Sukhothai was the first capital of the kingdom of Siam and is another UNESCO World Heritage site I want to tick off my bucket list. The historic park is located a few miles from the new city, and almost half a day of travel from Bangkok. Despite the quite long journey to Sukhothai, the travel was worth it because I had a lovely time exploring the old and the new.
Sukhothai is seven hours by train from Bangkok. The travel time could be lesser if you go by private van and maybe even by bus, more so when you travel by plane as it would only take an hour and a half to get there. We preferred the train, and took the seven-hour journey to Sukhothai, which started at 8:30 AM in Bangkok and ended at 4:00 PM in our guesthouse in the old city of Sukhothai.
Late Afternoon (Early Dinner)
After settling in at our room at the Vieng Tawan Guesthouse, we went out to get some food because, while our free lunch on the train was delicious, we were not able to finish all of it because it was too spicy for us. I love the cleanliness of old Sukhothai. It was like a big resort. After several minutes of very slow walking, we found ourselves sitting at a table for two at the Sukhothai Kitchen. It was empty but the restaurant was quite lovely because there was a pond at its back. Joel ordered a pork stir-fry dish while I ordered something Western, pork chop. The meal was satisfying. I paid 189baht for my meal, and, frankly, it was the most expensive and probably the least delicious meal I had during our time in Thailand.
Evening (Saturday Night Market)
We saw one of the staff of Sukhothai Kitchen bringing a brown bag and I just knew it was food. So I asked if there was a market nearby. They pointed out to the opposite direction, and, lo and behold, there was a night market that sold fresh produce, cooked food, drinks, pastries, and clothes, at very cheap prices. I was still full from the pork chop meal but I bought myself a huge bag of iced coffee (bag because the plastic container was placed inside a huge brown bag) and three pieces of fried dough. My brother bought this in Bangkok and it was crispy and delicious, but the Sukhothai wasn’t. Only 5baht for 3 pieces though. The shoppinggera in me could not help but check out the stalls selling fast fashion. The tops were sold starting at 100baht only! But I held myself because I don’t want to carry a heavier bag when we move to our next destination. The night market was small and I toured everything in less than an hour, stopping at each stall, but it started raining and so we hurried to our guesthouse to rest. P.S. The night market happens only every Saturday.
Morning (Historical Park Tour)
We had breakfast inside our guesthouse room on Sunday. We were being thrifty and we also still had food and we cannot waste them. We planned our Sunday morning to be spent exploring the Sukhothai historical park. After eating breakfast (just coffee, bread, and scones), we walked a kilometer to the entrance of the park and bought tickets. We were contemplating on paying for a tram ride but we decided to check out the bicycle shops to see if they rent out a bike with a back seat. And, luckily, they had one. We paid 30 baht for eight hours use of the bicycle.
Touring Around Main Park
If it was not a Sunday, we would have first stopped by the Ramkhamkhaeng National Museum. Instead, we just drove the bike around the park without any map. We first visited Wat Mahathat, probably the most photographed ruin in the park (possibly because it is the first ruin the tourist can visit as it is the one nearest the gate). We then moved on to Wat Si Sawai, another wat whose design is heavily influenced by Khmer design. Then we moved on to Wat Sa Si and spent a few minutes looking at Spanish-speaking tourists taking selfies by the moat. These are all inside one zone and we paid an entrance fee of 100THB.
Honestly, biking around the park with my husband was probably one of the happiest days of my life. We did not follow any route for our DIY tour of Sukhothai’s historic park, we just went to where we thought there were not so many people.
Touring Outside the Main Park
There are other structures and ruins outside of the main park, and we decided to check the one closest to the main park. We got a little lost and ended up in a small community. Thankfully, despite not understanding each other’s language, Joel and I were headed to the right track. We only stopped at Wat Phra Phai Luang, the former center of the Sukhothai kingdom. The structure is also heavily influenced by the Khmers because they once ruled the kingdom. Wat Phra Phai Luang is located in another zone and we paid another 100THB to enter this zone.
Lunch (History Cafe & Guesthouse)
We ended our bike tour just in time for an early lunch. We were famished! But first, we got refreshments at a small stall near the bike rental shop. The very cold Italian soda and Lay’s barbecue (100THB in all) was sooo good! We walked outside of the park, along the many restaurants, and opted to eat at a quaint restaurant/guesthouse called The History Cafe & Guesthouse. I ordered morning glory with pork, fried spring rolls, and a water (102THB in all). Maybe we’ll stay there next time as it was walking distance to the park.
We spent the most of the afternoon lounging in bed because it was drizzling. If it was a hot afternoon, we would have spent it at Vieng Tawan’s swimming pool. If you keen, there is still one group of ruins outside of the main Sukhothai park and I would have loved to explore that except we thought it was too far for biking.
We rode the bike once again to the park to return it. On the way, we walked slow to take photos of the old provincial capitol. We then explored Wat Tra Phang Tong (the first structure you see surrounded by a moat before the main entrance) and listened to monks do their prayers. We walked around their wet and dry market, and the main street once again looking for dinner. I settled on a dinner with battered shrimps and vegetables, and a glass of iced cola (200THB in all) because we were walking back and forth just to find dinner.
Back to Bangkok or proceed to Chiang Mai?
On Sunday, you can take the midnight train from Phitsanulok back to Bangkok or the midnight train to Chiang Mai. We opted to stay in Sukhothai until Monday morning and took the midnight train from Phitsanulok to Chiang Mai on that day. We just reversed our journey to Sukhothai itinerary to get back to Phitsanulok.
There are still other zones in the Sukhothai historical park and if we had one more day, we would have visited them. Alas, we have decided to just spend a weekend in the resort that was Sukhothai.