Sukhothai, Thailand is a city in northern Thailand and home of the ruins from the ancient city bearing the same name. The name translates to “dawn of happiness.” Adventure travelers that stop in will understand the phrase after spending any time in the ancient city.
Sukhothai is located about halfway between Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Travelers head north to Chiang Mai for elephant and rafting tours in droves, but not as many make a stop in Phitsanoluk and catch a bus to Sukhothai to experience the peaceful ruins.
I shared the park with groups of Thai school children that were taken around in trams, but surprisingly few others. Every time I passed a tram full of children I would yell “sawetdi kap,” and a tram load of young voices would echo the same in reply while smiling and waving.
Although the location is popular, the city does not see the tourists numbers like Angkor Wat or Chiang Mai does. I had some of the ruins to myself even in the center of the park.
The best way to see the park is by bike. At the bike rental shop the elderly lady pointed to a sign that read “do not bike on grass.” While taking off on the bike at the first stop I fumbled when I took off and struggled to keep the bike straight. I veered off course into the grass and promptly experienced a flat tire.
I am going to catch hell I thought to myself as I walked the bike back to the shop with a hang dog look on my face. Sullenly, I entered the shop and pointed to my bike and the flat. Without even a change of expression the lady offered another bike.
I felt so relieved and thankful. Thai people are so gracious and accommodating. I think she must have sensed the sincere inner agony I was experiencing for having violated the one sacred rule of the bike shop and spared me any more emotional turmoil.
With a new lease on a bike I returned with vigor to the ruins and had a great time pedaling around the beautiful grounds of the park.
Getting to the park can be a little tricky as one needs to take a bus from Phitsanoluk, which is a stop on the train between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Then one must grab a bus to Sukhothai, but the traveler is not done yet. The town of Sukhothai is the new town. The old town is about 12km away. Take a songthaew, which is a pickup truck with rows of padded seats in the back. There are also direct buses from Mochit in Bangkok for the few travelers that are not going to Chiang Mai.
I found it easy to get directions whenever confused not only in Sukhothai, but in Thailand in general. Virtually every Thai person knows when they see a foreigner in Sukhothai that they are here to see the ruins. If you get lost just take out a map and look out of sorts and in seconds someone will help guide to you to your destination.
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