Wat Mahathat

Sukhothai

The name Sukothai means the dawn of happiness. Today there the city of Sukhothai (often called the New City, Sukhothai Thani or Downtown Sukhothai lies 8 miles (13 Km) west of the Old City (the archaeological sites).

Ancient Sukhothai was the 1st capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom, a swathe of territory through what today is Laos and western Thailand and as far as Malasia to the south. The Kingdom was established in 1238 by Phokhun Si Intharathit, the founder of the Phra Ruang dynasty. Sukhothai was the state that eventually had the greatest influence on the later Siamese and Thai kingdoms.

Southeast Asian history - 13th century

It is thought that Ramkhamhaeng the Great, the 3rd ruler of the Phra Ruang dynasty, created the capital at Sukhothai. He is also thought to be the inventor of the Thai alphabet.

Sites

Individual pages and photo galleries of many of the sites in the Archaeological Site. Lower down the page is a map with links to each site.

Central Zone

Northern Zone

Southern Zone

Map

The map below shows and links to various sites around Sukhothai (tap on a marker to link to the page about the site).

 

Visiting

If you want to photograph the sites remember that most Buddhist temples face east, designed to be approached from the east. Thus morning is better as after midday many of your pictures will be into the sun.

Sukhothai is two places “New City” and “Old City”. Old City is the archaeological site with overpriced tourist hotels and overpriced restaurants (mostly deserted even mid-high season). Most people stay in “New City” (8 miles/13 Km to the east). “New City” is the city with shops, restaurants, etc. for locals as well as sensibly priced hostels/hotels. Quick and cheap to get between the two – the blue Songthaews run continuously from the bus station, stopping opposite 7-11 just west of the bridge and run to right outside the entrance to the “Old City” Central Zone ฿30. You are unlikely to have to wait long for one to arrive.

The archaeological site is divided into “zones”: Central, North and South (there are a few Wats to the west but probably not a “zone”).

Each zone is small enough to walk round. Some Thai entrepreneur at some time visited Angkor Archaeological Site, saw the bicycles and realised it was another way to part daft tourists from their money. In Angkor bicycles are a useful due to the distances between sites. In Sukhothai they just enable people to go wizzing past smaller but significant ruins and see the entire site in 20 minutes.

Each zone has a ฿100 entry ticket price (for foreigners). There was a multi-site ticket but it’s been suspended and was a daft idea anyway as e.g. I visited 3 zones but only purchased one ticket and did nothing to avoid paying.

Central Zone

The main zone with several large impressive temples and some fascinating smaller ones (that people on bikes wizzz past without noticing – probably a good thing as it means they are deserted for those who are interested). Easy to walk round and see all the temples in a few hours.

North Zone

Two large significant temples (where tickets are required) and a number of smaller interesting sites where tickets are not required (this was the only zone I had to purchase a ticket for).

Easily missed on the east-west roast to the north and south of the zone are large numbers of kilns.

You can easily walk round the North Zone in a few hours seeing all the sites. You could walk round Central and North Zone in the same day but it would be hard work seeing all sites.

South Zone

No tickets need (nowhere to even buy tickets). Most of the temples in this zone are medium sized.

One really good aspect to walking round the South Zone is that apart from the temples it’s a great walk round Thai countryside in quiet roads, getting a look at rural life.


Other Thailand posts at Thailand Travel Map

Other South East Asia posts at South East Asia Travel Map

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