Nakhon Ratchasima Travel Guide
Introduction to Nakhon Ratchasima
Situated several hours northeast of Bangkok, Nakhon Ratchasima is one of the first cities you’ll encounter in Issan. It is also an excellent base for exploring the Khmer ruins found in the surrounding countryside, and with excellent transport links, a convenient hub for getting to other places in the region.
Cultural Attractions in Nakhon Ratchasima
Despite being part of Thailand in the modern age, Nakhon Ratchasima province is home to numerous examples of Khmer ruins. Prasat Hin Phimai defines the western extent of this empire when it was at its height many centuries ago.
Built between the 11th and 12th centuries, it was built to face Angkor Wat, the capital of this glorious nation. This is an attraction you won’t want to miss, as it is presently under consideration to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 2016. Try to avoid visiting on weekends, though, as buses and vans crammed with tourists from Bangkok flood the site at these times.
Make time in your schedule for Prasat Hin Phanom Wan as well. You may prefer to prioritize this place over Prasat Hin Phimai if you are looking for a break from the tourist crowds. This site has many of the same ruins as the formerly mentioned attraction but gets a fraction of the visitors.
Starting off as a Hindu place of worship but later converted to Buddhism, you’ll find several Buddha sculptures here that were added after the place was taken over.
In Korat, which is located in Nakhon Ratchasima province, temple lovers will want to check out Wat Sala Loi. Built by local Thai heroine Ya Mo in the early 19th century, it received a comprehensive reno job in the 1970s which won awards for its design. Resembling a Chinese junk, it is a unique wat compared with more traditional ones in the area.
While it contains the usual trappings of a Buddhist temple within, don’t miss the sculpture of Thao Suranaree in the garden, as it contains several bones from this revered figure in the Nakhon Ratchasima area.
Learn more about the natural history of Nakhon Ratchasima province by spending some time exploring the Khorat Fossil Museum. Home to exhibits showing off everything from petrified wood to preserved elephant tusks to fossilized dinosaur bones, it is a great place to bring the kids when travelling in Issan. There are scale models of dinosaurs outside and inside, so they’ll eat this place up. Note that there are different entry fees for foreigners versus Thais, so be sure to bring enough Baht to get inside.
Other Attractions in Nakhon Ratchasima
When in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima, make time to drop by the Thao Suranaree Monument. Built in 1934 to honour local heroine Thao Suranaree (also known as ‘Ya Mo’), who rallied locals to fight back against invading Laotians in the early 19th century.
Successful in this endeavour, she was honoured by King Rama III, who bestowed an elite title upon her. A century later, a black copper standing almost two metres high was erected in her memory, with her ashes being interned in its base.
If you have the chance, time your visit to the monument in late March to the start of April, as a festival dedicated to her is held here during that time. With folk songs sung to remind people of her bravery, it is a unique cultural event you won’t want to miss.
Relax with local people in Nakhon Ratchasima by stopping by Bung Ta Lua Water Park. Confusingly named, it isn’t an amusement park, but a public park centred around a charming lake located southwest of the city centre.
A pleasant place to be in the evenings, you’ll find locals jogging around the lake and exercising. While we recommend coming here to get away from the concrete of the city centre, it is a fair distance from it. In order to reach this place, catch a songthaew route there and back, which should only cost 20-30 baht.
Looking for an awesome day trip from Nakhon Ratchasima? Head out of town to Lamtakhong Dam. While its formal function serves as a supply of water for irrigation and drinking, it has become a favoured place for those looking to relax and enjoy amazing views, especially during the dry season. Halfway between Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima, it is a great place to stop on your way to either city.
Those with a green thumb will want to make time to visit the Flora Park when in Nakhon Ratchasima province. Best known for its display of over 2,000 English roses, it is a beautiful place to be during the dry season, when many of the specimens here thrive under the cooler conditions which predominate during that time of year.