Buri Ram was a former hub of the ancient Khmer civilization. Literally called “City of Happiness,” it is blessed with pristine nature and rich historical heritage. More importantly perhaps, communities here lead simple but sufficient ways of life, with people keen to protect their treasured natural assets. This tour takes you on a journey of “green” discovery – and more:
Getting to Buri Ram is easy. You can get there by car, bus, train, or plane.
BY CAR: From Bangkok, take Highway 1 (Phaohonyothin Rd) to Saraburi, then turn right into Highway 2 (Mittraphap Rd). Turn right into Highway 24 (Chok Chai- Det Udom Road) passing Amphoe Nong Ki, Amphoe Nang Rong, then turn left onto Highway 218 to Buri Ram. Total distance is about 410km. From Nakhon Ratchasima, take Highway 226 passing Amphoe Chakkarat-Huai Thalaeng-Lam Plai Mat (total distance 384km).
BY BUS: Morchit Northern Bus Terminal offers service every one-to-hours to the route.
BY TRAIN: Trains leave from Hua Lamphong Railway Station. Buriram is on the Bangkok-Ubon Ratchathani line and there are nine daily trains serving the destination.
BY PLANE: Nokair flies daily to Buriram.
The tour starts at Khao Kradong Forest Park, one of the six extinct volcanoes in Buri Ram. Originally called ‘Phanom Kradong’ (Turtle Shell Mount), the 1,450-rai forest park is excellent for geography and history studies as well as for eco-tourism. Take a walk around the crater, and explore the 2km-long nature trail, to observe the wetlands around Wutthisawat Reservoir. The best time to visit is toward the end of rainy season when wild flowers begin to grow. The forest produces spectacular autumn colors when the cool season arrives.
Get on the bicycle trails, do some exercise, admire the natural surroundings, or walk up the 297 Naga steps to pay homage to Phra Suphattharabophit, a large Buddha image enshrined on top. Of special interest is the archeological site called Prasat Khao Kradong, a pre-Sukhothai era place of worship, which now houses a replica of the Buddha’s footprint. Besides these attractions, what makes the forest park stands out is its high standards of management, as reflected in the tidy landscaping; clean roads and walkways; campaigns for natural and environmental conservation; and clear informative signs and markers.
Start with a visit to Phanom Rung Historical Park (Prasat Hin Phanom Rung), a Khmer-era pink sandstone castle that exudes beauty beyond time and age. Phanom Rung Hill is an extinct volcano and thanks to good environmental management, it has retained its natural beauty. Hundreds of tourists visit the park each day.
Then, visit Prasat Mueang Tam (Mueang Tam Stone Sanctuary), another well-preserved Khmer shrine. To the north of Prasat Mueang Tam is a Barai or large pool called Thalae Mueang Tam, the community’s main source of water. Here again, one notices evidences of a wellorganized management system.
The tour visits Ban Khok Mueang, a community where life revolves around organic agriculture and the principles of Sufficiency Economy. The villagers are knowledgeable about sericulture, mulberry planting, rearing silkworms, processing herbs, and conserving patterned reed mats.
Enjoy a demonstration of organic germinated rice production (Hom Mali rice grown on volcanic soil). Hom mali (jasmine) rice is regularly grown by farmers here using organic farming. Ban Khok Mueang folks also produce a mouthwatering ice cream using brown rice. They also plant mulberry, rear silkworms, and weave silk in a vegetable fern pattern.
A wonderful lunch follows the demonstration. The food is made with local products and ingredients, and served with homemade herbal drinks. You can also learn how to cook local food. After lunch, you can relax with a warm tea brewed from leaves of tea plants grown locally. Ban Khok Mueang is also known for patterned reed mats weaving, the only one in southern Isan. Besides the high quality mats, it also known for other goods such as bags, vases, and tissue boxes, all made here as souvenirs.
On the final day, set off for Ban Charoen Suk, the birthplace of Phu Akkhani textile. Over the last 20 years, residents here have been involved in protecting these resources, which help provide them with jobs, food, learning, and livelihood. And there are other attractions as well.
This route relives the story of Buri Ram but also shows how its communities can adhere to the Sufficiency Economy principles in preserving their natural resources. If only for that, it is a route worth taking.
For more information, contact TAT at 02 250 5500.