In a nutshell
Why go to Si Satchanalai
A UNESCO heritage site since 1991, Si Satchanalai Historical Park is an open green space featuring temples and ruins dating back to the Sukhothai Kingdom when Si Satchanalai gained importance and prestige in the kingdom due to his strategic location. Some ruins date back to the period of Khmer domination, others are the remnants of the Ayutthaya Kingdom era.
The park is open every day from 8am till 5pm and the entrance fee is THB100.
Outside the Historical Park you will find the impressive and well preserved Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat. A THB20 ticket is required to visit it but the small extra price is definitely worth it.
If you’re planning to stay more than one day and you’re looking for something else to do, Si Satchanalai National Park with his waterfalls and caves is only 60 km away while the neighbouring village of Ban Na Ton Chan participates in an appealing homestay project which allows visitors to take part in the everyday life of a rural community. There are also ancient kilns close to the river.
13 km north of the Historic Park there’s a new town which to be fair doesn’t offer anything relevant from a touristy point of view.
When to go to Si Satchanalai
You can visit the park all year round, but remember that from June to October it’s rainy season, so if you don’t want to get occasionally wet don’t forget to bring an umbrella. The cooler and drier months are December and January and walking around all day long will be more pleasant. Try to avoid weekends and public holidays if possible; Si Satchanalai is not a primary destination for western tourists but it can be sometimes busy with Thai people coming here to visit and pay respect to the religious sites.
Where to stay in Si Satchanalai
For those willing to spend more than one day here, we would recommend to stay away from the actual Si Satchanalai town and search for your accommodation close to the historical sites. On the road from the bus stop and the park you’ll find a few guesthouses that will do the trick for one or two nights. Don’t expect too much luxury, but they’re not as simple and basic as somewhere else in Thailand. They’re all quite nice, well decorated and the hosts are always super friendly and happy to see foreigners sleeping there. Rooms come with an air-con and private bathroom and prices are within the THB500-THB800 range. There is no accommodation available for people on really thigh budget, alas.
Where to eat in Si Satchanalai
Right outside the Historic Park you will find a few small restaurants selling all the most common Thai dishes like noodle soup, fried rice and Pad Thai. Similar simple restaurants can be found along the river and they’re a good spot to watch the sunset while washing down your dinner with a cold beer. One of this, Mee Khao Pan Pak (55 Moo 2 Pisandamri Rd) specializes in traditional food from central Thailand.
Generally speaking, expect to have tasty and authentic food in a very humble setting; prices are extremely cheap – no wonder as international tourism is quite a rarity here (THB30/THB50 for the majority of the dishes). Keep in mind that many places will close quite early so try to be there before 7pm.
How to get around Si Satchanalai
Even if you can visit the Historic Park simply walking around, the best option is to rent a bike especially if you’re going to stay for the night and want to have more choices for dinner other than few places at the entrance of the park.
Bicycles can be rented outside the park entrance or you can ask your guesthouse and they will be able to find one for you.
If you’re coming by bus, close to the bus stop there’s a small shop renting bicycles as well; this will save you from a long walk that otherwise you will have to face to get to the Historic Park entrance. A bicycle for the entire day usually comes for THB30/THB50.
How to get to and from Si Satchanalai
Si Satchanalai is located 60 km north of Sukhothai on the main route between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. There’s no bus station but just a bus stop on the main road 3 km away from the historic sites. If you’re coming from Bangkok, buses to Chiang Mai will depart all day long from Morchit bus terminal but not all of them will stop in Si Satchanalai. Make sure they do before you purchase the ticket. Fares are from THB250 to THB500 depending on the class that you desire and the trip takes 8 hours.
From Sukhothai buses depart almost every hour and with tickets for the 1 hour journey icostings THB60. Keep in mind that the last bus going back to Sukhothai passes Si Satchanalai at 4pm (double check with the driver in the morning since the schedule changes quite frequently).
From Sukhothai you can also consider taking a taxi for the whole day that will cost you no more than THB2000 or you can join one of the organized tours that usually include transportation, a tour guide, the entrance fees and lunch. Check with the travel agencies in town for prices and schedule.
We visited as a day trip from Sukhothai by motorbike. It is about 60 km one-way along very picturesque rural road in a very good condition.
If you’re traveling by car, then an easier option from Sukhothai is to take highway 101 going north. Getting closer to Si Satchanalai you will see signs in English pointing to the Historic Park. Turn left and cross the bridge on the Yom river, then turn right and drive for 1,5 km until you get to the entrance.
Is Si Satchanalai a safe place to visit?
You will hardly have any problem at all visiting Si Satchanalai. Just keep in mind that the park is quite big and walking around during a hot day might cause dehydration, so always bring enough water with you (you can buy it outside the park and also inside close to the major attractions anyway).
While walking around the park, keep an eye on the wooden bridges as some of them have rotten boards.
For any medical issues there is a hospital in Si Satchanalai town.