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NAKHONRATCHASIMA TOUR

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Nakhon Ratchasima, generally known as ” Khorat “, is Thailand’s largest province situated on sprawling northeast plateau. Located approximately 260 kilometers northeast of Bangkok, the city itself serves as the gateway to the lower northeastern region.

Covering an area of 25,494 square kilometers that is mainly plateaus and mountainous terrain, Khorat has fascinating traditions, charming hospitality, splendid natural scenery and awesome historical sites.

Some of the main attractions in Khorat are Khmer ruins. Scattered around the province, these products of ancient wisdom shines through time. One of the Thailand’s finest Khmer ruins can be seen here next to Mon and Lao sites. In addition, Khorat has an abundance of natural attractions in its forests, hills, wildlife and waterfalls that are easily accessible in locations such as Khao Yai National Park .

Apart from the famous statue of Khun Ying Mo or Thao Suranari , Khorat is most well known for silk weaving (in Pak Thong Chai) and a variety of top-notch quality handicrafts such as clay pottery products of Dan Kwian .
Geographically, Nakhon Ratchasima borders on Chiyaphum and Khon Kaen Provinces in the north, Buri Ram Province in the east, Chiyaphum and Saraburi Provinces in the west and Nakhon Nayok and Prachin Buri Provinces in the south.
Khorat is also the largest northeastern province. Inhabitants of the province are mainly engaged in agricultural activities that include farming of rice and other crops such as sugar cane, tapioca, corn, jute, peanuts, sesame and fruits. There are more than 100 savings and agricultural cooperatives in the province, 35 irrigation projects and 7,122 industrial factories. Most of the factories are rice mills, tapioca product manufacturers, and industrial factories.

Khorat most popular annual event is the Thao Suranari Festival, a celebration of Thao Suranari victory over the invader. It held from late March to early April and features parades.

Looking back

Khorat used to be the site of several ancient prehistoric communities. Little is known about the early history of Khorat, except that it used to be part of a kingdom called Sri Janasa an empire that extended its power to the entire Khorat Plateau.

Initially the predominant cultural influence in the city was that of the Dvaravati culture, however, it was later replaced by the Khmer culture. The prehistoric site of Ban Prasat is an evidence of this occurrence while traces of both the Dvaravati and Khmer cultures are scattered throughout the province, particularly at Amphoe Sung Noen and Amphoe Phimai .

Once an administrative and cultural center, Khorat role today remains unchanged as it is currently the main transportation, industrial and economic hub of the Northeast.

Nakhon Ratchasima Attractions

Nakhon Ratchasima Art, Culture and Heritage

Dan Kwian Pottery Villa

Attraction Details :

Situated on Highway No. 24, about 14 kilometers from the city of Nakhon Ratchasima is a village noted for unique pottery widely used for interior and outdoor decoration. The uniqueness of Dan Kwian clay is its durability, pliability and rusty color. When combined with attractive designs and the proper heating process the products are irresistible.

How to get there :

By Other

15 kilometres from the city on Highway No. 224 (Nakhon Ratchasima-Chok Chai).

Ban Prasat Archaeological Site

Attraction Details :

The site is Thailand’s second archaeological site (the first was Ban Chiang) to be set up as an outdoor museum. Findings indicate that the area was once inhabited by a prehistory to early history community. In addition, there is evidence that a community of the Dvaravati and Khmer periods thrived here some 1,500 to 3,000 years ago. There are 3 pits that have been landscaped and are open to the public. Discoveries of human skeletons and many pottery pieces that were dug up from various levels are evidence of human evolution, community beliefs and culture.

To get there from the city, take Highway No. 2 (Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen) for 44 kilometers and then turn right and proceed for 1 kilometer. If going by bus from Bangkok or Nakhon Ratchasima, take a bus bound for Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Nong Khai, or Kalasin. Get off at the 44-km marker and take a hired motorcycle into the village.

How to get there :

By Bus

If going by bus from Bangkok or Nakhon Ratchasima, take a line going to Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Nong Khai, or Kalasin. Get off at Km. 44 and take a hired motorcycle into the vill

By Other

From the city, take Highway No. 2 (Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen) for 44 kilometre and turn right for 1 kilometre.

Chumphon Gate

Attraction Details :

Pratu Chum Phon is behind the monument.  It is an old city gate built during the reign of King Narai the Great in 1656.  The king commanded that a strong city wall be built.  Engineers from France, then an ally of the country, designed the city plan.  Nakhon Ratchasima at that time was an outpost in the shape of a rectangle of 1,000 x 1,700 metres.   The western Chum Phon Gate is the only 1 of 4 city gates that still stands.  The other three gates have been rebuilt.  Chum Phon Gate is built of large stones and bricks and covered with plaster.  The top is a watchtower made of wood with a tiled roof and decorated in the Thai style.

Mueang Sema Historical Site

Attraction Details :

Mueeang Sema Historical Site is in Tambon Sema, about 37 kilometres from the city. From Amphoe Sung Noen go across Lam Takhong River past Ban Hin Tang to Sema 4 kilometres away. The Sema city plan is egg-shaped and is 3 kilometres wide and 4 kilometres long. You can still see evidence of city moats and some earth walls. The city flourished during the Dvaravati period and was built around the 12th Buddhist century. It grew until the 16th-17th Buddhist centuries when it came under Khmer influence. In the area are ruins made of laterite and sandstone and many artefacts have been unearthed here. The most interesting one is the reclining sandstone Buddha image and an old religious relic that is now in Wat Thammachak Semaram.

How to get there :

By Other

about 37 kilometres from the city. From Amphoe Sung Noen Market go across railway past Ban Hin Tang to Sema 5 kilometres away. The Sema city plan is egg-shaped and is 3 kilometres wide and 4 kilometres long.

Phimai Historical Park

Attraction Details :

Within the Park is the Phimai Sanctuary, one of the grandest and most important Khmer historical sites in Thailand.

The word Phimai appears in an inscription on a stone slab at the front doorway of the building as well as in many other structures. It is believed that the word Phimai referred to a religious figure or site.

The Phimai Sanctuary is rectangular in shape and is 565 meters wide and 1,030 meters long. It consists of ornately carved sandstone and laterite structures. The most special characteristic of the sanctuary is that it is the only one that faces south while the others usually face east. This is probably because it was built to face the route that the Khmers traveled from the capital of the empire, to the south of Phimai.

From stone inscriptions and the architectural style, the Phimai Sanctuary was most likely built at the end of the 11th century during the reign of King Suriyaworaman I. The architectural style is that of the Baphuon style that prospered at the time. However, some characteristics are similar to that of Angkor Wat, which became popular at a later period. Some additions were made to the site in the early 18th Buddhist century during the reign of King Chaiworaman VII when Phimai had close relations with the Khmer Empire. The sanctuary was always a religious site of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism because King Suriyaworaman I and King Chaiworaman VII were followers of the sect.

Important Structures in Phimai Sanctuary:

The Naga Bridge is the first part you pass when visiting the site. The bridge and lion figures stand in front of the Gopura (porch) south of the main pagoda. The intention may have been to build a link between earth and heaven according to both Hindu and Buddhist beliefs concerning the universe.

The Gopura was adapted as the wall around the sanctuary and the four entering porches. There is a large corridor connecting the outer and inner areas of the main sanctuary. Above each porch is a lintel of various designs.
The Main Prang or pagoda is on an open area in a curved walkway. It is the centre of the site and is made entirely of white sandstone and is different from the porches and walls that are made primarily of red sandstone. This is because white sandstone is more durable than red sandstone. The pagoda is 28 meters high, has a square base, a portico and stairways and doors in all 4 directions.

The pagoda consists of a base, outer walls, columns, and porches with beautiful designs. Of vital importance are the lintels that mostly recount the tale of Ramayana from Hinduism and tales of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. The lintels above the 4 doorways of the main pagodas inner chamber, the most important room of the pagoda, are all about Buddhism reflecting the Buddhist influence that eventually surpassed that of Hinduism. The carvings are of the Baphoun style and the Angkor Wat style leading to the belief that the main pagoda was built at the end of the 12th century.

There are other pagodas, which are Prang Brahmadat in front of the main pagoda, Prang Hin Daeng and Ho Phram (Brahma Hall) to the right.

The park is open daily from 7.30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The admission is 40 baht. There are youth guides available to provide visitors with information about the site for free.

Historical Sites Outside Phimai Sanctuary:

The Phimai City Gate and City Walls were built during the reign of King Chaiworaman VII. Of the 4 gates, the south gate is the most important because the road from the ancient Khmer capital to Phimai runs through it. The sanctuary can be seen when looking straight through the gate.

The Men Brahmadat is southeast of the walls and is made entirely of bricks. Its present form is a huge and round earth hill that is about 30 meters high. The site is believed to have been the place where a king was cremated. However, the style of construction suggests it was built in the late Ayutthaya period.

Other sites to the south are Tha Nang Sa Phom, Kuti Rusi and Arokhayasan.

Phimai National Museum 
 
The museum houses collections of archaeological artifacts especially those found in the lower part of the region and has exhibits on the past cultural prosperity of the Northeast. There are several sections as follows:

Local Northeastern culture

Daily utensils like mortars, cotton chests, carts and monk items lintels from sanctuaries in Nakhon Ratchasima and the Northeast prehistoric artifacts such as ancient pottery, skeletons, tools, and bronze and stone ornaments.

The history of Phimai

Early history that includes Dvaravati-style temple boundary markers and Khmer-style items like columns and parts of buildings, as well as sculptures like Buddha images, god figures and a figure of King Chaiworaman VII made of sandstone found at Phrommathat Pagoda in Phimai sanctuary.

The second floor is devoted to the past cultural glory of the Northeast, early Northeastern communities and Khmer cultural influence.

The Museum is located at the base of Tha Songkran Bridge just before Phimai Sanctuary. From Nakhon Ratchasima, take Highway No. 2 for 50 kilometers, then turn on Highway No. 206 and proceed for 10 kilometers. If taking a bus from Nakhon Ratchasima, visitors can take a bus from Bus Terminal 2 in the city. The museum is open  from Wednesday – Sunday during 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The entry fee is 30 baht. For information, call 0 4447 1167.

Sai Ngam
Sai Ngam is on the bank of the Mun River near Phimai Dam.  Cross Tha Songkran Bridge into the town and take a branch road to the dam for 2 kilometres.  The place is so named because of the abundance of banyan trees here, all originating from a single tree, which is about 350 years now.  The tree gave birth to many smaller ones covering the entire area.  Nearby are souvenir shops and several restaurants.  The most popular dish for tourists is Phimai noodles.

Thung Samrit Memorial
This wide field was a battleground between Khorat people and Lao soldiers during the reign of King Rama III. A shrine was constructed by villagers in 1988 to pay homage to the fighters. The memorial is located at Moo 1, Ban Samrit Tawan Ok, Tambon Samrit, 46 kilometers from the city. Take Highway No. 2 (Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen) to the 43-44 kilometer markers (opposite the entrance to Ban Prasat), turn right and proceed for about 3 kilometers.

How to get there :

By Car

From Nakhon Ratchasima, take Highway No. 2 for 50 kilometers, then turn on Highway No. 206 and proceed for 10 kilometers.

By Bus

Taking a bus from Nakhon Ratchasima, visitors can take a bus from Bus Terminal 2 in the city.

Prasat Phakho

Attraction Details :

This ancient Khmer sanctuary and Hindu religious place constructed of white sandstone originally had 3 buildings of which only 2 remain today. The site is surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped moat and has an entrance to the east. A lintel dated from around the 11th century influenced by the Baphuon culture of ancient Khmer was found here. This lintel is currently housed in the Phimai National Museum.

The sanctuary is located at tambon Krathok. From the city take Highway No. 224 for 29 kilometers and continue on to Highway No. 2021 for 3 kilometers. The site is on the right.

Prasat Phanom Wan

Attraction Details :
Prasat Phanom Wan is in Ban Makha, Tambon Pho, around 15 kilometres from the city on the Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen road.  A sign on the right shows the way on a road 5 kilometres more.  This is an interesting Khmer sanctuary.  It is believed that it was built in the 15th Buddhist century.  Later during the 18th-19th centuries, a stone building was built over it.  From inscriptions found at the site, it is known that the sanctuary was used in the Hindu religion and later became a Buddhist site.  Although most of it is in ruins, there is a clear form present, like the square main pagoda facing east and a tiered pagoda in front, as well as a path linking the two structures.

To the southwest is a building of red sandstone called “Prang Noi.”  Inside is a large stone Buddha image.  A roofed sandstone walkway and a laterite wall go around the sanctuary.  A Gopura (a sanctuary doorway or porch) in the form of a tall tower is situated in all 4 directions.  Around 230 metres east of the sanctuary are traces of a moat and an earth hill that was the site of another Khmer building called “Noen Oraphim.”

How to get there :

By Other

, around 15 kilometres from the city on the Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen road

Monument of Thao Suranari

Attraction Details :

Thao Suranari Monument is a memorial to the Thai heroine called ‘Ya Mo’ by locals.  Built in 1934, it is located in the city centre.  People from other provinces who visit Khorat and locals usually come to pay homage here and ask for blessings.  The statue is made of black copper.  It is 1.85 metres high and is dressed in regalia in a standing posture.  The right hand holds a sword and the statue faces west towards the capital of Bangkok.  The monument base holds her ashes.

Thao Suranari was originally Khunying Mo, the wife of the assistant governor of Nakhon Ratchasima.  In 1826, Chao Anuwong of Vientiane had Khorat under siege but Khunying Mo rallied villagers to fight against Chao Anuwong.  After the battle was over, King Rama III promoted her to Thao Suranari.  Every year during 23 March to 3 April, the people would hold a festival to honour her bravery.

Interesting events: Khorat songs (phleng Khorat) is sung in the evenings on a stage near the shrine. They are traditional folk songs worth listening.

Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo

Attraction Details :

Covering an area of 545 rai (218 acres), the zoo is one of the most modern in Asia. The enclosures are large and landscaped by section to match the habitat of each animal most of which have come from Africa. The most popular animals are penguins, seals, African elephants, rhinoceros, cheetahs, lions, zebras, and giraffes. There is also a reptile building and a hornbill garden. In addition to being an ideal place to study biology, the zoo is a great place for relaxation as the grounds are decorated with lovely flowers. Other than the shuttle services that are provided to transport visitors around the zoo, there are bicycles available for rent. The zoo is open daily between 8.00 a.m. and 5.00 p.m. The fee is 15 baht for children, 70 baht for adults, and 30 baht for four-wheel vehicles. For information, call 0 4435 7355, 0 4421 6251-3 or visit www.zoothailand.org

The Zoo is located approximately 18 kilometers south of the city on Highway No. 304 (Nakhon Ratchasima-Pak Thong Chai), however, it is also accessible via Highway No. 2310 (approximately 1 kilometer drive). Visitors traveling by bus from the city can take air-conditioned bus No. 1415.

How to get there :

By Other

19 kilometres south of the city on Highway No. 304 (Nakhon Ratchasima-Pak Thong Chai), then take a left onto Highway No. 2310 for approximately 1 kilometre.

Prang Sida

Attraction Details :

Prang Sida is similar to Prang Ku at Tambon Don Tanin, but this pagoda is closed on all 4 sides. It was a Brahman religious site, dated from around the 12th-13th Buddhist centuries, that was constructed entirely of laterite in the ancient Khmer style with sculpted plaster designs facing the east and an outer wall surrounding the site. From the Khorat city, take Highway No. 2 for about 84 kilometers to Sida intersection and turn right onto Highway No. 202 (to Amphoe Prathai) for about 1.5 kilometers, then take a left and proceed for about 2 kilometers to the temple.

Prasat Nang Ram

Attraction Details :

This site, called Arokhayasan (a hospital) by the ancient Khmers, was built in the 13th century during the reign of King Chaiworaman VII and comprises of 2 groups of buildings situated close together. The more complete pagodas face the east and are surrounded by a laterite wall. To the northeast outside the wall is a pool and another group of historical buildings where many beautiful lintels are found.

The site can be reached by taking Highway No. 2 for about 62 kilometers to Ban Wat intersection. From there turn right onto Highway No. 207 and proceed for about 22 kilometers to Ban Ya Kha (or about 11 kilometers before reaching Prathai town) and turning left and proceeding 4 kilometers to the sanctuary.

Prasat Phanom Wan

Attraction Details :
Prasat Phanom Wan is in Ban Makha, Tambon Pho, around 15 kilometres from the city on the Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen road.  A sign on the right shows the way on a road 5 kilometres more.  This is an interesting Khmer sanctuary.  It is believed that it was built in the 15th Buddhist century.  Later during the 18th-19th centuries, a stone building was built over it.  From inscriptions found at the site, it is known that the sanctuary was used in the Hindu religion and later became a Buddhist site.  Although most of it is in ruins, there is a clear form present, like the square main pagoda facing east and a tiered pagoda in front, as well as a path linking the two structures.

To the southwest is a building of red sandstone called “Prang Noi.”  Inside is a large stone Buddha image.  A roofed sandstone walkway and a laterite wall go around the sanctuary.  A Gopura (a sanctuary doorway or porch) in the form of a tall tower is situated in all 4 directions.  Around 230 metres east of the sanctuary are traces of a moat and an earth hill that was the site of another Khmer building called “Noen Oraphim.”

How to get there :

By Other

, around 15 kilometres from the city on the Nakhon Ratchasima-Khon Kaen road

Maha Wirawong National Museum

Attraction Details :

Maha Wirawong National Museum is in Wat Sutthachinda opposite the provincial hall.  It displays items that Somdet Phra Maha Wirawong, the ex-abbot of Wat Sutthachinda, collected, as well as artefacts that the Fine Arts Department found in Nakhon Ratchasima and nearby provinces and donations.  Most items are Buddha images, including stone images of the Khmer period, images from the Ayutthaya period, bronze images, earthenware, ancient utensils, and woodcarving.  The museum is open during 9 a.m.-4 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday.  It is closed on public holidays.  The entry fee is 10 baht.  For information, call tel. 0 4424 2958.

Northeastern Museum of Petrified Wood and mineral resources

Attraction Details :

Northeastern Museum of Petrified Wood and Mineral Resources  is situated at 184 Mu 7, Ban Krok Duean Ha, Mittraphap – Nong Pling Road, Tambon Suranari. To get there: Take Highway No. 304 (Nakhon Ratchasima – Pak Thong Chai Road) for 16 kilometres, turn right at Km. 121 into the Suranari University of Technology (Gate 2) for 2 kilometres and turn left into the Mittraphap – Nong Pling city bypass for another 1 kilometre.

This is the first museum of its kind in Thailand and one out of seven in the world. It exhibits a collection of large pieces of petrified wood of approximately 800,000 – 320 million years old, video presentation on the Origin of the Earth and Evolution of Life, and petrified wood garden that imitates the topography of the Mun – Chi basins. There is also a museum of 8 out of 42 genera of primitive elephants found around the world, which include Gomphothere, Deinothere, and Shovel-tusked Gomphothere (aged approximately 16 – 5 million years ago), as well as fossils of various animals like giant turtle, gharial, and ape (new species of the world). Open daily during 9 am. – 5 pm. For further information, call 0 4421 6617. For a group visit, please contact in advance.

How to get there :

By Other

Take Highway No. 304 (Nakhon Ratchasima – Pak Thong Chai Road) for 19 kilometres, turn right at Km. 121 into the Suranari University of Technology (second gate) for 2 kilometres and turn left into the Mittraphap – Nong Pling city bypass for 1 kilometre.

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