Phetchabun is the most central province in Thailand and a good 200 km north of Bangkok. Its position is special in that it lies between two mountain ranges. In favourable weather conditions, from the district town of Wichianburi you can look from one mountain range to the other, and to the north the two ranges meet in the district of Lom Khao.
Where we are…
The region has lots to offer: national parks with fantastic views, waterfalls and historic Buddhist sites. The local markets are well worth exploring. So there’s more than enough to discover, for the whole family!
This province is also well-known among the Thai population for tamarin, a fruit that is a sub-group of the carob plant and grown everywhere here. Lom Khao is also well-known for its noodles with a variety of sauces, available on every corner from small wayside kitchens.
Some of the following places are on our tour routes, others are only a few kilometres away and suitable for a short trip.
Their religion is very important to the Thais. This is obvious simply from the large number of temples throughout the country. These temples are known as “Wat”. In Phetchabun there are number of important holy Buddhist shrines.
Wat Prathat Phasornkaew (On Tour)
became a Buddhist temple in 2010. In addition to its fantastic location on a mountainside, it is notable for the remarkable craftsmanship that went into its construction. Many temples in Thailand are a bit “off-the-peg”, but not this one. With arduous attention to detail, porcelain was used as wall decoration and, together with its striking architecture, the temple has become an experience to remember. At weekends, high days and holidays, Thais come here in huge numbers.
Wat Phu Thap Boek (On Tour)
Above the village of Phu Thap Boek lies this (still) small Wat. What makes this Wat so special is its age, because it was built at a time when each Wat was built differently, with its own special charm. Next to it stand a Buddha and an elephant statue. Anyone who passes under the elephant is said to be blessed with good luck. And if this isn’t enough, the Wat is worth a visit just for the view looking into the Pa Sak valley. For the last few years a pompous new tower, which is visible from our base, has been under construction directly on the summit.
Pechabura Buddhist Park (Short trip)
Well-known for being the largest Buddhist statue in the world, “Phra Buddha Maha Dhammeraja Chaleom Phra Kiat” sits gracefully enthroned above the picturesque Petchabura Buddha Garden directly on Highway 21 in the provincial capital of Phetchabun. For years, it has been the most revered of Buddhist statues. If you’ve ever heard of the “Um Phra Dan Nam Festival” or the bathing ceremony: this Buddha statue is the reason why these festivals are celebrated. The gigantic Phra Buddha Maha Dhammeraja Chaleom Phra Kiat was built in celebration of His Majesty the King’s on his 84th birthday. The adjacent garden covers an area of c. 46 hectares. In the centre there’s a large pond connected to the Pasak river, in which the original Phra Buddha Maha Dhammeraja was found. This Buddha is held in great respect by the local population, and there always seem to be people praying, meditating and carrying out other religious activities in the adjacent garden. Visitors passing through, who pray for good luck and a safe journey, also take this opportunity to have a rest and stroll in the relaxed atmosphere before travelling on.
Wat Mahathat (Short trip)
is one of the oldest temples in the town of Phetchabun. In the temple grounds stands a chedi, called Phum Khao Bin, standing 6 metres high in the form of a lotus bud. It’s assumed to have been built during the Sukhothai Era, as its style is characteristic of the period. The Ordination Hall and the Meeting Hall house statues of two very revered monks: Luang Pho Ngam and Luang Pho Phet.
Wat Traiphum (On Tour)
stands on the summit of the Khao Kho mountain next to the monastery residence of Witchamai Punyaram. The stupa is said to contain sacred relics of the Buddha of Sri Lanka. The chedi was built by the people of Phetchabun in recognition of the King’s services to his country and was just one of many such marks of thanks on the 50th anniversary of His Majesty’s accession to the throne. On important Buddhist occasions such as Makha Puja Day, locals and visitors often hold religious rites and ceremonies such as candle-light processions around the temple.
Petchabun has plenty of nature to offer. There are several national parks, particularly in the north, with extremely beautiful places to visit. Khao Kho is the region that attracts tourists most.
Namtok Man Daeng (Day trip)
is a 32-level waterfall in Huai Nam Man that is surrounded by evergreen woodland and has water all the year round. Its source is at the summit of Phu Man. For every level there is a rhyme describing its unique beauty and nature.
Phu Thap Boek (On Tour)
This the home of the Hmong, a mainly Christian ethnic group originating in China. The area lies 1768 metres above sea level and is often said to be the province’s highest point. Mountainous terrain and the high altitudes guarantee cool water all the year round.
From December to January, during the cool season, the hills are covered with cherry blossom, so this is the perfect time for a visit. During the rainy period, the mountains are covered in fog day and night, so this place has acquired the nickname “The Misty Town”.
Si Thep Historical Park (Day trip)
In Si Thep Historical Park stand the origins of ancient Phetchabun: Si Thep, the ancient town, was originally called Meaung Aphai Sali. It is assumed to have been built during the golden age of the old Khmer Empire, making it at least 1,000 years old. The historic town is surrounded by trenches and a hill; inside, there are ponds and bogs.
One of the attractions are the information centres, which exhibit ancient remains and a changing selection of exhibits on the history and archaeology of Si Thep Historical Park. The Prang Song Phi Nong Tower, one of several towers in the Khmer style, is also remarkable. It was built in the 11th and 12th centuries in the Baphuon style of Khmer art during the Angkor Wat era. The Khao Klang Nai ancient monument, in the middle of the town, was even earlier, between the 6th and 7th centuries. Its base is decorated with stucco statues of people and animals in the Dvaravati style. A ceremony is held annually in the highly revered Chaopho Si Thep shrine.
Nam Nao National Park (day trip)
The Nam Nao is a huge forest that has remained largely untouched. Its pinewoods, meadows and virgin primeval forests are home to a large number of animals, among them elephants, predators and more than a hundred bird species. During December and January, temperatures fall to between 2 and 5 degrees centigrade.
Caves and waterfalls are the park’s main attractions, and they stretch over a wide area. For example, Than Pha Hong lies 300 metres off the main road in the north and is a wonderful viewpoint with stalactites and stalagmites. Phu Kum Khao Pinery, where pines grow close together in profusion, is 15 km from the main road. The Nam Toh Heo Sai and Nam Toh Sai Thong waterfalls are 1 and 1.5 km from the main road respectively, at km 67.
Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park (on tour and day trip)
The Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park covers an area of c. 20,000 hectares and offers a variety of different landscapes, including waterfalls, luxuriant woodland and rocky plateaus. The highest point is 1617 m above sea level. The various rock formations with crevasses and uneven surfaces create fascinating patterns. There are many historic sites that were the scene of the conflict between 1965 and 1982, when today’s park was the headquarters of Thailand’s Communist Party. This area, where battle took place for 15 years between the Royal Thai Army and the Communist Party, was declared by the government to be a “red zone”. On account of its mountainous nature, Phu Hin Rong Kla was strategically important, being good to defend. The conflict ended in 1982, when the government granted the members of the Communist Party of Thailand an amnesty, and this led to Phu Hin Rong Kla being declared a national park in 1984. Silent witnesses of this period are the rustic assembly hall, the political school and the administration building. Along the path to Lan Hin Pum are rock formations that the rebels used as protection from air attacks. Today the headquarters nearby serve as a museum exhibiting weapons and medical instruments used by the Communist Party. Another path leads to Pha Chu Thong, where you can see the red victory flag of the Communist Party. Accommodation, including tents, is available for tourists and other visitors to stay overnight.
Khao Kho (On Tour and Short trip)
Pleasantly cool temperatures throughout the year and unbeatable views have made Khao Kho one of the most famous tourist attractions in the province of Phetchabun. The Khao Khom mountain range is made up of a number of large and small mountains in the region. Serdang mountain trees, or Ton Kho in Thai, skirt the mountains and give them their name.
A number of different kinds of forest are to be found here – deciduous, pine and evergreen.
Between 1965 and 1982 the region of Khao Kho was the scene of military confrontations between the Thai Army and the rebellious Communists, who wanted to establish an area of retreat here in the mountainous countryside.
In Khao Kho also stands the Haw Memorial, a memorial statue to militiamen of the special units of the 93rd Division who fought and lost their lives in Khao Kho.
Than Itthi (Weapon Museum) (Day Trip)
is a fortification from the time of the battles between the Thai military and the Communist rebels. Today it houses a museum exhibiting cannon, the remains of tanks, and weapons that were used in the battle for Khao Kho. Once a strategic base, today it is a viewpoint offering a tremendous panorama across the countryside.
The older towns in the north of Phetchabun have been spared a four-lane highway splitting them in two. They still have their traditional town centre complete with the market that has teemed with life since time began. For the tourist (“farang” in Thai), strolling around such a market is almost an adventure in itself.
Moo Kata (Thai BBQ)
The origin of the Moo Kata (literally translated meaning „fried pork“) is Korea. From here it spread to Thailand, but in contrast to the Korean version of the grill, the Thai grill uses charcoal instead of a gas ring. In Thailand and Malaysia there are a large number of all-you-can-eat Moo Kata restaurants, which have incorporated the grill in their business concept because it makes a large range of different dishes possible and BBQ food is easy to prepare.
On top of the grill is a specially designed, dome-and-channel cover, usually made of metal. This is placed in the middle of the dining table. Stock made of various ingredients or simply boiling water is poured into the channel. The meat is placed on the domed grilling surface and the juices from the meat run down into the channel to enrich the stock. Usually the meat is cut into thin slices and is mostly pork but may also be beef, chicken, lamb, or fish and other seafood delicacies. Vegetables of all kinds, and usually noodles, are put into the channel to be boiled by the enriched broth. The resulting dish is normally served with hot and spicy sauces such as Nam Yam.
House-raft (Day trip)
Spend a day on one of the many reservoirs or, even better, the lake. You are towed out on to the lake in a small reed houseboat. By mobile or radio phone you can order traditional dishes that are brought to you freshly cooked. The clear water invites you to jump in and cool off. (day trip)
Traditional Thai massage (TTM) is a system of massage techniques known in Thailand by the Thai term Nuat Phaen Boran, which literally translated means “massage in the ancient way”. In Western Europe it is also known as Thai-yoga-massage.
Thai massage takes yoga as its starting point and consists of passive stretching positions and movements, the mobilizing of the joints and pressure-point massage. Ten selected energy lines that, according to Ayurveda, pass through the body as an energetical network, are treated by means of gentle stretching and rhythmic pressure exerted by the balls of the thumb, the thumbs themselves, knees, elbows and feet. Thai massage takes place on a floor-mat with the patient clothed. For a patient without any particular physical or medical complaints, a classical Thai massage routine consists of at least 77 individual treatment techniques and lasts a minimum of an hour and a half.