Ratchasima, 260 km from Bangkok, is the first Isan province
on Highway 2 that rises over the hills that separate central
Thailand from the northeastern plateau. With a population
of 2.4 million, the province dominates Isan. The modern provincial
town spreads out on all sides of the old rectangular moat,
and the reconstructed city gates remain with the former centre,
turned into a bustling market, while the rest of the new town
is the commercial and business hub for the lower Northeast
Nakhon Ratchasima Attractions:
Khao Yai National Park
is part of the mountain chain that divides the Northeast Plateau
from the central plains and Cambodia to the southeast. Khao
Yai, which means "Big Mountain", was established in 1962 as
Thailand's first national park. The park has over 20 waterfalls,
the most famous of which is the 25-metre-high Haeo Suwat.
The park headquarters stands 40 km off a road running southeast
from Highway 2, 165 km from Bangkok and approximately 100
km from Nakhon Ratchasima.
Prasat Hin Nang Ram has
the ruins of a structure thought to be a hospital. Built as
early as the 11th century, the site is in Prathai district,
88 km from Korat.
Pak Thong Chai, a small
town known for its silk weaving, is located 32 km south of
town. Pak Thong Chai is famous for its beautiful hand-dyed
mudmee silk. The town has seen resurgence in productivity
since Queen Sirikit established her Support Programme to help
local weavers. Tourists can see weavers practicing their art
and pick up some good bargains at the same time.
After shopping, an excursion to
Wat Na Phra That, 5 km away, is highly recommended. Built
in the reign of Rama III, the temple's main chapel has some
exquisite mural paintings of the Buddha's 10 incarnations.
In the middle of a pond, standing on piles, is the temple's
library. The woodcarvings on its doors are particularly well
done. Lam Phra Phloeng Dam, also in Pak Thong Chai district,
is a popular place for relaxation due to its beautiful scenery.
Boats can be rented for cruises on the reservoir. A pleasant
side-trip to nearby Khlong Ki Waterfall is an option. Numerous
small open-air restaurants in the area are ideal for relaxing
Ban Prasat is an archaeological
site in Non Song district, 45 km from town. It is the second
site in the Northeast to be developed as an outdoor museum
by the government. Parts of 60 human skeletons have been unearthed
there along with earthenware and assorted bronze ornaments.
Ban Prasat seems to have been first inhabited 2,500 to 3,000
years ago. There is also evidence of later settlements that
existed during the Dvaravati and Khmer periods.
Dan Kwian, 15 km southeast
of Korat, is famous for its pottery. The clay from the banks
of the Mun River has a high iron content which results in
the characteristic metallic finish of Dan Kwian pottery. The
hand-made products, which have been produced in the village
for generations, range from a wide variety of decorative items
to ong, or traditional water jars.