Our pick of the crop
Sukhothai is split into two distinct districts: Old Sukhothai, which is home to the historical park, and the more happening riverside city of New Sukhothai, located 12 kilometres east of the ruins. Great places to stay can be found in both Old and New, but which is right for you?
New versus Old
New Sukhothai is actually quite old, as evidenced by the many century-old wood houses and temples that line the riverside lanes. It's referred to as "new" because it was settled long after the ancient capital of the Sukhothai kingdom, now a historical park in Old Sukhothai. New Sukhothai is a provincial capital where thousands of modern Thais go about their lives.
New Sukhothai boasts a much better selection of budget accommodation, closer proximity to the main bus station and a decent food and nightlife scene. If you hope to meet other travellers and explore the many markets of a colourful Thai city, opt for New Sukhothai. The main drawback is the 12-kilometre ride to the historical park, though frequent public songthaews and plentiful tuk tuks and trishaws make it easy to hit the ruins.
Old Sukhothai is a small town -- one road, really -- that seems to have grown up specifically to meet the needs of travellers. From here the historical park will be within easy walking or bicycling distance from your room. Old Sukhothai also has a better selection of boutique hotels and upscale resorts.
Some travellers will find Old Sukhothai too quiet or boring. The food is limited to one small market and a string of mostly traveller-oriented restaurants, and nightlife is non-existent. If food isn’t an important part of your travel experience and you’d prefer a lower-key scene with easy access to the ruins, Old Sukhothai is for you.
Our pick of the bunch
In New Sukhothai, the long-running TR Guesthouse remains a terrific choice for backpackers in the 200 to 500 baht range. For those with a little more to spend, Blue House offers glossy rooms with creature comforts for 600 baht. Flashpackers with at least 1,000 baht to spend could opt for one of our all-time favourites, the elegant Lotus Village, or settle into a more modern-style room with a swimming pool at Foresto Guesthome.
Budgeteers have far fewer options in Old Sukhothai, but Old City Guesthouse is a decent choice within a three-minute stroll of the ruins. One of five newish places to stay found down a quiet cul de sac around 1.5 kilometres southeast of the historical park, Vieng Tawan Guesthouse boasts classy and comfortable rooms for just 690 baht. The nearby Scent of Sukhothai has a huge swimming pool along with cushy rooms starting at 1,200 baht, while Legendha provides a solid luxury resort experience for around 2,500 baht.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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Our top 10 places to stay in and around Sukhothai