Originally a prosperous town of the Srisutthanakhonhut Kingdom (Laos) 900 years ago, its official name was'Nong Bua Lamphu - Nakhon Kuan Kun Kab Kaew Bua Ban', meaning'the town of plentiful water with blooming lotus flowers'. Most of Nong Bua Lamphu is situated on a plateau and the province has large forested areas. It was formerly a district under Udon Thani Province until it became its own province on December 1, 1993, making it the 76th province of Thailand. Nong Bua Lamphu is 568 kilometres from Bangkok. It has an area of 3,859 square kilometers.
The King Naraesuan the Great Shrine was built to commemorate the king who brought an army to Nong Bua Lam Phu to support the King of Hongsaodi in invading the Srisutthanakhonhut Kingdom in 1574. However, King Naresuan fell ill and had to move his army back to Ayutthaya.
The province has many interesting historical sites. Fossils of bivalves were found at the 150 milion-year-old oyster bed and excavations at Kut Kor Moei Village and Kut Kwang Soi led to prehistoric findings of jewelry and potteries similar to those at Ban Chiang, dating back 5,000 years ago.
In another village, prehistoric cave paintings in red ink were discovered on the mountainside of Phu Paya. Dating back 2,000-3,000 years ago, these paintings have a similar age to the drawings found in the Phu Phra Bat Historical Park in Udon Thani.
Villagers of Ban Khong Sawan are well known for making clay ornaments, pottery handicrafts, and utensils using age-old traditional methods.
The provincial's most famous forest temple is Wat Thum Klong Paen (Drum Cave Temple), situated at the foot of Phu Pan Mountain. It is believed that many ancient Khmer temples once existed in this area and were abandoned until 1958 when Phra Acharn (teacher) Luang Pu Khao Ananyo, a famous Vipassana (a type of Buddhist meditation) monk, chose to meditate among a group of large boulders until his death in 1983. The temple exudes a peaceful atmosphere, surrounded by shady trees and beautiful rock formations. A large Buddha image sits at the entrance of a large cave, where a large, ancient drum was found, thus leading to the temple's name.
Located within Wat Thum Suwan Kuha is a cave that contains many artifacts and a Buddha image of Phra Buddha Rup Chai Chetta. The image was built in 1555 by a Laotian king who also built the images of Phra Chao Ong Tue and Luang Phor Phra Sai in Nong Khai.
Covering an area of 322 sq km, the Phu Kao-Phu Pan Dum (Nine Mountains-Black Tray Mountain) National Park headquarter is located lakeside upstream from the Ubonrat Dam.
Not far from town is the Forest Waterfall Tho, a shady, peaceful recreational area interesting for its many varieties of trees and different rock formations. Motorists passing the nearby Pu Loop Shrine would toot their horn to pay respect.
Heading towards Udon Thani, view the spectacular limestone formations in the Tham Erawan (Erawan Cave) in Wang Sapong District. The stalactites and stalagmites resemble a curtain decorating the cave's entrance. Within the cave, a white limestone formation resembling a kneeling elephant is the cave's main attraction.
Created to hamper the flow of migratory workforce into metropolitan cities, the Wang Sila Skills Development Center teaches a variety of vocational skills to its members. Students' quality products are displayed for sale.
King Naresuan the Great Shrine is in the public park opposite the provincial hall. It commemorates the time when King Naresuan the Great of the Ayutthaya period led his troops to Nong Bua Lamphu in 1574 on the way to helping the king of Hongsawadi fight the city of Si Sattana Khanahut.
Phra Wo Phra Ta City Shrine is beside Highway No. 210 (Nong Bua Lam Phu-Udon Thani). It was built to honor Nong Bua Lam Phu's founder.
Thao To Waterfall Park is 3 kilometres from town on the way to Udon Thani. A road here runs through a mountain. There is a small waterfall covered with large, shady trees. Nearby is the Chao Pu Lup Shrine, which is worshipped by the locals. Cars passing the shrine usually honk their horn as a sign of respect and for good luck on their journey.
Million-year-old Shell Fossils is at Ban Huai Dua, approximately 10 kilometres from town on the Nong Bua Lam Phu-Udon Thani Road. Found here buried in sandstone were mollusk fossils that are about 140 million years old.
Wat Tham Klong Phen is at the foot of Phu Phan Mountain, 13 kilometres from town on Highway No. 210 (Nong Bua Lam Phu-Udon Thani), then 2 kilometres on the right. The area was once the site of an ancient Khmer temple that later became deserted. In 1958, Phra Achan Luang Pu Khao Analyo turned it into a meditation centre. He passed away in 1983. A museum displays his wax figure as well as his personal items. The temple is very peaceful with a large area and covered with shady trees and natural rock formations. It is most suitable for meditation.
Pottery-making at Ban Khong Sawan is 17 kilometres from town on the way to Udon Thani. The villagers here migrated from Ban Wang Thua, Amphoe Nam Phong, Khon Kaen. The village specialty is making pottery with designs similar to that in Ban Chiang and using traditional techniques.
Wat Sawang Sila Occupation Development Centre is at Ban Na Lom in Tambon Hua Na, 19 kilometres from town on Highway No. 228 (Nong Bua Lam Phu-Si Bun Rueang). It was established by the nun Thongphet Khantiklom, a villager of Na Lom, to stem the flow of young migrants looking for work in the cities or elsewhere. The centre produces goods made from various materials, aluminum products and clothing.
Phu Kao-Phu Phan Kham National Park covers 322 square kilometres. The park headquarters is near the lake at Ubonrat Dam at the foot of Phu Phan Mountain in Non Sang. From Nong Bua Lam Phu, take Highway No. 2146 (Nong Bua Lam Phu-Non Sang) for about 40 kilometres to the intersection at Ban Sok Chan, then a left onto the Ban Sok Chan-Ubonrat Dam Road for about 14 kilometres to the park office. From Khon Kaen, there is a 7-kilometre road from the dam to the park office.
Phu Phan Kham is a part of Phu Phan mountain range. Stretching north to south, it divides Nong Bua Lam Phu and Khon Kaen. The view of the lake at Ubonrat Dam is magnificent. Tourists frequently overnight near the park office beside the lake.
Phu Kao consists of 9 mountains. The most interesting spots branch out eastward from the Non Sang-Nong Bua Lam Phu Road. On the laterite road to Ban Kut Bak are observation points, prehistoric drawings at Mum cave, Wat Phra Phutthabat Phu Kao, rock recesses shaped like human and dog footprints that are the source of local folklore, dinosaur footprints on a rock plateau near a stream, and Tat Fa Waterfall. A park official is required as guide into Phu Kao.
Non Wat Pa is an ancient site about 20 kilometres from Amphoe Muang on the Nong Bua Lam Phu-Non Sang Road. It is believed that it was an old Khmer temple as a Buddha image and some building remains from that period were unearthed here.
Ban Kut Kho Moei and Ban Kut Kwang Soi Archaeological Sites are where prehistoric artefacts were discovered. They include earthenware similar to that at Ban Chiang, bronze and stone bracelets, sandstone moulds for making bronze axes, iron utensils, glass beads, and human skeletons. Both sites are from the same period. Ban Kut Wang Soi is at the eastern foot of Phu Kao. To get there, take the Nong Bua Lam Phu-Non Sang Road for 30 kilometres to Ban Sok Kan Luang, then a right for 5 kilometres. Ban Kut Kho Moei is in Tambon Kut Du at the western foot of Phu Kao. All artefacts found at both sites are now stored in the Khon Kaen National Museum.
Erawan Cave is 45 kilometres from town on Highway No. 210 (Nong Bua Lam Phu-Loei) past Na Klang and Na Wang to the 13-km marker, then a right for 2 kilometres and up about 600 steps by foot up the mountain. At the mouth of the cave is a large Buddha image clearly visible from a distance. Inside the cave is a large space with lovely stalactites and stalagmites. The cave is the origin of local folklore called Nang Phom Hom.
Wat Tham Suwannakhuha is around 5 kilometres from the district office. A Buddha image built by Phra Chaiyachetthathirat of Vientiane in 1555 is here. It was built at the same time as Phra Chao Ong Tu and Luang Pho Phra Sai in Nong Khai.
Phu Pha Ya Archaeological Site is north of Ban Na Charoen in Tambon Dong Mafai. In Wat Phu Pha Ya Thammasathit are prehistoric drawings on a mountain. The drawings are of red paint and depict geometric figures, animals, palm prints, and humans. They date from 2,000-3,000 years ago.
The King Naresuan the Great Fair is held on January 25th of every year to pay homage to the highly revered king and features religious ceremonies and fun-filled activities.
The annual, holy Erawan Cave Pilgrimage pays homage to the Buddha image situated in the cave perched atop a mountain in April.
In June of every year, the town hosts the exuberantly celebrated Boon Bung Fai Festival (Rocket Festival) amidst a carnival atmosphere. The two-day event is staged to ensure plentiful rains during the coming rice-planting season. The first day features a parade of carnival floats and huge, colorful bamboo rockets made by the locals themselves, as well as fairs, music and folk entertainment. The huge, homemade rockets are then launched on the second day.
Hotels and accommodation
- Sawang Chit : 53 Wichan Rangsan Amphoe Muang [0 4231 1349] : 80-130 baht
- Si Somphon : 68 Pho Chai Road Amphoe Muang [0 4231 1084] : 100-200 baht
- Suan Hin Thani : Km. 34 Nong Bua Lamphu-Udon Thani Amphoe Muan
- Local Cuisine
- Buathong Food Court (Thai and local food) : 290 Nong Bua Lam Phu-Udon Thani Rd., Tel: 0-4231-1949
- Kinnaree Food Court (Thai and local food) : 274 Nong Bua Lam Phu-Udon Thani Rd., Tel: 0-4231-1537
- Krua Tongta (Thai food) : 388 Warapakdee Rd., Tel: 0-4231-1286
- Rim Phu Rab Ped (Thai and local food) : 256 Nong Bua Lam Phu-Udon Thani Rd., Tel: 0-4231-1624
How to get there
* By car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Udon Thani via Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen, then take Highway No. 210 to Nong Bua Lam Phu, a total distance of 608 kilometres.
* By bus
Buses depart from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Nong Bua Lamphu every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 for more information.
* By train
There is no direct train from Bangkok to Nong Bua Lamphu. Visitors can take a train to Udon Thani and continue the journey by bus to Nong Bua Lam Phu. Call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20 for more information.
* By plane
Visitors can fly from Bangkok to Udon Thani and then continue the trip by bus to Nong Bua Lamphu. Call Thai Airways, Tel: 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 for more information.