A Few Days in Historic Sukhothai, Thailand

hist_suk1It’s hot on Thailand, ‘Thailand hot’ really. This is the way it always is during April, right before the water festival. In Chiang Mai yesterday it was 102, with little breeze, and just a sprinkling of rain. We’re bored. It’s too hot to do much beside go out and hunt down some good A/C, where we can eat, or just sip a cool beverage…

“Let’s go to Sukhothai” Joy said. “OK,” I replied, anything is better than this hell on earth, dry dusty, and rainless Chiang Mai.

Yesterday in Sukhothai it was 103, and it was just as dusty and uncomfortable, but we were there to ‘see’ something, the historic town of Sukhothai and its ruins. It’s a smaller version of Angkor Wat (can I say that?), but it’s still pretty cool and worth a half day on a motorbike driving around the various temples.

Buses leave a few times a day–but don’t expect luxury VIP types with plum seats and videos, an ordinary bus will do just fine. It’s a straight shot, and in five hours you are there.

…Sukhothai was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries. It has a number of fine monuments, illustrating the beginnings of Thai architecture. The great civilization which evolved in the Kingdom of Sukhothai absorbed numerous influences and ancient local traditions; the rapid assimilation of all these elements forged what is known as the ‘Sukhothai style’…

suk hist 3The nice thing about the historic park is you can take your own transportation, though expect to pay more to bring a car or motorbike into the park. The park itself is fairly small, but walking in the heat isn’t practical and your life is always easier on a push bike or a small motorbike. I enjoyed the park and there are explanations of how the structures looked when they were first built. It gave you the feel of how the people lived.

Is it worth it? Sure, if you’re interested in ancient cultures, architecture, or just curious about how people lived a long time ago. The park is laid out nice, and there are trees for shade and lakes to sit by, and plenty of places to grab a cold drink.

The park is affordable, but expect to pay more as a foreigner, and also to pay for your car or motorbike. The price is 100 Baht for a foreigner and 20 Baht for your transport. You can also rent a push bike before you enter the park.

suk_hist 4In the new city of Sukhothai there isn’t much to do or see, though there are a few good restaurants. Pai Sukhothai, located near a row of affordable guesthouse is clean and quite modern. They serve good food at affordable (though not cheap) prices. Another option is Rom Pho near the market in the center of the city. It is popular with Thai’s and serves good Thai food at fairly good prices. I recommend the curry crab which I don’t see that often, especially so far from the beach. It’s a lively place and has outdoor and indoor seating.

There are several good guesthouse option located close to the bridge off a small quiet Soi. We stayed at the TR Guesthouse which was very clean and well managed. You can choose between a room or bungalow, and the staff are helpful, efficient, and speak very good English. They also have a good breakfast and excellent coffee. The Ban Thai is another good option about 40 meters down the street, as well as the Pai Sukhothai which has room as well.

suk_hist 2Sukhothai is about a 5 hour bus ride from Chiang Mai, and an equal distance from Bangkok. So if you are heading to Chiang Mai from the south or the capital stop by and spend a few days roaming around the temple complex. I’d say 2 days is enough time, or perhaps 3 during the cool season or during festival time.

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