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Guide to Sukhothai city

An old historical city & its modern day counterpart
David Ways | Updated: | Thailand travel guides

My Rating:3.0  
A new Thai city with a historical old city down the road
about - highlights - entrance fee
- directions

About Sukhothai city

Sukhothai city is located in the middle of North Thailand and is a city of two areas. "Old Sukhothai" was once the capital of the Sukhothai kingdom between 1238 and 1438. Old Sukhothai is basically an area of ruins that are now apart of the Historical Park. "New Sukhothai" is the modern day commercial city about 13km away.

Here is my specific guide to Sukhothai Historical park. This current page concentrates on the new city and parts of the old city such as accommodation and transport.

Did you know?

Sukhothai ins sanskrit means सुख उदय  "dawn of happiness""

For those wishing to visit the old city and the Historical Park it's only a short bus ride away from the New city which has more accommodation and facilities. The old city also has accommodation so look at the new city as just another option.

History of Sukhothai

Before the founding of the Sukhothai kingdom the area was part of the many Tai kingdoms in what is now northern Thailand. Sukhothai was known as Sukhodaya and was under Khmer rule.

It is said that Pho Khun Sri Naw Namthom in the early 12th century annexed Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai into its own kingdom. Various feuds continued with Sukhothai being taken by the Mon people only to for it to be taken back again by Thai clans in 1239. Sukhothai became the first capital of Siam founded by King Ramkhamhaeng. Ramkhamhaeng is accredited with the creation of the modern-day Thai alphabet and for introducing Theravada Buddhism to Thailand.

Sukhothai's rise in power lasted a little over a century when in 1378 Ayutthaya to the south took over power of the region. Sukhothai itself continued to develop as a city. Sukhothai's fall as a city occurred in 1583 when the crown prince of Ayutthaya forcibly relocated people from Sukhothai (and other northern regions) to the south. This was done to support the war with the Burmese.

As a modern city Sukhothai is still an important one. Though it's the new part of the city that is now developing while the old is a protected heritage zone.

New Sukhothai

Running alongside the Yom river new Sukhothai is a bustling Thai city that is not unlikable. There's not a lot for tourists here but for those seeking a look a less visited but popular Thai city it's a good example.

There are certainly more accommodation and eating options in new Sukhothai compared to the historical old city. Some of the accommodation offered in new Sukhothai is great value for money compared to the rest of Thailand. It's with this is mind that many tourists prefer to stay in the new city rather than in the old.

Things to see & do in new Sukhothai

  • Visit Wat Ratchathani
  • Eat at the night market along Jarot Withithong
  • There's TAT office just before the bridge over the river Yom
  • Eating out - there's a bevy of street food vendors along Jarot Withithong just before you get to the bridge. After the bridge there are more restaurants.
  • Visit during Loy Krathong - while the old city gets a lot of attention there's plenty happening at the river Yom too!

There's a Songthew that plys the main road linking Old and New Sukhothai. Jumping on board will cost you a few baht and is much better than walking the big road.

Hotels in New Sukhothai

Running alongside the Yom river new Sukhothai has a much larger selection of mid range to budget hotels and guesthouses than old Sukhothai. The only slight inconvenience is that you will need to travel the 20 or so minutes to the temple ruins by bus or tuk tuk which tend to stop operating after 7pm.

Mid-range USD $25+ per night  
Baan George's Hotel

Baan George's Hotel - Delightful old mansion house style hotel. Rooms are spacious, clean and bright. There's a nice pool & friendly staff. It's also located close to catch a bus to the historic park. ★★★★☆

+ Building

+ Pool

Ruean Thai Hotel

Ruean Thai Hotel - On the east side of new Sukhothai this elegant hotel ticks many boxes. With a pool, nice restaurant and excellent service it makes for a great one or two night stay. ★★★★☆

+ Parking

+ Pool

EZ House EZ House - Located on the road between old & new Sukhothai this small guesthouse is great value for money. The owners are lovely, the rooms are large & very clean. ★★★★★

+ Top Rated!

+ Friendly

+ Value

Budget Under USD $15 per night  
Ban Thai Guesthouse Ban Thai Guesthouse - Lovely Thai style guesthouse with 15 rooms. There's a small quite garden. A tasty restaurant and the staff are friendly ★★★★☆

+ Best Budget

+ Location

+ Price

Happy Guest House Happy Guest House - Possibly the cheapest guest house in new Sukhothai it's located off a street before the river. Rooms are neat, clean and very cheap. ★★★★☆

+ Cheap!

Garden House Sukhothai Garden House - Close to restaurants and cafes it's also close to the bus leading to the ruins in old Sukhothai. Rooms/bungalows are basic but clean. ★★★★☆

+ Friendly

+ Price

How to get from New Sukhothai to Old Sukhothai

There's a single main road (Jarodvithi road) running from New Sukhothai (airport, bus station etc) to Old Sukhothai.

From the west side of bridge by the river Yom you can hail old blue buses (Songthaew/trucks) for 20 baht which will take you the 20 minutes to the old city right outside Sukhothai Historical Park.

A faster but more expensive option is to hire a Tuk Tuk for about 600 baht to take you the distance.

Lastly it's very common to hire a motorbike when in Sukhothai. Expect to pay around 500+ Baht per day. You'll need to hand over you passport as a guarantee though. Many hotels and guesthouses will help in renting out a bike.

For more transport options do read my guide on how to get to Sukhothai.

Map of Sukhothai

To help get your bearings here's a map showing old and new Sukhothai city and the road between them.

Old Sukhothai

13km west from the new city lies the ancient ruins of the Sukhothai kingdom. Surrounding the ruins are grassy plains and to the south and older township.

The main road from new to old Sukhothai is a straight one which has a bus and or a tuk tuk form of transport. There are some local restaurants running along the corner opposite the part entrance office. This is also where there are several bicycle rental stores.

There are less restaurants and facilities in old Sukhothai than new Sukhothai. But then again old Sukhothai is home to the Sukhothai Historical Park ruins!

Things to see & do in Old Sukhothai

Accommodation in old Sukhothai

This is Sukhothai's main attraction. Outside of the ruins are plenty of high end to mid range hotels. There's not a huge choice budget travelers but some will do for those just staying for a night or two.

High-end USD $60+ per night  
Legendha Resort Legendha Resort - If you are looking for a top resort very close to Sukhothai Historic Park this is a great choice. A mere 15 minute walk from the ruins there's a pool, restaurant & plush rooms on offer. ★★★★★

+ Top Rated!

+ Pool

+ Restaurant

Tharburi Resort Tharburi Resort - Another resort located very close to the old city ruins (walkable). Rooms are a mix of authentic thai and modern design. The restaurant is one of the better ones in the area. ★★★★☆

+ Restaurant

+ Pool

Mid-range USD $25+ per night  
Wake Up at Muang Kao Boutique Hotel

Wake Up at Muang Kao Boutique Hotel - A lovely small hotel with only 5 rooms so service is always great. Rooms are very clean and bright. Bicycle rental is available. Book early! ★★★★★

+ Top Rated!

+ Location

+ Value

Happiness Resort Happiness Resort - A family run resort/guesthouse in the old city to the south. It's 10 minute bicycle to the ruins. Rooms are in traditional Thai wooden style and very homely.. ★★★★☆

+ Quiet

+ Traditional

Budget Under USD $15 per night  
Phupreugsa Resort Phupreugsa Resort - Located to the north west of Sukhothai Historic Park. Definitely more of guesthouse than a resort it's relatively new and clean with nice owners. You'll need a bicycle to get around from there. ★★★★☆

+ Cheap!

Vitoon Guesthouse Vitoon Guesthouse - Strangely the best budget guesthouse also has the best location in Old Sukhothai: right outside the gates. Basic but adequate rooms from USD $10. ★★★☆☆

+ Best Budget

+ Location

+ Price

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New Sukhothai leads to the Historical Park in the old city

Junction in New Sukhothai
New Sukhothai has little on offer in terms of places to visit but does offer cheap accommodation

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The main road in old Sukhothai from the Historical Park that leads to New Sukhothai
The main road in Old Sukhothai

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