This past week I was invited to speak at the first ever LGBT Travel Symposium in Thailand in collaboration with Out There Magazine. It was a monumental event that served as Thailand’s coming out party as a welcoming and affirming destination for LGBT travelers.

After my speech, I was lucky enough to go from Bangkok to Sukhothai. Sukhothai, which means Dawn of Happiness, is a Thai city about 250 miles north of Bangkok. It is only about an hour and a half by plane and the tiny airport even has zebras! It’s also a wildly unrated destination for visitors exploring Thailand.

It was by far my favorite part of my two-week adventure through Thailand because it was lowkey, relaxing, and my itinerary was filled with incredible things to do in Sukhothai that had cultural, physical, and artistic components.

By the way, did you know that we have more posts about Thailand? It is my favorite country, after all! Take a look below at our other Thailand travel guides.

Over the next few months, we will be releasing tons more information on Thailand because we are hosting a travel group to Thailand in October of 2018 for lesbian, bisexual, and queer women because Thailand really is the ultimate lesbian vacation destination. Want to join us? Reserve your spot on our lesbian vacation today.

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But without further ado – I give you my absolute favorite parts of visiting the city of Sukhothai.

Enjoy a Thai Massage at Sriwilai Sukhothai Resort & Spa

We stayed at the Sriwilai Sukhothai Resort and Spa and it was hands down my favorite hotel we experienced in Thailand. It’s a luxurious answer to traditional Thai accommodations. While it’s definitely upscale, the property pays homage to Thai design in both the grounds and the rooms that are decorated with local handmade crafts. The grounds are surrounded by lush green landscape and adjacent to Wat Chedi Sung. It’s one of the most relaxing and serene hotels I’ve experienced. Enjoy the services onsite at the Soila Spa. I loved the deep tissue massage but if it’s your first visit to Thailand, embrace the local culture and try a Thai massage.  luxury resort Thailand

 

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Salute the Sun with Sunrise Yoga

The main tourist attraction of Sukhothai is the historic park in the old town. Many people like to wake up early and enjoy the sunrise peeking over the top of the Buddhist temple ruins. It’s one of those surreal travel experiences that I highly recommend. If yoga is your thing, grab a mat from your hotel and salute the rising sun while taking in the views of the 700+-year-old religious shrines. It’s an experience you won’t forget.

 

Pay Respect to Rchana Buddha Image at Wat Sri Chum

The Wat Si Chum is 13th-century temple located in the North zone of the Sukhothai historical park. The main event is a giant image of Buddha on display. While we were there we saw Buddhist monks and nuns paying their respects and got to witness their devotion first hand.

Buddha statue in Thailand

Make Your Own Sangkalak Sukhothai Style Pottery at Ganesha Gallery

Sukhothai stoneware is the most famous style of Thai ceramics. They’re stunningly beautiful and make an incredible souvenir. I like to think of myself as a “doer” so I really enjoyed trying my hand at painting our own ceramic dishes at Ganesha Gallery. While my design wasn’t nearly as beautiful as the local craftspeople, I had a lot of fun trying.

Take a Bike Tour Around the Sukhothai Historical Park with K Shop

Thailand is hot – like – extremely hot – so I wasn’t stoked when I realized we’d be taking a bike tour mid-afternoon around the Sukhothai Historical Park, but it turned out to be one of my favorite things we did during my entire two weeks in Thailand. I loved that we could ride between each temple with the bikes creating a gentle breeze as we peddled our way around. I loved that it was a physical activity to break up the history and photo taking. When you visit Sukhothai don’t miss out on the biking tours.

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Pottery class in Thailand

Watch Goldsmiths Making Traditional Jewelry

Sukhothai is very well known as a popular place to buy gold and silver jewelry. Head to Somsamai Gold Shop to explore the workshop and watch local artisans design custom jewelry with solid gold. After your tour of the workroom, stop into the gift shop to take a treasure home.

Goldsmiths in Thailand

Taste Kuaitiao Sukhothai Noodles

One of my favorite local dishes was the Kuaitiao Sukhothai noodles. It’s a style of rice noodle soup made with chicken broth, green beans, chicken, fried garlic, Thai chili paste, and cilantro. To create your own version of Kuaitia Sukhothai noodles at home, check out this recipe from Thai Foodie.

Take a Ride in a Tuk Tuk

Tuk Tuks are practically the national symbol of Thailand. They’re basically a combination between a rickshaw and a motorcycle taxi – or imagine what it’d look like if you wrapped a tin can around a motorbike. BAM you get a tuk-tuk. They’re one of the most popular modes of transportation in Thailand and a MUST for first-time visitors.

Learn Some Cultural Context at The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum

When I’m visiting important cultural and historical sites, I like to have a bit of context behind what I’m experiencing. Novel – I know. The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum displays art, artifacts, and antiques from the centuries-old Sukhothai period. Take a couple hours out of your trip to really appreciate the incredible history of Sukhothai

Shop at the Sukhothai Night Market

The Sukhothai Night Market is more than just a street lined with vendors down by the river. It’s one part street food, one part market with a dash of a public concert, and a whole lot of open dance floor. Go for the delicious Thai street food but stay to people watch and check out the local kids to breakdancing.

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Ring-Bridge-Sukhothai-Thailand.

Instagram This Wildly Questionable Bridge at Si Satchanalai

While you’re exploring Si Satchanalai-Chaliang Historical Park enjoy the 13th- to 15th-century ruins and grab your #travelgoals photos but please don’t fall in…I was too chicken to pose on it but lots of people did it – so maybe you’re braver than I was. 

Make Traditional Buddhist Amulets at Baan Phra Pim

Buddhist amulets or votive tablet, are a kind of Thai Buddhist blessed item. Monks create them and sell them to the devote as a means of raising funds for the temple. Once they pass from a monk to a common person, they’re basically a tool to help enhance some aspect of life for an individual. At Baan Phra Pim, local artisans teach tourists how to create their own amulets to improve their marriage, wealth, health, love and relationships.

Participate in Almsgiving With Buddhist Monks

If creating your own amulets isn’t your thing, join the local monks for a morning almsgiving. Thai people see giving alms as a virtue, not charity. Giving alms to monks is about showing goodness to others and doing good deeds – which are cornerstones of Buddhism. In the early morning hours, usually between 5.30am and 8 am bring fresh food like rice, fruit, juice or milk or prepared meals from local vendors to offer. Generally speaking, the almsgiving will usually takes place around their temple. Once the ceremony is complete, the monks take the food back to the Wat to share and eat.

Have a Traditional Thai Breakfast at Sukhothai Organic Farm

Sukhothai’s Organic Agriculture Project is a picturesque location for a traditional Thai breakfast. We enjoyed local dishes made from the farm’s organic produce while taking in views of the orchids growing in the lilypad pond below the rice fields. If you’re feeling adventurous, the farmers invite guests to take part in traditional Thai farm activities as well. While manual labor is definitely not for me, I loved exploring the farm and learning about how the organic produce was cultivated.

A huge thank you to The Tourism Authority of Thailand and Out There Magazine for the invitation. As always, all opinions are my own.