Considered by many one of the world’s premier national parks, Khao Yai is Thailand’s oldest and of its most pristine. It has been designated an Asean National Heritage Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thailand’s second largest national park, it is so expansive it covers over 2,000 square kilometers that include parts of four provinces, Nakhon Ratchasima, Saraburi, Prachin Buri and Nakhon Nayok. The terrain covers five vegetation zones from evergreen rainforest to tropical savannah. It offers more than 50 hiking trails, numerous waterfalls and a vast array of wild animals from elephants and gaurs to rare and colorful birds. And now there are many resorts, eateries, golf courses, vineyards, ranches and farms dotting the countryside and offering both quiet retreat as well as exciting adventure to all.


Khao Yai • National Park

Instead of the retail commotion of a shopping mall, it might be fun to symbolically paddle back in time. The Taling Chan Floating Market, held every Saturday and Sunday (weather permitting) in front of the Taling Chan Municipal Office, is where vendors bring all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables grown in local orchards and gardens. You should also try the khao lam (glutinous rice roasted in bamboo joints) and kluey khaek (deep fried sliced banana). Time permitting, take a boat ride through and see modest residences along the canal that will take you back to simpler, unhurried days.







Trail 1 : Nong Pak Chi starts at km 33 (7 km before the Visitors Centre). From the car park, an easy 3-km trail heads to the Nong Pak Chi Watching Tower. At dawn, and especially in the late afternoon and at dusk, visitors settle on top it in the hope to see wildlife near the waterholes and the saltlicks in the vicinity of the tower. Even if no game is spotted, the landscapes from here are gorgeous.

Trail 2 : Dong Tiew – Nong Pak Chi starts from near the Visitors Centre and is about 5 km long, ending at the Nong Pak Chi Watching Tower. It first cuts through grassland and secondary forest, then bifurcates in the middle of the forest to the tower.
Khao Yai was declared the Kingdom’s first national park in 1962. Covering more than two thousand square kilometers of tropical forests, grassy hill-slopes and mountain stream valleys, this densely wooded mountainous area had previously been inhabited only by sturdy villagers and staunch rebels, and in the first place by abundant wildlife. Since it was opened to the public, local and foreign tourists and Bangkok weekenders flock in fast growing numbers to delight in a safari drive through the nature reserve, camp in the cold ‘winter’ air, or hike on some of its nature trails, to enjoy beautiful waterfalls and viewpoints and in the hope to see some of its local fauna.

The combined Khao Yai-Tub Lan-Dong Phaya Yen nature reserves have been declared a World Natural Heritage Site by the UNESCO. Khao Yai National Park, a mere 200 km away from Bangkok, is the most visited nature reserve and the easiest to access from the capital. After entering from the Pak Chong gate and climbing rather steeply through evergreen tropical jungle, one reaches the Visitor Centre, where maps and information on the park can be obtained and a trekking guide or a night safari can be booked. Apart from driving through the magnificent forest and grassland landscapes, enjoying enchanting waterfalls and trekking on nature trails, camping, biking and bird - or game watching are the principal activities in the park.

Two stunning waterfalls are the main attractions of Khao Yai National Park. Haew Suwat Waterfall is the easiest to reach by car, as it lies just besides the parking lot at the dead end of one of the two asphalt roads. The waterfall is not very high (20m) but particularly scenic and popular. The water plunges from a forested cliff into a large green pool. The waterfall is naturally framed by huge tree branches, abundant and ever-wet foliage, and glittering boulders, which make it very photogenic. Haew Narok is the second best known waterfall of the park. It is located in the southern part, on the way to the Prachin Buri entrance gate. There are a dozen or so more waterfalls in the park, but they require longer and guided treks to get to. Driving up towards the Visitors Centre from the Pak Chong entrance gate, a first obligatory stop is at the viewpoint on km 30. From here, the view over forested mountains reaches up to the green, habited valley in a far and misty distance. Another

remarkable viewpoint is Pa Diew Dai, on top of the Khao Khiao Mountain. On the road to Prachin Buri, 14 km from the park Headquarters, a narrow asphalt road passes Khao Yai’s spirit house and winds up onto the summit. Here, a short walk through the tropical forest leads to the viewpoint. The sunrise over Rom Mountain is particularly beautiful. There are five principal nature trails one can choose from, with lengths from 3 to 8 km and walking times from approximately 1.5 to 5 hours.



 
Trail 3 : Dong Tiew – Mo-Singto is shorter (2.7 km) and can be completed in less than 2 hours. It starts at the same spot as trail #2 but bifurcates in the forest to the left and goes down through grassland onto the Sai Sorn (Mo-Singto) Reservoir which stretches along the main road.  
 
  Trail 4 : Visitor Centre – Haew Suwat is the longest, about 8 km long. The trailhead is found at the swaying cable bridge behind the Visitors Centre. As lots of small animal tracks cross this trail it is easy to get lost, so a guide is recommended. The trail traverses forests and follows a creek, to end at the famous Haew Suwat Waterfall. It is advisable to arrange for a car to return to the Centre.

Trail 5 : Pha Kluay Mai – Haew Suwat ends at the same waterfall, but starts behind the Pha Kluay Mai campsite. It’s a little more than 3 km long and it takes 2 to 3 hours to complete. Most of the time, it follows a small river cutting through the jungle.

There are longer hiking trails, but those take a full day or require an overnight (camping) in the forest, and a guiding ranger is compulsory. Some of the shorter hikes mentioned above can be undertaken alone, but though they are well marked in the beginning, it is posvsible to get lost where bifurcations are unmarked, animal tracks multiply the trails, and at river crossings. In the rainy season foot and leg protection (can be purchased or hired) is necessary, as leeches are abundant on wet places.

The tropical forest at Khao Yai is captivating. Knobby lianas spiral around strangling figs. Root-buttresses support high and candle-straight dipterocarp trees like thin walls stretching out in all directions. Giant fern trees,are seen approaching the cars, to the delight of young and old.
These pig-tailed macaques lure tourists and are on stand-by for cookies, potato chips or bites of sandwiches. One should never feed wild animals, as it disturbs their natural habit and can be very harmful for them. The sharp, rascally monkey eyes screen every car and every human hand movement as scrupulously as the visitors who follow the slightest of their gestures. Gibbons are also abundant in the park, but are easier to hear than to see. Elephants are not easy to be encountered in the park, at least not in daytime.

broadleaved evergreen rainforest plants and rotting tree stumps fill the dense and damp scenes around watershed areas. Rattan palms, epiphytes, tangled trunks,

a variety of fungi and drooping lianas add to the Tarzanesque movie scene. Creeks ripple their muddy water through the moist, evergreen woods, descending in foaming little cataracts and dragging branches and floating leaves along their murmuring way down.
 
Unfortunately, not always wild animals are seen while driving or hiking in the accessible parts of the Khao Yai National Park. Quite often, monkeys with spiky hair tufts upright on top of their egg-shaped cranes are seen approaching the cars, to the delight of young and old. These pig-tailed macaques lure tourists and are on stand-by for cookies, potato chips or bites of sandwiches.

One should never feed wild animals, as it disturbs their natural habit and can be very harmful for them. The sharp, rascally monkey eyes screen every car and every human hand movement as scrupulously as the visitors who follow the slightest of their gestures. Gibbons are also abundant in the park, but are easier to hear than to see. Elephants are not easy to be encountered in the park, at least not in daytime.
 
Night Safari

Two species of deer are common in the park, the large, grey-coloured sambar deer and the smaller, red-brown barking deer. Apart from the Visitors Centre and the adjacent restaurant where a couple of tame specimens wander about, it is seldom to see deer in the heat of the day. At dusk, they can be spotted grazing in the open grasslands around the park’s headquarters. At 07.00 and 08.00 PM, when darkness has blanketed the cooling hills and the moist grasslands, 40-minute safari tours on open-deck trucks are organized, weather and sufficient customers permitting. With the aid of a mega torch-lamp, stringed to the truck battery, a park ranger screens the hill-slopes and treetop foliages, and elated visitors count the number of deer disclosed, often only by their reflecting eyes. The sambar deer is Thailand’s largest antelope species. They are robust and beautiful grey mammals with a shy and serious look and huge, always attentive ears which are sometimes picked clean by tiny parasite birds. They are sometimes nicknamed horse deer, because of their shoulder height (around 1.50 meters) and their solid length (1.80 to 2.50 meters). The barking deer is a much smaller and redbrown antelope which also feeds on grass and leaves, and on fallen fruit - given their small stature. Not higher than a good half meter, they weigh only 20 to 30 kg.

The last years, mountain biking and bird watching became popular pastimes in the Khao Yai National Park. Every day, groups of tourist can be seen equipped with extra long camera lenses and impressive tripods, searching and waiting patiently to spot thick-billed pigeons, banded kingfishers, blue-bearded bee-eaters and a whole range of other tropical birds. One of the most searched-after trophies is the great or wreathed hornbill, spectacular birds with enormous, bended beaks surmounted by a platform-like horn. Tigers, leopards, Malayan sun bears and Asian jackals are living in the park, but almost never seen.

Even without the excitement of seeing game, drives and hikes through the Khao Yai National Park are always worth undertaking, pleasant as they are for the crossing of gorgeous tropical vegetation, the funny sounds or mournful hoots of playful gibbons and myriads of birds, and the idea that the raucous squawking might be of a great hornbill or that there might be a dangerous beast lurking around the corner.
 






 
  How to go: By far the most convenient way is to go by car. From Bangkok take Highway 1 to Saraburi, then Highway 2 towards Nakhon Ratchasima, and turn right at Pak Chong. Thanarat Road (Rd 2090) is another 40 km long and leads directly to the Pak Chong (Northern) park entrance. Another possibility is to branch off after Rangsit on Highway 305 to Nakhon Nayok and continue on Highway 33 towards Prachin Buri, where a turn to the left engages on Road 3077 and gets to the Prachin Buri (Southern) gate. The park can also easily be reached from Nakhon Ratchasima, via Highway 2. From Bangkok’s Mo Chit Northern Bus Station, regular buses run to Pak Chong. From there, a local bus can be taken to the park’s entrance.

When to go: Khao Yai National Park is open
all year round, and the tropical forests are evergreen,
even in the driest season. The most pleasant season though is the cool season (November-February). That’s when large crowds of people, especially on weekends, visit the park. Night temperatures drop to a chill, fog lingers at dawn, and daytime temperatures are around a perfect 20- 25°C. Summer temperatures are bearable compared to lower-laying areas and still nice at night time. The rainy season is the greenest and the waterfalls are at the most impressive, but protection against leeches is a must.

For guided group visits or reservations for accommodation in the park, visit www. dnp.go.th or call Parks Reservation Division, National Park Office, National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department at tel. +66 (0) 2562 0760

Khao Yai National Park
P.O. Box 9, Pak Chong District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30130
Tel. +66 (0) 3735 6033, (0) 4423 9305,
(0) 8 6092 6529
www.dnp.go.th

 

PB Valley Khao Yai Winery





This colorful winery and vineyard features a restaurant, resort, and several interesting attractions. PB Valley is ideal for viticulture due to the cold weather, small amount of rainfall and the mountain ranges, which surround the winery acting as a natural windbreaker to protect the grapevines. Their history began back in 1989 on a large compound in a scenic valley in the Khao Yai region. The owner, Dr. Piya Bhirombhakdi who once was the president of Singha Beer and a visionary entrepreneur, set about his mission to produce wine with a world-class taste under his initial “PB” for the people of Thailand. PB Winery was one of the first large scale wineries set up in Thailand. They offer a vineyard and winery tour with guides that explain the history, details and of course they have wine tasting in the cellar. At the Great Hornbill Grill Restaurant they proudly present you with over 100 menus of authentic and fusion style international cuisine together with famous exotic Thai dishes. PB Valley also offers resort style accommodation and breakfast.

Vineyards and Wine Tasting


Every day, guided visits are organized on the compound. They start at 10:30 AM and at 01.30 and 03.30 PM, and include a wine-tasting session. Harvest and grape growing demonstrations are held for groups of minimum 4 persons throughout the year, though bad weather conditions may have them cancelled on certain days. If a party is larger than 20 people it will be divided in smaller groups. The meeting point is the Great Hornbill Grill (restaurant) from where the educational tour starts.

Vineyards are visited and fruit orchards, including the one of dragon fruit, are also included in the tour. After the orchards, a visit is paid to the different sections of the wine-making factory. During the first part, a professional guide explains how wine is made and how qualities are distinguished, as well as the different characteristics of quality wine. Lectures are given on the grape varieties (Shiraz, Tempranillo and Chenin Blanc, of French, Spanish and German origin) and the methods of grape growing in the Khao Yai valley. The difference between the making of red wine and white wine is clarified. Necessary conditions of soil (clay, sand, limestone) and climate (moisture, sunshine, wind) conditions are described, as is the delicate process of wine tasting, texture and body distinction.

In the second part, the philosophy and know how of wine making are made clear, with appropriate explanations for every phase of the production. Visitors learn about manual and mechanical harvesting, the sorting of the grapes, the pressing and the fermentation in stainless steel containers or genuine oak barrels, which are imported from France and can hold 225 liters each. The different types of French and American oak wood and their influence on wine flavors are defined. One also learns about new techniques to make wine potentially aged while being early consumable. A total of 200.000 liters of wine are stocked up to mature here every year. The different wines are then bottled, corked and labeled with the help of state-of-the-art, hi-tech machines. The annual PB Winery production reaches 150,000 bottles, but there is a capacity to quadruple this number.

The guided tour ends with recommendations on how to serve and drink wine properly and the basic rules of food and wine matching. Advanced booking is requested for group tours.

Activities: Wine tasting, vineyard tours, fine dining Hours: 11:00 AM to 09:00 PM

102 Moo 5, Phaya Yen Sub-district,
Pak Chong District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30320
Tel. +66 (0) 3622 6415-6
www.khaoyaiwinery.com

GranMonte Asoke Valley

     
For a relaxing stroll in one of the more beautiful areas of Khao Yai, GranMonte has you covered, with a fine selection of wines, international restaurant, and a superb atmosphere.

GranMonte Family Vineyard is uniquely located in Asoke Valley and conveniently lies adjacent to Khao Yai National Park. Asoke Valley is known in Thailand for the beautiful yellow blossom flowers that are special to the region. The serene atmosphere and truly beautiful surroundings of Asoke Valley provides a perfect setting for the GranMonte Vineyard. Blending with its natural environment, the beautiful surroundings of Khao Yai have inspired the brand name “GranMonte”, which translates as “big mountain”. GranMonte’s very own VinCotto restaurant offers superb lunch and dinner with a modern cuisine style. The Montino, offers wines and other grapes related products, including grape juice, jam, butter-raisin cookies, artificial orchids from local artist, and souvenirs. This is a great place for a romantic day followed by a lovely dinner in the sublime surrounds of Khao Yai’s magnificent Asoke Valley.
 
Activities: Wine tasting, nature walks, fine dining Hours: 10:00 AM till late

52 Moo 9, Phaya Yen Sub-district,
Pak Chong District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30320
Tel. +66 (0) 8 1900 8282,

(0) 8 1923 2007
www.granmonte.com

Montino Shop at GranMonte Farm


GranMonte’s name is derived from Italian words grande monte (big mountain). The vineyard is located in Asoke Valley, Khao Yai, which provides a perfect environment for growing wine grapes and table grapes. The vineyard is a family estate that welcomes all visitors with friendly and hospitable service. The finest and freshest ingredients, together with innovation techniques, are employed to captivate the all important aromas and tastes that make the GranMonte’s products unique. Moreover, grapes are grown by using organic farming techniques to preserve the environment and, more importantly, the excellent quality grapes.

GranMonte offers a complimentary guided tour of the vineyard and shop, which is arranged by prior appointment for the weekend. Since GranMonte is a vineyard, excellent wine is definite. For those who are not so keen on alcoholic grape drink, fresh grape juice and grape products such as fresh grapes, grape jam, raisins, and homebaked cookies are might be of your interest. All are waiting for you at Montino.


52 Moo 9, Phaya Yen Sub-district,
Pak Chong District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30320
Tel: +66 (0) 8 4904 1944, (0) 8
1923 2007, (0) 8 1900 8282,
(0) 8 0661 7555
www.granmonte.com

Village Farm & Winery

The farm and winery, which is at the same time a classy resort and a wellness spa, is located in a green field of vineyards, where shiraz, cabernet-sauvignon, syrah and chenin grapes are cultivated. The original rootstocks were flown in from Israel. The mild, temperate climate of the Korat Plateau is a suitable environment for vineyard growing. Only fair amounts of organic fertilizers are used, and regular quality controls are conducted. Once a year, a nightly handpicking is organized to harvest the grapes. The frenetic activity must be completed in one night, in order to avoid the heat of daytime and preserve the quality of the fruit. The crushing is completed in 1 hour, and the fermentation process can start before dawn.



Red and white wines are produced on the spot, following a traditional French wine making process. No chemicals or artificial additives are added, so that the pure, natural taste of wine is assured. Bottles are imported from Spain, and corks from Portugal. The oak barrels come from France and the USA. An automatic control system keeps the temperature at around 18° Celsius. Regular analysis and quality control is conducted in France.

An educational tour of the winery can be organized, during which grape varieties, the functioning of presses, the use of stainless steel- and oak barrels, bottling machines and wine making in general are shown and explained. The wine matures in the barrels during 6 months up to 2 years, according to the desired quality. Only a limited number of first quality wines are produced each vintage. The wine is bottled at the Château itself. The production reaches more or less 40,000 bottles a year.


103 Moo 7,
Thai Samakkhee Sub-district,
Wang Nam Khiao District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30370
Tel. +66 (0) 4422 8407-8
www.villagefarm.co.th

Mister Mushroom Farm



   

Three years ago, ‘Mister Mushroom’, a former manufacturer of spare parts for cell phones who converted himself into an autodidact in ecological farming, started a pilot project of organic mushroom growing on a family plot. Among the numerous existing mushroom varieties he chose to emphasize on five specific kinds to grow and commercialize – Shiitake, Yanagi, Monkey Head, (Blue and Golden) Oyster and Reishi (Lingzhi) Mushrooms. In a dark and humid storeroom-like hall (a minimum of 65 degrees of humidity must constantly be observed), the brown, pink and white mushrooms are cultivated in round plastic cylinders containing a mixture of rubber tree sawdust, rice bran, rice flour, sugar, calcium carbonate and magnesium sulphate. This substrate compost is mixed with water and steamed at 100°C for 4 to 6 hours. After a fast cooling-down phase, the plastic containers are transferred to inoculation and incubation rooms, after which the mushroom growing process can start. A total of 40 workmen are employed in his farm. Soon, a joint venture will be set up with a Korean company to enlarge the pilot project into a full-grown training centre and hi-tech factory, which aims at manufacturing capsules containing an extraction of mushrooms with medicinal properties.

During two successful years, ‘Mister Mushroom’ (and ‘Madam Mushroom’) welcomed many group visitors from all over the country. A list of items based on mushrooms is sold in the shop adjacent to the factory.


155 Moo 2, Thai Samakkhee Sub-district
Wang Nam Khiao District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30370
Tel. +66 (0) 8 1001 1555,
(0) 8 1002 2555
www.wnkfarm.com

Khao Phaengma Orchid Farm

    
When driving through Khao Yai and nearby areas, a stop to the Khao Phaengma Orchid Farm can be a decidedly pleasant diversion. The farm is a welldesigned nursery for a number of orchids, some exotic and rare species, a few engineered hybrids and many more household varieties too. The owner is an avid horticulturalist with a passion for this type of flora. That fact is rather evident by the overall good health of the plants and the sheer beauty of their flowers. There is a wonderful selection of different types of orchids available for purchase and the prices are extremely reasonable. Most of the business is from drive-by visitors, as this place does not ship or deal in wholesale. A few of the featured varieties are quite captivating, with unique aromas such as one they call Onc.Yuan Nan Fragrant, which smells like chocolate, or one that has a delicious Thai tea scent, and another one that smells like coconut cream.

Khao Phaengma Orchid Farm
56-57 Moo 15,
Saan Jao Poh-Wang Mee Road,
Wang Nam Khiao District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30370
 

Uncle Krai Organic Farm



One famous eco-friendly farm in the Wang Nam Khiao region is ‘Uncle Krai’s. This highly popular figure has a quite outstanding character and history. Originally from Bangkok, he studied technical engineering in the capital, started as a construction worker, learned English and country music from the American GI’s during the Vietnam War, and eventually took a liking for farming, more precisely for organic farming, in which he became a kind of pioneer. Almost twenty years ago he transformed the corn fields on his mother’s land in a model biofarm and began growing vegetables and fruit without using any form of chemicals. According to his own juicy explanations he only used ‘pig shit’ as a natural fertilizer. He takes visible pleasure in explaining to every visitor how quality and small-scale production sold to direct users is more important than large quantities with low health content destined to mega markets. Not only masters a knowledge on agriculture, he is also a well-known TV star as an entertainer and singer of Thai ballads and American country music. He sells, besides fresh and organic vegetables, herbal drinks and fruit wines, a CD album of his singing. Disembarking Thai groups nestle on rows of plastic chairs to listen to his life performances of guitar playing and country singing, sending ‘Uncle Krai’ into ecstatic moments of well-deserved self-satisfaction. Attached to the farm is an ‘Africanstyle’ set of accommodation units, with comfortable and attractive rooms in round, thatch-roofed bungalows which contain all modern room- and outdoor bathroom facilities. The ‘honeymoon suite’ is simply luxurious.

111 Moo 2, Baan Sook Somboon,
Thai Samakkhee Sub-district,
Wang Nam Khiao District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30370
Tel. +66 (0) 8 1274 6961,
(0) 8 6259 5755, (0) 8 1955 9461

Baan Bu-Sai Farm



Like mushrooms growing abundantly in the wild, homestays and resorts are sprouting up in large numbers in the area of Thai Samakkhee and Wang Nam Khiao Village, on the left and the right side of Highway 304. And so are roadside markets, which cater to local tourists, especially on Saturdays and Sundays or on long weekends. ‘No-toxic’ vegetables such as capsicum, lettuce, cabbages, kale, Chinese vegetables, pumpkin, cherry tomatoes and various kinds of mushrooms are sold here, as well as fresh grapes and herbal drinks, fruit wines and snacks derived from these organic products.

More than 150 smaller and bigger resorts exist already, and others are under construction. At certain bends and bifurcations, dozens of names are found on a jungle of advertising panels.

One particular village community at Baan Bu-Sai joined hands to create a small-scale agricultural community including organic farms and forest homestays. Shiitake mushrooms are cultivated on a non-toxic, pesticide-free basis. Coriander plants are mixed with vegetables to prevent the latter against insects and assure an additional income. A special local plant, (‘hang lai’) is mingled with the cultivated crops. This plant is poisonous and a natural insect killer, so that noxious pesticides don’t have to be used. Very simple and sometimes remarkably cute bungalows are constructed in the forest or along small rivers. They are set up and managed by the local Baan Bu-sai Community and rented out for the benefit of the whole community. They are only equipped with mattresses and fans. Simple village and forest life is the slogan.



Bu-Sai Homestay Community
Tel. +66 (0) 8 5302 2785
www.wangnamkheo.com

Jim Thompson Farm




The tourist center and storefront provides information about the Jim Thompson brand and aims to promote tourism in Nakhon Ratchasima province, as well as to enhance the image of Pak Thong Chai as Thailand’s renowned district for production of high quality silk fabrics. The store is a modernized version of the traditional Thai house, with high sloping ceilings, wood floors and large doors and windows that completely open up the side walls for plenty of ventilation. At this location, visitors can buy an assortment of selected merchandise and hand-woven textiles from the Jim Thompson factory.





These include handbags, scarves, pillows, rugs, wallets and beanie stuffed animals. Also of interest to the sightseeing visitor to Pak Thong Chai are the display boards of educational materials, giving a brief history of the company,
the man behind the brand, and the nearby Jim Thompson Farm. Tours of the organic farm can be arranged here when in season (they are only offered for about 20 days of the year), so it is important to check ahead of time.

799/1 Moo 11, Sueb Siri Road,
Pak Thong Chai District,
Nakhon Ratchasima
Tel. +66 (0) 4444 1558 ext.3123
(0) 4437 3116, (0) 8 5660 7336
www.jimthompsonfarm.com

Suan Suchada







Suchada Flower Garden and Lodge
(Suan Suchada)
116 Moo 18, Wang Nam Khiao District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30370
Tel. +66 (0) 4476 0089, (0) 8 9545 5339
www.suansuchada.com

Besides vegetables and fruit farms, various flower farms are successful enterprises in this area. Decorative flowers destined to hotels, shops and markets are grown on a large scale. Roses, orchids, daisies, amaryllis, frangipani and other valued flowers colour up vast, well kept, sun-protected plots. Emphasis is often put on the cultivation of chrysanthemum flowers, now a wildly popular ingredient of flavoured and healthy teas, soaps, gels and other culinary and beauty products. The yellow and white flowers are cut three times a year. Teaching centres are set up to acquaint the villagers with the growing of this useful plant. The Baan Sook Somboon Mushroom Group and Benjamas Wipa Garden are two examples of successful local mushroom and chrysanthemum growers.

The latter, also called chrysanths or ‘Golden
Flowers’, were first cultivated in China and Japan,
where they became national symbols of
power and glory. In China, a city (Ju-Xian, Chrysanthemum
City, was named after the flower,
which became also highly valued in Japan. The
varieties go from small, daisy-like buttons to big
round pompons and are bright yellow, purple,
red or white. Chrysanthemum tea has highly
medicinal qualities (anti-bacterial, against influenza
and HIV).

Another local business worth mentioning is
Suchada Garden. In this very new and extensive
garden, anthurium flowers are cultivated on a
large scale, besides orchids. The red, pink and
white anthurium flowers (‘dok na wua’), sometimes
called ‘Flamingo Flowers’ or ‘Boy Flowers’
because of their colour or club-shaped spadix,
were first imported from the Netherlands. Moreover,
a brand-new resort is built on the Suchada
Flower Farm compound, with 40 comfortable
bungalows overlooking a pond and the neighbouring
countryside.

Phu-Amorn Vineyards and Winery

It is generally believed that good wine has to be fetched on the northern part of Thailand; actually, it is not that hard. Just a two-hour drive and you’ll get to one of the largest and beautiful vineyards in Saraburi, Phu-Amorn Vineyards and Winery. You can enjoy since the minute the car turning into the vineyard. Along either side of the road leading to the vineyard are grape trees planted along the hill. After being engrossed in the beauty of wine, now it’s time to enjoy the wine. Winery products of Phu-Amorn had been certified and awarded by many national organizations and academic institutes such as Ministry of Industry, Science and Technology Research Institute, as well as OTOP Thailand Best of Fermented Liquor in 2002, which guarantee their high standards and taste. For those who are not so keen on wine can taste the fresh, natural and refreshing grape juice. Or you can simply make all activities into one — put up a tent, surrounded by the vineyard, while indulging yourself in the heavenly taste of wine. The best time to visit is in winter, between November and February. And let’s experience a heaven on earth sensation!

44 Moo 10, Mittraphap Road,
Muak Lek District, Saraburi 18180
Tel. +66 (0) 3632 7183,
(0) 8 1906 9373, (0) 8 1517 5199




Malee Vineyards

 
Khun Malee Vineyards is another vineyard which is worth a visit when coming to Saraburi. Sip the fresh seedless grape juice and savor the grapes products such as grape ice cream, grape pie, grape cookies, grape jam, and so on. Walk up or drive up along the grape tree-lined trail to the top of the hill and be stunned with the spectacular panoramic view. A tour guide (advance reservation recommended) takes you to see the process of planting organic grapes from A to Z: from how to trim, prune, harvest, and its production. And if you want to linger a little longer, tents are provided for you to stay a night under the starry roof.


Malee Vineyards
199 Moo 7, Muak Lek-Wang Muang
Road, Muak Lek District,
Saraburi 18180
Tel: +66 (0) 3634 11159,
(0) 8 1893 5893




Tub Lan National Park

After following the 4-lane highway 33 from Bangkok to Nakhon Nayok and Kabinburi and turning left on highway 304 towards Nakhon Ratchasima, one starts climbing up wooded hills misty with haze. The mountainous natural reserve which lay in front of you is the Tap Lan National Park, which is part of a much vaster region comprising also the Khao Yai and Pang Sida National Parks, together declared a World Heritage Natural Site. It touches on not less than 5 provinces – Nakhon Nayok, Prachin Buri, Sa Keo, Buriram and Nakhon Ratchasima. On the right side of the road lies the entrance of the Tub Lan National Park Headquarters, where information is given about the nature reserve and where guides can be booked to hike into it, possibly with a camping overnight

The name of the park refers to a special variety of short-stemmed areca palm (lan) with beautiful fan-shaped leaves. Here is the only ‘lan forest’ in Thailand, made up by about 2,000 palms. In ancient times villagers wandering from one place to another made makeshift shelters (tap) to sleep using the palm leaves. The dried leaves were also used by monks as a durable parchment to write religious texts.

Park officials are helpful to give explanations (in Thai) about this specific palm variety, and show bows traditionally made of its wood. The trees grow to a hundred years and produce a huge top filled with hundreds of ping-pong ball-sized seeds. When they fall to the ground, the tree dies, which is perceived as a kind of ‘cycle of life’. The highly protected palms flower in June-July, displaying bunches of white blossoms. Seeds are collected and kept in a nursery, to be used for reforestation.

Tub Lan National Park
Suan Hom, Moo 2, Wang Nam Khiao District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30370
Tel. +66 (0) 3721 9408






Bangkok Office
National Parks, Wildlife and Plant
Conservation Department
61 Paholyothin Road, Lad Yao,
Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Tel. +66 (0) 2562 0706
www.dnp.go.th

Pha Keb Tawan

Tub Lan National Park is located in Wang Nam Khiao district, on the western edge of Khao Yai National Park, south of Nakhon Ratchasima city. The area is often described as the Tuscany of Thailand because of its lush rolling hills, many now sprouting new vineyards of green and red grapes. The climate and terrain are ideal for viticulture, a mixture of damp misty dawns and evenings with rich, fertile soil. Rising above the district are the high ridges of Tub Lan National Park, and among these, Keb Tawan Cliff offers some of the most spectacular panoramic vistas, particularly at sunrise and sunset when the skies are transformed into lightshows sometimes likened to the Northern Lights. Many visitors choose to camp at these heights so they don’t miss either of the shows, often toasting the natural beauty with one of the locally produced vintages. There are also a number of beautiful waterfalls in the area which are well worth a visit, like Namtok Huai Yai.

Located on Highway 304 between Kabinburi
district of Prachin Buri province
and Pak Thong Chai district of Nakhon
Ratchasima.



     


Prasat Hin Phanom Wan





While not as large or as well known as Prasat Hin Phimai or Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung, Prasat Hin Phanom Wan is very impressive. Built during the 11th century, this Khmer Hindu sanctuary with its Shiva lingams and Nandi (Shiva’s bull mount) still reflects the exquisite stone carving and architecture of the reign of Ankor.

Also of interesting note is that the site is now a working Thai Buddhist temple with its resident monks still conducting their daily spiritual rituals. The temple is surrounded by a moat that fills during the rainy season just as it did 1,000 years ago. Left abandoned for many years, a French team of archeologists and architects has now restored much of the site. Constructed originally of locally kiln fired red brick and includes two beautiful prangs or pagodas and arched doorways that were located astrologically, like at Khao Phanom Rung, so the sun will shine directly through them at specific times of the year.

Prasat Hin Phanomwan is 15 kilometers
north of Nakhon Ratchasima, or just
less than half way to Phimai, on National
Highway 2 to Khon Kaen. Turn right at
the sign and you will come to Wat Phanom
Wan where the ruins are located.


  

 

Nakhon Nayok and Sa Keo Provinces

These two provinces lie on either side of the world heritage Dong Phaya Yen-Khao Yai Forest. As such they offer alternative attractions for Khao Yai travelers among their richly forested mountainous lands. Across this area are three additional national parks with hiking opportunities and a variety of fruit and vegetable growers, farmstays and archeological sites.

Local adventure companies such as Khao Lon Adventure Company in Nakhon Nayok offer many exciting activities, including riding across the rugged terrain on ATVs, rock climbing, and ziplining. An alternative is an afternoon with The ForRest where you can take aim with paintball guns and BB guns for war games in a jungle combat scenario.

For an adrenaline rush, take a rafting tour of the Sai Yai River between the two provinces in Prachin Buri. The Nakhon Nayok River on the other hand is better suited for canoeing and kayaking.



Find ancient ruins in Sa Keo province which borders Cambodia. Tour the Phra Prong reservoir by boat and you can see birdlife, especially cormorants and the rare Oriental Darter, known sometimes as the snake bird for its long slender undulating body. Explore the underworld in the three magnificent cave systems of Pet Po, Pet Had Sai Kaew, and Tumnan Khao Shiva. Sa Keo is also home to Pang Sida National Park and its verdant mountain ranges which are especially well known for attracting over 400 species of butterflies and more than 300 species of birds, including the charming hornbills. Larger animals such as elephants can also be spotted here and the sunrise through the mists is not to be missed. Ta Phraya, whose mountains form the border between Thailand and Cambodia, is another national park and lies at the east end of the province providing more outdoor opportunities.

Phimai Historical Park


Phimai Historical Park in vNakhon Ratchasima province safeguards one of the most prominent Khmer temples in Thailand. The ancient city of Phimai was likely to have been an important part of the Khmer Empire, as most of these buildings were constructed in the late 11th to the late 12th century. The architectural elements mirror those of Angkor Wat, Bayon and Baphuon. Inscriptions have been found on some walls of the sandstone structures, referring to the site as Vimayapura (city of Vimaya), which later became transliterated into the Thai name Phimai. The site was restored in the late 1960s and is very wellpreserved. The onsite National Museum holds some interesting artifacts that were first discovered in this compound. Other tourist facilities include a restaurant and gift shop. The park is small enough to walk around and see all the sights, but renting a bicycle would also allow for visiting the giant banyan tree close to the city center. Other tourist facilities include a restaurant and gift shop.

   


Phimai Historical Park
Phimai City,
Nakhon Ratchasima

Sai Ngam



Located about 59 km from Korat, Sai Ngam is a
calming place to stop for lunch while visiting Phimai
Historical Park, which is only 1.5 km away. There
are many food stalls next to this touristic site and
takeaway snacks for a picnic on the nearby grassy
lawn. Other vendors sell knickknacks, straw hats,
handmade bags, Buddhist sculptures, Thai musical
instruments, and random trinkets like feng shui
ornaments and wind chimes. The main attraction
though, is a shaded grove of banyan trees with intertwined
and gnarled roots, contained on a tiny island
on a pond. Its low-lying, dense canopy is an impressive
sight. It is believed to be one very large tree,
with its tangled vines reaching in all directions. Since
banyans grow by sending their roots and branches
out to form new trees, the trunks stay connected to
the parent and remain interconnected to the original
tree. Inside this thicket, there are rest benches along
the pathways, fortune tellers, and spirit houses to
give offerings.


Sai Ngam
1.5 km Northeast of
Phimai Historical Park,
Nakhon Ratchasima




Statue of Thao Suranaree





This local attraction is the site of a tall
statue commemorating the local heroine
of Nakhon Ratchasima. She was
called Ya Mo, but was later bestowed
the honorable title of Thao Suranaree, or
The Brave Lady of Korat by the king of
Siam. In 1826 the governor of Korat was
summoned to attend the royal court and
left the command of half of the garrison
to his wife, Ya Mo. At that time, Prince
Anuwongse of Laos led an army to seize
Nakhon Ratchasima. They succeeded in
capturing the city and its people, herding
them together to march back to Laos.
During the turmoil, Ya Mo instilled morale
in her people, while doing everything to
make the Lao soldiers sympathetic to
their Thai captives. She found ways to
delay the journey and held secret meetings.
She craftily asked their captors
for tools to repair things with, but in the
end devised a plan for her people to use
these tools for fighting back and drove
away the Laos army, reclaiming their city
from invaders.

Statue of Thao Suranaree
Korat City, Muang District,
Nakhon Ratchasima

    

Khorat Fossil Museum



This museum is actually a combination of
three smaller museums, Petrified Wood
Museum, the oldest and most impressive,
Ancient Elephant Museum and Dinosaur
Museum. Set on the grounds of the Northeastern
Research Institute of Petrified and
Mineral Resources, Nakhon Ratchasima
Rajabhat University. The petrified wood exhibits
resemble sculptures in an art gallery as
the wood, while retaining its characteristics,
has been transformed into minerals such as
quartz. By getting up close or using a microscope,
you will discover the fossil remains of
many miniscule life forms that lived millions

  




of years ago. The remaining two museums
include the skeletons of dinosaurs and mammoths
that foraged the lands of this region
well before as well as during the early habitation
by man. While enjoying these exhibits, it
is also recommended that you try some of
the refreshing local ice cream that’s made
fresh daily.

Open: Tuesday – Sunday,
09.00 AM – 04.00 PM

184 Moo 7, Suranaree Road,
Mueang District,
Nakhon Ratchasima 30000
Tel. +66 (0) 4421 6617-8
www.khoratfossil.org

Dan Kwian Pottery Village

Dan Kwian means checkpoint for bullock carts and was originally a stop for traders on their way to the Korat market. Local began producing ceramic pottery because of the abundance of fine clay coming from the Moon River basin, and their work has now been famous among Thais for hundreds of years. The pottery is known for its rough texture and rust-like hue, produced from kaolin which is only found in this district, as well as black-bronzed glazing. While the best shops are located on the main street, you can find some incredible bargains along the back lanes and alleyways. A number of shops have expanded their lines from unique sculptures to stylish jewelry. You can also find some very good local cuisine before, after or during your shopping.



  






Dan Kwian Sub-district,
Chokchai District,
Nakhon Ratchasima
www.dankwian.com

 

Promrangsri Buddha Park



This striking temple complex has an interesting
background story, which is probably one
of the main factors for its popularity among
Thais. Its construction was initiated by a
famous Thai movie star who had already
enjoyed a life of celebrity and fortune. Being
that he felt so successful in life, he became
strongly inspired to make merit and give
something back to society. He created the
charity foundation which provided funds
to build the Promrangsri Buddha Park. It is
home to a monumental likeness of a revered
monk, born during the reign of King Rama I.
This golden statue is housed in the main chapel,
designed in the classical religious style
of the Rattanakosin era. The park grounds
is comprised of about 150 rai of land. It con


         

tains
landscaped rest areas, a large pond
with water fountains, bridged walkways,
welcome hall, snack food cafe, children’s
playground, and an egalitarian-style canteen
offering free Gui Tiao Rad Na (wide
noodles with gravy sauce) to all visitors.

Promrangsri Buddha Park
19/1 Moo 2, Mittraphap Road,
Si Kiew District, Nakhon Ratchasima
Tel: +66 (0) 4441 1671