Trip in North East of Thailand (Isaan): Chaiyaphum & Khon Kaen

Date: May 2014

Day 1

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

Tat Ton National Park

Tat Ton National Park located in the Laen Kha mountain range, mountain highland scenery, forest and dry evergreen forest and features waterfalls. Tat Ton waterfall is the most popular attraction and expanding to 50 meters.
Phu Laen Kha National Park

Phu Laen Kha National Park

Phu Laen Kha National Park, a mountain range with both dense jungles, contains a variety of beautiful natural cliffs, strange rock formations, stone ground and is especially recommended for nature studies. The rocks are around 10 to 12 meter tall.
Phu Wiang National Park

Phu Wiang National Park

Phu Wiang National Park known for its numerous dinosaur bone pale-ontological sites, located in Phu Wiang District, Khon Kaen Province and covers an area of over 380 square kilometers. There is also a museum that provides displays on the region and the dinosaurs.

Day 2: Chaiyaphum and Khon Kaen, Northeastern Thailand (Isaan)


Directions, Road number: 2051 › 2159 › 201 › 229 › 2062 › 2131
Destinations: Chaiyaphum, Tat Ton National Park, Phu Laenkha National Park, Pha Kaeng Viewpoint, Wat Sila at Phu Phra, Khon Kaen

Tat Ton National Park
Tat Ton National Park

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.

Wat Sila at Phu Phra
Wat Sila at Phu Phra

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.

Day 3: Khon Kaen Province, Northeastern Thailand (Isaan)


Directions, Road number: 209 › 2183 › 209 › 12 › 2038 › 12 › 201
Destinations: Khon Kaen, Phra That Kham Kaen, Phu Wiang National Park and Dinosaur Museum, Non Mueang Ancient Town, Chaiyaphum

Khon Kaen National Museum
Khon Kaen National Museum

Khon Kaen

Khon Kaen National Museum has gathered its collection from important archaeological sites within North and Eastern Thailand
We started at the Pagoda of Wat That in Khon Kaen and then we continued our trip to Kaen Nakorn Lake in the city. There we found a beautiful Chinese temple, called Poo Khru Yen Shrine located by the lake. Our next stop was the most famous temple in Khon Kaen, called Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon and this is a must see on your visit to Khon Kaen.

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).

Khon Kaen National Museum
Khon Kaen National Museum
Khon Kaen National Museum exhibits a range of architectural items, including: marble slabs (or Sema); ancient base relief; stuccos and ancient tools.
For a museum of its size, it has an extensive scope. Issan (or Northeastern Thailand) once home to a few ancient civilizations, including those of the Ban Chiang, Dvaravati, Lopburi and Khmer. Khon Kaen has played an important role in the area’s history.

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

Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum
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.

Day 4: Chaiyaphum Province, Northeastern Thailand (Isaan)


Directions, Road number: 225 › 2354
Destinations: Chaiyaphum, Sai Thong National Park, Pa Hin Ngam National Park

Sai Thong National Park
Sai Thong National Park

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.

Phu Kradueng National Park
Phu Kradueng National Park in Loei Province, North East Thailand (Isaan)

Bangkok to Chaiyaphum and Khon Kaen, Northeastern Thailand (Isaan)


Directions, Road number: 1 › 2 › 201 › 12 › 2038

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