Remote Thailand

Published on: Sunday, September 26, 2010
Remote Thailand - WatPhraKaew-Bangkok, Thailand


Following recent civil unrest, Thailand is safe to visit. Natasha Blair explores Isan in the country’s northeast offering history, wildlife and spectacular scenery.


The country’s second largest city after Bangkok, Khorat is considered the gateway to the northeast. It may be a big, buzzing town but it’s also an ideal starting point from which to explore the area. A fun and cheap way to visit its centre is on a canopied tricycle pedalled by one of the locals.

A must is a visit to the night market where you can buy items of clothing and knick-knacks at rock bottom prices. Always offer less than is asked for, as bartering is an accepted way of life. Look out for the stall selling local and unusual delicacies such as fried crickets, bamboo worms, and stag beetles.

Khao Yai National Park

Covering an area of 2,166 sq km (836 sq miles), the park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Teeming with vegetation and flora of all kinds, and dotted with several waterfalls, the park is home to 340 different bird species, as well deer, elephants and a variety of monkeys.

Activities include mountain biking, which are available to rent; canoeing, and white water rafting. There are lots of designated trekking routes of varying length for walkers of all fitness levels. Stay within the park at the 60-bedroom luxury boutique hotel, the Kirimaya Golf Resort & Spa with its Jack Nicklaus designed golf course.

As there is plenty to do and see, it’s advisable to plan your trip to the park in advance.

Phimai Historical Park
One of the biggest and most important religious sanctuaries in Thailand, Prasat Hin Phimai in the Phimai Historical Park is a definite must-see.
The Mahayana Buddist temple dates back to the 11th century AD. The ancient city of Phimai was at one time a province of the Khmer Empire, and the beautifully carved temple and accompanying buildings were built in the same style as the temple at Cambodia’s Angkor Wat. The intricate carvings, many still intact, tell the story of Buddhism, which is still the main religion of the country. Since the 1950’s, the Thai Government has slowly been restoring it to its former splendour. Admission: 100 Bahts (£2).

Ban Prasat
At Ban Prasat village, tombs have been unearthed dating back over 3,000 years. There are three different sites with excavations dating as far back as the Bronze and Iron Ages. A small museum displays artefacts from the period and gives a fascinating insight into how the people lived in those times.

Thanks to its rich archaeological sites, the village is well geared to visitors. Virtually every home offers home-stays, which include accommodation and food. While this is very cheap, it is also very basic. The sanitation can be very primitive but locals are happy to show you how they live and work. Bamboo and reeds are used to make items such as hats and handbags, which you can see being made. Silk weaving looms are also in evidence, as are the worms from which the silk comes.

Elephant Conservation Centre

A visit to the Thai Elephant Activity Centre ( is a great opportunity to get up close to these gentle creatures, and even ride one.

The centre is part of the Thai Elephants Research and Conservation Fund, which has been set up to protect the local elephants, and their mahouts (carers). The centres, of which there are several around the country, play an important part in looking after and caring for once wild elephants found wondering into towns, as well as those who have had their tusks mutilated.

Banyan Tree
Visiting a banyan tree may seem a rather odd thing to do but this particular one at Sai-ngam near Phimai Historical Park is over 350 years old and has spread its wings. Located by a water reservoir, the main tree has spurned hundreds of offshoots to cover a surface of over 3,250 sq m (35,000sq ft).
Close to the main tree is a shrine to the Banyan Tree which is rather special. Visitors are presented with a collection of sticks, and after making a wish, they have to juggle the sticks until one falls out. The number on it correlates to a text, which will hopefully assure you that your wish will come true.

* THAI Airways (tel: 0844 561 0911; offers flights from London Heathrow to Bangkok, with return economy class fares starting from £691 per person, including taxes.
* Heathrow Express ( takes 15 minutes to reach Heathrow Airport from Paddington Station in central London. Prices start from £16.50 one way.