Visiting north-central Thailand, where no one ever stops:
Thailand’s countryside: Kamphaeng Phet
I was in Kamphaeng Phet working as an English teacher for a total of 4 months in Thailand’s countryside. Specifically in Khlong Khlung, a small village in the middle of a province of Thailand where almost never for anyone.
Kampheang Phet is about 350 kilometers north of Bangkok, halfway to Chiang Mai. The provincial capital is also called Kamphaeng Phet so it is easy to locate.
In reality the capital is nothing more than a village of 30,000 inhabitants where calm reigns. Without a doubt, if anything characterizes this province is the tranquility that is breathed in every corner.
If you decide to come here, the highlight is the Historic Park which is packed with ruined temples and the Night Market by the river. You can stay at the Three Guesthouse, a quiet, beautiful hostel in the middle of town where you can meet the few foreigners who come to Kamphaeng Phet.
At night you can find some open bars but if you’re looking for a party where it’s worth going is the Banana Club; lots of atmosphere and good music.
Other attractive places to see in the province are: Khlong Lan Waterfall, Mae Wong National Park and Khlong Nam Daeng Agricultural Reserve. Around Kampheang Phet province there is also much to see. During my stay every weekend I would go around on a trip to discover the deepest and most unknown Thailand.
Thailand’s countryside: Nakhon Sawan
South of Kamphaneg Phet is the province and the provincial city Nakhon Sawan. When I discovered Nakhon Sawan I stopped going to Kamphaeng Phet. It is a city of more than 100 thousand inhabitants so it is much bigger and more lively.
In Nakhon Sawan, searching for Google Maps, I only found one place to stay, the Shanya Guesthouse. Right next door is another hotel. I went to ask by chance and the owner was so nice that I ended up staying there. Every time I returned to Nakhon Sawan they made me feel as if it was my second home in Thailand.
Although is very unknown, Nakhon Sawan surprises by everything there is to see. At the top of a hill are a number of temples worth a visit. The Kiriwong Wat stands out for its giant golden pagoda and magnificent views of the Nakhon Sawan landscape. At the top you can climb the road around the mountain. You can go by taxi, walking, or my favorite, hitchhiking. Right next door you can also climb a 32 meter tower where you can see the panoramic view of the whole city with telescope included.
You can also go to Sawan Park for a walk and enjoy the lake. It’s all very well clean and it’s a perfect area for sitting and unwinding. Also, surrounding the lake, you will find all the bars you need to have a drink. Or even to party at night.
In the evening, one can also choose to go to the Night Market that opens every night on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. If I liked Kamphaeng Phet’s Night Market, this one I just loved it.
Thailand’s countryside: Phitsanulok – Phetchabun
There was a weekend when I went with a friend to Phitsanulok, another province adjacent to Kamphaeng Phet. We stayed only one night in Phitsanulok so I can’t say much about that city.
From Phitsanulok we arranged a taxi route that would take us through rural areas and waterfalls to the next province, Phetchabun, which is right in the centre-north of Thailand. First we went to see a beautiful waterfall.
Then, there was a temple lost in the mountains that looked very good and I wanted to visit. And it didn’t let us down. The Wat Pra That Pha Sorn Kaew is a Buddhist temple that is characterized by being different from all I have seen before. It is covered with colorful tiles giving a curious and modern touch to Dalí. The whole complex is very surrealistic.
It is on top of a mountain, surrounded by gardens and next to a giant white Buddha sculpture with several faces that impresses even more than the temple. During my stay there I enjoyed myself so much that I promised to come back someday. I doubt that when I return there will be any foreigners yet.
After visiting the temple the taxi driver left us in the town of Phetchabun which was actually nothing more than a small village. At first glance we didn’t seem to see anything interesting so we took the only bus to Pichit.
Thailand’s countryside: Pichit – Nakhon Sawan
When I arrived in Pichit, it was all dark, it was one of these villages that has hardly any lights in the streets. We didn’t know where to go very well. It was the weekend and we wanted to go out for a while. In the end we decided to end the trip in Nakhon Sawan which was a place I knew well. The problem is that it was 11 p.m. and there were no more buses, trains or taxis. Our only option was to go in a tuc-tuc.
After agreeing on the price we told the driver to take us to a supermarket first; we needed whiskey, coke, ice and glasses. We spent two hours in tuc-tuc having drinks, talking about soccer and remembering old times. What seemed like a nightmare in the end turned into a trip that was hard to forget. It flew past us and we reached Nakhon Sawan with just the right point to get out for a while.
The next day I took my friend to see the temple at the top of the mountain. On the way down, hitchhiking, we were asked if we wanted to go to I don’t know which park. We accepted and they ended up taking us to what we would later discover was Bueng Boraphet, Thailand’s largest freshwater lake.
Specifically, they took us to an area that looked like an amusement park. You could visit a giant aquarium, a pond of crocodile pups or even see a rather curious but above all spectacular crocodile show. It was the perfect way to close that great weekend.
North of Thailand: Loei
On one of my trips to Laos to change the visa from tourist to residence permit I stopped one day in Loei, which is right next to the capital of Laos.
The city is not bad, it is very quiet. But there you will enjoy the surroundings, the mountains and the natural parks. I rented a motorbike and spent a whole day going around Loei surroundings. I found a temple where a monk invited me to have tea in his humble cabin and talk about Buddhist philosophy. It was certainly interesting.
I also went into a nature reserve called Huai Krating which is 20km from Loei. There, if you feel like it, you can go for a walk in a bamboo house while you have your meals and relax in a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.
Loei is a place that I recommend to visit if you are looking for nature and tranquility and don’t want to cross with a thousand other tourists on your way. There are many other places that I couldn’t see because I didn’t have time. Climbing Phu Thok mountain and visiting Phu Kradueng and Phu Ruea National Parks is pending for a next visit.
I hope that this article will motivate travelers not only to see the most touristic places in Thailand and stay on the surface but also to go into the unknown to discover the most authentic of this country.
Stop thinking and just let things happen.