After islands and the second time in Bangkok I was the mood for some hardcore sightseeing and headed north to Sukhothai, which took about 7 hours by bus.
Sukhothai was the capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom between 1238 and 1347.
It is split in 2 now, New Sukhothai which is a modern Thai city and Old Sukhothai where the Sukhothai Historical Park is found, the site of the old capital, known now for its ruins and temples.
I was staying right by the Bus Station in New Sukhothai, which was good for getting to the Historical Park as there are Songthaews for 30 Baht which run there. It’s a little far to the new city though, especially if you go the wrong way at night and get chased by a dog…..
As I arrived late the first night, I had booked 3 nights to spend 2 days exploring the sights. You can do it in 1 full day if you want, many do that and cycle around, but I was on foot and could afford to take my time. It’s quite and exposed to the sun so if you do visit bear that in mind, hat, sunscreen and water are a must!
The first day I focused on exploring the ‘Central Zone’. The most impressive and most prominent temple here is Wat Mahathat.
There are several large Buddha statues here.
I also saw the sunset here at the end of the first day, which was particularly nice when looking out from the temple across one of Sukhothai’s many lakes.
Another large impressive temple in the area is Wat Si Sawai. It was originally Hindu and then converted to Buddhist use.
It reminded me of some of the Khmer temple’s I had seen in Angkor (Cambodia), obviously due to the Hinduism origins.
I saw plenty more in the central zone, including Wat Chang Lom pictured below.
The next day I visited the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum. It is quite small compared to European standards but it was interesting to see all the Hindu and Buddhist objects, artifacts and statues on display and read a bit about them.
After that I headed to the North Zone to check out a couple of the big temples there.
Wat Phra Phai Luang was originally built by the Khmer Empire (of Angkor fame) in the 12th Century, and therefore like Wat Si Sawai was Hindu before being converted to Buddhist use. It’s a large site and much of it has (unlike a lot in the Central Zone) had minimal or zero restoration work.
Last up was Wat Si Chum, where there is a huge Buddha statue inside the temple.
I really enjoyed visiting Sukhothai Historical Park and i’m glad I amended my original plan for the 2nd time in Thailand of ‘just do the South’ to go and check it out.