Sukhothai is Thailand’s very first capital founded in the 13th century after Thai forces drove the Khmers out of the city. The meaning of Sukhothai translates to “Dawn of Happiness” as Sukhothai period was considered a golden age according to history. The Thai alphabet was created by the great King of the Sukhothai period, King Ramkhamgaen, which helps to promote artistic and intellectual developments. The Buddha relics that were created during the Sukhothai period are deemed as cultural treasures as it conveys a feeling of serenity and peace.
Finally I can crossed this destination out from my checklist of places-to-visit after visiting and exploring these rich ancient ruins in Sukhothai for four days. This is definitely a must-visit place for any traveler, photographers especially, as it is one of the most important historical sites containing a mixture of old architecture and landscape scenery in Southeast Asia. Its quiet rural province is still being so well-preserved where one could simply indulge in the charms of Thailand’s rustic lifestyle.
How to get to Sukhothai?
There are various traveling options to travel from Bangkok to Sukhothai:
Take a bus from Bangkok’s northern bus terminal, at Mo Chit, which will takes around 7 hours of traveling time.
Board a train from Bangkok and head towards Phitsanulok and transfer to an hour bus journey to arrive at Sukhothai.
Taking a flight through Bangkok Airways will be the best option as it has two daily domestic flights flying between Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and the picturesque Sukhothai airport (THS). This is a short flight as it only takes around 75mins in flight time. Upon landing at Sukhothai airport, there is a connecting mini-van shuttle service readily available just right outside the airport once passed through the custom. This vehicle will take you from the airport to your hotel located in either New and Old Sukhothai at 300 Baht each pax. The traveling time will takes around 20 to 30 minutes depending whether you stay in New or Old Sukhothai. Don’t bother trying to get a taxi as this is the only transport available in the airport unless you have made other arrangements earlier.
Upon arrival, all passengers will have to get on an open-ventilation tram to proceed to the arrival hall. Along the way, I was astonished with the outlook of this airport which looks so natural surrounded with all the lush greenery. The arrival hall is also open-air concept built to be environmentally friendly and energy-conserving. Take so time to admire the beautifully crafted building and structures. It is just so unreal. Kudos to their hardworking CSR efforts.
After doing further reading, I found out that Sukhothai airport was the second airport owned by Bangkok Airways. And this unique landscape scenery was built to resemble the typical Siamese pagodas found in Sukhothai’s rich history as Thailand’s ancient capital. Special organic rice paddies are also grown around Sukhothai Airport’s area which these harvested naturally-grown organic rice will be served on board the flight menu. This airport has received many awards because of its environmental friendly and stunning looking airport since 1998.
Another surprise! There is actually a private zoo located just right beside this Thai heritage-designed airport. This is also owned by the Bangkok Airways and free for passengers to visit.
Where to stay in Sukhothai?
One can find an accommodation in the two separate districts known as the Old or New Sukhothai. Staying in the Old Sukhothai allows one to choose either walk or cycle to the Sukhothai Historical Park. The New Sukhothai lies 12km east of the Sukhothai Historical Park. It was termed as New Sukhothai because this area was only settled after the development of Sukhothai capital. It is more developed and offers more choices of accommodation and places to eat and drink. If you plan to stay in New Sukhothai, you can take a 15mins shared songthaews to the Historical Park in Old Sukhothai at a cost of 30 Baht.
I chose to stay in Sukhothai Treasure Resort & Spa as it only takes a mere five minutes’ drive to the Sukhothai Historical Park. Moreover, this resort is one of the most luxurious 5-star boutique resort located in the historic Sukhothai surrounded with rice fields. It is priced reasonably, has extremely good location and equipped with nice hotel facilities, welcoming polite staffs and spacious rooms. This resort also provides complementary shuttle service to the UNESCO World Heritage Sukhothai Historical Park for their in-house residents.
Their restaurant provides fusion cuisine which consists of both traditional Thai and Western dishes. Just a little note, if you choose to dine out in the patio, do apply LOTS of mosquitos repellent as there are really tons of mosquitoes due to its natural environment surrounding with water. Last tip: ask for a quieter room with good views at the end of the complex.
On the first night, I decided to explore the area around the Old Sukhothai while looking a place for dinner. The resort driver brings me to the area near the Sukhothai Historical Park which has the most shops and restaurants unless the other option is to go to New Sukhothai. Indeed, there is not much night life happening but I am enjoying every quiet moment after spending five busy days in Bangkok prior to Sukhothai. I found a place known as The Coffee Cup that seems pretty relax and comfortable. The food is great, drinks are cheap and the people who works here are extremely friendly.
What to do in Sukhothai?
Exploring the ancient ruins in Sukhothai Historical Park and Si Satchanalai Historical Park are both undeniably impressive as they are under the list of UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites. I will be covering each of the historical park more in depth in a separate post to present their beauty captured on the camera. A single post does not justify its magnificent beauty. Here are some of the photo highlights taken:
"This city Sukhothai is good. In the water there are fish, in the field there is rice. The ruler does not levy tax on the people who travel along the road together, leading their oxen on the way to trade and riding their horses on the way to sell. Whoever wants to trade in elephants, so trades. Whoever wants to trade in horses, so trades." ~ King Ramkhamhaeng's famous stone inscription
One would definitely be smitten with Sukhothai’s rustic lifestyle surrounded with the amazing historic ruins while looking into both Thailand’s past and present. Sukhothai has totally blown me away.
I am so glad to have visited and experienced here myself. Kob khun krap.