Visiting Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai Thailand

by Dave from The Longest Way Home ~ March 4th, 2015. Filed under: Thailand.
Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai, Thailand

A sitting Buddha is a part of the impressive and beautiful Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai, Thailand

Wat Mahathat is one of Sukhothai’s best temples

Completed during the 13th century Wat Mahathat served as the royal palace and administrative capital for the Sukhothai Kingdom. It still remains the largest of all the ruins in Sukhothai’s Historical Park.

When visiting Wat Mahathat approaching from the front is visually impressive as the still moat waters in front of it reflect the ruins behind. This moat was said to represent the outer wall of the universe.

Standing buddha and Chedi at Wat Mahathat

Standing buddha and Chedi at Wat Mahathat

There’s a lot to explore around Wat Mahathat which comprises of Mai Chedi, a large red brick stupa. The assembly hall which are now no more than stone pillars. An ordination hall and four large chedi’s in each of the complex’s corners.

Around Wat Mahathat

There are also nearly 200 smaller chedi’s scattered throughout the site. Two huge sitting Buddha’s from the halls. The two huge standing Buddhas near the main Chedi which measure over 12 meters in height are known are known as Attharot.

Thai's praying in front of a Buddha statue in Wat Mahathat

Today Thai’s still pray in front of the huge Buddha statues in Wat Mahathat

Today Thais still visit the Buddha images to pray. Yes, these are active ruins and still held in high regard. Insense is still burned here and small offerings are made.

There is however a shortage of monks at Sukhothai. They seem to occupy monasteries and temples on the outskirts of the park rather than pray within any of the ruins. It’s not that you won’t see any, but rather they are few and far between.

Wat Mahathat up close

Wat Mahathat up close

The ruins also double as popular gathering places with many a family coming for an afternoon and simply sitting around a chedi or behind a statue. There’s no disturbance here as everyone is quiet and respectful.

 The assembly hall of yesteryear

In case you were wondering what Wat Mahathat would have looked like back in the 13th century then here’s a look.

Wat Mahathat's assembly hall in the 13th century

Wat Mahathat’s assembly hall in the 13th century

As you can tell the Assembly hall was fully roofed. The Chedi was covered in plaster. White washed most likely.

What Wat Mahathat, Sukothoi, Thailand looked like in its heyday

What Wat Mahathat, Sukothoi, Thailand looked like in its heyday

Chedi’s at Wat Mahathat

The chedi’s around Wat Mahathat are lotus bud-shaped while the main chedi is Khmer prang style. The main chedi has 168 stucco works running around it’s base showing people Buddhist disciples walking and holding hands together

Chedi at Wat Mahathat

Chedi at Wat Mahathat (standing buddha and main wat in the background)

The tall standing buddha

Beside the main chedi is a tall 20 meter standing buddha. There are two at the site on either side.

Standing Buddha beside the Chedi at Wat Mahathat,

Standing Buddha beside the Chedi

The standing buddhas are on raised platforms making them even taller. It’s well worth looking around at the small enclaves near the standing Buddhas for hidden Buddha statues that are very well preserved.

Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai is Thailand’s answer to Angkor Wat

It’s a boldish headline but if you’ve visited other Thai ruins and Cambodian ruins you’ll see the similarities in terms of scale of Sukhothai’s historic park. Yes, Angkor Wat itself is larger and better preserved but that doesn’t detract from Wat Mahathat’s splendor and open space to explore.

Sitting Buddha at Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai, Thailand

Sitting Buddha at Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai, Thailand

If you are looking for the best ruins to visit in Thailand you’ll find them at Sukhothai’s historic park and Wat Mahathat is the definitive highlight.

You can read more on my guide to Sukhothai Historical Park.

Entrance fees into Sukhothai Historical Park
  • Entrance to Sukhothai Historic park = 100 baht
  • Bicycle surcharge = 10 baht
  • Mystery all section ticket = 350 baht (if you can find the right person)

Food and drinks are a touch and go affair in the park. There are a few cafes. They aren’t too outrageously expensive. But if you are on a budget bringing one’s own water will half your cost.

It’s 2 kilometers from the central zone ticket office to the northern section. The main road there is surfaced, flat and quite easy to use via a bicycle.

The park is open from 6am-18.00. Keep in mind the bicycle shops closed between 17.30 and 18.00 too. I’ll write later about night time viewing of the temples but sufficed to say, it’s very dark and very isolated so don’t get caught out alone after dark.

Hotel search at the Longest Way Home

Planning on booking a hotel room in Sukhothai?

Here are the best online rates guaranteed!

I recommend you try my own hotel search for Sukhothai

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21 Great responses to Visiting Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai Thailand

  1. Honey says:

    It’s a shame our country did not preserve its past. Thais must have so much to explore.

  2. Anna's World says:

    Beautiful photos Dave. It looks like such an exciting place to visit. Giant Buddha statues must be so fun and mesmerizing to roam through.

  3. Judy says:

    Such a great description. I preferred Sukhothai to Angkor what. Just a lot more peaceful without the gangs of young backpackers around. I guess that’s because there’s no Siem Reap around with lots of bars. I hope this continues!

  4. Malcom says:

    Nice one mate. Great to see there are still places like this on the planet.

  5. Charles A says:

    Wonderful to see so many ruins intact in Thailand. We are doing a tour of archeology sites in Asia next year. Is there an organisation in Thailand involved? Particularly Sukhothai?

    • Hi Charles. I did ask around for you but there’s very little information about archeological digs in Thailand. I’ve not seen any myself. Nor repairs to ruins. I would suggest contacting the Thai Tourism Authority or government website. Better yet an organisation you are affiliated to at the moment as they might have listings.

  6. Derek says:

    I’m a new avid subscriber who is really enjoying and soaking up all this information for our own trip planning. Thank you.

    I do have a question. Do we have to pay for every section of Sukhothai everyday, or just for the places we visit?

  7. Clarissa says:

    Love these big photos. The sitting buddha looks amazing. So huge. Is it possible to touch the statues?

  8. Georgina says:

    Such a lovely looking place. Devoid of backpacker hoards that we found in Angkor Wat. They really spoiled it for us and we were there for two days.

    You’ve certainly put Sukhothai on out map for later in the year.

  9. Ivy says:

    This is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Thanks so much for sharing Dave.

  10. De'Jav says:

    Your pics look amazing. Looks like an exciting place to be.

  11. Fabiana says:

    What a gorgeous place. My sister would go absolutely crazy taking photos on it.