Thailand's North

SUKHOTHAI

Global Mark : 14.19 (up)    Top Ten : No6

Ratings by criteria : 

Charm Scenery Parks Culture Minor. Market Relax Fiesta 

Cost

AVER.
4 2 5 5 2 3 4 2 3 13.33

Ratings by backpackers :

Surveyed Liked  Comeback  Recommend  Range AVER.
21 100% 48% (10) 100% 10 to 20 15.05


Description : 
A new city to be used as a base to explore the great ruins of Thailand's first capital, plus more if affinity... 

Comments : Better than Ayathaya as more isolated from urbanism, this place however also see its flow of tourists. The good news is that visitors concentrate on the complex inside the wall (still worth seeing !). Bike out in the countryside or go to Si Satchanalai-Chaliang (46km away) for more isolation...

How to visit ? 

The main complex at old Sukhothai (Meuang Kao) is 12km from the new city, a 20mn ride on songthaew (B5, leaving on the west side of the river, 150m from the bridge). Entrance to the inside complex cost B40 plus B10 if you have a bike (can be rented in a lot of places for B20 and should come attached with a map of the area). You will definitively need one to explore the outside complex (additional B30). The so so museum cost B20. 

If you wish to save money, you could visit after the ticket office close at 4pm and enjoy the best light and sunset over the ruins. In the evening, tour operators sometimes organize dances for the tourists with candle lights. The last bus to new Sukhothai leaves at 6pm but it should be no problem to get a lift back.

If you crave for more ruins, visit Si Satchanalai-Chaliang Parks, 54 km away. Direct bus go there for B31 but you may have to take a bus to Sawankhalok (B13, 36 km, 45mn) and change there to a Si Satchanalai bus or songthaews (B8-B10, 17km, 20-30mn). The old city complex (muang kao) is 11km before the new city. You can either get off at the suspension bridge level (150m from the road, bikes for rent at B30) to visit impressive Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat (B10) or at the stone bridge level (road 1201) one km after where you can rent bikes for B20. The main old city complex inside walls (where you will also find bike for B20) is about 2km away on a pleasant road and cost B40 (plenty of ways to sneak in for free). Outside the wall, a couple of temples on the top of hills are also worth checking. The last bus back to Sukhothai is at around 5pm.

Note that it is also possible to buy a global ticket for 150 : old Sukhothai inside walls with bike (B50) + outside (B30) + museum (B20) + Si Satchanalai (B40) + Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat (B10). The only real interest is that the ticket is valid for one month. 

What you may not like : The crowd at old Sukhothai inside complex / Your bottom condition after a day on the bike / Not being able to tour Si Satchanalai on elephant any more

How long ? One day for Sukhothai plus one day for Si Satchanalai-Chaliang & other sights


Where to stay ?  Plenty of guesthouses in the new town. 

Hotels  << Get precise info, book online and save money !

Recommended places :

bullet Somprasong Guest House (055 611709), 32 Prawetnakon Rd, west side of the river, left just after the bridge. Sgl 80 / Dbl 120 / Dbl w. shower 150 or 180 / Bungalow w. AC 300 / Go there for the cheapest clean nice rooms in town / What you may not like : the aggressive mosquitoes from the nearby river.
bullet Banthai Guesthouse (055 610163), 38 Pravet Nakhon Rd, just after the above, a bit off the road / Small basic Dbl 120 / Go there for the cheap clean Dbl & the nice small garden.
bullet J & J Guesthouse (055 620095), 122/1 Soi Maeramphan, the road on the right of songthaews stand to old Sukhothai, west bank of town. A new place managed by a Belgium guy / Sgl 120, Dbl 150, Quad 180 / HW available / Bike 50 per day / English, French, Dutch & Thai spoken / Go there for the relative isolation, the clean & comfortable atmosphere, the infos about the sights / What you may not like : the small size (1 Sgl and 5 Dbl only)
bullet No4 Guesthouse (055 610165), 140/4 Khlong Maelampan, just after J & J but even more isolated inside the countryside / Sgl bungalow w. shower 150 / Dbl bungalow w. shower 180 / Cooking courses / Go there for the great quiet location, the charm of the traditional bungalows, the good facilities (drinking water, towel, washing basin, etc), the sunset view from your balcony,... / What you may not like : the proximity of each bungalow
bullet Lotus Village (055 621 463, lotusvil@yahoo.com ), 170 Ratchathanee St, East side of town next to river, 200m from main street / The nicest guesthouse in Sukhothai and one of the best of Thailand (teak everywhere including on cutleries !), run by a perfectionist and art-lover-collector French guy / Big Sgl 120 or 140 w. outside cold or hot shower / Superb teak Bungalows 450 or 500 w. attached HW shower, w. AC 800 / 5 stars hotel breakfast (real European coffee, freshly pressed orange, etc) 65 (European) or 80 (American) / Superb isolated garden / Art stuffed lobby with newspapers, magazines and books / English, French, German & Thai spoken / Go there to experience luxury at backpackers prices, as long as you respect the serenity of the place... / What you may not like : if the owner decide to raise the prices one day 

Also worth considering :

bullet Ninety-Nine Guesthouse (055 611315), 234/6 Soi Panichsan, 400m from bridge, road opposite Caltex Gas Station, 150m from No4 / Hot Dorm (3) 80 / Huge Dbl 150 / Managed by same family as No4 but not so pleasant isolation nor atmosphere.
bullet Friend House (055 610172), 52/7 Lerthai Rd, 500m from main road (turn left 150m after bridge and follow the signs) or via river bank road / Sgl 120 / Dbl 150 / HW / Table tennis table / Thai lessons 200 per hour (2 hours min)
bullet Yupa House (612578), 44/10 Thanon Charot Withithong, after Ban Thai on west river bank / Dorm (3 or 4) 50, Room 80 / Go there for the cheap dorm / This place is a bit dirty and you feel somehow more in a garage than a guesthouse. You are invited to place your shoes in a cage so that the dogs do not bite them...

 

Backpacker's Tips :  Olikier Alain, Belgium (Jan 06)
I agree TR guest house is very friendly, they come to pick for free at the bus station , and it is 30 bath to go to bus station.They have phone 055 611 663 Mobile is 04 04 99 445 and email is Guesthouse_tr@yahoo.com  

Backpacker's Tips :  Stephanie Panichelli & Cristian Batalla, Belgium & Spain (April 05)
We want to recommend you the TR Guesthouse of Sukhothai. Its very well situated near to the bus station and to the center of the city. The couple that owns the Guesthouse is very very friendly and will do everything to help you. They even bring you to the Bus Station for FREE when you leave the city. When you arrive at the bus station dont follow the first person that offers a guesthouse because they make you pay 40 baths (5 minutes!!!) for the transport to the city and you might not even like the guesthouse. We did that with one woman of the Garden House, but fortunately we first visited the TR guesthouse (it's just next to it) and we decided to stay there because the people were nicer, the price was lower and the bedroom was very good.  

Backpacker's Tips : Phil Mines, UK (Fev 05)
 
I found 3 guest houses in the old town. Two are opposite the museum near the front gate the 3rd around the back of the museum. Buses arriving from the north will pass the old town and will be able to drop you of if you ask them. Down a little Soi next to Vitoon guesthouse is the Old City. IMHO this is a gem of a place. Old teakhouse plus newer rooms ranging from B80 to possibly B300 (a/c, TV). Bikes to rent all around (Old City have their own). For eats you could do worse than the restaurant at the corner of the soi. There is also a night market which springs up about 400m towards the new town although I am not sure if it is every night.

Backpacker's Tips : Amtrak Amtrakker, Australia (April 03)  
 
There are several guest houses/hotels in old Sukothai near the ruins so saves having to stay 12km in the modern town. Stayed in friendly Old Village Inn for 150THB with fan, shared cold shower. There is a place further along with similar prices. The Thai Village Hotel is 700m east of the old town but pleasant with good restaurant. Singles/doubles/triples are 600/800/900THB.
Entrance to the inner courtyard costs 40THB (10THB extra for bike) and is open from dawn until 4.30p.m. They sell a 150THB ticket which gets you admittance to all the sites, north, south east and west of the inner city walls, there is only one manned ticket booth outside the city walls at the NW wat with the big Buddha. Best to go to Wat Mahathat and the inner city before 7a.m. when the tour groups descend. The temples on the slopes of the western hills are worth visiting. The museum is worth a visit and costs 30THB - it's open Tuesdays. Lots of bike shops where you can hire bikes for 20THB a day - mountain bikes not necessary.
Getting to Kamphaeng Phet from Old Sukothai requires a songthaew to govt bus station (10THB - half an hour) and is a smooth hours journey (40THB).

Backpacker's Tips : Oliver, UK (April 02)
 I'd disagree with your recommendations, Sukhothai Guesthouse is by far the best place to stay in the city and the best I experienced in Thailand. Just shows what gems lurk outside the guest book listings - I know the others you listed they're alright nothing outstanding. Many of my friends have stayed at the guesthouse too, simply known as Sukhothai Guesthouse and located about 5 mins walk from the city centre and run by a man they call Mr. Deng who is half Indian and a well-known local personality.


Where to eat ?
At the night market near the bus station in the town center.

Internet ? A dozen places in town charge B1 per mn, in particular CyberMilk at 2/5 Trichote Rd.

Other sights ?

Satchanalai Centre for Study & Preservation of Sangkalok Kilns (pottery), 2km north-west from the ruins
Wat Thanet (free, possible to participate to the monks life for a period of time), a very original modern Temple with a "learning garden" (a Buddhist idea of hell and karma punishment through tortured statues), 7km from new Sukhothai, on the way to the airport.

Backpacker's Tips : Andrew Curtis, New Zealand (Oct 08)
 
As mentioned in the intro, a great place to visit. Hire a moped and visit the sights outside the walls, very few people and many quiet places to relax. Grab some fresh fruit from the roadside stalls and have a picnic somewhere. Ban Thai GH was nice, obviously its in the lonely planet, good if you want a beer with travelers, not so good If you like it low key.

Backpacker's Tips : Kelley Turner, USA (April 06)
 
In Old Sukhothai, across the street from the historical site, eat the Sweet Green Curry at the Coffee Cup restaurant.

Backpacker's Tips : Tam Chiwai, Hong Kong (Sept 00)
 Ask for the Sunday volunteer school for the local kids. You can do some help and it is fun. You can go to the Tung Laung pottery village, try to made your own pottery there. Phitsanulok is only an hour away by bus. You can visit the famous Phra Buddha Jinnarat at Wat Mahathat. You will notice that all the finger of the Buddha are of the same length. The night market in Sukhothai is on every Wed. &Thu.

 << Discover some ruins 



Bus Schedules :

From Sukhothai :

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Phitsanulok 20 fan 1 day a lot ?
Chiang Mai 109/153 fan/ac2 5 7 to 18 11 hour
Chiang Rai 128/171 fan/ac2 6 6:40 to 10:30 4 hour
Bangkok 179/230 ac2/VIP 6 7:50,8:30,9:10,21/9:10 4/1 na

Notes : To Chiang Mai via Tak (26/36, 1 hour) / To Bangkok via Kamphaeng Phet (38, 1.5 hours) and Ayuthaya (151, 5 hours) / 

From Tak :

To Price Class Duration Time Nb Freq.
Mae Sot 33 mini 1.5 6 to 20:30 a lot hour
Sukhothai 26/36 fan/ac 1 6 to 17 a lot 30mn
Kamphaeng Phet 30 ? 1 6 to 19 a lot 30mn
Chiang Mai 177 ? 4 7:30 to 18 a lot 30mn


The trip to Mae Sot via Tak
: SS + SSS / L + R / B36 + 33 / 1 hr + 1.5 hrs / AC + minibus
A pleasant first ride with fine views on old Sukhothai if sitting on the left. Once in Tak, we boarded a minibus (the tallest may have problems fitting their head in) for the 1.5 hours drive on a twirling and bumpy road with some fine views.

See also the trip from Kamphaeng Phet

 

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