Founded in 1782, Roi Et literally means ‘one hundred and one', believed to be an exaggeration of the number 11 since the prosperous town once ruled 11 vassal states. The town was abandoned because of the natural disaster of flooding, but is now a steadily growing province. The province is part of the 200,000 plus rais of the famous Tung Kula Rong Hai (Kula Crying Fields), once a wasteland that was transformed into growing high-quality rice. The daily life in Roi Et is influenced by a conservative population with strong Buddhist traditions. The simple way of life in this mostly rural province in the lower Northeast is reflected in its arts and crafts, especially in the weaving of textiles. Roi Et has an area of about 8,299 square kilometers.
The provincial symbol is the mid-sized island in the middle of the large Bung (Lake) Phalanchai that is centrally located within town. Various festivals are staged here throughout the year.
The city's modern skyline is dominated by an immensely tall, brown-colored Buddha image of Phra Buddha Rattana Mongkon Mahamani situated in Wat Buraphaphiram. Measuring 68-m tall, this gigantic standing image is reputed to be one of the tallest images in the world. Climb up the stairs along the side of the image and get a breathtaking view of the city and surrounding areas.
Nearby is Wat Sa Thong , or Wat Phalanchai, that houses the highly revered Luang Phor Phra Sangkatchai (Happy Buddha), the town's prized treasure. The town's first ruler discovered the Buddha image and placed it in the temple, naming it the town's principal temple. In the past, government officials had to swear in front of the sacred image to work honestly and be loyal to the town/ province.
The complex of Ku Phra Kona contains a Khmer-style prang (tower) encircled by a red earthen wall built atop an elevated plateau. Within the prang are 3 Buddha images believed to date back from the Lopburi era.
The ancient, red sandstone Prang Ku , or Nong Ku Stone Sanctuary, was built in the 14th century, near the end of the Khmer Empire. The central prang (tower) has a distinguished 3-tiered roof.
The well-preserved Ku Kasing is another Khmer structure that is rather large in size and consists of 3 prangs (towers) located on the same sandstone platform. The artistic designs, layout patterns and archeological objects discovered here suggested that Ku Kasing was built in a Khmer style of art called " Bapuan Style ", dating between 1017-1087 A.D., built to worship Shiva, the highest ranking divine god in Brahminism. At present, the Fine Arts Unit is working on excavations and renovations.
Similar to Suwannaphum, the district of Phanom Prai was once a prosperous town in ancient civilization, evident by its many historical structures and numerous chedis.
Pha Nam Yoi (Isan Buddhist Park) is a large stone cliff on Phu Khao Khiew (Green Mountain) with water and small springs flowing out from the cliff all year round. Various kinds of valuable hardwood trees grow in the forest and it is home to several kinds of wildlife. Perched atop the hill are a temple with a very large, multi-purpose pavilion and the nation's largest pagoda, Phra Maha Chedi Chaimongkon , with a height of 101 meters.
The Roi Et National Museum started out as the Isan Textile Museum since the region's simple ways of life is reflected onto their woven textiles. Nowadays, exhibits on the area's geography, geology and historical events have been added, as well collections of local arts and handicrafts depicting the daily life of the people Roi Et.
Silk fabrics may be purchased at the Ban Wai Lum village.
Wat Klang Ming Muang is an old temple on a hill in the town. The convocation hall was built in the late Ayutthaya period. The outer wall has a mural on the life of Lord Buddha. In the old days, the temple was the site of a pledge of allegiance ceremony to the king.
Bung Phlan Chai is a large lake with an island in the middle. The lake is regarded as the symbol of Roi Et. The area has a public park and is the site of the city shrine.
Wat Sa Thong houses the province's sacred Luang Pho Sang Katchai. This revered Buddha image was discovered by Phraya Khattiya Wongsa, the first lord of Roi Et, in 1782. He then brought the image to the temple and made it the province's main image. Government officials were once obliged to swear in front of the image every year.
Wat Burapha Phiram in town has the tallest Buddha image in the giving blessing posture in Thailand. This is another provincial symbol. The image is called Phra Phuttha Ratta Mongkhon Maha Muni, or called Luang Pho Yai by locals. The 67-metre-high image was made from concrete with steel reinforcements. The base serves a museum. To the west is an old city moat where the revered Chao Pho Mahesak Shrine is located.
Prang Ku is at Ban Yang Ku, Tambon Ma-I. To get there, take the Roi Et-Phon Thong Road (Highway No. 2044) for 8 kilometres. This medical centre of the Khmer period was built in the 13 th century and comprises a main pagoda, a wall, a doorway, and a pool outside the wall. The artefacts displayed here include a sandstone lintel that was once above the doorway of the main pagoda, door columns and a lotus-shaped top part of the pagoda.
Ban Wai Lum is in Tambon Maba, 25 kilometres from Roi Et on the Si Sa Ket-Yasothon route. This silk-weaving village has a housewife group selling village products.
Bung Klua is in Tambon Muang Phrai, 10 kilometres east of the district office. This large lake has a white beach popular with locals.
Ku Ka Sing can be reached via 2 ways. One way is by taking a branch road off the Kaset Wisai-Suwannaphum Road for 10 kilometres. The other is by taking the Roi Et-Surin route to Ku Phra Ko Na and then a right-hand road for 18 kilometres. Ku Ka Sing is a large Khmer structure built in the 11 th century. It consists of 3 pagodas on the same base. This base has elaborate designs. Many statues and lintels are kept in the province's museum.
Ku Phra Ko Na is in Tambon Sa Khu, 60 kilometres from Amphoe Muang on the Roi Et-Suwannaphum-Surin route. The site consists of 3 brick pagodas on a sandstone base lined from north to south. A wall and a doorway are also present. Estimated to have been built in the 11 th century, much of the pagoda had been altered. Existing before, though not visible now, were a lintel, a Naga bridge and a sheltered walkway leading to the pool nearby.
Thung Kula Rong Hai used to be an expansive, dry, harsh place in the middle of the region. It expands over the 5 provinces of Roi Et, Surin, Buri Ram, Yasothon, and Maha Sarakham. One-third of the area is in Roi Et. There is a legend that says the Kula people were traders in ancient times who were also great fighters with excellent stamina. However, they cried when they got to Thung Kula Rong Hai because it was such a desolate place without water and big trees. Nowadays the area is fertile due to the efforts of the government to develop it and is suitable for agriculture, particularly the popular high-quality jasmine rice. The development centre is 6 kilometres from the district office, a bit past Ku Phra Ko Na.
Pha Nam Yoi Forest Park is at Ban Khok Klang, northeast of Nong Phok district office. To get there, take Highway No. 2044 and Highway No. 2136 for 62 kilometres. The park has a steep cliff that rises about 200 metres. Water seeps down the entire year. The area is a thick jungle teeming with wildlife.
Northeastern Botany in Literature Park is in Tambon Pha Nam Yoi, 85 kilometres from Yasothon. Plants here are from Thai literature like Phra Wetsandon and Lilit Phra Lo. There are also herbs categorised according to their medicinal attributes.
Khao Pun Bun Phawet Fair is held every March 1-2 at Bung Phlan Chai. Many Buddhists attend this merit-making ceremony. The main activity is the sermon by monks on Maha Wetsandon Chadok. A procession is a must-see event, as are the cultural performances. There are shops selling local products, particularly Khao Pun (or Khanom Chin as known in the Central region).
Boat races are at Bung Phlan Chai in December. Teams actively compete in pageants and contests.
Hotels and accommodation
- 99 Hotel : 100-104 Sunthonthep Road Amphoe Muang [0 4351 1035, 0 4351 3985-6] : 150-300 baht
- Banchong : 99-101 Suriyadet Bamrung Road Amphoe Muang [0 4351 1235, 0 4351 5158] : 80-140 baht
- Bua Thong : 40-46 Ratthakit Khlaaikhla Amphoe Muang [0 4351 1142] : 90-200 baht
- Khaen Kham : 50-62 Ratthakit Khlaikhla Road Amphoe Muang [0 4351 1508, 0 4351 4037] : 140-300 baht
- Mai Thai : 99 Hai Sok Road Amphoe Muang [0 4351 1136, 0 4351 2277-9] : 670-1,700 baht
- Phetcharat : 60-104 Hai Sok Road Amphoe Muang [0 4351 1741, 0 4351 1937, 0 4351 4058] : 280-750 baht
- Phrae Thong : 45-47 Phloenchit Road Amphoe Muang [0 4351 1127] : 110-200 baht
- Roi Et Thani : 511/8-10 Phadung Phanit Road Amphoe Muang [0 4352 0387-400 Fax: 0 4352 0401 Bangkok Tel: 0 2238 4970-5] : 1,647-8,239 baht
- Roi-Et City Hotel : 78 Pleonjit Road, Nai Muang, Muang [(66) 4352-0386-402]
- Saithip : 60-62 Suriyadet Bamrung Road Amphoe Muang [0 4351 4028, 0 4351 1742] : 200-300 baht
- Local Cuisine
- Bung Luang : SunthornThep Rd. (shoreline of Palanchai Lake)
- Fai Kiew (noodles) : SunthornThep Rd. (shoreline of Palanchai Lake), Tel: 0-4351-4782, 0-4351-5265
- Falkland Food Court : 223 Nong Ya Ma Village, Ranachai Chanyut Rd., Muang, Tel: 0-4351-3500
- L.A. : 188 Sunthorn Thep Rd., Tel: 0-4351-5341
- Mai Tai Coffee Shop : Mai Tai Hotel, Tel: 0-4351-1038
- Marine : Meechokchai Rd., Tel: 0-4351-2795
- Mu Hao : 102/66 Ranachai Chanyut Rd., Tel: 0-4351-2477
- Petcharat Coffee Shop : Petcharat Hotel, Tel: 0-4351-1741, 0-4351-1058
- Rojana : 40/8 Pracha Thammarak Rd., Tel: 0-4351-1311, 0-4351-4024
- Tako Rai : 30/2 Suk Kasem Rd., Tel: 0-4351-1107
How to get there
* By car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Ban Phai, then take Highway No. 23 to Roi Et via Borabue and Maha Sarakham, a total distance of 512 kilometres.
* By bus
Bangkok-Roi Et buses depart from Mochit 2 Bus Terminal every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 for more information.
* By train
There is no direct train running to Roi Et. Visitors can take a train to Khon Kaen, then continue the trip by bus to Roi Et. Call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20 for more information.
* By Plane
PBAir provides 4 weekly flight services from Bangkok to Roi Et on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2261-0220 - 5.