I recently spent a few days in the sleepy town of Sukhothai and found it to be super hot (May), slow-paced and friendly. While there is nothing much to do in the city, go if you need an escape from the city and want to picnic on fresh green grass among ancient relics.
I took the 5.5 hour 2nd class bus ride from Arcade Bus Station in CM to the Sukhothai station on a Friday night. The last bus left at 7:30pm, so we arrived exactly at 1am. The Suk station is about a 60THB trishaw ride to the TR Guesthouse, where we spent 3 nights. It was 300THB for a good-sized fan room with great wifi. It is on the main backpacker drag, so you’ll see a bunch of other similar-priced guesthouses just next door.
Rented a motorbike from the guesthouse at a pricey 300THB/day, not like there is any other competition in the city.
Munched on a delicious American-style pancake breakfast, then headed off to Sukhothai Historic Park.
If you decide not to drive, you can hop on the inexpensive Songtaew-bus just down the street from the guesthouse. The bus will take you to the main museum entrance, which charges 150THB/person. Try to enter at the South, North or West entrance for the cheaper 100THB entrance fee, plus 10-20THB for the motorbike. When we were there, the North gate was not guarded, so I suppose that means free entry…
The park grounds is highly manicured and very pleasant to cycle around. So many trees! Visit the smaller temples before you get to the main one, Wat Mahathat, or you’ll be bored before the end. The best time to visit is in the early morning or evening. The middle of the day is way too hot and the lighting is not as fantastic. I loved adventuring around in the evening – the flood lights cast a harrowing, spooky effect on the temples. Because we went during low season, the nighttime Light and Sound show was closed, too bad!
You can also check out the temples on the West side of the main grounds for free if you go through the southern-most West gate (not guarded). Otherwise, you’ll end up paying another 150 THB to see them (not worth it).
Just outside the grounds on the main road, a huge local market opens in the evening. Great food and plenty of excitement. Watch out however, the bugs come out in full force at night. I have never seen them more aggressive than in Sukhothai!
We ended the night at the walking street back near TR guesthouse. Less bugs in the face and better vibe. Try the loaf of bread covered in butter – fattening and delicious!
Woke up early and drove for 1 hour + to the Sri Satchanalai Historic Park. Much more worth it than the Sukhothai Park. Actually, I have a work permit, which got me in for free yay! Normally, it is 100THB for foreigners.
Our first stop was to the Tourism Office, which provided us with free maps and quick museum tour. We then drove to the park gates and checked out the first couple of temples, which felt much more untouched than those in Sukhothai. One in particular allowed me to climb up VERY steep stairs into a tiny, circular chamber room. It was absolutely frightening climbing back down.
The temple next to it had an elderly man playing a flute in the shade of a column. I am a huge fan of street musicians, so we listened for a long while to the cheerful, talented man sitting against the backdrop of a large golden buddha and ancient temple.
Overall, the morning was pleasant and relaxed. Thais were picnicking on the lawn, Thai tourists snapping photos on temples, and monks going about their business in bold, brightly colored robes.
Leaving the park, we stopped at a corner cafe to get out of the sun (I had the worst sunburn by then) and sipped on our ice cold drinks through late afternoon.
We then explored a couple more temples and drove to the main city, where we again stopped at a cafe to Instagram and Snapchat our favorite moments of the day. I forget the name of this cafe, but you can’t miss it. It is the largest, most modern shop on the main street and looks very inviting with its plants and shade and outdoor seating aaaahhhhh. Even cooler was when a nomadic big biker crew rolled up on their flashy Harleys in Hells Angels type leather jackets and took over the cafe (a friendly takeover!). Would have loved to get a picture…
Later that night, we chilled on the rooftop of Chopper Bar, just next to TR Guesthouse, along with every other Western tourist in the city (it was the only place open). Great food, Thai country-rock live band. After a bitterly strong Mai Tai, we headed downstairs to Bar 64000 and drank ’til midnight with all the backpackers and cool 20-something Thais. The owner chatted us up and revealed the bar has only been open a few months and is, in fact, the only bar in Sukhothai.
Woke up late and enjoyed a nice meal at the guesthouse, checked out by 11am and played board games until our bus at 1:30pm.
A couple extra photos:
I was really hoping to see the Sri Satchanalai National Park, but it was just too far. I heard it’s a great place to camp for a weekend and see ancient temples in the presence of zero other people. Ah well, more to look forward to when I’m older 😀