Ku Ban Moei Khmer Ruin

side view of site

Ku Ban Moei (กู่บ้านเมย) is an 11th-century temple with a two-meter-tall, east-facing laterite platform. While this platform is completely intact following a 2011 restoration by the Fine Arts Department, nothing of the three brick towers assumed to have once been perched atop it remains in place, though there is a shallow depression on each end and a couple of postholes. A replica (except, apparently, for the steps, which seem to… Read More

Ku Ban Ya Kha Khmer Ruin

front view of shrine

Ku Ban Ya Kha (กู่บ้านหญ้าคา) consists of just a few dozen laterite blocks piled into a shrine. But it’s revered by many locals, who have built a roof over it and strung barbed wire to keep buffalo out. There isn’t enough to go on to estimate an age other than anywhere from the 10th to 13th centuries. While there is no indication of who the Khmer built it for, the… Read More

Phu Pha Phueng Ancient Quarry

blocks in quarry

On the edge of the Phu Phan Mountains 23km from Sakon Nakhon City, the Phu Pha Phueng Ancient Quarry (แหล่งหินตัดภูผาผึ้ง) is assumed to have provided most of the sandstone for the Khmer temples built in the city and around Nong Han lake. While the Doi Hin Ngam quarry west of the city is much closer, rock from Phu Pha Phueng could be easily rafted down the nearby Nam Phung River… Read More

Phra That Narai Jeng Weng Khmer Ruin

side view (southeast) of the temple

Sakon Nakhon was a key Khmer outpost in the far north of the empire from the late 10th to early 13th centuries. And while Phra That Choeng Chum (You can read a little more information about Sakon Nakhon’s Khmer history there.) was the city’s principle temple for much, if not all of that time, Phra That Narai Jeng Weng (พระธาตุนารายณ์เจงเวง), built in Baphuon style in the 11th century, likely by… Read More

Wat Pa Eo Kan Khmer Ruin

two laterite blocks at the base of a Phra Siwali statue

This stretch of shore on the southeast end of Nong Han lake was settled since at least the Dvaravati period and once featured a Khmer temple, though very little of it remains. The Wat Pa Eo Kan Ancient Site (แหล่งโบราณคดีวัดป่าเอวขันธ์), as it’s usually called, sits at the heart of its namesake modern temple, and a large, open-air wihan was built right on top of the toppled ruins, meaning the site… Read More

Phra That Choeng Chum Khmer Ruin

closeup of the inscription

The Khmer city that preceded present-day Sakon Nakhon appears to have been the empire’s most important outpost north of the Phu Phan Mountains (Though it was probably not under direct rule from Angkor, rather the leaders paid tribute as a satellite state while retaining a degree of independence.) from around the late 10th century into the 13th; no doubt in large part because the 125-square-kilometer Nong Han lake assured abundant… Read More

Khmer Artefacts in the Sakon Nakhon Museum

five Khmer bottles

The little Sakon Nakhon Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์เมืองสกลนคร) at Rajabhat University has a collection of local art and artefacts from the prehistoric to the present, including several items uncovered at Phra That Choeng Chum. The museum is on the second floor. It’s not normally open, so you need to first stop in the little library next to the museum (in the building’s northeast corner) to get someone to open it. As of… Read More

Phra That Dum Khmer Ruin

lotus-bud tops and pillars

The oldest of the three Khmer temples still standing in Sakon Nakhon city (Phra That Choeng Chum and Phra That Narai Jeng Weng being the others), Phra That Dum (พระธาตุดุม) is a triple-towered temple probably built in the late 10th or early 11th century. It faces east and has been incorporated into the modern Thai temple here by building the wihan directly in front of it. Only the main prang… Read More

Prang Ku Kaew Khmer Ruin

prang tower

Set in a small grove of tall trees, Prang Ku Kaew (ปรางค์กู่แก้ว) is one of the arogayasala hospital temples built by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219). It faces east and follows the standard arogayasala design, although nothing remains of the bannalai, which would have been inside the enclosure, and the sacred pond, which would have sat outside it to the northeast. The laterite prang toppled, and in its place locals… Read More

Sapan Khom Khmer Bridge

view of Khmer bridge in park

Sapan Khom (สะพานขอม), literally meaning “Khmer bridge,” is the only Khmer bridge that has been found in Thailand. It’s a restored 16m-long, 3m-wide remnant of what back then sat just outside the city moat. It was part of a road heading northwest toward Udon Thani and surely passed right by Phra That Narai Jeng Weng and Ku Phanna, plus provided access via a side road to Phra That Phu Phek.… Read More

Ku Ban Ton Khmer Ruin

abbot standing with bai sema

The meagre remains – mostly a broken pedestal and three laterite blocks – of Ku Ban Ton (กู่บ้านโต้น) are displayed in a small garden in front of the ubosot at Wat Si Pimon on the north side of the village that the Khmer ruin was named after. The actual site is out in the rice paddies a bit northwest of Wat Si Pimon, but the abbot told us there is… Read More

Ku Non Thaen Khmer Ruin

front view of Khmer ruin with Buddha in back

The little bit of Ku Non Thaen (กู่โนนแท่น) that remains sits under a big roof at the back of Batdibattam Don Thaen Temple (สำนักปฏิบัติธรรมดอนแท่น), also known as Samnak Song Ku Non Thaen (สำนักสงฆ์กู่โนนแท่น). All that’s left of this Khmer temple is a small (6x8m) laterite platform at least partially assembled in modern times. The Fine Arts Department has no solid clue about its age, only giving the broad range of… Read More

Phra Lan Chai Archaeological Site

wide view of shrine

Never excavated, little is known about Phra Lan Chai Archaeological Site (แหล่งโบราณคดีพระลานชัย), though the mix of laterite and sandstone along with the apparent size suggest the possibility it was a Khmer temple. When I asked about it in the village I was sent to an old man who told me that the local legend, which he heard when he was young, is that it was used for worship during late… Read More

Ku Prapha Chai Khmer Ruin

view of prang seen through opening in outer wall

Sitting between Phrathat Kham Kaen (7.5km away) and the King Cobra Village (12km), two of Khon Kaen’s most popular tourist destinations, you’d expect Ku Prapha Chai (กู่ประภาชัย) to attract a fair number of visitors, but you will usually have this small Khmer ruin all to yourself. Made mostly of laterite, Ku Prapha Chai was built by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219) as a temple for one of the 102 arogayasala… Read More

Khmer Artifacts in the Khon Kaen National Museum

many Khmer stone carvings on display

The Khon Kaen National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติ ขอนแก่น), opened in 1972, has four small but interesting historical galleries with artefacts from around Upper Isan and is worth a look for anyone visiting Khon Kaen. Its most famous object, standing in the center of the Dvaravati wing, is a bai sema boundary stone of the Buddha’s wife, Princess Yasodhara (aka Bimpa Devi) cleaning the Buddha’s feet with her hair that was found… Read More

Khmer Artifacts in the Suan Pakkad Palace Museum

Buddha with both hands raised

Centered on eight traditional Thai teak buildings (four old and four new) in a quiet garden, the Suan Pakkad Palace Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์วังสวนผักกาด) is an underappreciated exhibition of Thai art, from khon masks to Ban Chiang pottery. Once the home of Prince Chumbon of Nakhon Sawan (son of King Rama 5) and his wife, and before that a vegetable farm, the “Cabbage Patch Palace” is a great place to visit, though… Read More

Phimai Khmer City Gates, Moat, and Barays

wooden house and western gate

Many people visiting the amazing Prasat Phimai temple are unaware that in its day it stood at the heart of a large important city. Lying on the Mun River and along overland trade routes to the north and south, as well as having abundant salt deposits (there are none near Angkor), Phimai city prospered on trade during its time in the Khmer empire. And many remnants of the town infrastructure… Read More

Kuti Ruesi Noi Khmer Ruin

main sanctuary

Kuti Ruesi Noi (กุฏิฤาษีน้อย), just 450m south of the southern city gate, was the temple for one of the 102 arogayasala (hospitals) that King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219) had built around the empire. It follows the standard arogayasala design in most regards. It faces roughly to the east, in line with Phimai temple and town. It’s quite incomplete – none of the walls are tall and some are gone entirely… Read More

Noen Wat Khok Khmer Ruin

laterite wall and line of laterite

Noen Wat Khok (เนินวัดโคก) was a small temple in its day, but it was likely quite an important one. Like West Mebon in the Angkor region, Noen Wat Khok sat prominently on an island in the middle of a massive baray. Now almost entirely silted in and used mostly for agriculture (though it’s still clearly recognizable when seen from above), the old Phimai Baray stretches 750m by 1800m, the biggest… Read More

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