Should Sukhothai be on your Thailand itinerary?
If you’re a bit of a history-buff, a temple lover or just looking to explore somewhere in Thailand that is often forgotten, then Sukhothai may be a city you need to add to your list.
Sukhothai was once the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam – the former name of Thailand. The heritage of this Kingdom is still distinctly visible through the city’s impressive collection of temples and ruins, which has also led it to becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site.
If the name Sukhothai rings a bell, it’s probably due to Sukhothai Historical Park, the main reason why most people visit the small city in northern Thailand.
While most people only stay here for 1 to 2 days on the way up north to Chiang Mai, you can easily spend up to 3 days exploring the grounds of the Historical Park, before even thinking about what else there is to do in Sukhothai. Although the Historical Park is the main attraction, Sukhothai is also a chance to escape from the busy backpacker trail and venture into expansive national parks, explore a city by bike or just soak up the city’s culture.
Sukhothai literally translates to dawn of happiness, need we say more?
Should you stay in Old Sukhothai or New Sukhothai?
When it comes to where to stay in Sukhothai, it really comes down to two locations. And when choosing between the two, the ‘right’ place to stay is completely subjective. Neither option is better than the other, it just depends on what you want to get out of the trip or your stay criteria.
In short, if the purpose of your stay is just to visit the Historical Park and you’re looking for tranquility, then maybe it’s best to stay in ‘Old’ Sukhothai. If you are looking for somewhere lively or budget places to stay, book your stay in ‘New’ Sukhothai.
Below we’ve included a whole host of vital information that can help you to make your decision.
Location #1: Old Sukhothai – right next to Sukhothai Historical Park
If you decided that the purpose of your trip was to visit Sukhothai Historical Park and aren’t that fussed about sticking around to see what else the city has to offer, then staying right outside the park may be your best choice.
You can rise with the sun and not worry about having to arrange transport to the park, saving yourself both time and money – something we all like to do.
There isn’t much on offer in this area though, a few restaurants and a small town to wander around. Who knows, peace and tranquillity might be exactly what you were looking for!
This area is also where you’ll find most of the more expensive and luxurious resorts, that really take relaxation to another level. Don’t worry though if you’re on a budget, there’s still affordable options here too.
|- You can jump straight out of bed into the Historical Park|
- Peace and tranquility
- More choice of luxury resorts
|- If you’re just visiting for a day, you have further to travel back to the bus terminal in the new city|
- Less choice of bars and restaurants
- Accommodation is slightly more expensive
Location #2: New Sukhothai – the newer area with more to do
Unless you’re living it up in one of the resorts where laying around the pool is absolute bliss, we’d recommend staying in the new city if you’re visiting for more than a few days. Why’s this? There’s not much to do in this area apart from the Historical Park, so you might find yourself getting a bit bored.
Whilst the newer part of Sukhothai still isn’t bursting with activities and amenities, it does offer slightly more than the area right next to the park. Here you’ll find a wider range of food options and even a bit of nightlife, as well as more guesthouses and homestays.
Although you can find cheap options than in the old part, the new city is where you’ll find the ones at the lowest price and the greatest choice. Staying here also offers greater convenience as it’s within close proximity to the main bus station, making day trips and moving onto your next destination that little bit easier.
The downside, it’s a 12km ride to the historical park meaning you’ll have to get up that little bit earlier if you do want to catch the sunrise. This is also time spent travelling that could instead be used to explore the ruins. However, there are frequent songthaews and tuk tuks which makes travelling between the two locations relatively easy.
|- Cheaper accommodation|
- Close to the bus terminal for your next destination
- More restaurants and nightlife
|- 12km away from the Historical part - more time and money spent getting there|
- Not as peaceful
How to travel between Old and New Sukhothai
Sukhothai isn’t a big city, so equally, there’s no need for an extensive transport network to get you from place to another.
If you wander the streets of New Sukhothai you’ll see most of the options available to you.
A samlor, a three-wheeled pedicab, will be able to take you to most places within New Sukhothai for no more than 40 baht. Or you could save yourself that small bit of money and walk to most places around the area.
When travelling between New and Old Sukhothai, one option is to jump one of the regular blue songthaew costing 30 baht which takes approximately 30 minutes. These songthaews are essentially Thailand’s form of a bus and run between 6am-5:30pm, giving you plenty of time to explore the Historical Park.
If you miss the songthaew, or you just want to travel on your own timetable, then you can hire a tuk tuk. A ride between the two will cost between 100-200 baht, which can be shared with 2-3 people.
Another option is to hire a motorbike for around 250-300 baht for the day. These can be hired from shops within the city or from most guesthouses.
How to get to Sukhothai
|Leaving from||Duration||Prices from||See details|
|Bangkok||1.5hrs-8.5hrs||330 THB-1,500 THB ($11-$50)||Bangkok to Sukhothai|
|Chiang Mai||5hrs-11.5hrs||300 THB-3,620 THB ($10-$120)||Chiang Mai to Sukhothai|
My favourite places to stay in Sukhothai
Located in Old Sukhothai just steps away from the Sukhothai Historical Park, this hostel is in an ideal location. There is a restaurant on-site and breakfast is included with your stay. Private rooms are equipped with private balconies overlooking the surrounding area. The hostel is very clean and the staff is extremely helpful.
- Perfect location
- Private balcony
- Breakfast included
- Clean and comfortable
Private room starts at $14 per night
Mango House is centrally located in Sukhothai, just a few minute’s walk to downtown New Sukhothai and a few meters from the bus to Old Sukhothai. Cool off in the outdoor swimming pool and enjoy the garden and terrace area for relaxing. A wonderful breakfast is included with your stay and hosts are exceptionally friendly and helpful.
- Ideal location
- Swimming pool
- Breakfast included
- Walking distance to shops and restaurants
Private rooms start at $25 per night
If you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, then be sure to check out the Scent of Sukhothai Resort. This resort offers a stunning garden and lovely outdoor swimming. Breakfast is included daily with your stay. Located near the Historical Park, you can easily ride your bike there or hop in a taxi for a short ride.
- Swimming pool
- Near Historical Park
- Outdoor garden area
- Breakfast included
Private rooms start at $43 per night