In a hurry? Don't want to wade through a lot of pages of information? Then just read this one. We've summarized all you really need to know about Sukhothai in a nutshell. Of course, there are still links to all the details, if you want to know more.
Is Sukhothai For You?
Sukhothai is definitely not for everyone. By and large, the only thing to do here is visit the ancient sites, so if you tend to think that every old temple looks like just another pile of rocks or bricks, Sukhothai is probably not for you. Naturally, if you're a serious student of Thai history or art, then you'll want to seriously consider visiting Sukhothai. However, you don't have to be seriously into Thai art to enjoy some time at Sukhothai. If you like to get a little off the tourist trail and soak up some local culture, then Sukhothai is worth considering. The place does get busloads of tours, but most of them are "shoot and run" trips that stop for a few minutes at Wat Mahathat on their way up to Chiang Mai. You can easily have the outlying sites to yourself. Rent a bike, take it easy, enjoy the countryside.
When to go
Given that a visit to Sukhothai generally involves being outdoors a lot, the best time to visit is the cool, dry season, from December to February.
How to Get There
You can fly to Sukhothai from Bangkok. Inter-city buses are also an option. See "Getting There" for more information.
Where to Stay
If you plan to spend most of your time visiting the old city, then the best place to stay is one of the few small hotels just outside the city walls. Two good options are the Legendha and the Tharaburi.
There aren't any taxis in Sukhothai, and only a few crude tuk-tuks. If you're staying in the new city and want to get to the old, there are songtaews (a sort of truck-bus) which travel between the new city and the old on a regular basis. For getting around the old city, the best way really is by bicycle. Some hotels and guest houses provide them free to guests, or you can rent them from several shops outside the Historical Park entrance. The rental fee for just one day is 30 Baht (0.78 USD).
What To See & Do
There's not much of this to be had in Sukhothai. There is a nice market in the old city, as well as a sort of weekly 'swap meet' on Saturday afternoons just outside the eastern gate.
The currency of Thailand is the "Baht" - sometimes spelled "Bath" but pronounced to rhyme with "hot." One Baht is divisible into 100 Satang. Major credit cards are accepted by hotels and large shops, but "hard cash" is the preferred tender almost everywhere. Travelers checks are not widely accepted outside of hotels, so change them for cash at a bank exchange, which you'll find in any and every tourist destination. See our money matters page for more information.