Sukhothai vs. Ayutthaya: Which ancient city is better?

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While searching for destinations to visit in Thailand, I often saw people asking, “Which city should I visit, Sukhothai or Ayutthaya?”

Both ancient cities are a must-go if you love historical parks. However, if you have a limited travel time, picking one can be a tough choice. 

I’ve visited both Sukhothai and Ayutthaya on my recent trip to Thailand, and below is my comparison.

Sukhothai Thailand


Five questions to decide between Sukhothai and Ayutthaya Thailand

Where is your base location?

Location is an important factor that will help you decide between Sukhothai and Ayutthaya.

If you are in Bangkok or Southern Thailand, Ayutthaya would be an ideal choice because the trip takes 1 hour.

Ayutthaya can be an exciting day trip or a semi-convenient overnight from Bangkok, Thailand.

If you’re in Chiang Mai or the North of Thailand, properly Sukhothai is a better choice for you. You can make your way down from the North and visit Sukhothai within 5 hours bus ride.

Sukhothai Thailand


How much time do you have?

Although you can explore both Historical parks in one day, I find Sukhothai Historical Park needs more time.

Sukhothai is extensive, and it has five different areas, so a day only may not be enough for your trip. 

Ayutthaya, on the other hand, can be explored in one day.

Sukhothai Thailand


Which one is cheaper?

I find Sukhothai is a cheaper option. Sukhothai parks are divided into five different areas, and each costs 100 Baht to visit. 

On the other hand, each attraction in Ayutthaya requires a certain payment. It may add up a lot if you’d like to visit it all. 

Furthermore, the travel cost in Sukhothai is slightly cheaper. Cheaper food, more affordable hotels, and resorts. 

Sukhothai or Ayutthaya Thailand


Which historical period are you interested in?

Thailand’s history is divided into stages: Sukhothai (1238-1438), Ayutthaya – absorbing the quintessence of Sukhothai culture, and flourished in more than 400 years from 1350-1767, Thon Bori ( 1767-1782) and Rattanakosin (1782 to present).

The ancient city of Ayutthaya, also known as Pra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, was the capital of Thailand for 417 years.

Buddha head embedded in a Banyan tree Ayutthaya Thailand
The famous Buddha head is embedded in a Banyan tree in Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Ayutthaya and Sukhothai have different architecture and cultural attribution, so you may choose to visit either of them depending on your interest.


Which city is more enjoyable?


After the sun came down, Ayutthaya’s old city becomes quite dull. During my visit, the town was a bit dead, with not much going on.

My partner and I both agree that “The city is so weird!”

On our first night in Ayutthaya, we saw many closed restaurants and almost no one on the street. There was no vibe except the backpacker street and the street food market.

It felt like there were no local Thai living in Ayutthaya’s old city, and most tourists just gathered in 2 or 3 small areas. 

That situation remained the same for the whole week.


I find spending the nights in Sukhothai’s old city more enjoyable. Although there were just a few restaurants in the old town, it feels much better. 

We saw people walking around, people chatting, music playing. There’s a friendly vibe, and we loved it. 


Overall: Sukhothai or Ayutthaya?

I prefer visiting Sukhothai to Ayutthaya. The city is quieter, more serene, and still untouched.

However, if you have time, I’d recommend visiting both cities. They both have unique features and offer different experiences.