The ancient city of Sukhothai and the town of Sukhothai were definitely one of our favorite places in Thailand. Not only was I able to find yummy Thai food (at last!) as well as finding a quaint, easy to navigate town with an amazing history and a gorgeous hotel.
Historical Sukhothai is about 45 sq km. As we approached the beautiful historic city I can easily understand why it is one of the most visited sites in all of Thailand. While many people take a tour bus for the day from Bangkok we chose to stay for two days. I am so glad we did. Sukhothai is a very laid back town with not a lot to do aside from the historical city. This was a welcomed break for us and we loved the laid back vibe and friendly people.
One of the highlights of our trip was riding our bikes (rented for about 100 bht from our hotel) through the historic city and the surrounding area. I would definitely recommend doing this as we happened upon some great photo opportunities and were able to stop and enjoy some tea and coffee along the way in the coffee shop.
The historical city of Sukhothai was the first kingdom of Siam in the 13th and 14th centuries. The Kingdom has been credited with many inventions and developments of the Siamese (Thai) culture including the Thai architecture known as the “Sukhothai style”.
The most famous king who ruled Sukhothai was King Ramkhamhaeng who was considered the found father of the Thai Nation. There is a beautiful monument in his honor at the historical site. He is credited with creating the beginning of the Thai alphabet.
The Sukhothai kingdom is credited with many achievements in art, language, writing, law and architecture. They even had a hydraulic engineering system with reservoirs, ponds, flood control and canals.
The royalty encouraged the growth of Buddhism which is evident in the surviving temples. They also built monasteries honoring and teaching about the Lord Buddha. King Ramkhamhaeng was responsible for making Buddhism the official religion of Thailand, which is how it remains today.
I was determined to visit Wat Sri Chum. It is is about 500m west of the historical city. The largest Buddha is there standing about 36 ft (11m) wide and 49 ft (15m) high. The Buddha is surrounded by brick walls. It is said that a commander asked a soldier to go into the Wat to deliver a message to the troops standing outside. The troops didn’t see the soldier enter and when they heard him speak they thought it was a message directly from Buddha. They were mesmerized and ever since Wat Sri Chum has had the nickname of the whispering Buddha.
This incredible Buddha is worth the visit. If you can go at sunrise or sunset I would highly recommend it. We were a little too late for both but caught the last bit of each and were still incredibly impressed!
(The gold leaf you see on the Buddhas is actually part of an offering placed on the Buddha by locals.)
We ventured into town on the first night for some Thai food and found Sukhothai noodles. This dish is absolutely amazing and must be tried! We loved it so much we went back for it the next night. Almost all of the restaurants serve it so you shouldn’t have a problem. The veggies are delicious with the noodles and the spicy sauce. Plus it is can easily be vegetarian without sacrificing all the flavor like some of the other Thai dishes.
We had a driver to Sukhothai as we were coming from the River Kwai, but you can easily take a train or bus from Bangkok and Chiang Mai. You can fly into Sukhothai if you are coming from Bangkok or Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai.
As I said we loved our hotel, the Legendha Sukhothai. It was pretty authentic, with an amazing staff and the perfect location. We walked to the back of the hotel and were right next to an ancient Wat! Spend an afternoon by the pool and you won’t be sorry. They even make an amazing mixed green salad, my first and only in Thailand!