The ancient capital of Thailand Sukothai
No trip to Thailand is complete without visiting the humming capital city of Bangkok. Bangkok is one of my favorite cities in Asia and I could happily explore all the good sights and restaurants for the rest of my life. This post, however, is about Thailands equally magnificent first capital: Sukothai.
A little bit of history
Sukothai, the first capital of Thailand, was founded in 1238 AD. Sukothai – ‘ Dawn of happiness’ in Thai, was the capital until 1365 when the armies of the Ayutthaya kingdom invaded and forced the reigning king to submit to a new power. The capital was moved to Ayutthaya and so began the decline of Sukothai. In the 18th century, King Rama the first founded a new Sukothai about 12 kilometers from old Sukothai, and old Sukothai was completely abandoned.
Historical Sukkothai contains 193 ruins on 70 square kilometers of land. The historical park opened in 1988 and was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1991.
There are two districts within Sukothai: the modern city and old Sukkothai, which is also referred to as historical Sukkothai. Songthaews connects the new and old district and they leave from Jarot Withithong Road, near the Yom River on a regular basis from 06:30 to 18:00 every day. Expect to pay no more than 20 TBT for a one way ticket.
Due to its remote location Sukothai sees a lot less tourists than Ayutthaya. While both sites are definitely worth a visit, I have a soft spot for Sukothai. The ruins are surrounded by beautiful lakes and lush trees. I visited in January when the Jasmine trees were in bloom, giving off a sweet scent and making the blistering heat more tolerable.
1. Getting there :
A. Bus (from Chiangmai)
- Location: There are frequent busses from the Chiangmai Provincial Arcade Provincial. The station has busses leaving from both sides of the road. Go to the building that has signs for Bangkok outside. If all else fails, ask anyone at the counter and they will point you in the right direction.
- Length: The bus ride takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours ( depending on traffic).
- Price: Around 200 TBT for a second class bus.
- What to do upon arrival: Sukothai Bus Terminal. Once you arrive, you can catch a Tuk Tuk to your guesthouse. The Songthaew I took cost 100 TBT to new town. If you are going to the same location, try and share with fellow travelers as the price is set.
- Note there are also busses to Sukothai that depart from different locations in Thailand. They are not listed above.
B. Train: The nearest train station is in Phitsanulok, located 60 kilometres east of Sukhothai. From the train station you can catch a Tuk Tuk to the bus station where the Sukothai bound busses or minivans depart from.
C. Air (from Bangkok)
- Flights operated by Bangkok Airways.
- The airport is located about 30 km outside of New Sukothai
- Minibusses run between the airport and Sukothai for a price of 180 TBT.
2. Getting around:
Rent a bicycle and cruise around the ancient ruins. Bikes cost around 50 TBT for a full day and a 50 TBT deposit for the bike lock. There are plenty of bicycle renting places across from the entrance to the central section.
3. Entrance fees:
The historical site is split into three sections (central, north, west). Each section will charge you 100 TBT to enter and an additional 10 TBT if you want to bring in your rented bicycles.
4. What to see:
Central Zone: Wat Mahathat, Wat Sa Si, Wat Si Sawai,
Northern Zone: Wat Si Chum, Wat Phra Phai Luang, Wat Sorasak
Western Zone: Wat Saphan
5. Opening hours:
- Central zone is open Sun-Fri 06:30-19:00, Sat 06:30-21:00.
- Northern zone is open daily 07:30-17:30.
6. Additional activities:
- Evening Light Show at the historical park: Fri-Sat 19.00-20.00
- Walking Street Market in New Sukothai: Sat 17.00-21.00