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Sukhothai or not?

Posted by valentinaforno on 30/8/2012 at 05:54

Hi all, I am planning a trip to Thailand with my boyfriend in January.

After Bangkok, we will be headed to Chang Mai and from there to Siem Reap in Cambodia. My boyfriend wants to stop in Lop Buri because he wants to see the monkeys, then we could go straight to Chang Mai or go to Sukhothai first. We don't have many days and if we go to Sukhothai we will have only 2 days to spend in Chang Mai.

Now, my question is: can we skip Sukhothai given the fact that we will spend 3 full days in Angkor Wat (similar temples), or should we go anyway and spend less time in Chang Mai? Thank you for the advices!

#1 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33

Posted by MADMAC on 30/8/2012 at 06:42

Without knowing the full itinerary it's hard to say. But the general rule of thumb is less is more.

#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


Posted by valentinaforno on 30/8/2012 at 07:02

We will be staying a little more than 3 weeks, and the itinerary is the following:
Bangkok (4 days)
Lop Buri (day trip)
Sukhothai ?
Chang Mai (4 days if we don't go to Sukhothai, otherwise 2 days)
Siem Reap (3 days)
Koh Phi Phi /Koh Lanta (1 week)
Kanchanaburi (2-3 days)
Back home

Here I didn't count the transfer days, as you can see, but they are counted in my detailed itinerary.

So really my question is: would you go to Sukhothai anyway or stay more in Chang Mai?

Thanks!

#3 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33

Posted by exacto on 30/8/2012 at 17:39

It would depend on how important the history and ruins are to you. If you are a archeologist or a social scientist, then the stopover in Sukhothai might be worth the time to you. I love Sukhothai and spend four very happy days there in 2009. But if you are just looking to have fun on your holiday while visiting some extra cool stuff, then I'd move straight along to Chiang Mai for the shopping and the massages and the amazing variety of food and street life. This would be particularly true, for me anyway, if I were going to spend a full three days at Angkhor Wat. Just so you know, Chiang Mai has its share of interesting cultural stuff too, so you won't be wasting your time there either.

Another option might be to include a quick stopover in Ayutthaya on your day trip up to Lop Buri. You could grab one of the quick two-hour tours from a tuk-tuk in Ayutthaya before heading onwards to Lop Buri. Most folks I know think Sukhothai is better than Ayutthaya from a ruins/ancient city point of view, but Ayutthaya is easy to visit and from a time and effort spent point of view, you get a lot for a little. Once you get to Lop Buri, you can continue straight to Chiang Mai by overnight sleeper train. Just book that onward train berth as far in advance as you can to make sure you get the time/day you want. Cheers.

#4 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,651
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Posted by MADMAC on 30/8/2012 at 21:59

The oher question - perhaps less pertinent, is how deep into architecture and history you want to go. The dominant ruins in Ayuthaya are Khmer influenced, whereas Sukhothai is more Thai (although given it's relationship with the Khmer of the period, Khmer elements are still strongly present). Given that you are spending three days in Siem Reap, I presume one of you is very interested in older Khmer architecture (of course, maybe you are just going there because it's impressive - like most people I suppose), in which case exxacto's recommendation of Ayuthaya makes even more sense.

#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by valentinaforno on 31/8/2012 at 08:16

We are not archeologists or the like and we are not "into" Khmer architecture, we fall into the category of people that go to Angkor for the magnitude of the site. Don't get me wrong though, we love temples and ancient civilization. I've read a lot about Sukhothai and Ayutthaya and I would be more interested in Sukhothai. However, we are not going to Thailand just for the temples, so probably we are better off going to Chang Mai and experience other aspects of the Thai culture. We want to spend a day at the elephant farm, for instance (the one where you take care of the animals instead of watching them painting or doing idiotic things for the sake of tourists). I was just in doubt because I didn't want to miss a milestone of Thailand as everyone speak about Sukhothai of. Thanks for your reply, very helpful!

#6 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33

Posted by DLuek on 31/8/2012 at 11:19 TF writer

Good advice from Mac and Exacto already.

I don't have much to add except that I was just in Sukhothai and had a great experience there. Still, it wouldn't have been so great if I had felt the need to rush through - it's much better if explored at a relaxed pace, and I wouldn't want to miss out on the great food and chill-out time by the river in New Sukhothai.

If you're set on the itinerary above then I'd save Sukhothai for next trip, but personally I'd go Sukhothai over Kanchanaburi any day.

Otherwise it's a solid itinerary for a three-week trip.

#7 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,173
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Posted by Captain_Bob on 31/8/2012 at 11:46

There are (fat overfed) monkeys at Angkor too, so you can skip Lopburi. The Sukhothai Historical Park is nice, but if you're on limited time I'd skip it and there are tons of old temples in Chiang Mai. Only 2 days in CM is a waste. I'd even spend one less day in Bangkok in favor of CM. From there to Siem Reap then Siem Reap to Phi Phi is a long way - hope you have some flights planned.

#8 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,891

Posted by valentinaforno on 31/8/2012 at 12:44

Thank you all. Captain Bob, yes, we do have flights planned. I actually want to book them and to do so I need to figure the itinerary exactly. I actually had an alternative itinerary: from Siem Rep to Koh Chang and then BKK without doing the south, but then I've read so many opinions saying that the islands south are just much better that I changed my mind. Has anyone been on Koh Chang before? Do you think I'm doing the right thing going south?

And seen that DLuek brought it up: what do you guys think? Best to skip Kanchanaburi and go to Sukhothai ? I am interested in the II world war museums over there, and also in the Erawan falls, and therefore I didn't even consider skipping it for Sukhothai but I am very interested to know what people that have been there before think.

Thanks!

#9 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33

Posted by Tilapia on 31/8/2012 at 14:03

Not much I can add to what's already been mentioned already, but it is true that Sukhothai is a Thai milestone being the first capital of the country and the Buddhas are impressive and unique to the area and time period. You can also see the entire area in one day (including Si Satchanalai ... if you rent a motorbike) and during the early morning and later part of the afternoon there is practically nobody around. Si Satchanalai is more impressive than Sukhothai, in my opinion, and worth the trip.

Both the New and Old Sukhothai cities are fairly quiet, serene places that happen to also be quite inexpensive. One of the downsides (if on a time budget) is that if you are on the train you will have to disembark in Phitsanulok and then catch a bus or songthaew to Sukhothai, which will add another hour onto your trip. Old Sukhothai is another 12 km away. However, it is possible to get buses straight to Chiangmai from the bus terminal without having to go back to Phitsanulok.

Kanchanaburi is also a really nice town in a lovely setting. Erawan is beautiful. The Jeath War Museum and POW cemeteries are quite good from a historical point and, of course, there's the bridge. Lots and lots of really nice guest houses on the riverbank and also floating on the river. The train trip from Bangkok/Thonburi is really nice and you can go straight from Kanchanaburi to Ayuthaya and onto the train or bus to continue your trip.


I lived just outside of Lopburi for some time a while back and although I enjoyed Lopburi (the old market, a great museum, and the older wooden neighbourhoods), I would not make a special trip there if I was on a time budget. However, if monkeys are what you want to see, it will be worth the stop because you'll get more than your fill of them there and probably won't want to see another for a very long time.

Why not consider one of the Cambodian islands if you are going to be in Cambodia anyway? I think there is going to be an updated article on the Cambodian islands in the near future, but here's last year's ... https://www.travelfish.org/feature/225

From Southern Cambodia you can continue back to Thailand with a stop in Trat and/or one of the islands in Trat Province, and save yourself the long trip south? From Trat Province you are less than a day away from Bangkok if traveling overland.

#10 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,496
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Posted by valentinaforno on 1/9/2012 at 06:21

Thanks Tilapia. I've actually considered Koh Rong in Cambodia, but it turned out it will require much more time to get there (and back) than going to south Thailand. I am very unhappy to leave Sukhothai out, but I'm a bit stuck with the schedule. Don't know what to leave out. Leave out Lop Buri will give us 1 day more so probably that would be a good option, but then my boyfriend will be disappointed as he really wants to see the monkeys.
To include Sukhothai and all the rest would mean go to Koh Chang instead of Koh Phi Phi and I'm not sure I want to do that. I'm really stuck!!!

#11 valentinaforno has been a member since 30/8/2012. Posts: 33

Posted by somtam2000 on 1/9/2012 at 07:20 admin

Just a quick note re Sukhothai - I've a bucketload of new research for there that will be online tomorrow -- lots of great new places to stay :)

#12 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,568
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Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 3/9/2012 at 09:05

I would skip Chiang Mai - dull city with nothing of interest. Do Kanch and Suk instead. You can fly to Suk with Bangkok Air or bus it.

#13 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by somtam2000 on 3/9/2012 at 19:27 admin

The new Sukhothai material is all online now.

Cheers

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Posted by MADMAC on 3/9/2012 at 22:07

"I would skip Chiang Mai - dull city with nothing of interest."

Man you're kidding right?

#15 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 4/9/2012 at 09:04

No the city is very boring during the day and that terrible night market starts up at night. I've never seen so much cheap junk in a market and it's all the same crap. It's also the most touristy city in all of Thailand. There's 20 farangs for every Thai anywhere near the night market. I walked around to some quieter spots to get away from them but the city has little character.

Best thing to do in CM is hire a car and get out of there. The roads heading to Phayao and Chiang Rai are quiet scenic. Doi Tung is a nice spot to stop as well. Then you have Lot cave near soppong which is a great cave.

Next time I visit CM I'll be hiring a car and leaving straight away for Lampang and onto Udon via many stops.

#16 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 4/9/2012 at 10:54

Night Market? Night markets are for getting a cheap meal, not a sight seeing tour. It's just a night market. They're a dime a dozen. Who cares about the night market.

Chiang Mai is an old city with a ton of history. It has some good nightlife (including a small, budding salsa scene) and some decent food. It's a reasonable sized city. If you don't like Chiang Mai, you probably don't much like cities.

#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 4/9/2012 at 19:01

No, I like Bangkok. It has a lot more character than CM which is dull. You can get good food all over Thailand. CM is like a poor man's Bangkok. Why drink a light beer when you can have the real deal?

"Who cares about the night market."

Going to night markets is one of the best things to do at night if they have good food/interesting things and aren't full of tourists. It's a shame that one is so touristy and so full of junk.

#18 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 5/9/2012 at 00:07

"Going to night markets is one of the best things to do at night if they have good food/interesting things and aren't full of tourists."

I guess you and I will just have to agree to disagree.

#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 5/9/2012 at 07:31

Suprised you would live in a quiet spot like Mukdahan if you find Chiang Mai so appealing.

#20 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 5/9/2012 at 07:44

Muk isn't that quiet. It has that reputation from accounts written 20 years ago, but the city has grown very rapidly. It's got a robust nightlife, lots of shopping (and yes, a night market), an ATV park, a shooting range and your usual assortment of massage places and restaraunts. In fact, the traffic is so thick, sometimes I think I'm in Bangkok (streets were not made for he volume of traffic they are carrying).

#21 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 5/9/2012 at 09:31

It would be half the size of CM and 99% less farangs

#22 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 5/9/2012 at 12:05

Yeah, almost no anglos. That's true. You want to live here, learn to speak Thai. There is no "expat community" and there are no "expat bars" - Picking Cowboy is the closest thing and I went there tonight to get a burger and there was only one other white guy there. This isn't the kind of place to draw white people. We don't even get many backpackers here.

But otherwise it's a real city. Not a big one, but bigger than portrayed. It's definitely not "sleepy", the expression all the guide books like.

#23 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 5/9/2012 at 18:19

The guidebooks portray CM as exotic gem of the north and then you arrive and it's like walking around a european city. Rather spend time out your way.

#24 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 6/9/2012 at 05:16

"Rather spend time out your way."

I think it depends on what you're looking for. Chiang Mai lies in a nice geograghic spot, and if you enjoy city life, but find Bangkok overwhelming, then Chiang Mai should be a good fit. I like Khon Kaen a lot - if it had a salsa scene it would be perfect.

#25 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by sayadian on 7/9/2012 at 01:21

Interesting take on Sukothai et al. IMO Ayuthaya isn't a patch on Sukothai.Ayuthaya is too spreaf put among the modern city but dining by the river id a lovely experience and very economical.
I agree with Leornard what HAS Chiang Mai got that makes it special? Doi Setup? Yes but what else.It's Thailand's 2nd biggest city and feels like a city-noisy and brash.If your refering to the countryside you'd be better off around Chiang Rai or a host of other Northern destinations-a lot smaller and easier to get out of.Back to Sukothai.I found it impressive because it steeps you in its history with a special atmosphere so you don' haveto have a particular interest in Khmer/Thai antiquities.Spend time in Sukothsi much morr relaxef than buying tourist trash in chiang Mai

#26 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by sayadian on 7/9/2012 at 01:29

Help.As you can see from above I can't use the editor on my Android.Is it incompatible?
Any ideas?

#27 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by sayadian on 7/9/2012 at 01:45

...And someone mentioned Kantchannaburi as a nice destination.If you mean further up the train line there's some lovely countryside but Kannchanaburi itself has turned into a dump-unless your thing is bar crawling.I eas shocked last year how seedy its become since the last time I was there 20 years ago.It's the same in Cambodia- lack of ideas,either that or there a lot of alcoholics there.Why does rvery farang set up a bar? Abyway if you stay there have one for me or 2 or 3 or get rat-arsed before you've got 500 metres.Try Nam Tok much nicer down there.

#28 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 7/9/2012 at 11:37

I agree Saya, Kanch town is a bit of a touristy dump now but the outer area is real nice. Go 40km past it and stay around Sai Yok and it's nice. You need a car to stay out that way though to get the best from it.

CM has nothing special. I don't get why people rave about it. There isn't one thing there you can't find elsewhere and being a city you lose the relaxed charm of a town and a river.

Khon Kaen I've never been but my neighbour used to live there and he says it's boring so don't know who to believe. Mac and others on Udon forum say it's a cool place. I guess I'll have to check it out myself one time and see.

#29 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 7/9/2012 at 11:43

"I think it depends on what you're looking for"

sometimes i dont know what im looking for.

matt andersen says it best:

SOMETHING IN BETWEEN


YOU’RE WALKIN’ DOWN THIS ROAD ALONE
HOPIN’ THAT YOU’LL FIND
A LITTLE PEACE OF MIND
A LITTLE PEACE OF MIND
YOU’RE HOPIN’ TO FIND
A LITTLE PEACE OF MIND
YOU PACK SOME CLOTHES,
LOCK YOUR DOORS
YOU’RE NEEDING A CHANGE
IT ALL FEELS THE SAME
IT ALL FEELS THE SAME
YOU NEED A CHANGE
IT ALL FEELS THE SAME
YOU SET YOUR SIGHTS
ONE EAST AND WEST
AND ALL THAT’S IN BETWEEN
LOOKIN’ HARD TO SEE
LOOKIN’ HARD TO SEE
YOU’RE LOOKIN’ TO SEE
SOMETHING IN BETWEEN
IT’S LONG DAYS AND HARD MILES
BUT STILL YOU WANT TO GO
TO FIND WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
TO FIND WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
YOU WANT TO GO
TO FIND WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW
YOU LIVE YOUR DAYS
THROUGH BAD AND GOOD
AND SOMETHIN’ IN BETWEEN
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE
THERE WILL ALWAYS BE
SOMETHIN’ IN BETWEEN
WHEN YOU’VE FINALLY, SEEN IT ALL
AND FOUND WHAT YOU NEED
SOMETHIN’ IN BETWEEN
SOMETHIN’ IN BETWEEN
YOU’R GONNA FIND SOMETHING IN BETWEEN
ALL YOU’LL EVER NEED IS SOMETHIN’ IN BETWEEN

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdBi8hDkozg

#30 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 7/9/2012 at 12:26

Khon Kaen has a firly large expat community, but the city is big enough to absorb them without running into one every minute. The advantage of that is there are places (particularly food) that cater to Farang taste. Big plus. Of course, if you're a tourist then that's much less important. But if you live here...

I think it's a great place for young backpackers who want to party with their Thai counterparts (as oppossed to hanging with other backpackers) because the uni is huge and the uni quarter is large and packed with bars and clubs for those kids. Great place for 20 somethings to meet Thai 20 somethings who will actually want to get to know you.

#31 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 9/9/2012 at 09:31

I'm not 20 anymore and while some of these 21yo women have cute faces they are too dumb and silly to go out with.

#32 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 9/9/2012 at 22:27

So for you the Uni factor is not a plus. But for a young backpacker, it certainly should be.

It also depends on what you want. I'm a city guy. I don't have a great facination with old Khmer ruins. I am interested in Thailand as it is now, as oppossed to how it was 100 years ago. I'm not particularly interested in waterfalls or nature. For some people those things are draws, and cities are just mounds of concrete laced with traffic and hold no interest. But for those who are interested in contemporary Thai urban life, Khon Kaen is a great example.

#33 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 9/9/2012 at 22:39

They should be but are too busy with Pai, KSR and FMPs pretending to be cool.

#34 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148

Posted by MADMAC on 10/9/2012 at 08:23

Leonard, I am afraid you are probably correct there. And my son is glad for it. He likes being the only young white guy around!

#35 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957


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