Visit Phnom Rung Historical Park, Buriram
Perched on an extinct volcano, Phnom Rung is probably the the most well-preserved and astonishing set of Khmer ruins in Thailand. Located in Buriram Province in the Isaan region, the Hindu Khmer temple complex is located some 50 kilometres from the Cambodian border, and 35 kilometres away from the nearest town, Nang Rong. While Phanom Rung may not be exactly on the main tourist trail, it is worth venturing into the middle of nowhere as it’s unlike any other temple you’ve seen in Thailand.
Trek through Khao Yai National Park
A vastly huge, expansive national park, Khao Yai is a great place to head to after the hustle and bustle of a city like Bangkok if you want to feel at one with nature. With mile after mile of lush, green forest, calming rivers, inspiring waterfalls and wildlife, from elephants and tigers to porcupines and gibbons to spot, it is truly a breath of fresh air in a country that can often leave you hyperventilating for both good and bad reasons! A wonderful place to visit and trek through.
Watch a Buriram United soccer game
Thailand is not exactly synonymous with soccer, and while the sportspeople’s abilities on the field might not match their European counterparts, their enthusiasm off the field quite often can. One of the most fervently supported and successful teams in the country is Buriram United, and it is impossible to go to any province in Thailand and not spot a handful of their jerseys being worn with pride. A great way to experience an aspect of Thai life that many do not see and to interact with locals, there are certainly worse ways to spend an afternoon, even if soccer is not quite your cup of tea.
Visit the Red Lotus Sea
Roughly 45km southeast of Udon Thani, the Red Lotus Sea is one of Isaan’s most scenic attractions. A vast yet rather normal lake at most times throughout the year, the Red Lotus Sea transforms into a magical natural wonder with millions of pink lotus flowers reaching full blossom and spreading across the water like a blanket during the cooler months, from November to late February.
The lake’s full picturesque beauty is not immediately apparent from land, unless you look through an excellent pair of binoculars. The best way to enjoy the fairytale-like splendour is with a boat ride across the lake. The main access point is from a pier in Ban Diem, where boat trips can be arranged with ease. If you want to get the full lotus experience, the best time to visit is between 6am and 10am, when the lotus flowers are in full bloom.
Climb the mountain to see Wat Phu Tok
Translating roughly as “temple of the mountain”, that is exactly what you will find at Wat Phu Tok, a temple that’s over a 1,000 feet high. Best visited before the day gets too hot, you can climb the seven levels of the mountain in order to reach the goal, with the number being significant as it symbolises Buddhism’s seven levels of spiritual enlightenment. While the ladders, steps and platforms might not inspire much confidence, it not not too challenging, and you are rewarded with good views and interesting temple spaces inside caves along the way.