Sukhothai (สุโขทัย - dawn of happiness) is located in the lower part of North Thailand or on the border with the central region.
It's a small city made famous by the ancient ruins from the original old city.
For tourists it's relatively easy to get to from the main transport hubs of Bangkok and Chiang Mai to Sukhothai by road or plane. By rail it's harder but still possible.
Sukhothai is split into two sections. The old city (near the ruins) and the new city just a little further out. There's not much of difference but for those who just want to see the ruins then the old city is a better place to arrive at (guide to Sukhothai city).
Did you know?
Sukhothai was the Thai capital in 13th century.
It's a short plane ride from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport and Don Mueang to Sukhothai's airport with two flights on average by two airlines everyday.
Nok Airways is Thailand's budget carrier and offers flights for around USD $80+ departing from Don Mueang and takes 2.5 hours. However, do watch out for Nok airs additional charges like baggage which adds up the fare.
Bangkok Airways offers flights for about USD$99 departing from Suvarnabhumi and taking only 1.20 hours. For the extra few dollars Bangkok airways offers a more stream line and faster service.
Check out the latest flight prices from Bangkok to Sukhothai here.
From Sukhothai airport it's mini-van shuttle service for 300 baht that will take you from the airport to your hotel if it's near the new or old city.
There are occasional flights from Chiang Mai to Sukhothai but recently they seem to have stopped.
There are no railway stations at Sukhothai. The nearest one is located in the town of Phitsanulok which is one hour (59km) by bus to Sukhothai.
Trains leave 7 times daily from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong railway station to Phitsanulok with the first train departing at 05.50 and the last at 19.30. The train journey from Bangkok to Phitsanulok takes 7 hours with ticket fres from under 400 baht.
From the Phitsanulok train station take local bus 10 or a Tuk Tuk (60 baht) to the bus terminal and onwards to Sukhothai (1 hour).
Sukhothai to Bangkok by train
The same train leaves Phitsanulok to Bangkok 7 times a day at the same price.
Sawankhalok train service
There is one other train option that might suit some travelers looking for a different experience to and from Sukhothai.
North of Sukhothai is Sawankhalok where one train departs every day to Bangkok and vice versa.
The train from Bangkok departs from Hua Lamphong at 10.50 and arrives at Sawankhalok at 17.55.
You can then take a 45-60 minute bus from Swankhalok to Sukhothai.
From Swankhalok to Bangkok the train departs at 19.40 and arrives at 04.00.
It's a very old train service that's still running today. If you ask nicely you could depart Sukhothai early in the morning, leave your luggage at the quaint old station and visit Sawankhalok for the day before catching the train to Bangkok that night.
From/to Bangkok: Bangkok's northern bus terminal (Mo Chit) runs multiple buses to Sukhothai daily between 07.00 to 23.00. Prices start at 500 baht and go all the way up to 600 baht. Journey time is about 7 hours arriving at Sukhothai's new bus terminal.
Return journeys are much the same departing from Sukhothai's new bus terminal and from the old city near the park's gates where you will find a ticket office.
From/to Chiang Mai: Buses again run all day between Chiang Mai and Sukhothai from 07.00 to midnight. Fares start at 400 baht upwards. Journey time is about 4-5 hours. The same is true for return journeys.
Buses depart from Chiang Mai's Arcade bus station at the rear of the older building. They arrive at Sukhothai's new station but pass by the old city too.
From/to Chiang Rai: Four buses run daily between Chiang Rai and Sukhothai. The cost of a ticket is 500 baht upwards. The journey takes about 8-9 hours. There's another service that is more frequent to Sawankhalok which is about 45-60 minutes from Sukhothai with frequent buses linking them early in the day but stop at 18.00.
Do read my full guide to Sukhothai city for more.