Sukhothai meaning ‘the dawn of happiness’ was the first capital of Siam (now Thailand). It was the capital for 200 years until the Ayutthaya Kingdom took over. Ayutthaya was then the capital for 400 years until 1767 when Burma invaded and destroyed both Sukhothai and Ayutthaya. What is now left in both cities are strangely beautiful burnt Buddhist ruins that you can explore by bike and discover some cool Thai history.
We arrived in Ayutthaya by train from Bangkok and walked with our rucksacks a few painful kilometres in 32 degree heat to our guesthouse. Once we’d stopped sweating and downed some water we hopped on bikes and ventured out into the ancient city to get our bearings.
Fortunately the roads around the historical park have cycle paths. This is a good way to explore the area, much more sustainable than a moped or tuk tuk and less sweaty than walking. To ensure you see all of the temples and ruins all you need to do is follow the green path. Many of the temples are free, however the main ones each cost 50 baht entry. We found that the best thing to do was to buy a temple pass which cost 220 baht that you can use over multiple days to gain entry into the main temples (it works out 80 baht cheaper than buying separate tickets).
Ayutthaya was HOT. A good way to enjoy the temples and to avoid the extreme heat is to visit between 4 and 6pm, this way you can also experience the beautiful sunsets.
From Ayutthaya we got a bus (7 hours) to Sukhothai New Town which was 12km from where we wanted to be. To get to the Old Town we managed to find another backpacking couple and share a tuk tuk to our hotel.
Similar to Ayutthaya you can get around Sukhothai by bike. The whole historical park is car and moped free so you can cruise round the temples at leisure.
I’d read that Ayutthaya was better than Sukhothai, however I’d probably disagree. Sukhothai’s ruins have been renovated slightly more and the historical park has some nice chill out areas with cracking views. Also the fact you can ride round without having to go onto a main road makes the experience more enjoyable.
You only really need a couple of days in each city to be able to see all the sights. However we were supposed to leave Sukhothai today but we extended our stay here as we’re in a really nice place and have a pool. Couldn’t resist a little bit of luxury for a few days. Our next stop is Chiang Mai which we’re getting the bus to on Wednesday.
As usual, if you’ve been to Chiang Mai get in touch with things to do.
Sending love back home.