Sop Namman Khmer Ruin

yoni at Sop Namman Khmer ruin

Sop Namman (สบน้ำมัน) sits under a giant mango tree far from any village or paved road and it’s the small adventure required to get there, rather than what you find that makes a visit fun. Judging by the large (1.3 x 1.3 meters square) yoni still there, it could have been a fairly large sanctuary. But, other than this, all that remains are 33 scattered sandstone blocks. Nothing is known… Read More

Ku Ban Hua Sa Khmer Ruin

blocks of Ku Ban Hua Sa Khmer ruin

In Thailand there are many Khmer ruins inside villages, but Ku Ban Hua Sa (กู่บ้านหัวสระ) is the first I have visited that is literally in someone’s backyard. Although rather than an actual ruin, it’s just a gathering of various sandstone and laterite blocks, some for building walls and others carved for decorative trim. A few carvings in better condition were removed by the Fine Arts Department for safe keeping. A… Read More

Wat Boon Khmer Ruin

laterite blocks at Wat Boon

Wat Boon (วัดบูรณ์) is known locally for its old (possibly Lan Chang era) brick stupa, which is now covered by a modern one. But, before the Lao came there was a Khmer temple of unknown era and design on this site. There are no Khmer structures remaining, just a few blocks, almost all laterite, which you barely notice since they’re used to line walkways next to the ubosot and stupa.… Read More

Prang Ku Kaeng Sanam Nang Khmer Ruin

Prang Ku Kaeng Sanam Nang (ปรางค์กู่แก้งสนามนาง) was, and kind of still is, a single laterite tower of unknown age. The original temple toppled completely and there was no attempt at reconstruction. What stands now are laterite and sandstone blocks stacked to make three walls for a Buddha image shrine. It’s now open to the north, but the original almost certainly would have faced east, and there’s a doorway to the… Read More

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Silver Trumpet Tree

silver trumpet tree flowers and seed pods

Thai Name – Lueang Breedeeyatawn (เหลืองปรีดียาธร)Scientific Name – Tabebuia aurea (some organizations use Tabebuia caraiba or Tabebuia argentea)Family Name – BignoniaceaeOther English Names – Caribbean trumpet treeFlowering Season – February-AprilNative to Thailand – NoTypical Height – 3-8 meters When a silver trumpet tree is in full bloom the yellow flowers can entirely cover the tree’s crown. From a distance it can look like a golden shower tree, but those flowers… Read More

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Geiger Tree

Geiger tree flowers

Thai Name – Man daeng (หมันแดง) Scientific Name – Cordia sebestena Family Name – Boraginaceae Other English Names – Scarlet Cordia Flowering Season – Year-round, but most abundant March-May Native to Thailand – No Typical Height – 6-9 metersGeiger trees have vivid orange five-centimeter-wide flowers that grow in clusters at the ends of branches. From a distance these clusters look like giant orange balls and give the trees a polka… Read More

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Indian Cork Tree

Indian cork tree flowers

Thai Name – Pip (ปีบ), Gasalawng (กาสะลอง)      Scientific Name – Millingtonia hortensis       Family Name – Bignoniaceae      Other English Names – Tree jasmine      Flowering Season – September-May      Native to Thailand – Yes      Typical Height – 10-20 meters       The Indian cork tree is a tall, typically rather narrow tree with distinctive long (5-10cm) white fragrant flowers that bloom straight out and then later hang down. At a quick glance the flowers appear to have four petals, but it’s… Read More

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Pride of India

Pride of India tree flowers

Thai Name – Intanin Nam (อินทนิลน้ำ)Scientific Name – Lagerstroemia speciosaFamily Name – LythraceaeOther English Names – Crepe Myrtle, Rose of IndiaFlowering Season – March-MayNative to Thailand –YesTypical Height – 10-20 meters A very common street-side ornamental tree in Thailand, the Pride of India is unmistakable when it’s flowering. It has long (up to 40cm) pointy flower clusters ranging purple to pink; in Thailand they’re frequently a pale lavender. The distinctive cluster shape makes… Read More

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Rain Tree

rain tree flowers

Thai Name – Jamjuri (จามจุรี)      Scientific Name – Albizia saman (some organizations continue to use the former Samanea saman)      Family Name – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)      Other English Names – Monkey Pod      Flowering Season – February-May and September-November      Native to Thailand – No      Typical Height – 15-30 meters       Rain trees are very common in Thailand and are easily identified by their wide umbrella-shaped crowns supported by massive branches. Their unique flowers look like little pink and white brooms… Read More

Wat That Khon Kaen

cloister around the stupa at Wat That

While Wat Nong Wang is Khon Kaen’s largest and most interesting temple, and the city’s only must-see attraction, Wat That (วัดธาตุ) at the other end of Bueng Kaen Nakhon lake is also worth visiting. Its soaring stupa and ubosot, which make a beautiful backdrop to views from across the lake, are frequently described by travel writers as classic Isan/Lao design, but both are actually Central Thai style. Wat That was founded in… Read More

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Golden Shower Tree

golden shower tree flower

Thai Name – Ratchaphruek (ราชพฤกษ์), Khuen (คูน)      Scientific Name – Cassia fistula      Family Name – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)      Flowering Season – March-May      Native to Thailand – Yes      Typical Height – 8-12 meters       The golden shower tree is one of the most popular decorative trees in Thailand due to its massive hanging flower clusters that grow 30-50cm long and up to 7cm wide. At peak bloom you can barely see any green leaves. From a distances it… Read More

Wat Phra Phai Luang Khmer Ruin

pediment on north tower of Wat Phra Phai Luang Khmer ruin

The largest of the three Khmer-era temples still standing at Sukhothai, Wat Phra Phai Luang (วัดพระพายหลวง) lies north of the old city walls, about 700 meters east of Wat Si Chum’s iconic giant Buddha image. It was built in the early 13th century by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219) and this area appears to have been at the core of the Khmer city; it would have remained so for the… Read More

San Ta Pha Daeng Khmer Ruin

San Ta Pha Daeng Khmer ruin

San Ta Pha Daeng (ศาลตาผาแดง) is the oldest and smallest of the three surviving Khmer temples at Sukhothai Historical Park (the others are Wat Si Sawai and Wat Phra Phai Luang); and thus the overall oldest monument there. It is Bayon/Lopburi-style and probably dates from the late 12th or early 13th century as a project of King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219). Some sources date it to the reign of Suryavarman… Read More

Wat Si Sawai Khmer Ruin

entrance to Wat Si Sawai Khmer ruin

Wat Si Sawai (วัดศรีสวาย), located within the old city walls about 200m southwest of Wat Mahathat, is one of the most visited ruins at Sukhothai Historical Park. At its core is a main sanctuary with three prang towers built by the Khmer in the late 12th or early 13th century. Despite this being the reign of Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219), a devout Buddhist, it appears that it served as a Hindu temple… Read More

Wat Pho Ban Nontan Meditation Hall Art

picture of turtles carrying books on their back on Wat Pho Nontan meditation hall

Nobody knows when Wat Pho Ban Nontan began, but the many clay Buddhas found here show that it is very old. It was upgraded around 1789, when Khon Kaen city was founded on the other side of the lake. Up until the mid-20th century, it remained surrounded mostly by wilderness. Though the city has now engulfed it, the temple retains the wilderness connections as best as it can with some… Read More

Buddhist Flags in Thailand

Thai Buddhist flag

The Thai Buddhist Flag Nearly every temple in Thailand flies the yellow and red tong dhammachak (“Thai Buddhist flag”) which was officially introduced by the Thai sangha in 1958. The red circle is a dharma wheel (dhammachak in Thai) and it represents dharma, the teachings of the Buddha. Also known as the “wheel of law,” it was metaphorically set in motion when the Buddha gave his first sermon, known as… Read More

Phra That Phu Phek Khmer Ruin

Phra That Phu Phek Khmer ruin

Phra That Phu Phek (พระธาตุภูเพ็ก), about 22 kilometers west (32 kilometers by road) of Sakon Nakhon city, crowns a mountain about 520 meters above sea level. There’s a simple, modern Buddhist temple near the ruins, so you can drive most of the way up the mountain, but the final approach to the summit is along a 494-step staircase. You should probably be in reasonably good shape to visit since besides… Read More

About the Legend of Nang Phom Hom, “The Fragrant-Haired Lady”

Nang Phom Hom story painting at Wat Nong Wang

The Isan-Lao folktale of Nang Phom Hom (นางผมหอม) is about a girl whose father is the king of elephants and who is later turned into a monkey by a ghost before she and her family are finally able to live happily ever after. As with most ancient folktales there are many versions told across the region with the same overall plot, but different details. The story is well known. It… Read More

Ku Kaew Khmer Ruin

shrine inside library of Ku Kaew Khmer ruin Khon Kaen

Ku Kaew (กู่แก้ว) is a far cry from Prasat Puay Noi, Khon Kaen’s best preserved Khmer ruin, but there’s still enough standing to make a visit interesting. It was built in the early 13th century by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219) as a temple for a hospital (arogayasala). All buildings are made of laterite and none retain their tops, and though the sandstone frames remain around the doors, there are… Read More

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