2020 SUKHOTHAI TRAVEL GUIDE (ITINERARY + BUDGET)

This is a detailed DIY Sukhothai travel guide with sample Sukhothai itinerary and expenses. Perfect for 2-3 days trip to this UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Thailand, north of Bangkok.

Sukhothai is a legacy of conquest of the Khmer rule,  the first Kingdom of Siam (Thailand), and a symbol of the golden age of Thai culture, arts, and architecture.  It is pleasantly sited on the north central Thailand, about 6-7 hours by bus from Bangkok. The Old Sukhothai and its associated historic towns has been designated as  UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This property is composed of Sukhothai – the political and governmental capital of the 1st Kingdom of Siam, Si Satchanalai – the spiritual heart of Siam and the center of ceramics trade, and Kamphaeng Phet – the military center  and the protector of the empire.

Sukhothai that means “Dawn of Happiness”, was founded as the first capital of  Siam (Thailand) in the beginning of the 13th century after its liberation from the Khmer Kingdom. This historic city was founded by the Thai governors Sri Inthrathit (Pha Khun Bangklanghao) and Khun Pha Muang who revolted against the Khmers. Prior to the 13th century, Sukhothai was a colony of the Khmers, who built some Khmer-style monuments that are still standing to date at Sukhothai Historical Park.  But Sukhothai is also known for its unique arts and architecture, that is distinct from Khmer and other former regional styles. In fact, the emergence and development of exceptional Thai arts and architecture is said to have risen during Sukhothai Empire, most of them credited to Sukhothai’s most famous King – King Ramkhamhaeng, dubbed as the Founding Father of Thai Nation.  The unique Thai alphabet is also believed to have originated in Sukhothai, as the earliest examples of Thai writings inscribed on stones can be found here.

Thankfully, many of these ancient arts and architectures of Siam are well-preserved and you can still see them up close when you travel to Old Sukhothai. Even the ancient canals, ponds, and reservoirs invented during the Sukhothai rule are still functioning and still in use by the locals today. If you plan to tour Sukhothai in the future, here’s my detailed Sukhothai itinerary and Sukhothai travel guide to help you plan your trip.


SUKHOTHAI PRE-TRAVEL GUIDE


SUKHOTHAI TRAVEL GUIDE: TEMPLES

BEST TIME TO VISIT SUKHOTHAI

Sukhothai is a year round destination, but if you want to visit this destination when the weather is pleasant, aim for November to February as the it is cooler compared to other months.

MONEY

Stack up cash (Thai baht) when visiting Sukhothai as almost everything here is on cash basis. ATMs are also scattered in Sukhothai and I prefer withdrawing from ATMs rather than using Money Exchange Centers. Maximum withdrawal is usually ฿20,000 per day and there’s a ฿200 withdrawal fee for banks issued abroad on top of whatever currency conversion and out-of-network fees your home bank charges.

Make sure to contact your bank before traveling abroad to inform them that you will be using your card for your trip so your transactions won’t be cancelled due to suspicious foreign activities.

 

HOW MANY DAYS TO SPEND IN SUKHOTHAI?

If you are a first-timer in Sukhothai and you just want to get a glimpse of what this place has to offer, 1-2 days should be enough to cover the major tourist spots in the Old Sukhothai area. If you plan to see the other ruins at the suburbs like Si Satchanalai or Chaliang, you can spend 3-4 days in Sukhothai.

 


SUKHOTHAI TRAVEL GUIDE


 

BANGKOK TO SUKHOTHAI

 

 BY AIR

1.From Suvarnabhumi International Airport and Dong Mueaung Airport in Bangkok, there are non-stop flights to Sukhothai Airport, about 27 km from Sukhothai town center. Travel time is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Bangkok to Sukhothai Flights: RESERVE HERE 

2.At the Sukhothai Airport, ride a shuttle to the Sukhothai center. Fare is ฿180 – ₱281 ($6, SGD 8, MYR 24, € 5, AUD 9, ₩7K) to the New Sukhothai City, and ฿300 – ₱468 ($9, SGD 13, MYR 40, €8, AUD 14, ₩11K) to the Old Sukhothai.

 

BY BUS

 

Powered by 12Go Asia system

 

 

1.From Mo Chit Terminal in Bangkok, there are direct buses to Sukhothai that leave hourly from 7:00 AM to 9:30 PM. Travel time is roughly 6-7 hours. Regular bus fare starts at ฿378 – ₱592 ($378, SGD 17, MYR 51, €11, AUD 18, ₩14.4K). There are also minivans from Khao San Road to Sukhothai for approximately roughly ฿700 – ₱1,097 ($22, SGD 31, MYR 94, €20, AUD 34, ₩27k).

Bangkok to Sukhothai Bus: RESERVE HERE

 

 2.Alight at Sukhothai bus terminal, located near the New Sukhothai.

3.Hire a tuk-tuk to your hotel or ride a songthaew (bus). The purple songthaew (purple bus/#1 bus) goes to the New Sokhothai City and fare is ฿10 – ₱16 ($0.31, SGD 0.44, MYR 1.34, €0.28, AUD0.49, ₩375). The blue songthaew (blue bus) travels all the way to the Old Sukhothai City and fare is ฿30 – ₱46 ($0.92, SGD 1.31, MYR 4, €0.85, AUD 1.46, ₩1,127). But if you don’t know how to got exactly to your hotel, best to just charter a tuk-tuk and show the driver the name of your hotel. Also, best to check the hotel location in Google Maps, and don’t forget the street name and landmarks, screenshot it, and show it to the tuktuk driver.


SUKHOTHAI BUS TERMINAL TO SUKHOTHAI CENTER


pjimage (1) (1)

 

Once you get off the bus terminal in Sukhothai, which is located northwest of the city center, you can hire a tuktuk (motorcycle taxi)  to take you to your hotel in Sukhothai, fare is approximately ฿50 – ₱78 ($1.53, SGD 2, MYR 7, € 1.41, AUD 2.43, ₩1.8K).


GETTING AROUND SUKHOTHAI


 

Sukhothai has 2 parts: the New Sukhothai and the Old Sukhothai (Sukhothai Muang Kao).  The former is the residential and business area where most hotels, guesthouses, eateries, and restaurants are concentrated, while the latter is where the major tourist attraction – the Sukhothai Historical Park is located.

 

sukhothai bicycle

 

BY SONGTHAEWS (BUS)

 If you are staying at the New Sukhothai where accommodations abound, you can easily get to the Sukhothai Historical Park at the Old Sukhothai by riding the blue bus called songthaews at the main highway – Th Jarodvithithong RoadBus fare at Sukhothai is ฿20 – ₱31 ($0.61, SGD 0.87, MYR 2.68, €0.56, AUD 97, ₩752) and travel time is roughly 10 minutes. Drivers usually ask ฿30 from foreigners though. Once you get off at Sukhothai Historical Park, you can rent a bike outside the park. See details below.

 

Important: Take note that purple songthaews (purple bus) goes to the New Sukhothai City only, fare is ฿10 – ₱16 ($0.31, SGD 0.44, MYR 1.34, €0.28, AUD0.49, ₩375).  The blue songthaew (blue bus) is en route to the Old Sukhothai only.

 

BY BICYCLE

 

The best way to get around the Sukhothai Historical Park is by bicycle.  If you are staying at the Old Sukhothai, you can rent a bicycle from your hotel or guesthouse.  But if you are staying at the New Sukothai, you can ride the tuktuk or songthaews (blue bus) first to the Old Sukhothai and then rent a bicycle outside the Sukhothai Historical Park.

Bicycle rental at Old Sukhothai is ฿30 – ₱46 ($0.92, SGD 1.31, MYR 4, €0.85, AUD 1.46, ₩1,127). Available from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM only.

If you want a guided tour of Sukhothai, you can book a bicycle tour package through the link below:

Sukhothai Bicycle Tour: RESERVE HERE

BY TUKTUK

Tuktuk (with drivers are also available for charter at Sukhothai.  Interestingly, Sukhothai’s tuktuk is reversed, like a rickshaw.  You can hire a tuktuk in Sukothai for roughly ฿600 – ₱935 ($18, SGD 26, MYR 80, € 17, AUD 29, ₩22.5K) per day to tour you around, good for 2-3 persons.

 

BY MOTORBIKE

 

Motorcycles for rent at Sukhothai start from ฿300 – ₱468 ($9, SGD 13, MYR 40, € 8, AUD 14, ₩11.2K) to ฿500 – ₱779 ($15, SGD 22, MYR 67, € 14, AUD 24, ₩11.2K) per day.

 


WHERE TO STAY IN SUKHOTHAI


 

Most of the guesthouses and hotels are  concentrated in Sukhothai New City, which is a good base since the transportation and most establishments are located here.  But there’s also handful of hostels and inns near Sukhothai Historical Park.

 

⊕ NAKORN DE SUKHOTHAI HIP HOTEL 

Location: Sukhothai City

RESERVE HERE OR BOOK HERE

⊕ EZ HOUSE 

Location: Sukhothai City

RESERVE HERE OR BOOK HERE

 

⊕ BLUEHOUSE SUKHOTHAI 

Location: Sukhothai City

RESERVE HERE OR BOOK HERE

 

VIENG TAWANG SUKHOTHAI GUESTHOUSE BY THAI THAI

Location: Sukhothai Historical Park

RESERVE HERE

 

⊕ SCENT OF SUKHOTHAI

Location: Sukhothai Historical Park

RESERVE HERE OR BOOK HERE

 

⊕ POTTERY STREET HOUSE

Location: Sukhothai Historical Park

RESERVE HERE OR BOOK HERE

 


THINGS TO DO IN SUKHOTHAI


sukhothai travel guide: Sukhothai Historical Park

1.TEMPLE HOPPING AT SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK

Sukhothai Historical Park is the major tourist spot in Sukhothai. The park is divided into 5 zones, but the 3 major areas are: the Central Zone, The Northern Zone, and the Western Zone. 1 day should be enough to cover the 3 zones, but take note that since the temples looks pretty much the same, expect to be temple

  • Opening Hours: Sunday to Friday 6:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Saturday 6:00 AM – 9:00 PM
  • Entrance Fee: ฿100  – ₱156 ($3, SGD 4, MYR 13, € 3, AUD 5, ₩3.7K) for each zone
  • Ramkhamhaeng National Museum: ฿150  – ₱234 ($4.59, SGD 7, MYR 20, €4 , AUD 7, ₩5.6K)
  • Parking Fee:

bicycle : ฿10 – ₱16 ($0.31, SGD0.44, MYR 1.34, € 0.28, AUD 0.49, ₩375)

motorcycle:  ฿20 – ₱31 ($0.61, SGD0.87, MYR 2.68, €0.56, AUD 0.97, ₩751)

car: ฿50 – ₱78 ($1.53, SGD 2, MYR 7, € 1.41, AUD 2.43, ₩1.8K)

  • Audio Guide (optional): ฿150  – ₱234 ($4.59, SGD 7, MYR 20, €4 , AUD 7, ₩5.6K)

 

Important:

The combined ticket for ฿350 for all 5 zones, good for 1 day, is no longer available. You can pay the fee for each zone at the Central Zone entrance.

An audio guide in English, Thai, or Japanese can be rented at the ticket booth.

On Saturday night, many of the temples are illuminated and remain open until 9:00 PM.

SUKHOTHAI ITINERARY: CENTRAL ZONE

CENTRAL ZONE OF SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK

    • Opening Hours: Sunday to Friday 6:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Saturday 6:00 AM – 9:00 PM
    • Entrance Fee: ฿100  – ₱156 ($3, SGD 4, MYR 13, € 3, AUD 5, ₩3.7K)

This is the main zone of Sukhothai Historical Park, and you will most likely spend much of your time here.  The Central Zone is home to the most-well preserved ruins of Sukhothai. You can start your tour early as this temple zone is already open at 6:30 AM.

Here are the temples at the Central Zone of Sukhothai Historical Park:

    • Ramkhamhaeng National Museum

Open daily from 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM with ฿150 (₱234)  admission fee,  the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is where you may want to start your tour of the ancient park.  The gallery contains the artifacts of found in Sukhothai, including a replica of the famed Ramkhamhaeng inscription which is believed to be the earliest example of writing in Thailand.

    • Wat Mahathat

If there’s one temple you need to see at Sukhothai, that would be Wat Mahathat, the major temple in the historical park that was completed in the 13th century. The name means “Temple of the Great Relic” because this is where the Buddha relic is kept.  If you’ve been to Ayutthaya, there’s also a temple called Wat Mahathat there, same with other cities in Thailand, because of the same reason – the Buddha relic is enshrined there. The main stupa representing the mythical Mt.Meru, is supposedly the middle of the universe believed to be  a holy dwelling created by the  God Indra to enshrine the relics of Buddha. The surrounding stupas are said to represent the massif surrounding Mt.Meru while the moat signifies the cosmic ocean. Don’t miss assembly hall with the gigantic seated Buddha image,  the mandapas with towering standing Buddhas, lotus-bud shaped chedi, and the four Khmer-inspired prangs. To better appreciate its history and details, you can rent an audio guide for ฿150 (₱234)  at the ticket booth.

 

    • Wat Si Sawai

Located south of Wat Mahathat, Wat Si Sawai is another well-preserved temple of Sukhothai Historical Park.  This temple is one of my favorites in Sukhothai as it reminds me of the temples in Angkor. In fact, Wat Si Sawai was actually constructed by the Khmers as a Buddhist temple reason why it has 3 intricate Khmer-style towers clad by a moat.

    • Wat Sa Si

Standing on an isle west of the bronze monument of King Ramkhamhaeng, the 3rd Sukhothai King, is Wat Sa Si. This classic temple houses a bell-shaped chedi where the ashes of King Li Thai is enshrined. There’s also a colossal Buddha here.  

 

    • Wat Trapang Thong

Sitting next to the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is Wat Trapang Thong. To get there, you can cross the footbridge along the pond sprinkled with lotus flowers.   This pond was the original site if the famous Loi Krathong Festival of Thailand.  

    • Wat Sorasak

The picturesque chedi here is fringed by 24 guardian elephants.

 

NORTHERN ZONE OF SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK

Opening Hours: Daily 6:30 AM – 5:30 PM

Entrance Fee: ฿100  – ₱156 ($3, SGD 4, MYR 13, € 3, AUD 5, ₩3.7K)

As you might have surmised, the Northern Zone is located at the north side of Old Sukhothai, best to go here by bicycle.

 

sukhothai temples

    • Wat Si Chum

What makes Wat Si Chum unique is its hidden Buddha image. This brick-and-stucco seated Buddha is believed to be the ‘Phra Atchana’ cited in the Ramkhamhaeng writing. Inscribed on the ceiling here are Jataka inscriptions.

    • Wat Phra Phai Luang

This massive, isolated  Khmer-style temple is believed to have been the center if Sukhothai during the Khemr rule before the 13th century.

 

WESTERN ZONE OF SUKHOTHAI HISTORICAL PARK

  •  Opening Hours: Daily 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM
  • Entrance Fee: ฿100  – ₱156 ($3, SGD 4, MYR 13, € 3, AUD 5, ₩3.7K)

 

SUKHOTHAI ITINERARY : TEMPLE HOPPING

 

    • Wat Saphan Hin

I was excited to see Wat Saphan Hin, because the staff at my guesthouse happily told me that this has the best view of the Sukhothai ruins. He even drew me a map. But unfortunately, I had a hard time looking for this temple while biking, I ended up reaching a wrong hill. It was eerie and I almost fell, and there’s no one around.  That time I was still use to traveling without a mobile phone, much more internet. Yes, I was pretty old school. LOL

Anyway, Wat Saphan Hin, which means ‘stone bridge’ is blissfully standing on a hill overlooking the Sukhothai ruins and the forest-fringed massif.  Unlike most well-preserved temples in  Sukhthoi though, what is left of Wat Saphan Hin now are a few chedis  and 2 laterite columns leading to the over 12 meter high standing Buddha.

 

 

2.EAT AT THE CULTURAL MARKET

 
SUKHOTHAI TRAVEL GUIDE: LOCAL MARKET

If you are visiting Sukhothai over the weekend, check out the night market at Jarot Withithong before the bridge to the New Sukhothai. You can also try eating at the market inside the Central Zone, beside the King Ram Khanhaeng Monument. This is where I had lunch, I tried the local food and drinks being served here. Plus, it’s nice to dine while watching the historic ruins right in front of you.

 

 

 3.SIDETRIP TO SIT SACHANALAI OR KAMPAHENG PET

 

  • Opening Hours: Daily 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Entrance Fee: ฿100  – ₱156 ($3, SGD 4, MYR 13, € 3, AUD 5, ₩3.7K) each zone
  • Bike rental: ฿30 – ₱46 ($0.92, SGD 1.31, MYR 4, €0.85, AUD 1.46, ₩1,127)

 

While most tourists head to Sukhothai, there are 2 equally enchanting historic towns that is closely related to Sukhothai and inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Kamphaeng Phet and Si Satchanalai. I missed Kamphaeng Phet because I didn’t have enough time, but if you’re curious about this off-the-radar town,  it served as Siam’s military resistance in the olden days.

 

pjimage (2)

 

Meanwhile, Si Satchanalai district that means ‘City of Good People’ is home to Si Satchanalai Historical Park and Chaliang.  The historic park was founded in 1250 as the 2nd center of the Sukhothai Kingdom. This is the spiritual center of the empire and it’s where the Crown Prince of the 13th and 14th century lived.

Just like Sukhothai Historical Park, Si Satchanalai Historical Park is dappled with impressive, beautifully-preserved temples that are accentuated with elaborate stucco-reliefs and multi-faceted stupa built from tangerine-colored bricks. A peaceful traditional Thai village is sandwiched in the olden squares where locals sell antiques, pots, porcelain jars, and Buddha images. In fact, from the 4th to 6th century, Si Satchanalai was a key producer of ceramics and Celadon being exported around Asia. This is why you can still find ruins of ancient kiln at Baan Koh Noi near Si Satchanalai Historical Park. The distinct pottery produced by the kilns here referred to as ‘Sangkhalok kilns” is said to be the oldest in Thailand.  I’ll blog a separate Si Satchanalai travel guide.

 

SUKHOTHAI TRAVEL GUIDE: SI SATCHANALAI

How to get to Si Satchanalai Historical Park:

 From Sukhothai bus terminal, take a bus to Si Satchanalai. Tell the driver to drop you off at the old city (meuanggow). Bus fare is ฿100  – ₱156 ($3, SGD 4, MYR 13, € 3, AUD 5, ₩3.7K) and travel time is 1.5 hours. Buses depart hourly from 6:40 AM to 6:00 PM.


SUKHOTHAI ITINERARY


 

Here’s a sample  DIY Sukhothai itinerary for 2 – 4 days with sample budget. Feel free to modify it depending on your preferences, schedule, and budget.

Take note that the sample expenses below doesn’t include transportation from your home country, drinks, souvenirs, and hotel.

sukhothai itinerary

DAY 1ARRIVAL IN SUKHOTHAI
08:00 AMETD Mochit Terminal Bangkok. (฿378 – ₱592)
03:00 PMETA Sukhothai Bus Terminal
03:15 PMTuktuk to hotel/guesthouse. (฿50 – ₱78)
03:45 PMHotel check-in. Freshen up. Rest.
07:00 PMDinner at night market. (฿150 – ₱235)
08:30 PMBack to hotel. Sleep.
Day 1 Expenses฿578  – 905 ($18, SGD 25, MYR 78, €16, AUD 28, ₩22K)
DAY 2SUKHOTHAI TOUR
07:00 AMSongthaew (blue bus) to Sukhothai Historical Park. (฿20 – ₱31)
07:30 AMETA Sukhothai Historical Park.
Rent bike.  (฿30 – ₱46)
Pay admission to the 3 zones  ฿100  – ₱156 each = (฿300  – 470)
Pay bike parking fee ฿10 – ₱16 x 3 zones = (฿30 – ₱46)
Ramkhamhaeng National Museum – (฿150 – 234) 
08:00 AMTour Central Zone:
Wat Mahathat, Wat Si Sa Wai, Wat Sa Si, Wat Trapang Throng
Ramkhamhaeng National Museum
11:30 AMLunch (฿200 – 313
01:00 AMTour Northern Zone: Wat Si Chum, Wat Phra Phai Luang
Tour  Western Zone: Wat Saphan Hin
04:30 PMEnd of Tour. Return bike.
Ride songthaew (blue bus) back to New Sukhothai
05:30 PMETA hotel. Freshen up. Rest
07:00 PMDinner. (฿150 – ₱235)
08:30 PMSleep.
Day 2 Expenses฿880  – 1,375 ($27, SGD 39, MYR 119, €25, AUD 43, ₩33.5K)
TOTAL EXPENSES฿1,458  – 2,280 ($45, SGD 64, MYR 197, €41, AUD 71, ₩55.5K)

 

If you still have an extra 1-2 days in Sukhothai, you can add the following to your Sukhothai itinerary for day 3 and day 4 – a visit to the Si Satchanalai Historic Park in Si Satchanalai, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is about 1.5 hours away from Sukhothai by bus.

 

DAY 3SI SATCHANALAI/ DEPARTURE
08:00 AMTake songthaew to Sukhothai Bus Terminal. (฿10 – ₱16)
08:30 AMTake bus to Si Satchanalai.  (฿100  – 156)
10:00 AMETA Si Satchanalai Historical Park.
Rent bike.  (฿30 – ₱46)
Inner City Zone – (฿100  – 156)
12:00 PMLunch. (฿150 – ₱235)
01:00 PMEastern Zone (฿100  – 156)
Kilns of pottery
04:00 PMBus back to Sukhothai (฿100  – 156)
05:30 PMETA Sukhothai Bus Terminal
05:45 PMTuktuk to hotel/guesthouse. (฿50 – ₱78)
06:00 PMHotel. Freshen up.
07:00 PMDinner. (฿150 – ₱235)
08:30 PMBack to hotel. Pack bag.
09:30 PMLights out.
Day 3 Expenses฿790  – 999 ($24, SGD 35, MYR 107, €23, AUD 39, ₩30.1K)
DAY 4DEPARTURE
08:00 AMHotel check out.
08:30 AMTuktuk to Sukhothai bus terminal. (฿50 – ₱78)
Bus back to Bangkok or next destination. (฿378 – ₱592)
Day 4 Expenses฿428  – 670 ($13, SGD 19, MYR 58, €12, AUD 21, ₩16.3K)
TOTAL EXPENSES฿1,2181,669 ($37, SGD 54, MYR 165, €76, AUD 60, ₩46.4K)

 

If you will follow the 4 day Sukhothai itinerary above, it should cost you roughly ฿2,676 3,949 ($82, SGD 118, MYR 362, €117, AUD 131, ₩101.9K)

 

 


SUKHOTHAI TRAVEL TIPS AND REMINDERS


 

  • While most temples in Thailand have dress code (e.g. no showing of shoulders and knees), Sukhothai Historical Park doesn’t seem to be strict.  But still, please dress appropriately, respect the local customs.  Avoid wearing shorts and sleeveless tops as this is a sacred site for the Thais.
  • It can get pretty hot when exploring Sukhothai, especially during summer. Wear light and comfortable clothes.  Since you’ll be biking and walking a lot, wear comfy shoes as well.
  • Keep yourself hydrated, bring refillable water bottle.
  • Hire a bike when exploring Sukhothai Historical Park and Si Satchanalai Park to maximize you time.
  • If you have the luxury of time, I recommend exploring Si Satchanalai, I enjoyed biking there.

sukhothai travel guide and travel tips


 

ALSO READ:

BANGKOK TRAVEL GUIDE

BANGKOK ITINERARIES

KANCHANABURI TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

HUA HIN THINGS TO DO

SAMUT SONGKHRAM THINGS TO DO 

 

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