How long should I stay in Sukhothai? (The never ending sunset)

Rice Padi Sunset in Sukhothai
Rice Padi Sunsets in Sukhothai

Sukhothai offers me a place to simply enjoy

I’m a little behind due to the Nepal earthquakes so I’m just going to pick up in Sukhothai where I left off.

When I first came to Sukhothai I was unsure about how long I would stay. It all depended on the temples. If they were great then a 3-5 days or maybe a week. If not, then just a day.

There’s not much to Sukhothai city other than the old part. The new part of the city is Thai oriented. There’s a market and some small malls but little else other than places to eat.

None-the-less, there’s something about Sukhothai I prefer over the likes of Chiang Mai to the north.

The difference in Sukhothai compared to other Thai cities

Local fruit stall in new Sukhothai
My local fruit stall in “new” Sukhothai

I think Sukhothai offers what Bangkok does not. Peace, quiet, greenery, temple ruins and little distraction from the call of the modern world. In Chiang Mai things are far more peaceful than Bangkok yet there is a never ending influx of tourists.

No matter where you turn there is a tourist. I mention this in my first impressions of Chiang Mai which have not changed.

Young Thai girl smiling in Sukhothai ruins
Children still play among the ruins in the outter parks of Sukhothai

Sukhothai also has tourists. However even in the popular Historical Park you can escape them. Certainly in the New City you’ll be hard pressed to even find them.

The people of Sukhothai have never offered me the hard sell on anything. Well, tuk tuks aside. I only ever took one. Late at night returning from the park which is not such an easy task.

Sukhothai is the best of Thailand old & new

The key to staying a long time in Sukhothai is transport. In my case a motorbike. Without it I wouldn’t have lasted so long. Relying on public transport is fine for just a quick typical visit to the ruins but after that it’s a pain to get around.

A motorbike means I can ride from the new city to the old city and catch a beautiful sunset near the twin ruins of Wat Sangkhawat. Rice paddies and a golden sunset every night.

Then it’s off to cafe for dinner before returning back to some peaceful and very cheap accommodation in Sukhothai.

Sukhothai is not for everyone

The bridge leading to New Sukhothai
The bridge leading to New Sukhothai – this is about as exciting as it gets!

I’ve yet to meet more than two people who thought of staying longer than three days in Sukhothai. Most come to see the ruins for a night or two then leave. I don’t blame them. There’s little happening on the expat scene. No real bar life, clubs or an easy way to get between what’s there.

Perhaps that’s one of Sukhothai main attractions

Don’t like to ride a motorbike? Again this could be an issue if you want to get around easily. Yes, you can use a bicycle but on hot or rainy days cycling for one hour is a little too masochistic for me just to grab a bite to eat.

How long do you need to see the ruins at Sukhothai Historical Park?

My situation is probably different to many others. Most people in reality only come to Sukhothai to see the ruins at the historical park and then leave.

I’ve met people who have only come for a day and felt it was more than enough.

I’ve met people who’ve booked a hotel for 4 nights and cancelled the last 2 as it was too long for them.

There have also been people who’ve stayed for week and enjoyed exploring it all on bicycles and motorbikes.

Buddha statue and temple in Sukhothai
The temples in Sukhothai can be seen in a single day – though I do recommend 2 or more days at the minimum.

On average with a bicycle you can see most of the parks main attractions in 1.5 days. That’s pretty much staying on the move all the time. If ruins are your thing 2 full days including some provision of time for an early morning at Wat Si Chum.

After the 2 full days you really are going into R & R or “temple addict” territory.

I’ve also met people who’ve been here for weeks. Some simply go to the parks outskirts (avoiding entrance fees) and relax with a book. There was a charcoal sketch artist and a yoga lady who seemed to do this on a daily basis.

Maps of Sukhothai on a bed
Using Sukhothai as base for more exploration of Northern Thailand is great

Like many questions on the length of stay when traveling it all boils down to how relevant it is for you. It’s one of the reasons I extended my stay in Sukhothai as I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. Whereas other people might just be allergic to the place.

The bottom line: Got a short itinerary – 1-2 days. Got a more open plan and want to see more of Thailand then come for 1-3 days and take it from there.

Sukhothai offers exploration, peace and a local (ish) lifestyle

For me Sukhothai’s true asset is its location for further exploration of the region. Aside from the areas around the park there’s Si Satchanalai and Sawankalok to explore too.

It’s this freedom to move out and always have something new at hand to explore that I enjoy more than anything else. Aside from that Sukhothai is a quiet place. There’s nothing but the sound of crickets and ciardia at night in the old city. Whilst in the new city everyone shuts up shop early too.

Thai fishing in Sukhothai
Fishing in Sukhothai – yes you can join in too (Thais are friendly) or you can just hang back and relax

The food in Sukhothai is nothing exceptional for Thailand (including its famous sukhothai noodles), but then again it’s Thailand so one is not going to starve.

Home? no. A good place to relax and get away from it all, yes.

How long you want to need to stay in Sukhothai will, at the end of the day, be up to the person asking.

I’ll close out this section on my Sukhothai journey by publishing some of the best temples. Then we move on.

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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