Originally called 'Nakhon Roi Prang' (Hundred Prang City), the province boasts of having the most Khmer stone sanctuaries, most of which are concentrated in the southern part, with magnificent Phanom Rung Stone Sanctuary being a popular tourist attraction and the most beautiful example of Khmer architecture in Thailand. And no wonder, since this province bordering present day Cambodia was once a prosperous Khmer city. The modern name of Buri Ram means "city of peace". It is one of the largest and most populated provinces in Isan (the northeastern region). Buri Ram is 410 kilometres from Bangkok. It has an area of 10,321 square kilometres.
Situated atop a dormant volcano, the Phanom Rung Stone Sanctuary was once an important place where Brahman priests conducted Hindu religious rites. The sanctuary underwent supplementary construction for many eras. Derived from the Khmer language, 'Phanom Rung' means' Large Hill' , and faces eastward, towards the center of the former Khmer Kingdom. The main P rang (tower), centrally located within the inner complex grounds, features an intricate carving of the Hindu Narai God etched on the pediment atop the front entrance. This piece was the center of controversial since a missing part that had broken off had appeared in a museum located overseas and many years of negotiation was involved in its eventual return. Signs written in English and Thai posted around the wonderfully restored structures make it an enjoyable and informative walk.
The Phanom Rung Historical Park is comprised of the popular stone sanctuary and a Historical Museum that houses a wonderful collection of Khmer art and artifacts and provides comprehensive information about the stone sanctuary.
About 8 km from the Phanom Rung Historical Park is the Muang Tum Stone Sanctuary. Though it contains no evident proof of its true age or founder, the excavated artifacts date from two periods during the Khmer era of 965-1012 and of 1007-1109, or roughly over 1,000 years ago. In addition, depictions of Hindu gods in majority of the etched paintings indicate the sanctuary was built during the 11 th -13 th century for use as a site for Hindu religious ceremonies.
Excavation of the Ancient Earthen Kilns Site revealed numerous primitive earthen kilns and aged-old potteries dating from the 10 th -15 th centuries. The kilns were used to produce Khmer-style potteries that were sold and supplied to other towns in Khmer Empire.
The Napo Village Silk Weaving Handicraft Center has received H.R.H. the Queen's royal patronage from her SUPPORT Foundation for producing high-quality silk products. The center develops the local handicraft process according to the established standard in the areas of design, pattern production and coloring/dying techniques, which uses a natural dying process. The high-quality, finished products can be purchases at the front of the centre.
Lower Northeastern Cultural Centre is in Buri Ram Rajabhat Institute. It has collections and displays of artefacts and is a local archaeological, historical and arts study centre. Exhibitions of the centre include:
- Geography, history and ancient community.
- Elephants and the culture of the Suai people, including tools used in capturing elephants, items in elephant rituals and photos of elephant corralling in the old days.
- Local woven clothes.
- Wall mural about the Twelve Months Ceremony of the Isan people.
- Pottery and Chinese ceramics found in Buri Ram.
The centre is open from Monday to Friday, from 09.00-16.00 hrs. It is closed on weekends and holidays. For more information, please contact tel. 0-4461-1221 ext. 159.
Khao Kradong Forest Park is 6 kilometres from the city on the Buri Ram-Prakhon Chai Road (Highway No. 219). Khao Kradong is an extinct volcano that is 265 meters high. The summit of the mountain has a pool that is believed to be the mouth of the volcano. Around the area are several plant species worth studying. Also at the summit is Phra Suphattharabophit, an important Buddha image of the province.
Chaloem Phra Kiat
Wat Khao Angkhan is on an extinct volcano 20 kilometres from Phanom Rung. If travelling from Ban Ta Pek (between Ban Tako and Phanom Rung), use the road to Lahan Sai for 5 kilometres and onto a branch road to the temple for 10 kilometres. Wat Khao Angkhan represents an interesting mixture of architecture from various periods. Inside the main building are wall murals and stories of Buddhism told in English. Furthermore, many Dvaravati sandstone temple boundary markers have been discovered here.
Phanom Rung Historical Park is a grand and majestic Khmer site over a thousand years old. Built on an extinct volcano, it was originally a Hindu religious site but was later transformed into a Buddhist one. During the 10 th -13 th century, several additions were made.
The first thing visitors see when they arrive at the site is the grand stairway from the foot of the hill up to the top. Most of the buildings of the sanctuary were made of laterite and sandstone, all with elaborate designs. The buildings are lined all the way to the main pagoda. This layout is according to Hindu belief of the layout of the heaven of the god Shiva.The main pagoda is a large one with a square base and facing east. The designs on the pagoda, columns, doorway, and lintels are exquisite, most telling a story of gods in Hinduism. From these designs and the architecture, it was surmised that the pagoda, the stairway, and the Naga Bridge were built during the 12 th century. Each building has descriptive designs telling people the purpose for its construction, its usefulness and the beliefs of ancient people.
Phanom Rung is open daily from 06.00-18.00 hrs.
Getting to Phanom Rung by car is easy. The sanctuary is 64 kilometres to the south of Buri Ram town. There are 2 ways to get there. Visitors can proceed from Nang Rong to Prakhon Chai (Highway No. 24) and upon reaching Ban Tako, there is a 12-kilometer road to Phanom Rung. Alternatively, if visitors proceed from Prakhon Chai, there is a road from there to the sanctuary with a distance of 21 kilometres. This route passes a branch road into Muang Tam sanctuary. Visitors can rent air-conditioned vans in town.
Visitors traveling by bus from Nakho Ratchasima can take the Nakhon Ratchasima-Surin bus and get off at Ban Tako (124 kilometres from Nakhon Ratchasima). From Ban Tako, a motorcycle service is available to take visitors to the site (fare according to agreement). There is 1 accommodation near the site.
Muang Tam stone sanctuary can be reached by taking the road to Prakhon Chai for 8 kilometres and another 5 kilometres on a road on the right-hand side. This Khmer site has a square layout. Its main structures are 5 brick pagodas built on the same foundation and enclosed by two walls. The 4 doorways are perpendicular to each other and built of sandstone with beautiful designs.
The inner wall was made of sandstone and consists of one long, narrow continuous corridor, called Rabiang Khot. The outer wall was made of laterite. Lintels adorn the doorways and the main pagoda, recounting Hindu tales. Another highlight of the site is the 4 large pools between the walls. The edges of the pools have serpent designs with the head at the pool corner. The beauty of this Khmer site is second only to that of Phanom Rung.
Ban Kruat is 66 kilometres south of Buri Ram. Historical sites in this district are as follows:
Quarry at Ban Kruat is 6 kilometres into the way to Lahan Sai. The hill is littered with large and small rocks, some with traces of rock cutting. It is believed stones taken from here were used to construct a large number of sanctuaries in the lower Northeast.
Ancient kilns here constitute one of the most important pottery-making centers of the ancient Khmer Empire. The kilns date from the 9 th -14 th century. The pottery made here was supplied to cities in the empire. The Fine Arts Department renovated 2 kilns called Tao Sawai and Tao Nai Chian , 5 and 10 kilometres from Ban Kruat, respectively. The kilns are ideal for those interested in archaeology studies.
Ban Khok Ngiu sanctuary is 3 kilometres before Pakham, or 75 kilometres from Buri Ram on Highway No. 218 and Highway No. 348. This ancient Khmer site is in Wat Khok Ngiu and it acted as a sort of local health office in ancient times. King Jayavoraman VII ordered its construction in the 13 th century.
Non Din Daeng
Nong Hong sanctuary is another Khmer sanctuary about 100 kilometres south of Buri Ram town near Lam Nang Rong Dam. The sanctuary comprises of 3 brick pagodas built on the same laterite base and surrounded by a laterite wall and a moat. It dates from the 11 th century.
Ban Mai Chaiyaphot
Ku Suan Taeng in Ban Don Wai can be reached by using the Buri Ram-Phayakkhaphum Phisai Road (Highway No. 219) for 70 kilometres, then left onto Highway No. 202 to Prathai for about 40 kilometres where there is a left-hand road to Ku Suan Taeng. This is another Khmer site with 3 brick pagodas on a single laterite base. The famous Narai Banthom Sin lintel was discovered here and is now kept in the National Museum in Bangkok. The lintel proves this site dates from the 12 th century.
The Suan Nok (bird park) is at Huay Talat Reservoir, a wildlife reserve. To get there, take the Buri Ram-Prakhon Chai Road for 12 kilometres and take a left-hand road for 2 kilometres. The park is the home of many waterfowls that include both local species and those that migrate from colder countries. They are prevalent during November to April, which is Thailand's dry season.
Khao Phanom Rung Fair takes place in April when the sunrise amazingly shines through all the 15 doorways of the sanctuary, bringing out the true splendour of the site and confirming the unmatched skills of the sanctuary's builders. Such a spectacular event occurs only at Phanom Rung. Activities include a procession like that in Khmer times and a light-and-sound show.
Boat race is held every first Saturday of November when the Mun River is at its fullest. Teams from Buri Ram and other provinces race in front of Satuek District Office to find the champion of the Mun.
Isan Kite Festival is held in the first weekend of December. Northeastern monsoon winds blow strongly during the harvesting season, signalling the beginning of the cool season in Thailand. A popular local pastime is when kites are flown in the villages. This sport has a long history and to preserve it, a contest is held to find the best kites called Wao Aek. The winner is judged from the design, the sound it makes and the flying style.
Hotels and accommodation
- Buriram Sirarom : 148 Niwat Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4461 2504, 0 4461 1740 Fax 0 4461 2504] : 450-1,200 baht
- C-Bird : 140 Mu 6 Chok Chai-Det Udom Road, Tambon Nong Bot Amphoe Nang Rong [Tel: 0 4465 7145-7 Fax: 0 4465 7145-6] : 300-450 baht
- Chai Charoen : 114-116 Niwat Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4461 1559] : 120-180 baht
- Grand Hotel : 137 Niwat Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4461 1089, 0 4461 1179, 0 4461 1938 Fax: 0 4461 2358] : 200-340 baht
- Honey Inn : 8/1 Soi Sikun, Ban Nong Ri Amphoe Nang Rong [Tel: 0 4462 4057] : 50 baht
- Kasemsuk : 41 Prachasanti Road Amphoe Nang Rong [Tel: 0 4463 1039] : 150-250 baht
- Lam Nang Rong Dam : Contact Lam Nang Rong Dam Office in advance Amphoe Non Din Daeng [0 4460 6336]
- Nang Rong : 70/25 Pradit Pana Road Amphoe Nang Rong [Tel: 0 4463 1014] : 100-400 baht
- Niwat : 89/10-12 Niwat Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4461 1640] : 70-90 baht
- Phanom Piman : Ratjabhat Institute, Chira Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4462 1205-7, 0 44611221 Fax: 04461 2858] : 400 baht
- Phanomrung Resort : 83 Mu 1 Tambon Ta Pek, 1 km. before Phanomrung Historical Park Amphoe Nang Rong [Tel: 0 4463 1231] : 500-1,300 baht
- Rangsan : Chanthep Road Amphoe Nang Rong [Tel: 0 4462 4145, 0 4464 6093, 0 4463 1123] : 200-450 baht
- Siam : 29/12 In Chan Narong Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4462 5519] : 495 baht
- Thai Hotel : 38/1 Romburi Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4461 1112, 0 4461 1132 Fax: 0 4461 1112, 0 4461 1132] : 180-460 baht
- Thep Nakhon : 139 Sunthonthep Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4461 3401-2 Fax: 0 4461 3400] : 350-700 baht
- Wong Thong : 512/1 Chira Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4461 2540, 0 4462 0860-2 Fax: 0 4462 0859] : 540-1,400 baht
- Local Cuisine
- Kung Heng Bakery : 65 Niwat Rd., Tel: 0-4461-1279, 0-4461-2805
- Thai San guan Bakery : 179/8 Sunthorn Thep Rd., Tel: 0-4461-1167
- Tu Mu Hao Food Court (Thai food) : Buriram-Nang Rong Rd., Tel: 0-4461-2877
- Ah Sung : Thanee Rd., Tel: 0-4461-4286
- Laksana Pork Leg : 226 Moo 5, Amphoe Nang Rong, Tel: 0-4463-1158, 0-4463-1774
- Ban Sor Food Court : 34 Nang Rong-Buriram Rd., Amphoe Nang Rong, Tel: 0-4463-1363
- Versailles : 33/5 Palad Muang Rd., Tel: 0-4461-1420
- Pornpen Restaurant : 30/3 Romburi Rd., Tel: 0-4461-1553
- Ploy Restaurant : 37/1-5 Romburi Rd., Tel: 0-4461-3747
- Buriram Duck Noodle : 18/11 Palad Muang Rd., Tel: 0-4461-1698
How to get there
* By car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Nakhon Ratchasima, then use Highway No. 226 to Buri Ram, a total distance of 384 kilometres.
* By bus
Buses depart from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Buri Ram every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 for more information.
From Buri Ram Bus Terminal, there are buses running to Nakhon Ratchasima, Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Surin, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Sa Kaeo, Ubon Ratchathani and Bangkok. Call Buri Ram Bus Terminal at 0 4461 2534 for more information.
* By train
Regular trains depart from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station (1690, 0 2223 7010-20) to Buri Ram every day.
* By plane
Air Andaman provides daily flight services from Bangkok to Buri Ram, except on Tuesdays and Saturdays. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2996-9119 or view their website at Air Andaman.
Thai Airways has regular flights servicing the Bangkok-Buri Ram route every Tuesdays and Saturdays. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2280-0060, 0-2628-2000 or view their website at Thai Airways. The Buri Ram airport is at Amphoe Satuek, 40 kilometres north of the town.