Unspoiled nature, good food and rich cultural heritage are what you can expect in Phetchabun province, about 300 kilometers from Bangkok. This hidden gem of the central plain was once considered by former Prime Minister Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram as a replacement for Bangkok as the country’s capital during WW 1.
- Day 1
- 1. Visit Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaew – a mountain monastery with a spectacular view
- 2. Enjoy local dish Khanom Chin – fermented rice noodles of Raan Boonmee
- 3. Hit the trail at Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park
- Day 2
- 4. Try local breakfast Khai Yang Khao Buea – roast chicken
- 5. Pay respect to the big Buddha Image at Phetbura Buddhist Park
- 6. Discover the past at Si Thep Historical Park
Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaew
A must-see for any visitor to Phetchabun, Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaew boasts many interesting structures and a spectacular view.
Locals believe that the temple’s location is very auspicious “as a flying glass ball was seen disappearing into the cave on the cliff”. Pha Son Kaew refers to the cliff where the mysterious glass ball has been kept.
The temple is home to a unique vihara of five seated Buddha images layered from the largest at the back to the smallest at the front. Its beautiful chedi houses Buddhist scriptures and also serves as a meditation area for the general public.
Throughout the temple, you will see colorful mosaics and ornamental objects, which are partly what make this temple such a famous attraction.
- : 95 Tambon Khaem Son, Amphoe Khao Kho, Phetchabun 67280
- : Open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
- : 06 3359 1554
Khanom Chin – fermented rice noodles, in Lom Kao district
About 40 minutes’ drive from Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaew is a local eatery known for its colorful Khanom Chin – fermented rice noodles.
RaanBoonmee serves freshly made noodles in pretty colors every day. You can have a set menu or a single plate. The set menu will come with three curries and assorted vegetables. Having Khanom Chin shows another level of your familiarity with Thai food culture!
At the shop front, you can see how the colorful Khanom Chin noodles are made.
- : Moo 3 Tambon Na Saeng, Amphoe Lom Kao, Phetchabun 67280
- : Open daily from 8:00 a.m. -5:00p.m.
- : 08 9643 2775
Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park
Spread over areas in the three provinces of Loei, Phitsanulok and Phetchabun, Phu Hin Rong Kla is famed for its lush forest, colorful wild flowers and scenic viewpoints.
Some 40 years ago the park was a northern stronghold for the Communist Party of Thailand due to its strategic location. You can still see the remains of their camps.
During February-March, visitors will be greeted by a field of blooming strawflowers, located only a 5-minute drive from the visitor center.
The parking lot here is ample. The strawflowers close by are part of a royal initiative project for forest development.
Even without the flowers, it is worth coming to this scenic point that features five small hills, bluffs you can walk down to take pictures. You can come up between 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m
The communist party’s school of political and military ideology is a major attraction of Phu Hin Rong Kla. You will see what remains of the school – some 30 small wooden huts scattered among the tall trees. In January this area will have a glorious splash of red maple leaves.
Hiking along the 3.7 kilometer circular nature trail at this park is a popular activity. Among interesting sights you will see are strange rock formations some of which look like a frog and a snake. There’s even a heart-shaped one.
About two kilometers into the trail is Pha Chuthong, a cliff from where the insurgents flew their hammer and sickle flag every time they won a battle over the government forces. A national Thai flag is now flown over the cliff that overlooks a panoramic view.
The trail is an easy path for regular hikers. No extra gear is needed. Information signs are erected along the way and there are rest areas throughout.
Lan Hin Pum rock formation site lies about 500 meters from the flag flying spot Pha Chuthong. A cool mountain breeze helps offset the glaring sun here.
This rocky spot is a perfect place to watch the sunset. The park is closed at 4:00 pm. but those who are already inside can leave after that.
- Visitors are required to show their Covid-19 vaccine certificate of at least two shots (only one if the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was given) and to observe other preventive measures. The park enforces following restrictions on the number of visitors:
- 1. Campsite – 400 people/day
- 2. Lan Hin Taek rock formations – 500 people/at a time
- 3. Lan Him Pum rock formations – 500 people/at a time
- 4. School of political and military ideology – 200 people/at a time
- Admission fee
- Thai adult 20 baht, child 10 baht
- Foreign adult 200 baht, child 100 baht
- : 2331 Tambon Nern Perm, Amphoe Nakhon Thai Phitsanulok 6512
- : Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park Tel: 08 1596 5977 , TAT Phitsanulok Office (also in charge of Phetchabun) Tel: 0 5525 2742-3
Kai Yang Khao Buea – roast chicken
While in Phetchabun, try this roast chicken for breakfast before starting your day! A local delicacy, the skewered chicken is coated with a mixture of ground sticky rice and curry paste. You will find this street food on the Kho Khao-Phetchabun road.
A skewer costs only 10 baht and you can enjoy this local breakfast at many food carts as early as 6:30 a.m.
Phetbura Buddhist Park
The Buddhist Park is characterized by a massive seated Buddha image. It is in Phetchabun city, close to the Rajabhat University.
The Buddha Image is named Phra Buddha Maha Thammaracha and was cast in pure brass to celebrate the 84th Birthday Anniversary of HM the late King Bhumibol. The Buddha image is 11.984 meters wide in the lap and 16.5899 meters high.
Small replicas of Phra Buddha Maha Thammaracha are enshrined around the base of the main statue. Pavilions are located on both left and right and an elevator is provided for the disabled.
Behind the Buddha Image is a big pond with a pavilion for visitors to enjoy the view and the breeze.
You can also explore the three floors under the base of Phra Buddha Maha Thammaracha. Notable is the third floor that features many of Thailand’s important Buddha Images and the statues of late revered monks.
On the second and first floors are an office and an area where you can find tourist information about Phetchabun and neighboring provinces.
- : Tambon Sadiang, Amphoe Mueang Phetchabun, Phetchabun 67000
- : Open daily and 24 hrs.
- : 0 9627 1877
Si Thep Historical Park
This historical park truly deserves more attention! The Dvaravati and ancient Khmer-style ruins here are believed to date back to the 11th century BE. In fact, the ancient town of Si Thep maintained its important role from the late prehistoric period until the ancient Khmer culture lost its strength (8th – 18th centuries BE).
Si Thep Historical Park encompasses some 2,889 rai (4.6224 sq km) and is divided into two parts: the inner town 1300 rai -1.87 sq km) and the outer town (1,589 rai -2.83 sq km). Both parts are connected and also home to numerous wells, swamps and ruins. More than 48 ruins were discovered from the excavations in the inner town alone.
The park provides a cart tour for visitors (maximum 20 persons per cart) and a guide is available on request. The first stop is the building housing an excavation site that exhibits the skeletons of humans and elephants from the digs in 1988.
The tour covers three main ruins in the historical park. On the way, you will see the passage between the places of worship. The remains of the room supposedly for the deceased to be undressed are also located along this passage.
Prang Song Phi Nong is a major site of the inner town. These Khmer style ruins comprise two similar prangs of different sizes standing close to each other. They both sit on laterite bases, each with one entrance facing west. A laterite pedestal on which to mount the statue of a deity is found in both.
Prang Si Thep represents Hinduism. It is a typical Khmer structure that sits on a laterite base. At the front of the Prang are the remains of the two buildings used to store scriptures.
A pond was a vital part of the religious monument in the ancient Khmer tradition. It was the source of sacred water to be used for the coronation rites.
Khao Klang Nai is among the ruins of the inner town. It resembles an Egyptian pyramid and is believed to be a vault for weapons and valuables. Its rectangular base features the stuccos of dwarfs carrying the monument. Look closely and you can see that the stucco statues have the heads of both humans and animals such as a monkey, lion and elephant. The stairs to the upper part of this ruin have been closed off.
Khao Klang Nok Ruin is in the outer area to the north, about two kilometers from Khao Klang Nai. The mountain-like ruin is also believed to be a vault for weapons and treasures.
This ruin’s base is in a relatively good condition and its style is a representation of the Indian influence. It is believed that the upper part was used for religious rites.
Si Thep Historical Park is highly recommended. It is now on the tentative list for nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A history buff or not, you shouldn’t miss it while in Phetchabun!
- Thai: 20 Baht
- Foreigner: 100 Baht
- Car: 50 Baht
- For an English tour guide, please contact the park’s office.
- : Tambon Si Thep, Amphoe Si Thep, Phetchabun 67280
- : Open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- : 0 5692 1322, 0 5692 1317