Trip in North East of Thailand (Isaan): Chaiyaphum & Khon Kaen
Date: May 2014
This trip we visited two provinces in the North East of Thailand (Isaan), Chaiyaphum and Khon Kaen. Chaiyaphum is about 400 kilometres away from Bangkok and total trip took us 4 days.
The first day we used to get there and on the last day we visited a few attractions before driving back to Bangkok. To avoid the busy traffic we decided not to use the highways where possible, that night we stayed in Chaiyaphum.
Tat Ton National Park
Our first stop outside Chaiyaphum was the famous Tat Ton National Park about 21 kilometers away from Chaiyaphum city, with the famous Tat Ton Waterfall (picture) as the main attraction in the park. This beautiful waterfall is created from Tat Ton Brook flowing past a stone platform and plunging to form a basin large enough to swim in. The water is cool and clear. The area is surrounded by forest and flowering shrubs.
Phu Lan Kha National Park
From there we continued to the Stonehenge of Thailand (picture). The Thai name is Mor Hin Khao in Phu Laenkha National Park, located on the top of the hill, providing fantastic panoramic views. It is consist of gigantic rock columns, white sand stone, siltstone, mud stone and purple sandstone.
These rocks are assumed to be over a hundred million years old. The highlight is a group of giant rocks consisting of five stone columns with 12 metres tall. There are also many other groups of rocks in this area with various shapes with beautiful flowers alongside.
After this we proceeded to the Pha Kaeng Viewpoint: This is a high cliff on top of the Landa mountain. There is also a 7-metre tall Buddha image in the area and an amazing temple to see. Our next attraction of the day was Wat Sila at Phu Phra. This temple is a rock shelter with engraved Buddha images. It is the source of the name Phu Phra and but the directions below should get you there. We then drove to Khon Kaen City where we spent the night.
It is a 9 storey temple with each of the floors showing a bit of the culture, tradition and history of the temple, Buddhism and monks.
At the temple you are allowed to climb all the way to the top. On the first floor you can see the Buddha, make a donation to the temple and enjoy the great paintings on the wall. And don’t forget to comply with Thai culture and beliefs by not wearing inappropriate clothing.
Khon Kaen National Museum
If you do forget, however, the temple provides extra clothes at the entrance that you could borrow during your stay inside the temple. Our next stop was the Khon Kaen National Museum. The Museum has gathered its collection from important archaeological sites within North and Eastern Thailand (in particular, finds from Ban Chiang in Udon Thani Province, which has been given UNESCO heritage site status).
The museum exhibits a range of architectural items, including: marble slabs (or Sema); ancient base relief; stuccos and ancient tools.
Amongst its other exhibits are: dinosaur fossils; human skeletal remains; ancient musical instruments along with displays of pottery. There is also a variety of other miscellaneous items, probably, the most important of these being the Buddha images.
Phra That Kham Kaen Pagoda
After the museum we moved to the Phra That Kham Kaen Pagoda, which is located 30 km northeast of Khon Kaen, this pagoda was built as the legend goes after two revered monks spent the night there and noticed a dead tree, upon there return later the tamarind tree had flowered.
The pagoda was built over this hardwood log (kham kaen) and the city’s (Khon Kaen) name evolved from this. From there we started making our way back to Khon Kaen and on the way we stopped at Phu Wiang National Park and Dinosaur Museum: Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum is a geological museum mainly exhibiting fossils.
Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum
The Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum has a composition of versatile activities including research and investigation section, fossil replication and conservation, fossil collection house, library, permanent exhibition, administration office, and service space such as canteen, souvenir shop, snack and drinks shop, car parking space, and 140-people capacity auditorium.
The Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum is a geological learning resource for various students from many educational institutes and other agencies such as the children learning promotion foundation.
The last stop for the day was at Non Mueang Ancient Town: The ancient town is located at Ban Na Pho. Legends say the hill known as Non Mueange was the location of an ancient town. Covering a 216 hectare area, the oval hill has double moats. Archaeologists have found sandstone Sema boundary markers in the Dvaravati style in the town and nearby.
Sai Thong National Park
After breakfast we drove to Sai Thong National Park: The most important attraction of the park is Sai Thong waterfall, 1 kilometre from the park office. Water falls smoothly down rocks, about 100 metres from top to bottom. There is also a wide field of Dok Krachiao that rivals the flowers in Pa Hin Ngam in Amphoe Thep Sathit. The field can be reached only on foot and visitors can stay there overnight.
Pa Hin Ngam National Park
From there we went to Pa Hin Ngam National Park: The name Hin Ngam means beautiful stone, where Pa means forest. The park is located at the boundary of the Dong Phaya Yen Mountains and the Khorat Plateau.
The steep cliff at the 846 metre high Sut Phan Din viewpoint allows a great view into a valley of the Sonthi River and the Sap Langka Wildlife Sanctuary. The name Sut Phan Din means end of land, reflecting the steepness of the cliff.
This cliff also marks the watershed between the Chao Phraya and the Mekong rivers. Near the viewpoint is one of the fields of the Siam Tulip (Curcuma alismatifolia), called Dok Kra Jiao in Thai.
The dipterocarp forests bloom with purple flowers at the beginning of the raining season in July. The park got its name from the strange rock formations in the Hin Ngam Rock Ground, located at the western end of the park.
Erosion has carved several large rocks into striking and unusual shapes.
After this we drove back to Bangkok using the same route as we came and arrived 4 hours later, exhausted, but so fulfilled having seen so many beautiful Thai natural and cultural attractions, coming across very foreigners along the way.