We took a bus from Bangkok to Sukhothai. You can also get there by plane or by train although it’s a one hour bus ride to Sukhothai from the train station. We picked the bus because it was cheap and direct. We were told 650 Bht each but we ended up having to pay 850 Bht each because we were travelling during the holidays. We probably overpaid but we did get picked up from our hotel which saves on the cost of getting to the bus station.
We were picked up on foot 10 minutes early. Pick-up times in Thailand are never exact. We have learned from experience to be ready 15 minutes early and not to worry until the pick-up is at 30 minutes overdue. We were forgotten once on our first trip to Thailand and once in Vietnam but in both cases it was eventually resolved. We walked to a mini van which was driven by an elderly couple . They drove us a few blocks to a bus. The bus took us to a bus station where we got on a different bus. We could have taken a taxi to the bus station and purchased tickets there for 650 Bht each but the agent buying the tickets in advance gave us booked seats. With it being so close to New Years we were not sure about buying last minute tickets at the station.
The bus was not new but we got cookies, water and a voucher for lunch along the way. The bus had a bathroom. I did not use it. Harold did and his advice after doing so was avoid it if at all possible!
Sukhothai is actually Sukhothai which is small and beside the Sukhothai Historical Park and New Sukhothai which is much bigger. There is much more accommodation and entertainment in New Sukhothai but picked Sukhothai because it’s walking distance to the historical park. The bus station is between the two and about 9 km from where we needed to be. We had been negotiating fares with taxi drivers and we were down to 200 Bht from 300 Bht when we discovered the local songthaew which did a circular route to new and old Sukhothai. We paid 30 Bht each for a ride. We got a bit of a tour around New Sukhothai including some remarkable u-turns in traffic.
We arrived safely at the Old City Guest House The location is great if you plan to see the historic sites. The room was big and clean, the showers were hot and a breakfast of instant coffee toast, jam and bananas was included. The only thing missing was the bikes which were advertised but you could rent them down the street.
There is a large local market with a night market on Saturdays almost next door. We ate at a local restaurant on the street which we picked randomly. The food here is cheaper than it is in Bangkok.
The next morning, after a breakfast of Instant coffee, bananas and toast, we set off for the historical park. We stopped to rent two bicycles along the way for 30Bht a day. The park is quite large so bicycles are highly recommended.
Sukhothai (meaning “dawn of happiness”) is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Founded in 1238, It was the capital of the first Kingdom of Siam.
Sukhothai Historical Park covers about 70 sq km and the ruins of about 200 temples can be found in the area. The park is divided into five zones and each of the zones has a separate entry ticket. The central zone is the first priority for all tourists as it was the royal part of the city and has most important temples in it. If you have limited time start here. The four other zones (northern, eastern, western and southern) are less touristy than the central zone and more spread out. The central zone can be covered on foot. But you need a bike for the other zones. It costs 100 Bht each to get into a zone plus an extra 10Bht each if you bring a bicycle.
As it turned out December 28th to January 1st the park is free to enter because of New Years so we only had to pay the 10 Bht fee for each the bikes. The park is impressive and well worth a visit. We spent the day going from temple to temple taking photos of everything in sight. We spent most of the day in the central zone but we made a brief trip to one of the less known zones and we almost had it to ourselves.
We took a break in the afternoon and went back to the park after dinner. They light many of the statues and temples in the central zone on Saturday nights so we went back and watched the sunset over the temples.
They were also setting up for some kind of New years celebration running from December 29th to 31st.