Pamela MacNaughtan

Exploring Sukhothai

Sukhothai is not a Thai restaurant in Toronto (although a Google search may tell you otherwise). It’s the former capital of the first Kingdom of Siam.

Located five hours (by bus) northwest of Bangkok, Sukhothai is home to some of the most beautiful 12th and 13th-century ruins in Thailand—and it should be on everyone’s travel itinerary.

Here’s how to explore this must-see site.

Hire a Tuk-Tuk

Sukhothai Historical Park includes 193 ruins, spanning 70 square kilometres, which makes wandering by foot a tad challenging. One of the best ways to see the ruins is to hire a tuk-tuk through your hotel. The tuk-tuk driver will pick you up at your hostel/guesthouse, and take you to each of the ruins—giving you time to get out, explore and take photos. This is a great idea if you want to explore some of the ruins
outside of the park, as well as the ones inside.

The charge is usually 400 THB ($13 CAD), but you may be able to negotiate for a lower price. This fee usually covers a half-day of exploring.

Rent a Bike

K-shop rents bicycles for 20 THB ($0.68 CAD), which allows you to explore the ruins at your leisure. If you enjoy cycling, this is definitely the way to go. Pack a lunch and make plans to visit inside the historical park, as well as some of the ruins outside the park. Cycling to all of the ruins may take a couple of days.

Take a Songthaew

When I visited Sukhothai, I divided my exploring over a period of two days. The first day I walked into Old Sukhothai and took one of the large blue songthaews (think of a long flatbed truck with wooden slat sides and worn wooden benches along each side) from Old Sukhothai to just outside the gates of Sukhothai Historical Park. The cost was 20 THB.

Wat to See

With 193 ruins it may be hard to figure out which wats to see, and which to skip. Here’s a short list of the wats you must see while you’re in Sukhothai:

  • Wat Mahathat—One of the best (and largest) ruins in Sukhothai. In its prime, Wat Mahathat consisted of a main chedi, a large assembly hall, and ordination hall and around 200 smaller chedis.
  • Wat Si Chum—One of my favourite wats in Sukhothai, with a sort of peek-a-boo Buddha.
  • Wat Sa Sawai—This Khmer-style wat is large and full of interesting nooks and crannies.

Things to Remember

  • Bring baht in small denominations for food, water and buying offerings from locals near some of the ruins.
  • Make sure your camera battery is charged, and you have a couple of extra SD cards with you. You’ll be surprised by how many photos you’ll take.
  • Thailand gets hot. Wear sunscreen and bring a handkerchief—sweat dripping into your eyes as you’re trying to take a photo can be annoying!
  • Bring water!

Tip: If you’re looking for a place to stay, try At Home Guesthouse, a 50-year old family-run hostel located near the night market. The rooms are large and clean. And the family is absolutely delightful.


  • May 23, 2014

    The suprisingly compact main sites of Sukhothai makes for a pleasant day’s cycling. We stayed with At Home too and were made to feel very welcome by Issara, the owner, who showed us his photo album from when the guest house was his childhood home.


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