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.
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.
Did you know?
Sukhothai ins sanskrit means सुख उदय "dawn of happiness""
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.
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.
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 - 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. ★★★★☆
|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!
|Budget||Under USD $15 per night|
|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
|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. ★★★★☆||
|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. ★★★★☆||
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.
To help get your bearings here's a map showing old and new Sukhothai city and the road between them.
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
- Visit Wat Si Chum & Wat Pra Luang
- Visit Wat Mahathat
- Enjoy the historic park during the weekend evening when it is lit up
- Attend the festival of light known as Loy Krathong in Sukhothai
- Venture over to the old city to south of the historic park
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.
Looking for more hotels? Try my hotel search box below: