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How To Visit Sukhothai – Thailand’s Ancient Capital City


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Ronna Crowley



Welcome to Sukhothai – a hidden gem and the ancient capital of Thailand. Nestled in the heart of the country, Sukhothai offers a unique glimpse into Thailand’s rich history and cultural heritage. Steeped in architectural wonders, serene landscapes, and a peaceful atmosphere, this city is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and travelers seeking an authentic Thai experience.


Sukhothai, which means “Dawn of Happiness,” was the capital of the Kingdom of Sukhothai from the 13th to the 15th century. During this time, it flourished as a center for art, religion, and trade, leaving behind a legacy of magnificent temples and ruins. Today, Sukhothai has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, attracting visitors from around the globe.


Getting to Sukhothai is a breeze, with convenient transportation options available. Whether you choose to arrive by plane, train, or bus, you’ll find yourself immersed in the beauty and tranquility of this charming city in no time.


Once you’ve arrived, finding suitable accommodation is easy thanks to the wide range of options available. From budget hostels to luxurious resorts, Sukhothai caters to all types of travelers. Whether you prefer a traditional Thai-style guesthouse or a modern hotel, you’ll find comfort and convenience during your stay.


The main attraction in Sukhothai is the Sukhothai Historical Park, which is divided into three zones: the Central, Northern, and Western zones. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the well-preserved temples, Buddha statues, and ancient structures that tell the story of Sukhothai’s glorious past. Renting a bicycle or hiring a guide are popular choices for navigating the park and fully immersing yourself in its historical significance.


While the Sukhothai Historical Park is undoubtedly the highlight of your visit, there are other intriguing attractions worth exploring. Wat Si Chum, known for its magnificent seated Buddha statue, and Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, which houses a collection of artifacts and exhibits, offer further insights into Sukhothai’s history and culture.


No trip to Sukhothai is complete without indulging in the city’s culinary delights. From street food vendors to riverside restaurants, Sukhothai offers a variety of dishes that will tantalize your taste buds. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor local specialties such as Sukhothai noodle soup, grilled pork skewers, and refreshing Thai iced tea.


For those who enjoy shopping, Sukhothai has traditional markets where you can find handmade crafts, souvenirs, and local products. The city’s Weekend Night Market is a vibrant hub filled with stalls selling everything from clothing and accessories to street food and live performances. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture and take home a piece of Sukhothai with you.


Before you embark on your journey to Sukhothai, here are some essential tips to ensure a seamless and enjoyable visit. Don’t forget to pack comfortable shoes, lightweight clothing, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the hot weather. Keep in mind that Sukhothai is a sacred place, so dress modestly and show respect when visiting temples. Lastly, be sure to carry cash as credit cards may not be widely accepted.


With its rich historical significance, serene beauty, and authentic Thai experience, Sukhothai is a destination that will captivate your heart and leave you with incredible memories. Whether you’re a history buff or simply seeking a tranquil getaway, a visit to Sukhothai is an experience you won’t want to miss.


So, pack your bags, immerse yourself in the wonders of Sukhothai, and set off on a journey through time in Thailand’s ancient capital city.


Getting to Sukhothai

Getting to Sukhothai is relatively easy, thanks to its central location and accessible transportation options. Whether you prefer to travel by air, train, or bus, there are several convenient routes to reach this enchanting destination.


If you’re traveling from abroad or other parts of Thailand, flying to Sukhothai is a quick and convenient option. Sukhothai Airport (THS) is located just a short distance from the city center and is serviced by several domestic airlines. Direct flights from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) to Sukhothai are available daily, with a flight duration of approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.


Another popular option is to take a train to Phitsanulok, which is the nearest major railway station to Sukhothai. Trains from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Station to Phitsanulok are frequent and offer a comfortable and scenic journey. From Phitsanulok, you can easily take a bus or a taxi to Sukhothai, which is approximately a one-hour drive away.


If you prefer a more budget-friendly option, buses are a great way to reach Sukhothai. Several bus companies operate daily routes from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) to Sukhothai. The journey takes approximately 6 to 7 hours, depending on traffic conditions. Buses are equipped with air-conditioning and comfortable seating, providing a pleasant travel experience.


Once you’ve arrived in Sukhothai, getting around the city and its surrounding areas is relatively straightforward. Tuk-tuks and taxis are readily available, offering convenient transportation options for exploring the city. Additionally, renting a bicycle or a motorcycle is a popular choice for touring Sukhothai Historic Park, allowing you to navigate the park at your own pace and enjoy the picturesque surroundings.


It’s important to note that transportation schedules and availability may vary, particularly during peak travel seasons. It’s advisable to check for the most up-to-date information and make necessary reservations in advance to ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey.


Whether you’re arriving by air, train, or bus, the journey to Sukhothai is well worth the effort. As you approach the city, you’ll be greeted by its serene beauty and historical charm, setting the stage for an unforgettable adventure through Thailand’s ancient capital.


Where to Stay in Sukhothai

When it comes to accommodation, Sukhothai offers a range of options to suit every traveler’s preferences and budget. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious resort experience or a cozy guesthouse, you’ll find a variety of choices that provide comfort, convenience, and a taste of local hospitality.


If you’re seeking a luxurious and indulgent stay, there are several upscale resorts and boutique hotels in Sukhothai that offer an array of amenities and services. These establishments are often situated amidst lush greenery, providing a tranquil and serene environment. Many of these resorts boast beautiful swimming pools, spa facilities, and on-site restaurants offering delectable Thai and international cuisines. Staying in a luxury resort allows you to relax and unwind in style while immersing yourself in the beauty and tranquility of Sukhothai.


For those on a tighter budget, Sukhothai also offers a range of affordable accommodations, including guesthouses, hostels, and budget hotels. These options are often located in close proximity to the city center and provide basic amenities to ensure a comfortable stay. Guesthouses and hostels allow you to connect with fellow travelers and experience a more communal atmosphere, while budget hotels offer a simple yet comfortable setting for your stay.


For a truly immersive experience, consider staying in a traditional Thai-style guesthouse. These charming establishments blend modern comforts with traditional aesthetics, featuring intricate woodwork, cultural decor, and serene gardens. Staying in a guesthouse allows you to embrace the local culture and experience the warmth and hospitality of the Thai people.


The choice of accommodation in Sukhothai also extends beyond the city center. If you prefer a more secluded and serene environment, there are several resorts and guesthouses located in the outskirts of Sukhothai. These accommodations provide a peaceful setting surrounded by nature, allowing you to escape the bustling city and truly unwind.


When selecting your accommodation, consider the location in relation to the attractions you plan to visit. Staying near the Sukhothai Historical Park offers convenient access to the main historical sites, while staying in the city center allows you to easily explore the local markets, restaurants, and other attractions.


Regardless of your choice, the accommodations in Sukhothai are known for their warm hospitality and friendly staff. Whether you’re seeking luxury or simplicity, you’ll find a place to rest and rejuvenate after a day of exploring the ancient capital city.


Remember to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to ensure availability and secure your preferred choice. With a wide range of options available, finding the perfect place to stay in Sukhothai is just a step closer to an incredible and memorable experience in Thailand’s ancient capital.


Exploring Sukhothai Historical Park

One of the main highlights of visiting Sukhothai is exploring the Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that showcases the fascinating remnants of the ancient capital. Spanning over 70 square kilometers, the park is divided into three zones: the Central, Northern, and Western zones, each containing a wealth of historical and architectural wonders.


The Central Zone is the heart of the Sukhothai Historical Park and is home to some of the most significant and well-preserved temples and structures. Here, you’ll find the iconic Wat Mahathat, which features a stunning central pagoda surrounded by elegant Buddha statues. Take a moment to admire the intricate details and ancient sculptures that adorn the temple complex. Nearby, you’ll also find Wat Si Sawai, a unique Khmer-style temple that showcases the influence of the neighboring Angkor Empire.


The Northern Zone offers a peaceful and serene atmosphere, with fewer crowds and an abundance of ancient ruins. Explore the remnants of temples such as Wat Phra Phai Luang and Wat Phra Pai Luang, which offer a glimpse into the architectural grandeur of Sukhothai’s heyday. Don’t miss Wat Chetuphon, known for its impressive standing Buddha statue and intricate bas-reliefs.


The Western Zone, situated outside the old city walls, features fewer ruins but offers a different perspective of Sukhothai’s history. Here, you’ll find Wat Chedi Ngam, a towering, gold-topped pagoda that provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Take a leisurely walk along the trails and immerse yourself in the serene ambience as you marvel at the remnants of ancient structures.


Exploring the Sukhothai Historical Park can be done on foot, but for a more immersive experience, consider renting a bicycle or hiring a guide. Bicycles are available for rent at numerous shops near the park entrance and offer a convenient and enjoyable way to navigate the vast grounds. Cycling along the paths, surrounded by ancient temples and picturesque landscapes, allows you to fully appreciate the magnificence of Sukhothai’s historical sites.


A knowledgeable guide can enhance your visit by providing insights into the history, architecture, and stories behind the temples and structures. They can also help navigate the park efficiently, ensuring that you don’t miss any significant highlights. Engaging with a guide allows you to gain a deeper understanding of Sukhothai’s rich heritage and immerse yourself in the narratives of the past.


As you explore the Sukhothai Historical Park, take your time to absorb the peaceful and tranquil atmosphere. Pause to admire the intricate carvings, statues, and architecture that reflect the skill and artistry of the ancient Sukhothai craftsmen. With its awe-inspiring structures, serene landscapes, and historical significance, the park offers a journey back in time and a glimpse into the majestic ancient capital of Sukhothai.


Other Attractions in Sukhothai

While the Sukhothai Historical Park takes center stage in Sukhothai, there are other captivating attractions in and around the city that are worth exploring. These sites offer unique experiences and provide further insights into the rich history, culture, and natural beauty of the area.


One notable attraction is Wat Si Chum, located just outside the walls of the Sukhothai Historical Park. This temple is famous for its massive seated Buddha, known as Phra Achana, which is one of the largest in Thailand. The Buddha sits majestically within a beautifully adorned mandapa, creating a truly awe-inspiring sight. Climbing up to the top of the mandapa offers a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.


If you’re interested in delving deeper into Sukhothai’s history, a visit to the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is a must. The museum showcases a wide array of artifacts and exhibits, including ancient pottery, sculptures, and historical relics. The exhibits provide valuable insights into the daily life, culture, and artistry of the Sukhothai period, allowing visitors to further appreciate the significance and legacy of the ancient capital.


For those seeking a natural retreat, head to Sri Satchanalai National Park, located about 50 kilometers from Sukhothai. This park is home to beautiful landscapes, lush forests, and a variety of wildlife. Take a leisurely hike along the trails and discover ancient ruins nestled amidst the serenity of nature. The park also offers opportunities for camping, picnicking, and birdwatching, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.


Another intriguing site to visit is the Sangkhalok Museum, located in the village of Si Satchanalai. This museum showcases the ancient ceramic art of Sukhothai, featuring an impressive collection of delicate pottery and ceramics. You can learn about the traditional techniques used to create these exquisite pieces and even participate in pottery workshops to try your hand at this ancient craft.


For a taste of rural life, consider visiting the Ban Hat Siao Weaving Village. Here, you can witness the centuries-old tradition of silk weaving, as skilled artisans create intricate patterns and designs using traditional looms. Take the opportunity to observe the weaving process, learn about the history and significance of Thai silk, and even purchase one-of-a-kind handcrafted textiles as souvenirs.


Additionally, Sukhothai offers a range of festivals throughout the year, which provide a glimpse into the vibrant local culture. One such event is the Loy Krathong Festival, where locals launch beautifully decorated floating baskets called “krathongs” onto the rivers or lakes to pay respect to the water goddess. The festival features dazzling displays of lights, traditional music and dance performances, and a lively atmosphere that is not to be missed.


With its diverse array of attractions, Sukhothai offers a well-rounded experience beyond its historical park. From stunning temples and museums to natural landscapes and cultural experiences, these attractions provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of the beauty and legacy of Sukhothai.


Food and Dining in Sukhothai

When it comes to food and dining, Sukhothai offers a delightful culinary experience that will tantalize your taste buds. Known for its unique flavors and traditional Thai cuisine, the city boasts a variety of dishes that showcase the region’s distinct culinary heritage.


One must-try dish in Sukhothai is the famous Sukhothai Noodle Soup, known locally as “Kuay Teow Sukhothai.” This dish features thin rice noodles cooked in a flavorful broth, topped with tender slices of roast pork, bean sprouts, green onions, and aromatic herbs. The soup is typically accompanied by a side of chili sauce and pickled vegetables, adding a zesty and tangy kick to the dish. Be sure to savor a steaming bowl of this iconic dish for a true taste of Sukhothai.


Grilled pork skewers, or “Moo Ping,” are another popular street food delicacy in Sukhothai. Marinated in a sweet and savory sauce, the tender and juicy pork is grilled to perfection, resulting in a flavorful and satisfying treat. These skewers are often served with sticky rice and a tangy dipping sauce, creating a delightful combination of flavors and textures.


Sukhothai is also renowned for its refreshing traditional drinks, such as Thai Iced Tea. This vibrant orange-hued beverage is made by brewing black tea leaves with spices such as star anise and cloves, then sweetened with condensed milk before being poured over ice. The result is a creamy and slightly sweet drink that provides a perfect respite from the tropical heat.


If you’re looking for a sit-down dining experience, Sukhothai offers a range of riverside restaurants and local eateries where you can savor a variety of Thai dishes. From hot and spicy curries to fragrant stir-fried dishes and aromatic soups, the diverse menu options cater to different palates and dietary preferences.


For seafood lovers, head to the local markets or seafood restaurants in Sukhothai to indulge in an array of fresh catches. From succulent grilled river prawns to spicy seafood salads and steamed fish dishes, you’ll find a delicious assortment of seafood specialties that highlight the region’s bountiful waters.


For a truly unique dining experience, consider attending a Sukhothai cooking class. These classes provide an opportunity to learn about traditional Thai cooking techniques, ingredients, and flavors. You’ll have a chance to prepare and savor authentic Sukhothai dishes under the guidance of experienced local chefs, allowing you to bring the taste of Sukhothai back home with you.


Don’t forget to explore the local markets and night bazaars, where you can sample a variety of street food offerings and snacks. From savory fried spring rolls and crispy wontons to flavorful grilled meats and sweet treats, these markets offer a feast for the senses and a chance to immerse yourself in the vibrant street food culture of Sukhothai.


Whether you’re indulging in Sukhothai’s iconic noodle soup, savoring street food delights, or dining in a riverside restaurant, the food in Sukhothai is sure to leave a lasting impression. Prepare yourself for a culinary journey through the flavors, spices, and aromas that define the unique gastronomic scene of this ancient capital.


Shopping in Sukhothai

Exploring the local markets and shopping for unique souvenirs is an essential part of any travel experience, and Sukhothai offers plenty of opportunities to indulge in retail therapy. From traditional handicrafts to local products, the city’s shopping scene is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.


One of the best places to shop in Sukhothai is the Weekend Night Market, which comes alive every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening. Here, you’ll find a bustling atmosphere filled with vendors selling a wide range of items. From clothing, accessories, and handicrafts to delicious street food and live performances, the market offers a true taste of Sukhothai’s vibrant local culture.


The Weekend Night Market is the perfect place to pick up unique souvenirs to remember your trip to Sukhothai. Handmade crafts, traditional textiles, and intricately designed pottery can be found at various stalls. Take your time to browse through the offerings and support local artisans by purchasing their beautiful creations.


If you’re interested in Sukhothai’s famous ceramics, a visit to the Sangkhalok Museum is a must. The museum showcases a stunning collection of delicate pottery and ceramics, including replicas of the ancient Sangkhalok ceramics that date back to the Sukhothai era. The museum also has a shop where you can purchase authentic ceramics, allowing you to bring a piece of Sukhothai’s artistry and heritage home with you.


For food enthusiasts, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the local markets and food stalls. Sukhothai is famous for its delicious snacks and treats, such as Thai sweets, dried fruits, and local snacks. These edible delights make for great souvenirs to share with friends and family.


Another popular shopping destination in Sukhothai is Ban Hat Siao Weaving Village. Here, you can witness the traditional craft of silk weaving and purchase exquisite handwoven textiles. From scarves and shawls to clothing and accessories, the village artisans produce intricate designs that showcase their skill and creativity. Take the opportunity to learn about the intricate weaving techniques and support the local community by purchasing their beautiful creations.


In addition to these specific shopping experiences, Sukhothai has numerous small shops and boutiques scattered throughout the city. These stores offer a variety of merchandise, including clothing, jewelry, home decor, and more, allowing you to find unique items that reflect the local aesthetics and style.


Remember to haggle and negotiate prices when shopping at local markets, as it is a common practice. Be respectful and polite, and enjoy the process of bargaining for the best deals on your desired items.


Whether you’re searching for unique handicrafts, traditional textiles, or delectable local treats, Sukhothai has something for everyone. Take the time to explore the markets, interact with local artisans, and immerse yourself in the vibrant shopping scene of this ancient capital.


Essential Tips for Visiting Sukhothai

Visiting Sukhothai, Thailand’s ancient capital, is an exciting and enriching experience. To ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip, here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

1. Dress modestly: Sukhothai is a sacred place with many temples and historical sites. It is important to dress respectfully, covering your shoulders, knees, and avoiding revealing attire. This shows respect for the local culture and customs. 2. Wear comfortable shoes: The Sukhothai Historical Park is spread over a large area, and you’ll be doing a lot of walking. It’s essential to wear comfortable shoes to explore the ruins and navigate the park easily. 3. Stay hydrated: The weather in Sukhothai can get quite hot, especially during the summer months. It’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. You can carry a reusable water bottle with you and refill it at water stations available in the park. 4. Protect yourself from the sun: The Thai sun can be intense, so it’s crucial to protect yourself from sunburn and heatstroke. Wear a hat, apply sunscreen regularly, and consider carrying an umbrella or wearing light, breathable clothing to shield yourself from the sun’s rays. 5. Bring insect repellent: Sukhothai is surrounded by nature, and mosquitoes and other insects can be present. To avoid pesky bites, apply insect repellent, particularly during sunrise and sunset when mosquitoes are more active. 6. Respect the historical sites: The Sukhothai Historical Park is filled with ancient ruins and temples. Respect the sites by not climbing on the structures, touching or removing any artifacts, or damaging the surroundings. It’s crucial to preserve these historical treasures for future generations. 7. Engage with local guides: To enhance your visit and gain a deeper understanding of Sukhothai’s history and culture, consider hiring a local guide. They can provide valuable insights, share intriguing stories, and help navigate the park more effectively. 8. Try local cuisine: Sukhothai offers a variety of delicious local dishes. Don’t miss the opportunity to try Sukhothai Noodle Soup, grilled pork skewers, Thai iced tea, and other regional specialties. Explore the local markets and street food stalls for an authentic culinary experience. 9. Carry cash: While some establishments in Sukhothai accept credit cards, it’s advisable to carry cash, especially when visiting local markets, food stalls, or smaller shops. Make sure to have enough Thai Baht for your expenses to avoid any inconvenience. 10. Be respectful and mindful: Finally, remember to be respectful of the local culture, customs, and people you encounter during your visit. Embrace the serene and peaceful atmosphere of Sukhothai, and take time to appreciate the historical significance and beauty of this ancient capital. By keeping these tips in mind, you can make the most of your visit to Sukhothai and create lifelong memories of this remarkable destination. Enjoy the rich history, cultural experiences, and warm hospitality that Sukhothai has to offer.



Visiting Sukhothai, Thailand’s ancient capital city, is an extraordinary journey through time and a chance to connect with the rich history and cultural heritage of the region. From exploring the magnificent ruins of the Sukhothai Historical Park to indulging in the flavors of traditional Thai cuisine, Sukhothai offers a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.


As you wander through the Sukhothai Historical Park, you’ll be transported back to the golden era of the Sukhothai Kingdom, marveling at the intricate architecture, ornate temples, and serene landscapes. The park takes you on a captivating journey through the rise and fall of one of Southeast Asia’s most significant ancient civilizations.


Outside of the historical park, Sukhothai continues to entice visitors with its unique attractions. Whether it’s exploring the fascinating exhibits at the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum, discovering ancient ceramics at the Sangkhalok Museum, or embarking on a cultural journey in the weaving villages, each experience provides a deeper understanding of Sukhothai’s heritage.


Delving into the culinary scene of Sukhothai is a true delight for food enthusiasts. From the iconic Sukhothai Noodle Soup to the flavorsome grilled pork skewers and refreshing Thai iced tea, your taste buds will be treated to an array of authentic dishes that represent the region’s distinct culinary identity.


Shopping in Sukhothai offers the opportunity to bring home unique souvenirs, whether it’s handicrafts, textiles, ceramics, or local products. The markets, bazaars, and weaving villages showcase the craftsmanship and artistry of the local communities, allowing you to support local artisans and take a piece of Sukhothai’s culture with you.


Remember to follow essential tips such as dressing modestly, staying hydrated, respecting historical sites, and engaging with local guides to make the most of your visit. By embracing the local culture and customs, you’ll immerse yourself fully in the serenity and beauty of Sukhothai.


In conclusion, Sukhothai is a destination that offers a perfect blend of ancient wonders, cultural experiences, and culinary delights. This hidden gem invites you to step back in time and explore the rich tapestry of Thailand’s history. So, pack your bags, embark on an adventure through time, and discover the captivating allure of Sukhothai, Thailand’s ancient capital city.