Wondering what the top things do in Sukhothai are? In this article, we cover all the cool activities you can do in this popular destination. Obviously, we tell you everything you should know about the top activity in Sukhothai: visiting the Historical Park. However, we've added a few recommended things to do in Sukhothai as well, to make sure that you can easily stay a few days longer in the beautiful city of Sukhothai.
The top things to do in Sukhothai are:
1. Sukhothai Historical Park
The absolute top thing to do in Sukhothai is visiting the Sukhothai Historical Park. The ruins of this ancient city are the main reason why tourism in Sukhothai exists. In the thirteenth century, a group of Thai revolted against the Khmer rule in Sukhothai, which was then an outpost of the Khmer Empire. Once liberated, the expansion of the Sukhothai Kingdom began under the command of Ramkamhaeng and around 1300, the Kingdom of Sukhothai was almost as large as Thailand nowadays is. But once Phra Ramkamhaeng, which means Ramkamhaeng The Brave - a title that he got after the liberation of Sukhothai at the age of 19 - died, Sukhothai's tributaries broke away. Eventually, in 1378, the Kingdom of Sukhothai got annexed by the Ayutthaya Kingdom.
During his rule, King Ramkanhaeng introduced the monarchy that Thailand nowadays still have as well as introduced the form of Buddhism that is being practised in the Land of the Smiles. He also introduced the Thai alphabet, which inscriptions can be found in at The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum near the Historical Park. The impact of the liberation of the Sukhothai and the changes Phra Ramkanhaeng made were the foundation of modern Thailand as we know it right now.
At the Sukhothai Historical Park, which got the UNESCO Heritage title in 1991, you will find 71 well-preserved ruins from the Sukhothai Kingdom within a five square kilometres radius. These ruins, which includes twenty-six temples and the remains of Royal Palace, are divided into five different zones, of which the inner city is the most spectacular.
The best way to explore the Sukhothai Historical Park is to either rent a bike (30 THB) or hire a tuk-tuk driver (400 THB per day). The entrance fee of the historical zones is 100 THB per zone and an additional 10 THB if you are with a bike. The most impressive ruins of Sukhothai Historical Park are:
Wat Sri Sawai
Wat Sri Chum during sunset, also known as Big Buddha
Wat Chana Songkhram
The Sukhothai Historical Park is located twelve kilometres from New Sukhothai, the city where most likely your ho(s)tel is located. There are busses available that drive between Old Sukhothai and New Sukhothai every half an hour for only 20 THB per ticket. If you book a tuk-tuk driver for the day at your ho(s)tel, the tuk-tuk driver obviously picks you up.
Sukhothai Historical Park is an impressive park surrounded by beautiful nature. When you compare the Sukhothai with the historical park at Ayutthaya, the Sukhothai Historical Park is far more impressive.
Tip: if you have the chance, attend Loy Krathong at Sukhothai Historical Park, as this is a spectacular event. New Year is also celebrated at the Sukhothai Historical Park with a nice firework show.
Why visiting Sukhothai Historical Park is one of the top things to do in Sukhothai: The main reason why people come to Sukhothai, exploring the ruins of the Sukhothai Kingdom.
2. Ramkhamhaeng National Park
If you’re up for a sportive challenge, then you might want to consider hiking up the 1,200 meters tall viewpoint at Ramkhamhaeng National Park. The length of the route itself is only 3.7 kilometres, meaning that the hike is insanely steep. During the preparation of this hike, I asked locals about more information about this trip, but the responses I’ve got were not encouraging. Usually, you hike to the top and set camp at the designated camping area. But I didn’t want to sleep in a tent, meaning that I had to walk down on the same day as well. Keep in mind that it is not possible to start your ascending or hike after two o’clock in the afternoon. That means that you have to start your hike in the early morning if you want to sleep in your own (hotel) bed at night.
By now, I hope you understand that this is quite a difficult hike and the fact the majority of the fellow-hikers I came across look like athletes, confirmed that. Hiking up the mountain with parts as steep as seventy per cent simply felt like doing a thousand lunges in a row. At moments, I had to stop every two minutes to catch my breath. But, once you’re at the top and have this magnificent view of the Sukhothai province, it’s all more than worth it. And even during the hike, which is simply following a path, you come across spectacular scenic views.
Be aware of the steepness of this hike.
The park opens at eight o’clock and the entrance fee is 200 THB for foreigners. I was at the camping site at half-past eleven, where you have to walk another kilometre to reach the viewpoint. In case you do want to sleep in a tent, a tent for two costs 225 THB. There are no facilities other than bad toilets and cold-water-showers on the mountain. The most important thing is to prepare yourself well with plenty of water and food. In order to get to the park, which is located fifty kilometres from New Sukhothai, your best option is to arrange transport via your ho(s)tel. Getting dropped off and picked up by car on the same day costs me 1,000 THB as I did not want to drive a motorbike myself, which many tourists do.
Panoramic view at the viewpoint, which is simply incredible!
The view from the top of the mountain.
During the hike, you come across this beautiful old tree.
Why visiting Ramkhanhaeng National Park is one of the top things to do in Sukhothai: Challenging hike for a magnificent view over the Sukhothai province.
3. Si Satchanalai Historical Park
Si Satchanalai, which means “the city of good people”, was the residence of the crown prince of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya during the thirteenth and fourteenth century. Where the Sukhothai Historical Park is located twelve kilometres west from New Sukhothai, the Si Satchanalai Historical Park is located sixty kilometres from New Sukhothai. Because of this, Si Satchanalai Historical Park is much quieter compared tho Sukhothai Historical Park. After the death of the king, the dominance of Sukhothai - which means the Dawns of Happiness - reduced drastically, however, Si Satchanalai remained powerful in trading. In particular, Si Satchanalai became the thriving centre of porcelain production.
Similar to the Sukhothai Historical Park, the Si Satchanalai Historical Park can be best explored by bike and the entrance fee is also 100 THB with an additional 10 THB if you enter the park per bike. Si Satchanalai Historical Park is much more peaceful than Sukhothai Historical Park and it’s beautiful covered by large trees and green grass fields. The buildings are most definitely impressive and if you do have an extra day to spend in Sukhothai, this historical park is highly recommended. But when you compare Si Satchanalai Historical Park with Sukhothai Historical Park, then Sukhothai Historical Park is much more impressive.
Tip: Si Satchanalai Historical Park is located close to Sukhothai Airport. You can easily combine a visit to this historical park if you have a flight back to Bangkok in the late afternoon.
Why visiting Si Satchanalai Historical Park is one of the top things to do in Sukhothai: Impressive ruins of the Sukhothai Kingdom with beautiful natural surroundings.
4. Saturday Night Market
When it comes to street food, Sukhothai does have a few street food vendors standing on the main road near the clock monument in the city centre of New Sukhothai. But for an abundance of delicious and cheap street food, you must visit the Saturday Night Market which is open every Saturday (and on a handful of festivities during the year). Around five o’clock, the market is open for public at Nikorn Kasem Road, which is turned into a Walking Street. The market is about five hundred meters long and the majority of the vendors sell food. For the majority of the citizens, the Saturday Night Market is the place to be during each weekend.
Note: there is also a Saturday evening market near the Sukhothai Historical Park, however, the Saturday Night Market in New Sukhothai is by far the most popular one.
Why visiting Saturday Night Market is one of the top things to do in Sukhothai: an abundance of delicious and cheap street food, the place to be for many Thai on Saturday evening.
5. The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum
Near the Sukhothai National Park, you can the Ramkhanhaeng National Museum. At this museum, visitors can see valuable ancient objects and artefacts that were discovered by archaeologists. The main building of the museum has two floors and is used as an antiquity gallery. The museum itself is kind of small, and you won’t spend hours here. But it was quite nice to see some artefacts and antiques that date from the Kingdom that formed modern Thailand, including stones with etched Thai alphabet in it, old Buddha statues, weaponry, necklaces and porcelain.
The entrance fee of The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is 150 THB for foreigners. The museum is open daily from nine in the morning until four in the afternoon.
Why visiting The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum is one of the top things to do in Sukhothai: a good impression of antiques and artefacts from the Sukhothai Kingdom found by archaeologists.
6. Eat Sukhothai Noodles
Every region in Thailand has its own special versions of common Thai dishes and the most typical Sukhothai-food is Sukhothai Noodles. In the majority of Thai restaurants in Sukhothai, you can find these noodles on the menu. Sukhothai Noodles are made with thin noodles, green beans, grounded peanuts, salted turnip, crispy pork and roasted pork. Compared to regular noodles, Sukhothai Noodles are slightly sweeter and sour and thanks to the crispy pork, the noodles get a lovely crunch. You can order Sukhothai Noodles as a soup or as a dry version. The dry version has a better texture than the soup, but the flavours are not all mixed together yet, which is the case with soup. For me personally, the dry versions I tried were often tastier than the soup, as each bite tasted different.
Sukhothai Noodles Dry Version
Sukhothai Noodles Soup
If you are curious about what else you should try in Sukhothai, check out our article about the 17 best restaurants in Sukhothai and their most recommended dishes.
7. Enjoy the local nightlife
Nightlife at Sukhothai is a bit dull, especially when you compare it with the closest city Phitsanulok. For young Thai, Sukhothai is not as excited as Phitsanulok and when the younger generations leave the town, there often is not much nightlife to find. That does not mean that there is no nightlife at all in Sukhothai. Here are the following recommended bars in other nightlife venues in Sukhothai:
There is one foreigner-orientated bar named Chopper Bar that for the majority of the young tourists is the best place to go out in Sukhothai. The bar is on the first floor and you can sit on a deck with a decent view on the main road.
Right in front of Chopper Bar is a small street-side bar named Bar 64000 where you can enjoy cheap cocktails and watch the world go by. This place is mostly visited by Thai and has a few tables on the side of the bar, large enough for two groups.
Fong Bear is a hugely popular local bar that usually completely packed.
A popular local bar where mostly young Thai hang out and enjoy a beer or two is Fong Bear. Here you can sit on at a table, right next to a popular street food alley that stays open until midnight in case you get hungry.
Street food just next to Fong Bear.
If you’d like to go out where locals go out, your best chances are at Club 64, Route 23 and In Black, however, these are Thai-orientated and located a bit outside the city centre far from where most hotels are located.
8. Visit Sukhothai Historical Park at Night
The Sukhothai Historical Park is illuminated at night which gives it a picture-perfect atmosphere. Keep in mind that the park won’t let you in after six o’clock, so you have to make sure to arrive on time. You can wander around and enjoy the sunset over the Historical Park, where it’s much cooler than during the day. If you’ve already seen the Historical Park and you don’t want to visit it again during the evening, a good alternative is visiting Wat Traphang Thong at night. This temple is located right outside the Historical Park and is beautifully illuminated at night and does not have an entrance fee. Wat Traphang Thong is surrounded by water and you have to walk over a wooden bridge. At night, this quite a magical experience.
Why visiting Sukhothai Historical Park at Night is one of the top things to do in Sukhothai: completely different atmosphere when the ruins at illuminated and a great moment to shoot amazing pictures of this spectacular sight.
There you have it, our list of the top things to do in Sukhothai. Hopefully, we gave you enough inspiration and information to explore the beautiful ruins of Sukhothai, as well as other cool activities in this popular city. In case you wonder what food you should not miss, check out our food application named TopTravelFoods. Instead of recommending good restaurants, we recommend the best food you should not miss during your holiday in Thailand. That way, you can easily experience the amazing Thai cuisine to the fullest. The app is available for both iOS and Android and is completely free.