Wat Mahathat
Wat Sorasak
Wat Sorasak
Sukhothai, an ancient Thai capital founded in 1238, is now an UNESCO heritage site that's 427 km north of Bangkok. A day or two here would probably be enough time to see most points of interests - a worthwhile day trip to the amazing Si Satchanalai Historical Park 55 km north could be done by bus from the Sukhothai Bus Station, where you can also catch the bus to Bangkok or Chiang Mai.

Sukhothai Historical Park, dotted with ponds and trees, is quiet with not too many tourists. I thought it's more impressive than Ayutthaya but less to explore than Angkor. Unlike more touristy places around Thailand, you won't find travel agencies selling tour packages in Sukhothai.
How to get from Bangkok to Sukhothai by bus
It took us nearly 9 hours by bus from Bangkok to Sukothai because of a lightening storm, but it normally should be just 7 hours. It's 358 baht for the bus ticket from Bangkok to Sukothai Bus Station plus a 5-minute 30-50 baht songtaew ride into New Sukothai.

Find out how to get to Sukhothai from Bangkok Bus Station! At Sukothai Bus Station, there are buses to other places, such as Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Si Satchanalai Historical Park, etc.

Old Sukhothai? New Sukhothai?   Where to stay...
Old Sukhothai
↑ Old Sukhothai

↑ Market in New Sukhothai
New Sukhothai
↑ Street food cart in New Sukhothai
Old Sukhothai is closer to the temple ruins (Sukhothai Historical Park) so you can just walk or cycle - there are some shops around. Restaurants here have English menus and Thai as well as Western food, mostly from 40-150 baht, not overly expensive. If you're only here for a day or two to see the temple ruins, you might as well stay in Old Sukhothai!

Travelfish shows a couple of places to stay although we found their description of New Sukhothai bizarrely inaccurate, as there really aren't that many food options and there isn't a whole lot going on.

New Sukhothai, a 5-minute 50-baht drive to the Sukhothai Bus Terminal, has local markets during the day and a small night market with only food vending carts selling many Thai dishes at 30-60 baht, some with English/picture menus.

There are some restaurants scattered around town — most are local, but there are a few restaurants with English menus with dishes mostly from 50-100 baht. For instance, to the west of the river down the street from 7-11, there's a small side street with a few guesthouses/restaurants — Pai serves decent food from 7:30 am to 9 pm and Chopper Bar opens until late but might have live music that's way too loud.

New Sukhothai is a small Thai city so not overly interesting. To get to Old Sukhothai, you need to take a 15-minute 30-baht bus ride (see blue bus stop icon on the map). The advantage of staying in New Sukhothai is that it's closer to the Sukhothai Bus Terminal if you want to catch a bus elsewhere (Bangkok / Chiang Mai / ...) or to see other sights bear Sukhothai, like Si Satchanalai Historical Park.

Accommodation : EZ House in New Sukhothai is a great and cheap place to stay!

Getting Around
Sukhothai bus

find out transportation fares !
New Sukhothai where buses from Bangkok arrive at, is 12 km east of Old Sukhothai (Sukhothai Historical Park) where all the temple ruins are.

To get to Old Sukhothai from New Sukhothai, go to the wooden pickup truck bus stop near the 7-11 west of Yom River on Charot Withithong Road (see blue bus stop icon on the map). It takes 15 minutes and costs 30 baht.

The buses enter through the east Kamphaeng Hak Gate and stop right by the ticket booth in the Central Zone of Sukhothai Historical Park, and that's also where the returning buses will be waiting. We were told the last returning bus is at 5:30 pm. Buses from Old Sukhothai stop at the Sukhothai Bus Terminal on the way back to New Sukhothai. There are buzzers on the bus so you can buzz whenever to get off along the way.

Alternatively, hail a tuk tuk — some where you can sit in the front!

Maps : free maps available around town
Sukhothai map
Around Sukhothai
Sights near Sukhothai
New Sukhothai

Old Sukhothai Map
Old Sukhothai (Sukhothai Historical Park)

Sukhothai Historical Park

There are nice paved roads that are mostly flat inside Sukhothai Historical Park and bicycle rental places nearby where you can rent bikes for 30 baht - a great way to get from temple to temple since traffic is light. Motorcycles can be rent for 200 baht.
There are 5 zones : Central (6:30 am - 8 pm)
North    (7:30 am - 5:30 pm)
West     (7:30 am - 5:30 pm)
East and South
It costs 100 baht to enter each zone, plus an additional 10 baht for a bicycle or 20 baht for a motorbike. For the Central Zone, you can get an audio guide for another 150 baht. Temples in the East and South zones are free. You can buy tickets at ticket booths by the entrance of each zone.

It takes less than half a day to explore the Central Zone, an area that's 1.3 km x 1.8 km inside the already crumbled and barely visible City Walls. It takes another couple of hours to cycle through and explore the temple ruins outside the City Walls, where there are even fewer tourists.

Points of interest are clearly signposted in English. There may be many temples labelled on the map, but most of the ruins are just the foundation with crumbled columns or broken pagodas. Make sure you have enough water on you as it's harder to find shops outside the City Walls and it's incredibly hot to cycle in the sun.

Rent a bike for 30 baht

Signs in English!

Shops inside the City Walls
Sukhothai Festivals
Annual Festivals

Sukhothai Historical Park's Central Zone

Wat Mahathat is the center piece, the largest with many brick chedi and columns, as well as big sitting and standing Buddha statues with kind faces.

Wat Si Sawai, south of Wat Mahathat, has 3 chedis with intricate carvings of Hindu images. Go behind to take a closer look at the cool carvings!

Wat Sa Si is a small temple northwest of Wat Mahathat, in the middle of a reservoir. Skip if you don't have a lot of time.

Wat Traphang Ngoen is across the lake from Wat Mahathat. Another small and lovely temple. Skip if you're pressed for time.

Sukhothai Historical Park's North Zone

Wat Si Chum has a gigantic sitting Buddha inside a square building.

Wat Phra Phai Luang contains temple ruins with statues without heads.

Sukhothai Historical Park's West Zone

Wat Chang Rob

Wat Saphan Hin is on a 200-meter mound that takes 5-minutes to go up. The top has a giant standing Buddha statue as well as a smaller sitting one, where you can get a view of the surrounding area.

← It's nice to cycle through the rest of the West Zone, which has mostly incomplete ruins in rubles. There are fields on the sides with mountains in the background as well as temple ruins on hills or by the road. Make sure you have enough water on you as there seems to be no vendors here.

a great day trip to nearby temple ruins
If you're already in Sukhothai, don't miss Si Satchanalai Historical Park an hour north. We had never heard it before, but were very impressed by this hidden gem!