Top 5 attractions in Isaan

Isaan, in north eastern Thailand, was once considered to be the cradle of ancient civilization. Even today, you can witness the original customs and practices that date back to thousands of years. The region was once dominated by the Khom people and some of the temples and monuments still stand giving Isaan a sense of timelessness. Isaan is home to Thailand’s greatest national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Here are some of the places you can visit in Isaan.

Khao Yai National Park

(Mu Si, Pak Chong, Nakhon Ratchasima 30130, Thailand)

The UNESCO World Heritage Site and Thailand’s second largest national park, Khao Yai National Park is famous for its dense forests, scintillating streams, waterfalls, and high-altitude plains. The rich landscape serves as a playground for a diverse range of activities and is also a haven for wildlife. You can see elephants, tigers, deer and over 300 bird species. You can also enjoy a one-hour trek though the jungle terrain on elephant back.

Ku Puai Noi

Khon Kaen Province

The walls of this large stone castle enclose a central compound known locally as Tat Ku Tong. The large, sandstone Chedi, although visibly old, remains in near-perfect condition. Beautiful stone carvings make the Chedi all the more impressive.

Mor Hin Khao, Phu Laen Kha National Park

(Chaiyaphum, Northeastern Thailand)

Spread across an area of 200.5 Mor Hin Khao, Phu Laen Kha National Park is set in a mountainous terrain. The park houses a forest park range from thick forests to sparse woods. It offers a varied natural beauty complete with cliffs, stone ground, and strange rock formations.

Nong Khai

(on the western bank of the Mekong River, only 20 km from Vientiane, the capital of Laos)

The main attraction is Sala Kaew Ku located 6km east of Nong Khai on Highway 212. This utterly bizarre park of massive sculptures (some over 20m tall) is the handiwork of the mystic Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat. He bought the land in 1978 when he was thrown out of his native Laos – there is a similar park that he had created that still remains near Vientiane. The sculptures here reflect a beautiful synthesis of Buddhism and Hindu ideologies. You can see the sculptures of Buddhas, many-armed goddesses, naga snakes and many kinds of human-animal hybrids that dominate the scenery.

Phanom Rung

This is a Khmer temple complex set on the rim of an extinct volcano at 1,320 feet (400 m) above sea level. Built in sandstone and laterite in the 10th to 13th centuries, it is a Hindu shrine dedicated to Shiva, and symbolises Mount Kailash, his heavenly dwelling. Thailand's Department of Fine Arts spent 17 years to restore the temple complex to its original glory.

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