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

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

Phadaeng Nang Ai

shallow lake with lots of grass growing in it

One of the best-known folktales in Isan, the romantic legend of Prince Phadaeng (ผาแดง) and Princess Nang Ai (นางไอ่) explains the formation of Sakon Nakhon province’s Nong Han (หนองหาน) lake, the largest natural lake in the northeast. Some people in Udon Thani tell the same tale about their famous “Red Lotus Lake,” which is also called Nong Han. This version of the story was written by my friend Amaralak (Pim)… 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

Ku Phanna Khmer Ruin

east gopura of Ku Phanna Khmer ruin

Ku Phanna (กู่พันนา), about an hour northwest of Sakon Nakhon city, is the northernmost Khmer ruin; beating Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat by about 1/100th of a degree latitude . It’s one of the many arogayasala (hospital) temples built across the empire by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1182-1219) in the early 13th century. Everything was built with laterite and enough is still standing to make a visit enjoyable. The most… Read More

Khmer Ruins in Thailand

detail of kala face on lintel at Muang Tam Khmer ruin

This page has links to all my posts about Khmer-era historical sites in Thailand, from the grand, inspiring monuments of Phimai and Phnom Rung to various small piles of rubble. Besides temple ruins, there are also some sandstone quarries, piers, and rock carvings. Many of these ruins have multiple names; I’ve chosen the one that seems to be most common. Background Information Arogayasala and Dharmasala Buriram Kuti Ruesi Ban Khok… Read More