then a couple hour bus ride to Sukhothai.
From Chiang Mai, you can take a bus from the main bus station to Sukhothai for 280 baht ($8). This journey is shorter than from Bangkok, around 5 hours.
Where to Stay
There’s one hostel in the whole of Sukhothai, but there are loads of guesthouses to choose from in the new city. If you arrive during the day, you won’t need to book ahead because most places won’t be full. If you come at night though, it’s best to pre-book and let them know when you’re coming to avoid standing around at 3am and wondering why there is no one at reception. I’m talking from experience…
Sukhothai Historical Park
If you’re staying in New Sukhothai, take a local blue bus/songthaew on the main road to the Historical Park. The best part is that they don’t try to rip you off. 20 baht for a 20 minute journey is more than fair! Don’t be lured by tuk tuk drivers who will try to extort charge you 10 times as much.
The actual park itself is 70km2 (huge), so I wouldn’t advise walking if you only have 1 day there. You can rent a bicycle for 30 baht opposite the park, which is definitely a better option, especially in 30 degree heat. There isn’t much shade, so bring a hat, sunglasses, sun cream and plenty of water. There’s also an electric tram with sun coverage for 40 baht, but it doesn’t go around the entire park.
The entrance to the park with a bike costs 110 baht ($3). It’s open from 9am to 6pm, and bike rental shop closes at 5.30pm. If you’re not lazy like I am, then visit early to avoid the heat.
I happily spent an entire day cycling around the 193 ruins amongst the trees and lakes under the burning sun. Sukhothai was the only place in the whole of Thailand that I didn’t see any tour groups! For once, there were actually more workers there than tourists. It felt so refreshing to cycle through this phenomenal UNESCO World Hertigae Site in absolute tranquillity.
Where’s the least touristy place you have visited in Thailand?