Planning a Trip
By Plane -- From Bangkok, Bangkok Airways (tel. 02265-5678; www.bangkokair.com) operates two flights per week connecting the capital, Sukhothai, and Chiang Mai, through their private airport 27km (17 miles) from Sukhothai. Contact them in Chiang Mai (tel. 05328-1519), or at the Sukhothai airport (tel. 05564-7224). Bangkok Airways can arrange transfers to New Sukhothai by minivan for 90B (US$2.60/£1.40).
By Train -- The nearest rail station is in Phitsanulok. From there you can connect by local air-conditioned bus, leaving hourly for New Sukhothai (1 hr.; 40B/US$1.15/60p) from the intercity terminal on Highway 12.
By Bus -- Three daily first class, nonstop, air-conditioned buses leave from Bangkok (10am-10:30pm; trip time: 7 1/2 hrs.; 328B/US$9.40/£5.05), departing from the Northern Bus Terminal (tel. 02576-5599). There are also more arduous second-class buses, but avoid them unless you're desperate. From Chiang Mai, Win Tour (tel. 05326-0295) operates air-conditioned service to Sukhothai hourly from 6:30am to 5:30pm (5hrs.; 218B/US$6.25/£3.35).
Sukhothai has no TAT office; the closest one is in Phitsanulok (tel. 05525-2742). There's a tourist police point (tel. 1155) opposite the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum. The main police station is at the junction of Singhawat and Si Intharathit roads. The Sukhothai Hospital (tel. 05561-0280) is at 2/1 Jarot Withithong Rd. The Post Office is down near the river on Nikhon Kasem Road.
Sukhothai Historical Park (or meuang kao, "old city") lies 12km (7 1/2 miles) east of New Sukhothai. Built along the banks of the Yom River, New Sukhothai offers the bulk of the best accommodations options. The selection is growing -- whether you're looking for laid-back cool or decked-out comfort, you're likely to find your desired niche. Si Satchanalai Historic Park, also along the Yom River, is 56km (35 miles) north of New Sukhothai.
The Loy Krathong festival here is an exceptional spectacle. This 3-day festival is held on the full moon of the 12th lunar month (usually Nov). Crowds gather at rivers, klongs, lakes, and temple fountains to drop small banana leaf floats or krathong, bearing candles, incense, a flower, and a coin. As the krathong glides downstream, it symbolizes a letting go of the previous year's sins and unhappiness. Sukhothai celebrates with fireworks, traditional dancing, and a music and light show.