Getting Lost in the Ancient City of Sukhothai

I have been to Ayutthaya during my first visit to Thailand a couple of years ago. This time around I decided to visit another ancient city during my one month travel from southern to northern Thailand, Sukhothai.

Ancient City of Sukhothai

The bus ride took approximately 7 hours from Chiang Mai City. The ride was comfortable and even came with a small snack and drink. Upon first glance, the city of Sukhothai did not have any vestiges of an ancient and powerful civilization in Thailand. It looked ordinary, like any other small provincial city.

A visit to the historical park opened my eyes to this province's previous heyday. 

Wat Mahathat

The national park is indeed large with several ancient temples and monuments. So I only went to the major ones. The park is segmented into 3 parts, with different entrance fees (100 Baht) for each.

The first ancient monument I visited was Wat Mahathat. This temple complex is the most recognized and important temple in the park. The name of the temple means 'temple of the great relic'. The temple was founded and constructed by Sri Indraditya between 1292 and 1347.

Since this was the biggest and most important temple complex, I took my time exploring. I liked the fact that there were few foreign tourists in the temple complex. I managed to take in and visualize the ancient history of Sukhothai. I have this fascination with ruins and the many questions and mysteries that surround them.

Wat Sa Si

Wat Sa Si is a small yet beautiful temple situated northwest of Wat Mahathat.

Wat Si Sawai

Wat Si Sawai reminded me of Hindu temples I've seen in Little India in various parts of Southeast Asia. Wat Si Sawai is one of the oldest temples in Sukhothai. The temple was founded between the 12th to 13th century as a Hindu Shrine for Vishnu. Later in the 14th century, the temple adapted to the prevalent Buddhist faith in Thailand. The temple's design is an interesting mix of Khmer and Thai art.

Wat Si Chum

Wat Si Chum has a huge mandapa which was constructed in the 14th century by King Maha Thammaracha II. Inside the gargantuan mandapa is an equally large statue of Buddha. The slates found in these temple are one of the oldest remnants of the Thai art of drawing.

Wat Phra Phai Luang

The last temple complex I visited was Wat Phra Phai Luang. The temple complex was built in the 12th century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. After the completion of Wat Mahathat, Wat Phra Phai Luang lost its main ceremonial role and was eventually turned into a Theravada Buddhist temple.

Out of all of the temples I visited in Sukhothai's park, Wat Phra Phai Luang is the one in the most ruinous state. There were plenty of Buddha statues with missing heads and bodies. The sleepy town doesn't offer a lot of attractions aside from the historical park. It's a sleepy and laid back town that has a rich culture and history.

How to Get to Sukhothai

I took the bus from Chiang Mai City to Sukhothai for 239 Baht. I rented a tuktuk from New Sukhothai to explore the old city for 239 Baht for half a day. I only visited two of the sections in Sukhothai, which were the center and north sections. There is a separate 100 Baht entrance fee for each section of the historical park. There are plenty of buses in Mo Chit Terminal that travel from Bangkok to Sukhothai

Where to Stay in Sukhothai

I stayed st Happy Guesthouse in New Sukhothai for 150 Baht per night fan room, shared bathroom.

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