Also known as Khorat, Nakhon Ratchasima is the gateway to Thailand's sprawling northeast plateau, known among Thais as I-San, which is bordered largely by Laos and the Mekong River to the north and northeast, and Cambodia to the south. The provincial capital of Nakhon Ratchasima is some 255 kilometers northeast of Bangkok. The province covers 20, 494 square kilometers of high plateau and mountainous terrain. Nakhon Ratchasima is particularly well known for Khao Yai National Park and several Khmer sanctuaries, dating from the pre-1200s when the area formed part of the Khmer Empire center in Angkor.
Attractions - in the city
Thao Suranari Monument
Located in front of the Pratu Chumpon Gate on the western side of the city, this statue of the local heroine Thao Suranari, also known as Khunying Mo, is an object of great reverence. Thao Suranari helped rally during the 1800s local inhabitants to repel invaders from Vientiane. Annual celebrations, each year from March 23 to April 3, commemorate the occasion.
Wat Phra Narai Maharat
The temple on Prachak Road houses a sandstone statue of the Hindu god Vishnu, which is considered to be Khorat's most sacred object. The City Pillar is also enshrined in this temple.
Wat Sala Loi
This unusual example of modern northeastern religious architecture has won many architectural awards.
Maha Wirawong Museum
Opposite the City Hall, this museum exhibits artifacts, including woodcarvings, ceramics and sandstone images, from the Khmer and Ayutthaya periods.
Teacher's College Cultural Center
A permanent photographic display of arts, and historical sites, and different kinds of Nakhon Phanom.
Located close to the city center on Manat Road, the bazaar offers local souvenirs and handicrafts, including pottery and woven cloth.
Attractions - out of the city
Khao Yai National Park
The 2,168-square kilometers park, some 200 kilometers northeast of Bangkok, covers parts of four provinces, namely Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Nayok, Saraburi and Prachin Buri. The park is laced with many natural trails and streams, and contains several splendid waterfalls. The park may be visited by taking Highway No. 2 from Bangkok, with a tight turn at Km. 165.5 in Pak Chong district.
Located at Km 40 on Highway 2090.
Heo Suwat Waterfall
13 kilometers from the tourist centers and is 25 meters high.
Heo Narok Waterfall
The largest waterfall, with a three-tiered height of 150 meters.
Pa Kuay Mai (Orchid) Waterfall
9 kilometers from the tourist center, and is surrounded by several species of orchids.
Nong Pakchee Wildlife Watch Tower
2 kilometers from the tourist center, and permits the observation from a height of approximately 20 meters, of birds, deer, wild boar and elephants. Accommodation, either in lodges, youth camp or tents, can be arranged by contacting the National Parks Division of the Royal Forestry Department in Bangkok
Located at Km. 7 on the Nakhon Ratchasima Pak Thong Chai Road, this recreational center contains flower gardens, and traditional architecture housing a popular restaurant.
Located 13 kilometers from the provincial capital, on the Nakhon Ratchasima-Pak Thong Chai Road, this complex, more than 200 acres in area, houses in largely natural surroundings a wide variety of Asian mammals, reptiles and birds. The zoo is open daily from 8.00 AM until 4.30 PM.
Prasat Hin Panom Wan
20 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital (see map), this petite Khmer sanctuary was built during the 12th century and is currently undergoing extensive restoration.
Prasat Hin Phimai
This Khmer sanctuary, some 60 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital, is one of the most splendid examples of classical Khmer religious architecture found outside Cambodia. The sanctuary is the focal attraction of an extensive Historical Park, and is contained within boundary walls measuring some 665 by 1,030 meters. Once connected by road to Angkor, the sanctuary was probably constructed between the late 1000's and mid 1100's. The main shrine is rich in Hindu and Mahayan Buddhist iconography, including figures of the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu, and scenes from the great Hindu epic, the Ramayana.
Phimai National Museum
This contains a striking collection of ancient Khmer and Dvaravati artifacts, including sandstone lintels and pediments.
Sai Ngam - known as 'Beautiful Banyan Tree', this recreation area 2 kilometers from Phimai provides more than 15,000 square meters of shade believed to have originated from one single banyan tree.
Ban Prasat Archaeological Site
Located some 45 kilometers from the provincial capital, Phimai Road, 3 excavation sites provide evidence of civilizations dating back more than 3,000 years.
Pak Thong Chai Silk Village
32 kilometers south of Khorat on Highway 304, this village has long been famous for its hand-woven silk. A Silk and Cultural Center in the area offers high-quality silk lengths and products at reasonable prices.
Wat Na Phra That
Located 4 kilometers from the Pak Thong Chai District Office, this temple is noteworthy for a chapel containing charming murals dating from the early 1800s, and an elaborately decorated scriptural repository.
Lam Phra Phloeng Dam
Located some 30 kilometers southwest of the Pak Thong Chai District Office, this dam offers the possibility of boat trips to the scenic Pak Thong Chai waterfall.
Dan Kwian Ceramic Village
Located 15 kilometers south of the provincial capital on Highway 224, this roadside handicraft village is famous for its distinctive traditional and rust-colored earthenware pottery which comes in a wide variety of products, including ashtrays, vases, patterned bottles, flower bowls, lamp bases and figurines. The village is as interesting for its ancient carts and farming implements as it is for its distinctive pottery.
This ancient Khmer-period settlement is located 32 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital, near Highway No. 2. Restored Khmer sanctuaries within the area include Prasat Hin Non Ku, Prasat Hin Muang Kaek and Prasat Hin Muang Kao.
This Dvaravati period (6th-13th centuries) settlement, 4 kilometers from Sung Noen District market, is oval shaped, 1,400 meters wide, and 2,000 meters long. Several sandstone artifacts were found in the area, including a 112.5 reclining Buddha image now enshrined in Wat Thammachak Semaram.
Khao Chan Ngam Cave
This is located 58 kilometers from the provincial capital along Highway 2, on the way to Bangkok, with a 4-kilometre left turn at Km. 198. The 'cave', actually a series of rock formations is famous for prehistoric rock paintings.
Thao Suranari Commemorations- March 23-April 3
This annual event celebrates the local heroine who rallied local citizens to repel foreign invaders during the early 1800s. Highlights include cultural displays, exhibitions, folk entertainment and fireworks.
Phimai Boat Races - Second weekend of November
These popular races occur on the Mun River near the Phimai Historical Park. Celebrations include boat decoration contests, folk entertainment and stalls selling local products.