Thailand Temples: Ayutthaya & Sukhothai
Ayutthaya or Sukhothai?
If you don’t have time for both, I’d go for Ayutthaya.
Overall, I found the temples in Ayutthaya much more impressive than the ones in Sukhothai. We didn’t make it to Angkor Wat or Bagan on this trip, (next time!) but I don’t think it would be fair to compare these smaller temples to them. If you have been there, these may not impress you the same way they impressed me.
In Sukhothai there are two main options for seeing temples:
- One is Sukhothai Historical Park, which is just outside the city center, about a 20 minute “bus” (it’s actually a songtheaw) ride for 30bt.
- The other is Si Satchanalai Historical Park, which according to the staff at our guest house takes 4 hours by bus round-trip. We decided to just do the one in town as neither of us are big temple buffs.
We rented bikes at the shop right across from where the bus dropped us for 30bt each for the day. Being the frugal travelers that we are, we only paid to see the main area. (100bt each plus 10bt bike fee.) There are two other points, north and east of the inner walls where you must pay 100bt again in both spots. There was enough for us to see without spending the extra money and we weren’t up for dealing with the heat for any longer! Hold on to your tickets so you can go in and out of the walls to see some cool wats outside of them.
In Ayutthaya, the main sites are all pretty close to each other. For some stupid reason we decided against renting bicycles to get around. Instead we took a tuk tuk from our guest house (Hostel Goodmorning by Tamarind) to Wat Chaiwattanarm for 80 baht. Entry is 50 baht per person for each different temple area. We tried to get in with the same tickets later at other sites based on some tripadvisor comments stating that you can enter everything with the same ticket, but it didn’t work for us. Anyways, Wat Chaiwattanarm was awesome!
From here we walked to the Reclining Buddha (Wat Lokayasutharam) which was really far in the heat, and not too impressive because of what appeared to be a protective covering for restoration.
You don’t have to pay for this though. From here we walked to the historical park.
After that were planning to find the Buddha head in the banyan tree, but got tired of paying 50bt per site, plus being super sweaty and taking more photos sounded less fun than getting a cold drink and taking a shower!
In addition to its temples, I also preferred the city of Ayutthyah to the city of Sukhothai. It’s bigger, it’s only a couple of hours from Bangkok, and I really enjoyed both the day and night markets in Ayutthaya.
Where to eat in Ayutthaya
The day market is huge and right across from KFC in every single direction. I had a super yummy (and hot! ) piece of fried chicken for 20 baht on the main road near ladies selling cut up fruit. Then tucked away down a side street where they were selling lots of meat I found a popular curry takeaway table with huge vats of all kinds of curries. I didn’t want mine in a plastic bag so I asked for a bowl which I didn’t realize you could do! He gave me three giant scoops of rice and two ladles full of green curry with bamboo and chicken and red curry with fish and bamboo. The chicken and fish kind of grossed me out, but at 30 baht for this massive portion I was stoked to eat a ton of bamboo and rice with some pretty tasty, but disappointingly not spicy curries.
Such a cute little moment happened while I was walking around eating my curry. Two adorable old Thai ladies selling vegetables looked at me and gestured to me to lower my bowl so they could see what I was eating. I smiled and showed them and they smiled back and said some words of what I took to be approval.
We went to the Bang Lang night market for dinner every night and it was almost as impressive as the day market. We had some fried chicken that was chopped up and thrown in the fryer to get super hot which we REALLY appreciated after lots of lukewarm food in Thailand. This fried chicken lady is towards the end of the food, away from the temple. We also had a delicious juice of passion fruit, pomegranate ( the largest seeds I’ve ever seen!) and guava. It was light and fresh and crisp and I didn’t want to share because it was tiny. But at 25bt you can’t really complain. The juice guy is kind of in the middle of the market, and he’s very popular.
The only sit-down restaurant we went to was Lung Lek, to try the famous boat noodles of Ayutthaya. The quality of the meat was good, and the noodles were nice and chewy, but overall I found the soup much too sweet.
The waiter clearly ripped us off with a 20 baht bag of pork rinds which should have been 10 and I think the English menu had higher prices. It wasn’t even about the money though. It was about his shitty attitude. There are just some people who aren’t nice to foreigners.
Where to eat in Sukhothai
In Sukhothai we mostly ate dinner at the market, which is really just a few blocks of street food options. We had a great papaya salad from the papaya salad lady at the end for only 20 baht, which was finally not sweet like so many we’ve tried. We also got her caramel popcorn 25 baht and peanuts 20 baht for snacks later. Then we ate at the place in the middle of the market with the woks. We had a decent tom yum, pretty nice yellow curry with egg and chicken, and an average stir fried pork with chives, but it was topped with the most perfectly crunchy and runny fried egg I’ve ever had. 130 baht for quite a feast.
I had a delicious and big hot latte for 50 baht at Pai Coffee and guest house. Looks like a really nice place to stay too, but at $16 for a shared bathroom, or $32 for a private, I’ll keep my place, Somprasong Sukhothai Guesthouse, with my own toilet for $10. If you are like me and wake up twice a night on average to pee, shared bathrooms really suck!
We found a Sukhothai noodle stall for lunch that was quite popular but it wasn’t very good. Very sweet broth, pretty gross meat and even grosser meatballs.
Find this northern style pad thai with pork at the stand next to the vegetarian restaurant at the less busy side of the market in Sukhothai.
Which place did you prefer? Does a good bowl of Sukhothai noodles exist?