Situated 427km north of Bangkok, the small city of Sukhothai, which translates as “the dawn of happiness”, features Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It covers over 70 square kilometres and contains many historical buildings and statues, which have been restored since the 1960s. Bikes can be rented in the area and are a great way to get around the park. Formerly the first capital of Siam, the park has many fine temples, statues and monuments with one of the most significant attractions being the Mat Mahathat, with its large seated Buddha. Wat Sri Chum is also an impressive temple. In the city you will find the Ramkhamhaeng National Museum that has a fine collection of artefacts from the sites of Sukhothai.
Some 70 kilometres away to the west of the city by the banks of the Yom River is another major historical site, Si Satchanalai, with over 134 monuments. By contrast to Sukhothai Historical Park, Si Satchanalai has not been so well-preserved and has become somewhat overgrown. But the overgrowth contributes to a unique atmosphere and the site is definitely worth a visit. Again, hiring a bike to get around is recommended.
Another great destination a short distance from Sukhothai is the Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary, which cares for elephants that have been mistreated and improves the living conditions and lives of these animals. They offer a real hands-on experience for all ages but don’t expect elephant rides or shows, as this is not what they are about. What they can offer you is a true intimate experience that will stay with you for the rest of your life. They offer short term accommodation in a truly fantastic, friendly setting.