Amnat Charoen is located in Southern I-San plateau, approximately 583 kilometres from Bangkok. The town was founded during the reign of King Rama III, established under the jurisdiction of Nakhon Khemarat and later governed by Ubon Ratchathani Province. It was recently promoted to provincial status in 1993. The province is well known for its Khit woven fabrics and has a number of Lanna-style and Laotian-style temples.
The 20-m tall Phra Mongkol Ming Muang , commonly referred to as Phra Yai (Big Buddha), and considered the town's most sacred Buddha image, is located in the Buddha Park. The gold-plated, northern Indian-style Buddha image is in the sitting position with the 'touching the earth' gesture, the most commonly gesture among Buddha images. Shady trees around the park enhance the air of calmness and tranquility prevalent.
The vast temple complex of Wat Thum Sang Petch (Cave of Diamond Sparkles), or Wat Sala Pan Hong (1,000 Room Pavilion), has a chapel perched on the hilltops. North of the chapel, lights reflecting off the stalactites and stalagmites of the large and beautiful cavern makes the inside sparkle like diamonds.
Visitors pay respect to the large, exquisite Buddha image housed within the cave. A number of foreign monks study the Dharma here.
The unique Wat Phra Lao Thep Nimit contains a Lanna-style (northern Thai) hall which houses a large, 281-year-old Buddha image that is regarded as the most regal and graceful looking Buddha image of this region.
The place to see silk weaving and the production of silk cloth is at Soi Village (Necklace) in Phana District. Villagers united to form a silk producing co-operation unit with a comprehensive supply and manufacturing process. They grow their own mulberry trees whose leaves are fed to silkworms, tend to the cocoons, harvest the cocoons and gather the silk threads, dye the silk threads for used in weaving and market their silk products themselves.
The area of Phu Sa Dok Bua National Park (Lotus Pond Hill) covers 3 provinces: Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen, and Yasothon. The park consists of many peaks, overlapping each other; a large, stony plateau; wild forests; and prehistoric colored paintings on the face of a cliff. The highlight is located at the peak of the mountain where 5 stony basins, of unknown origin, with widths of 2-5 meters contains water throughout the year. Various forms of lotus grew naturally in those basins, providing a colorful spectacle.
Chanuman is a district about 80 km. from the provincial town where the land runs alongside the Mekong River for a distance of some 38 km, affording a wonderful view of the natural scenery of both sides of the river. Rapids which emerge during the dry season (February-May) such as Kaeng Hin Khan (13 kms. south of Chanuman) are quite exciting and eye-catching. For a picturesque sunset view of the Mekong River and the Laotian banks, visit the area in front of the Chanuman District Office.
Located on the outskirts of Amnat Charoen near the Chit Sakon Resort, the Chit Sakhon Agro-Park is a garden of flowering plants, notably the marigolds.
Located on the Hua Taphan-Amnat Charoen Highway, the Ban Kham Phra Handicraft Center is a facility that exhibits and sells handicraft products made by housewives groups. Items available include the Khit fabric and items made from Khit materials.
The Don Chao Phu community-park is home to a large groups of monkeys.
Wat Pho Sila houses ancient, sandstone Sema stones (usually heart-shaped pieces placed along the top of the walls around a temple to mark its perimeters) with delicate floral etchings. Unlike the normal heart-shape, these unique Semas have a more tapered shape, with a spear tip-like end. The entire design is influenced by the Dvaravati style of the Central Region.
Wat Tham Saeng Phet is a meditation sanctuary. It is about 11 kilometres from town, on Amnat Charoen-Khemmarat Road and three kilometres on a side road before the end of the highway. The large temple area consists of the hilltop chapel with a principal Buddha image. The temple is set amidst rocks, which reflect the light and sparkle like diamonds.
Phra Mongkhon Ming Mueang housed in Wat Dan Phra Bat and situated 3 kilometres from town on the left-hand side of Highway 212. A Buddhist sanctuary built amidst the green trees of Phra Mongkhon Ming Muang, designed in the attitude of Subduing Mara and decorated with golden mosaic tiles. The 20 metre-tall Buddha image was moulded in Northern Indian style in 1965. It is the most sacred Buddha image for Amnat Charoen's people.
The temple also keeps a respected Buddha image called Pa La Hai , coincidentally discovered in the pond in 1962 when the temple was underrenovation. This Buddha image is believed to bring good fortune to worshippers.
Phuttha Utthayan Reservoir is opposite to Wat Dan Phra Bat, three kilometres away from town. This large reservoir under the Irrigation Department offers beautiful scenery. It is an ideal place to visit with resorts and food shops scattered all around.
Chitsakon Agricultural Centre is located on the outskirts of the town in the Chitsakon Resort. It is a garden of flowering plants, notably the marigolds. Visitors can take part in some agrotourism activities.
Wat Pho Sila at Lue Amnat district houses the Dvaravati sandstone battlements with carving of flowers and leaves with bloom lotus at their bases.
Wat Phra Lao Thep Nimit is 40 kilometres from Amnat Charoen on Highway No. 212 and Highway No. 2134. The temple consists of the Lanna architecture chapel and houses a Buddha image in the attitude of Subduing Mara, which is believed to be the most beautiful Buddha image in the northeastern region. Designed with the influence of Laotian and Lanna arts in 1720, the Buddha image shows a blend of local art dating around the 18 th century.
Wat Chaiya Tikaram is located in Ban Phon Muang. The temple houses a 55-centimetre tall Buddha image in the attitude of Subduing Mara classed in the style of Laotian artists of Vientiane.
Don Chao Pu is a forest park with assorted plants and serves as habitat to large groups of monkeys.
Phu Sa Bua National Park is at the 24-26 km. marker of Highway No. 2227, some 60 kilometres from Amnat Charoen centre. It covers a mountainous area of 252 square kilometres. Its rich and fertile jungles are habitats to a great number of different plantlife. There are several large stone flatlands in different locations locally called "Dan".
Major attractions in the park include:Phu Pha Taem is a cliff adorned with prehistoric paintings, dating back to 3,000-4,000 years ago. The cliff-face itself looks somewhat like a cave as a resultant of many rockslides.
Pha Maklua and Phu Pha Hom are suitable for viewing the surrounding.
Phu Sa Dok Bua is 423 metre high. Atop the mount are several rocky depressions, each measuring about 2-5 metre wide filled with different genres of water lilies throughout the year. Nearby is a large cave that was formerly used by Communist followers as a hideout.
Chanuman is a peaceful district about 80 kilometres from the provincial town where the land run along side the Mekong River for a distance of 38 kilometres, affording a wonderful view of the natural scenery of both side of the river. Rapids emerge during the dry season (February-May).
Ban Kham Phra Handicraft Centre is on the Hua Taphan-Amnat Charoen Highway, about 2 kilometres north of the Hua Taphan District Office or 37 kilometres from the provincial town. It offers handicraft products made by housewives groups. Items available include the Khit fabric and items made from Khit materials.
Boat Racing is annually held around November in front of the Chanumarn District Office near the Mekong River. The festival draws decorative boats from neighbouring provinces and from Lao P.D.R.
Long Kuang is a festive occasion allowing for the social gathering of unmarried male and female villagers. The group of females weaves fabrics to the accompaniment of musical tunes conducted by male villagers.
Hotels and accommodation
- Amnat Charoen : 288/267 Wichitsin Road Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1699] : 120-200 baht
- Chitsakon Resort : 40 Mu 14 Tambon Bung Amphoe Muang [0 4451 1500-1] : 250-1,200 baht
- Hot Line Resort : 69 Mu 5 Tambon Bung Amphoe Muang [0 4427 0222-3] : 300-500 baht
- Loet Wichit : Arun Prasoet Road Amphoe Muang [0 4445 1462] : 180-350 baht
- Suan Nam Nantharat : 127 Mu 8 Chayangkun Road Amphoe Muang [0 4445 1803] : 400-1,200 baht
- Thong Tawee Lakeside Resort : Close to Buddha Utthayan Reservoir, 144 Mu 5 Tambon Bung Amphoe Muang [0 4427 0226] : 200-350 baht
- Local Cuisine
- Chit Sakhon : 40 Moo 14, Muang, Tel: 0-3751-1500-1
- Hia Uan : 767/2 Moo 9 Chayangkul Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-3745-1350, 0-3751-1300
- Phon Yang Khum : Chayangkul Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-3751-1874
- Rin Food Court (NE cuisine) : 136 Chayangkul Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-3727-0220
- Sin Charoen : 288/30 Chayangkul Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-3745-1130
- Som Ranu Food Court : 24 Moo 8 Chayangkul Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-3745-1742
- Suang Pla Buak : 344-348 Udomrit Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-3745-1361
How to get there
* By car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Nakhon Ratchasima, then take Highway No. 226 to Buriram and Surin and continue the journey along Highways No. 214 and 202 to Amnat Charoen via Suwannaphum and Yasothon, a total distance of 585 kilometres.
* By bus
Buses depart from Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Amnat Charoen every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 for more information.
* By train
There is no direct train to Amnat Charoen. Visitors can take a train from Hua Lamphong (1690, 0 2223 7010-20) to Ubon Ratchathani, then continue the trip by bus to Amnat Charoen.
* By plane
Thai Airways flies from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani, which is 75 kilometres from Amnat Charoen. For more information, call 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000.