Image of: Wat Si Sawai in Shukhothai

Sukhothai – Most Beautiful Temples, Palaces, and Ruins

This post was last updated on February 18th, 2020 at 02:00 pm


The north of Thailand houses the ruins of the historic city of Sukhothai. This park contains ruins of the city that used to be the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom. This Kingdom existed from 1238 to 1438 and is also called the Golden Age. Sukhothai means ‘Rising of Happiness’ and can be seen as the most important historical place in Thailand.

 

Sukhothai Historical Park

It is a rectangular park that can be divided into five zones; north, south, east, west, and the center. The park is surrounded by city walls and has an opening on each side. Just like Ayutthaya, there are many temples in this Historical Park.

 

The ruins were only discovered in the 19th century and are seen as one of the most classical building styles in the country. Inside the city walls, you will find ruins of 26 temples and palaces, including the remains of the royal palace.

 

The best way to discover the temples and ruins is by renting a bicycle. You can rent this everywhere for 30 baht ($1) per day.

 

Image: King Ramkhamhaeng Monument in the Historical Park of Sukhothai
King Ramkhamhaeng Monument in the Historical Park of Sukhothai

 

Why Go to Sukhothai?

Because it is one of the most impressive places in Thailand! Every year thousands of visitors go to this park to marvel at the temples and Buddha statues.

 

Since 1991 it has been protected by the UNESCO World Heritage List and rightly so because it is often seen as one of the most impressive temple complexes in the country.

 

There is so much to see here. Do not expect any Bagan (Myanmar) practices here. It doesn’t get very crowded here yet and that makes a visit to Sukhothai even more beautiful.

 

TIP – For each zone of the park you have to pay an entrance fee of 30 baht ($1). You can also buy a ticket for 150 Baht ($5) with which you can view everything.

 

Amazing Temples

The temples were restored with the support of UNESCO in the 1980s. Since then it gives a wonderful impression of what the Golden Age once looked like. The Wat Mahahat is the largest temple within this complex and has a unique architectural style.

 

In addition to the Wat Mahahat, you will find more buildings within the Park. Among others the Wat Sra Sri, the Wat Chang Lom and the Wat Sri Sawai; each built in its own style. The style can be compared to that of the Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

 

Image: Little stone towers at Wat Mahathat
Little stone towers at Wat Mahathat

 

New Sukhothai and Old Sukhothai

If you come here you must know that there are actually two options. You have New Sukhothai and (Old) Sukhothai. There are various accommodation options near the historic park, but most travelers tend to stay in the so-called New Sukhothai. This is a newer city, some 12 kilometers from the historic park.

 

TIP – Although most people stay in New Sukhothai we found the old town many times more impressive.

 

Other Places of Interest

Fortunately, you will have a good connection between the park with the ruins and the new city. New Sukhothai is a small, fun city that is certainly not flooded with tourists. From here you can also visit Ramkhamhaeng National Park, as well as the ruins of Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet.

 

These ruins have not been extensively renovated yet, but still worth a visit.

 

Most of these remote places are fairly easy to reach by public transport, but for trips to Wat Thawet and Ramkhamhaeng National Park, you should try booking a tour.

 

Image: King Ramkhamhaeng Monument in the Historical Park of Sukhothai
King Ramkhamhaeng Monument in the Historical Park of Sukhothai

 

How to Get to Sukhothai

There is an airport nearby. You can fly to Sukhothai from Bangkok. A single ticket costs you around US$75 per person.

 

To Sukhothai by Bus

A cheaper option is the bus. From Bangkok, this will cost you between 200 and 450 Baht per person. The journey takes approximately seven hours. From Chiang Mai, you will be there in five and a half hours and it will cost you around 150 to 250 Baht (US $6.50 to $8.15).

 

Book Transport Tickets Online

Via 12GoAsia you can book your transportation tickets online. Here is an example for all current routes, prices, and transportation options from Bangkok to Sukhothai.

 

Best Time to Visit Sukhothai

The best time to visit Sukhothai is from November to March. This is the dry season and also the busiest season. You hardly have any rain or high temperatures during this period. The disadvantage is that prices are rising very fast due to increased popularity (try booking early!)

 

You can also look towards the months of April and May. These are also the good months for the north (and the Gulf Coast). It is the hottest period in Thailand and also quite dry. Temperatures rise above 30 degrees so be prepared for hot days. Take a look at the table below to find average temperatures and rainfall per month.

 

Image: Average temperature and rainfall in Sukhothai
Average temperature and rainfall in Sukhothai

 

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