Considered to be centrally located in Thailand, Chaiyaphum has an abundance of natural attractions and is famous for its beautiful flower-fields, particularly the Krachiao Flower Blooming Festival during the months of June-July. Chaiyaphum's size, with majority of it being forests and mountains, ranks third in the region and eighth in the country.
The town was founded by a group of Vientiane immigrants, led by Nai Lae, a nobleman, during the beginning of the Rattanakosin era over 2 centuries ago. Within a decade, King Rama III promoted Nai Lae to Phraya Phakdi Chumphon and made him the city's first lord. When the Lord of Vientiane led a rebellion against King Rama III in 1826, he helped Khunying Mo successfully defend Nakhon Ratchasima from the seige. Chaiyaphum is 342 kilometres from Bangkok and has an area of 12,778 square kilometres.
Phraya Pakdi Chumpon (Laa) Monument was created to honor the town's founding father, fondly called Chao Phraya Laa (King Laa).
On the bank of the Nong Pla Tao (Old Fish Lake), the King Phraya Laa Shrine is located under a large tamarind tree. Legend has it that King Laa passed away at this site after fighting with the Laos Vientiane army in 1826.
Various, odd shapes and sizes of boulders are scattered through out the park, from which Pa Hin Ngam (Beautiful Rock Forest) National Park derived its name. During the beginning of the rainy season, the purplish pink-colored krachew flowers are in full bloom, adding a touch of color to the green meadows and hills.
The Thad Thone National Park features the spectacular sights of Thad Thone Waterfall cascading down multi-levels of vast expanses of broad, rocky plateaus, the Pa Euang Falls, and the Thad Fah Falls.
Built in the 14th century, the Khmer Prang Ku complex houses a Dvaravati Buddha image that is situated in front of the entrance of the central sanctuary, the ancient Prang Pratarn.
Ban Kawao (Kawao Village) is renown for weaving fine silk and cotton fabrics with elaborate designs, especially the mudmee cloth , which uses a special tie-dying technique. During the months of October to January, large groups of migratory birds often flock to the nearby lake of Nong Nam Yai.
Tung Kamung is large expanses of vividly green, grassy meadows that encircles a mountain, covering an area of 1 million rais. Commonly called 'Ya Sabut' (Waving Grass), the area is inhabited by many animals and birds, and has now become H.R.H. the Queen's Wildlife Preservation Project.
The Chulabhorn Dam (Nam Phrom Dam) obstructs the flow of the Phrom River within the Khun Pai Mountains. The earthen dam, similar to Sirikit Dam, is used for producing electricity, irrigation purposes and as a freshwater breeding ground. Surrounded by high mountains and dense jungles, a cool climate prevails throughout the year. Part of the beautiful scenery includes a view of the Royal Residential Palace and a cold weather cultivation research center.
Covering an area of 1,560 sq km, the Phu Khiew (Green Mountain) Wildlife Sanctuary consists of a lush forest where the Phrom Stream, Sapoung Stream, and the Chi River originates. Aside from the wildlife, there are over 350 different bird species living here.
Also located in Phu Khiew District, the Phra That Nong Sarm Muen (Thirty Thousand Lake Chedi), derived its name from the local lake. Considered one of the most elegant and well-preserved chedis of its kind, it dates back from the 17th-18th century.
Tat Ton National Park covers some parts of Phu Laen Kha mountain range. To get there, take Highway No. 2051 for 21 kilometres. Tat Ton waterfall is an important tourist spot. The water here cascades down wide rock plateaus, creating breathtaking scenery, especially in the rainy season when there is plenty of water. The park also has Pha Iang waterfall , which is 32 kilometres from the city on the Chaiyaphum-Nong Bua Daeng Road, and Tat Fa waterfall , which is 25 kilometres from the city on the Chaiyaphum-Kaeng Khro Road.
Phraya Phakdi Chumphon monument is at Sun Ratchakan roundabout on the way into the city. The people of Chaiyaphum built it to honour the city's founder.
Chao Pho Phraya Lae shrine is on the bank of Nong Pla Thao, 3 kilometres from the city, on the way to Ban Khwao. There is a large tamarind tree on the bank, which is said to be where Chao Phraya Lae died fighting Vientiane soldiers in 1826. Prang Ku is at Ban Nong Bua, Tambon Nai Muang, 3 kilometres from the city. Prang Ku is a Khmer-style ancient site built in the 18 th Buddhist century. The main pagoda is square with a length of 5 metres on each side. A stone Buddha image in the meditation posture from the Dvaravati period that was moved from elsewhere sits beside it. A building is situated in front of the pagoda surrounded by a wall. Everything is made of laterite except for the door and window frames, the lintel and columns that are made of sandstone. Outside the wall is a pool in perfect condition.
Phu Phra at Ban Kanaisa, Tambon Na Sieo, is a small mountain with drawings of Buddha images from the U Thong period on the face of a cliff. They date from the 13 th -14 th century, around the early Ayutthaya period. A 3-day fair to pay homage to the drawings is held every April. To get there, take Highway No. 201 (Chaiyaphum-Phu Khiao) for 13 kilometres, then turn left onto the Na Sieo-Huai Chan Road and drive for 6 kilometres.
Ban Khwao is famous for silk weaving and cotton of good quality and lovely designs. It is particularly well known for its Mudmee silk that is popular among those who favour traditional fabrics. The district is 13 kilometres from Amphoe Muang on Highway No. 225. Another attraction here is the large swamp that is home to migratory waterfowls during October to January.
Pa Hin Ngam National Park can be reached via the Bangkok-Saraburi-Chai Badan route, then connecting to Highway No. 205 (Chai Badan-Thep Sathit-Chaiyaphum). Then take a left-hand road just before the district for 29 kilometres. The park is littered with large rocks of unusual shapes, some resembling a nail, a serpent's head and an ancient castle.
In the early part of the rainy season in July, Dok Krachiao, a jungle flower with an underground bulb, will sprout pink blooms all over the area. With winter come orchids emerging from rock cracks and other innumerable types of jungle flowers. Sut Phaen Din is a steep cliff that connects the Northeast to the Central Region. Visitors can get a panoramic view of the surrounding area from here. Tents can be set up for overnighters in the park.
Thep Prathan and Thep Phanom Waterfalls are medium-sized waterfalls at their loveliest in the rainy season. They are 34 kilometres and 48 kilometres from Thep Sathit district, respectively.
Nong Bua Rawe
Sai Thong National Park covers 340 square kilometres of Phang Hoei mountain range. The park headquarters is at Tambon Wang Takhe. To get to the park, take the Chaiyaphum-Nakhon Sawan Road (Highway No. 225) to the 121-122 km marker, turn right and drive for 7 kilometres. The most important attraction of the park is Sai Thong Waterfall, 1 kilometre from the park office. Water falls smoothly down rocks, about 100 meters from top to bottom. There is also a wide field of Dok Krachiao that rivals the flowers in Pa Hin Ngam in Amphoe Thep Sathit. The field can be reached only on foot and visitors should stay there overnight.
Narinthawat Farm is at Km. 28 on the Chaiyaphum-Phu Khieo Road. The farm has shelters decorated with an assortment of flora. A distinctive feature is the many carts from the regions of Thailand, some over a century old with beautiful woodcarving designs.
Chulabhorn Dam is at Tambon Thung Phra and dams the Phrom River. It is a rock-filled dam with an earth core. The dam is 700 metres long and 70 metres high. It is used to generate electricity and irrigation. Boat rentals are available to view the sights of the reservoir. To get to the dam, take the Chaiyaphum-Chum Phae Road (Highway No. 201) to Nong Song Hong junction, then turn left onto Highway No. 2055, a total distance of 120 kilometres from Chaiyaphum.
Phu Khieo Wildlife Reserve is on the way as Chulabhorn Dam, between the 24-25 km markers. It has an area of 1,560 square kilometres. The geography consists of a sandstone mountain range with high cliffs. The verdant jungle is the watershed of an important river of the Northeast called the Chi and is home to abundance of wild animals, as well as over 350 bird species. The reserve is ideal for studying flora and fauna. The most interesting spot is Thung Kamang, a grass field that is the grazing ground for many animals. The reserve is open only to persons wishing to study nature. Permission must be obtained from the reserve chief by writing to P.O. Box 3, Chum Phae Post Office, Khon Kaen or contact the Wildlife Reserve Section, Royal Forestry Department, Bang Khen, Bangkok.
Nong Bua Daeng
Pha Koeng is part of Phu Lankha, 36 kilometres from the city on Highway No. 2159. Along the road there is large rock jutting out. At the top is the Chaiyaphum Phithak Buddha image, that is 14 feet high. The cliff offers a good view of the area.
Phra That Nong Sam Mun can be reached from Chaiyaphum by taking Highway No. 201 past Phu Khieo to Ban Nong Song Hong for 75 kilometres, then turn left onto Highway No. 2055 and drive for 9 kilometres to Ban Kaeng. There, turn left and drive for a further 5 kilometres. This square-based pagoda is 32 meters wide and 45 meters high. It is one of the most complete and most beautiful pagodas to be found. Incorporating art from the Lanna, Lan Chang and Ayutthaya periods, the pagoda is believed to have been built during the 16 th –17 th century.
The present site of the pagoda used to be the site of an ancient city from the Dvaravati period that flourished during the 7 th -11 th century. Traces of a moat and buildings remain. Many artefacts have been discovered here such as sandstone temple markers and Khmer-style sculptures.
Ban Khae decorative trees can be found at Ban Khae, which is about 1 kilometre from Amphoe Phu Khieo on Highway No. 201. The trees are sought after for garden decoration and they constitute the main occupation of the village. Several trees are taken and bent into interesting shapes, then sold to visitors.
Nongnut orchid farm is 1 kilometre from Phu Khieo on the Phu Khieo-Chum Phae route. It has an area of about 10 acres. The highlight is an orchid species called Oncidium that has won in an international competition. Other type of popular orchid species, including Vandas and Cattleyas, are also sold here.
Khit cloth of Ban Noen Salao is at Moo 6, Tambon Nong Tum on Highway No. 201, 8 kilometres from Ban Khae. The village engages in silk and cotton weaving and making local products derived from them, such as pillows.
Chao Pho Phraya Lae Festival is held during January 12-20 every year. The festival's highlight is a procession to pay homage to Phraya Lae, an elephant parade, shops selling many products, exhibitions, and a produce contest.
Candle Festival is in July. This Buddhist ceremony features a procession and a giant candle-carving contest featuring candles as elaborate as those in the Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani.
Hotels and accommodation
- Charoen Hotel : 196/8-9 Yutithum Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4481 1194-5] : 180-320 Baht
- Loet Nimit : 447/1 Niwetrat Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4481 1522-3] : 200-900 baht
- Rai Cha Thep : Thep Sathit Road Amphoe Ban Rai [Nakhon Pathom Office Tel: 0 3447 3603] : 600-1,500 baht
- Rattanasiri : 677 Non Muang Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4482 1258-60] : 160-300 baht
- Sirichai Hotel : 565/1 Non Muang Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4481 1461, 0 4481 1543] : 190-800 baht
- Local Cuisine
- Ban Jaew Waew : Niwetrat Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-4481-2656
- Ban Suan Chokchai : Niwetrat Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-4482-1836
- Chaliang : 269 Chaiyaphum-Bang Kawao Hwy., Muang, Tel: 0-4481-2013
- Don Lanam Food Court : 10 Km marker, Chaiyaphum-Sikiew Hwy., Muang, Tel: 0-4482-2338 ext 131
- Friends Korean Beef : Bannakarn Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-4481-2441
- Krua Khun Ploy : Bannakarn Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-4481-1335
- Ngao Mai Food Court : 5 Km. marker, Chaiyaphum-Sikiew Hwy., Muang, Tel: 0-4482-1708
- Past Time Pub : Chai Prasit Rd., Muang
- Rim Thung Food Court : 17 Km marker, Chaiyaphum-Sikiew Hwy., Muang
- Sirichai Cafe : Sirichai Hotel, Noan Muong Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-44 81-1461, 0-4481-1181
How to get there
* By car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Si Khio, then turn into Highway No. 201 and proceed to Chaiyaphum via Dan Khun Thot and Chaturat, a total distance of 342 kilometres.
* By bus
There are many private companies that operate bus services from Bangkok to Chaiyaphum. Buses depart from Mochit 2 Bus Terminal every day. Call 0 2936 2852-66 for more information.
* By train
Regular trains depart from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station (1690, 0 2223 7010-20) to Bua Yai Railway Station which is 51 kilometres from Chaiyaphum.
* By plane
Visitors can fly from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima or Khon Kaen and continue the trip by bus to Chaiyaphum. Call Thai Airways at Tel: 1566, 0 2628 2000.