As mentioned in the Chaing Mai section we traveled from Chaing Mai to Sukhothai by train. Both cities are located in what is considered Northern Thailand.
In Thailand, trains are a less expensive than plane but more comfortable than bus option for travel. Seats can be reserved and the cars on 1st & 2nd class trains are reasonably comfortable. The ticket price often will include a snack, although it would be wise to bring along your own preferred food and beverage if you’ll be taking a long journey as the snacks we’ve had on Thai trains have been mediocre at best.
In this case we took the 2nd class Train Number 12 departing at 8:45 am from Chiang Mai, heading south. Just over 6 hours later, we pulled into the Phitsanulok Station. The one-way adult fare was under $15 USD. If we had stayed on that same particular train, we would have arrived in Bangkok Hualamphong station at 8:25 pm. The adult fare for the entire Chiang Mai to Bangkok journey on #12 would have been roughly $20 USD.
We had arranged for Nook Tourguide and her fiancée/driver Eak (“Ed”) to meet us at the Phitsanulok Station. From the station, it was a short walk to Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahatat Woramahawihan (aka Wat Yai) to see the Phra Buddha Chinnarat, a gold-plated Buddha image that is considered by many to be the 2nd most beautiful Buddha image in all of Thailand (after only the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok.)
We took a short walk around central Phitsanulok and drove about 45 minutes to Sukhothai. After a long day getting there, it was such a pleasure to step into our beautifully designed room at the Tharaburi Resort. We had read that it was a nice hotel but it exceeded our expectations. Not only was the room large and beautifully designed, it had a very modern bathroom and sliding doors opening onto a garden area. The service was great and our 1 dinner at the hotel was excellent. Because our schedule would only allow us to spend about 18 hours total in Sukhothai, a part of the reason we selected it was the close proximity to the Old City.
We awoke the next morning to heavy rain but as the day progressed, the weather improved. One benefit of the rain is that it kept virtually everyone else away so we had the ancient capital pretty much completely to ourselves.
What is known locally as the “Old City” was the first capital of Siam. It was constructed in the 13th century in the Burmese style (as apposed to the Khmer style) and is about 6 miles from the modern city of Sukhothai. There are some beautiful Buddha images and some structures but most of the buildings are un-restored. There is a museum not far from the capital grounds.
There are also other temples and Buddha images in the nearby countryside that were built by noblemen living in the area at the height of power in Sukhothai
Click here for a short video we shot Sukhothai archaeological park.
After touring the park, we headed east for the long drive to Udon Thani, which took the rest of the day.