With its magnificent ruins, serene peaceful settings and best of Thailand cuisines, you will not be able to help but fall in love with Old Sukhothai Historical Park. Far up in North Thailand, is nestled the ancient beautiful city of Sukhothai which carries a very different character compared to the hustle-bustle of South. Rent a cycle, explore around the vast stretch of ruins telling stories from the past, enjoy amazing sun-set views with Buddha statue reflection in the lake and when all tired, head to weekend market inside the complex for the best Thai delicacies that you can find in Thailand. With its unique characteristics, at times Sukhothai is also called as ‘Angkor Wat of Thailand’.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sukhothai has partially built ruins from 13th and 14th century, viewed as the golden era of Thai Civilization. Spread over an area of 45 Sq. km, park has remains of 21 historical sites within the old wall and additional 70 sites within a 5km radius. Basis our experience, here are the top things to explore at Sukhothai Historical Park –
- Cycle through the Northern Zone/Western Zone
- Enjoy sun-set views at Central Zone of the Park
- Night Food Market: Amazing Thai Delicacies
We reached the park around noon and rented cycles from the shop right at the entrance. Sukhothai Historical Park is divided in 3 main zones – 1) Central Zone 2) Northern Zone 3) Western Zone all with a separate 100 Bahts Entrance fee and separate closing timings. Northern and Western Zone close early, so we headed to Northern Zone first. Also you get best sun-set pictures in Central Zone, so head to Central Zone around sun-set.
(Go to the Top) Wat Phra Phai Luang and Wat Si Chum are two main buddhist temples in North Zone, situated 500 meters north of the old city walls. Ticket purchased at any of the Wats would be applicable for entry to both of these temples.
Wat Phra Phai Luang Sukhothai
Surrounded by water canal from all sides, this wat features 12th century Khmer-style towers. While the temple is situated at the center, you can take a walk around.
Wat Si Chum Sukhothai
This is another fascinating temple in the North zone with large impressive Buddha Statue in seating position (Phra Achana). Believed to be built about 700 years ago, this Wat was restored during 1953-1956.
(Go to the Top) After exploring the North Zone, we headed to the Central Zone straight. It was about to sun-set and we thought of skipping the Western Zone which has only one temple, Wat Saphan Hin (and 100 Bahts entry fee :P). Central Zone is the main zone of Sukhothai Historical Park with most impressive ruins and always vibrant with people and activities.
Wat Mahathat Sukhothai
Wat Mahathat is the largest and also the most impressive of all Sukhothai ruins. People rush to the spot at sun-set to capture the shadow of Buddha statue in the lake facing the Wat.
Wat Sa Si Sukhothai
Wat Sa Si is another impressive Wat of Central Zone that sits on an island with Buddha Statue at the center.
Wat Si Sawai and Wat Trapang Thong are other two major Buddhist temples inside Central Zone that you can look to explore. Lotus flowers blooming in the ponds facing all Wats is another sight that will certainly fascinate you.
(Go to the Top) If you are visiting Sukhothai Historical park during weekends, you will be treated with the best Thai cuisines. During weekends, some of the best city chefs come to set up their food stalls for this Night Food market. Well dressed, smiling stall owners will freshly prepare all the dishes for you and what an amazing taste!! After back-packing through out North Thailand for almost 10 days and being to multiple night markets, this is our claim that you will not get a better taste of Thai cuisines else where.
Only selected chefs are allowed stalls over here and they serve you Thai delicacies with home prepared ingredients. It’s not just the food but also the settings as you sit by the side of lake enjoying your dishes with sun-setting down on other side of the lake. This market is very popular with locals too and you will see Thai families sitting and enjoying on the lake side. Actually very few people stay till evening to experience this Food market but this is a hidden gem of Sukhothai!! Not to be missed, repeat, Not to me missed at all !!
(Go to the Top) Sukhothai is almost mid-way from Bangkok to Chiang Mai ( actually a bit towards Chiang Mai). There are regular buses both from Chiang Mai and Bankgok and it takes around 6 to 8 hours from either of the places to Sukhothai. You may check more about bus schedule here. City is divided into 2 parts – Old city with Historical Park and New Sukhothai. In case you are staying in New Sukhothai (as most of the hotels are here), there is a bus plying every 30 minutes for Sukhothai Historical Park (30 Bahts per person). You can catch bus from the stop next to Phraunaung Bridge. Last bus from the Park leaves at 5:30 PM. Post that, you can take a tuk-tuk if plan to return late.
For getting around inside Sukhothai Historical Park, you can rent cycles from the shops at the entrance of the Central Zone (30 Bahts for each cycle). Local bus also drops you here right in front of cycle shops.
(Go to the Top) There is separate entry fee of 100 Bahts for each Zone (Central, Northern, Western) and in case you want to take your bi-cycle/motorcycle/car inside a zone, there is an additional fee of 10/20/50 Bahts. You can purchase tickets for each zone at respective entry points.
(Go to the Top) All 3 zones have different opening times. Please head to either Northern/Western zone first as they close early and then you can head to Central Zone for sun-set views which remains open till late. Here are the timings for each zone –
- Northern Zone: 6:30 AM to 5:30 PM
- Western Zone: 8 AM to 4:30 PM
- Central Zone: 6:30 AM to 7 PM (Sun-Fri), to 9 PM (Sat)
It was an amazing time for us at Sukhothai Historical Park. We are very sure that you too would enjoy this unique mix of magnificent ruins, peaceful settings and amazing Thai cuisines. Do drop us a comment in case you have more information that we can add here or you need more information.