We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Anne-Marie, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Anne-Marie is from Belgium, and submitted the following report about Sukhothai. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: Thai, English
Reasons to go: Slowly working my way down by bus from Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand to Bangkok, I decide to make a detour to Sukhothai. The small peaceful city has little to boast about but offers decent accommodation to lean purses. More importantly, it is conveniently located near its ancient namesake, once the capital of Thailand, now a historical park and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A blue songthaew provides a shuttle service from the the outskirts of new Sukhothai to the park. It could optimistically be called a minibus, but 7.5 miles (12 km) on wooden benches and hard suspension – believe me – you call it by its Thai name, ‘two benches.’
My travel guide claims Sukhothai – Dawn of Happiness – to be an extensive but well-maintained area of partially rebuilt ruins. I feel some reticence when I read about thousands of visitors making it one of the most visited ancient sites in Thailand. However, the vastness of the site and its subdivision into five zones can easily accommodate the number of visitors who respectfully admire the remains of the old palace, the temples, and the Buddha statues.
Outside the park entrance hundreds of bikes are lined up. I rent one for the day. It is well worth considering this mode of transport. Although the serene park-like aspect of the area invites you to take a stroll, the distance between the ruins is not to be underestimated (not to mention the heat at noon).
This is my first visit to Thailand but even I can appreciate the variety of architectural styles. First and foremost, Wat Mahatat with its traditional lotus-shaped chedi (or stupa). The three ornate prangs or pagodas of Wat Si Sawai in Khmer-style architecture show a clear Hindu influence. How different are the bell-like stupas with Sinhalese Buddhist influence of Wat Sa Si reflecting in a pond.
All over the park, giant Buddhas look serenely upon the visitors who reverently leave an offering of marigolds. Leaving Wat Si Chum with its graceful Buddha sculpture tightly fitting in what remains of a mandapa, I take a wrong turn and end up cycling through fields of marigolds. Am I lost? Sheltered from the sun, women are sorting out their harvest of fluffy golden flowers, destined for the markets of Bangkok. I try to pronounce Su-kho-thai as best I can, mimicking a silly lost tourist.
All smiles, they point me in the right direction. Thank you ladies, Kob Khun Ka!
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 2 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 2 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1.5 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)