Today, this important stone inscription is housed in the National Museum in Bangkok, and the ruins of the ancient city of Sukhothai are preserved as a UNESCO Heritage Site. Walking among the crumbling ruins of impressive monuments and majestic temples, visitors can close their eyes and imagine the grandeur of the ancient city of Sukhothai.
Situated 280 miles north of Bangkok, the ruins of Sukhothai – spread out over 27 square miles – offer visitors a unique chance to experience what everyday life was like when the city was the seat of power during what's referred to as the nation’s Golden Age.
Beyond the historical park, the province is also celebrated for its vast array of wildlife, comprising of spectacular natural landscape and rushing waters, and a vibrant new town.
Tucked away on the banks of the Yom River, New Sukhothai is a relatively small town that hosts the mass of visitors that flock to the area to explore the historical treasures of the region located approximately 12 kilometers away. Home to convenient transportation links, resorts, restaurants and bars, New Sukhothai is a convenient base for tourists that are staying in the region.
At the centre of the walled city lies the Royal Palace, and its compound comprises of the royal residence in addition to a separate sanctuary. The palace was once home to King Ramkhamhaeng’s throne, which has since been moved to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok
Situated in front of New Sukhothai’s City Hall, Phra Mae Ya Shrine is home to a figure that is thought to have been crafted by Ramkhamhaeng himself. The figure is depicted wearing the queen’s garment, and is thought to be a dedication to the King’s mother, Nang Sueang. According to local beliefs, the spirit of the king also remains within the shrine.
If you find yourself in Sukhothai in early April, make sure you do not miss the annual two-day Satchanalai Elephant Back Ordination Procession, which involves spectacularly dressed ordination candidates and elephants.
Ramkhamhaeng National Park is situated 12 miles south of Sukhothai, and is home to splendid natural scenery that includes mountains, waterfalls and steep cliffs with excellent views of the surrounding area. For an opportunity to snap some great holiday shots, the highest peaks in the park are Khao Phu Ka and Khao Mae Ya. Visitors that want to explore the park further can rent tents and bungalows for overnight stints. Si Satchanalai National Park also boasts some impressive scenery of its own, and is located around 60 miles from Sukhothai. A trip to the 100ft Tad Duan Waterfall and the Thara Wasan Cave often top visitors’ “must see” lists.
Travel tip: TBC. [link to blog post] or link to a cycling tour
For one, Sukhothai is renowned for its Sangkhalok pottery that skilled artisans have been producing since the city's heyday in the 13th century. Gold and silver jewelry is another craft for which the province has garnered something of a reputation; the traditional designs are brought to life with hand-woven minuscule strands of gold or silver. As with the purchase of any precious metals or jewelry, unless you're well versed in this field, it is advisable to obtain personal recommendations from trusted sources.
Sukhothai Night Market is a go-to place to sample some local street food, with a handful of stalls stalls lined up along the perimeter of the Rachathani temple. If you want to rub shoulders with the locals as they do their grocery shopping, the local market can be found if you cross the bridge in the centre of New Sukhothai, and take your second right. The area is also studded with a selection of fantastic local restaurants.
“Sukhothai noodles,” as they're aptly called, is made of spicy tom yam soup, julienned bush beans and ground peanuts, and is a delightful meal for visitors to chow down on at any time of day. Kru Eew on Wichien Chamnong Road is a great place to pick up these spicy soupy splendors noodles in addition to authentic Sukhothai style pad thai noodles. However, many roadside stalls in the town also offer up their own delicious versions of the dish. Visitors who want to sample more of the local dishes should get up bright and early and make their way to the municipal market in New Sukhothai.
In terms of its nightlife, Sukhothai is relatively quiet for visitors in search of a party scene, with the nighttime activities instead focused on the city’s spiritual heritage. The light and sound show at Sukhothai Historical Park provides a rare opportunity to see the park’s ruins lit-up following the sunset, and takes place from Friday to Sunday between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.
To get to Old Sukhothai, the blue songtaew leaves from a bus stop on Charodwithitong Road and stops a few hundred meters from the entrance to the central zone of the main historical park. Drivers will often ask foreign passengers for a fare of approximately THB30 (US$0.93).
Like many other Thai cities, New Sukhothai is also home to many tuk-tuks which are one of the favored means of transportation for tourists. However, visitors should beware of tuk-tuk drivers that try and charge them much more than THB300 (US$9.50) for a trip to the Old City. Visitors that want to hire the tuk-tuk for the entire day should expect to pay about THB600 (US$19). It is always best to negotiate a price with the driver before hopping onboard!
Once you arrive at the Old City, which is spread across a considerable area, it is possible to rent a bicycle or motorbike from one of the many rental stalls located near the entrance of the park.
From the bus station, visitors can hop on a shared songtaew for approximately THB10 (~US$0.32) into New Sukhothai town center.