Phitsanulok – ‘Pitts’anulok?
The temples and the night market were disappointing, as were the lack of internet cafes in the centre of the city. Furthermore, if you plan on eating after 7pm, your only real option is the night market (there’s also one by the train station), and if you’re vegetarian and can’t speak Thai, you may find yourself going hungry (save for a few portions of fresh fruit!).
However, that’s just my humble opinion. If you fancy staying in Phitsanulok and seeing for yourself then the Lithai guesthouse is a pleasant enough choice. 200THB a night will buy you a room on the 4th floor with shared (outside) bathroom. the room lacks character and could do with a coat of paint, but it’s spacious, lets in a lot of light, and even includes a T.V, so you can watch some wierd and wonderful Thai entertainment!
Arrival in Sukhothai
The bus station in Phitsanulok is about 2km from the city centre so you’ll need to catch a saamlaw or tuk tuk. Once at the station, buses leave approximately every half an hour, the journey takes about an hour and a half and costs 38THB.
As soon as i arrived in Sukothai, i was approached by a tuk tuk driver intent on taking me to certain guesthouses he was presumably being paid commission from. I was a little annoyed about being pressured into where i chose to stay, so – pleasant as The Garden House and Ban Thai may be – i reluctantly thanked the driver, disembarked and continued along Prawet Nakon road (where he dropped me outside Ban Thai) so that i could have the freedom to make my own decision on where i lay my head for the next couple of nights.
I stumbled upon T.R guesthouse (which was in my Lonely Planet guide and had been recommended on Passplanet). The room was bright and spacious and had a private bathroom, and also offers laundry service, free internet and motorbike rental (shame i didn’t bring my drivers licence!) The staff are all very friendly, and it’s got quite a homely feel to the place. My only gripe is that they lock the gates at 10pm – no late night partying for me then!
Sukhothai was Thailand’s first capital. Sukhothai means ‘rising of happiness’ and the kingdom flourished from the mid 13th century until the late 14th century. The park includes remains of 21 historical sites and 4 large ponds within the old walls, with an additional 70 sites within a 5km radius.
I only managed to make it around 6 of them this afternoon : Wat Mahathat, Wat Si Sawai, Wat Trapang Ngoen, Wat Sa Si, Wat Chana Songkram and Wat Mai. They’re all within the old city walls and within easy walking distance of each other. It’s quite a pleasant stroll through the park, as the ruins are encircled by attractive ponds and the pathways are shaded by trees.
I spent the evening at the guesthouse chatting to a German family and a Dutch couple who’d just arrived from Chiang Mai. I’m warming to the TR Guesthouse the longer i stay here : there’s a lovely relaxed and friendly feel to the place, which makes it easy to meet other travellers, and the owner is incredibly helpful and accommodating.
Photo is of Buddha statue at Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai historical park.