Nakorn Ratchasima (Korat) - Gateway to Issan
All areas of the world have their military heroes, and Korat is no exception. Except that Korat's hero was a woman called Khunying Mo who was wife of the assistant governor.
During the reign of King Rama III Khunying Mo led the villagers in a battle against Chao Anuwong from Vientiane who was apparently on his way to attack Bangkok. Khunying Mo's generalship led the villagers to victory.
Now Khunying Mo is referred to as Thao Suranari and a monument to her stands at Chumphon Gate, the main gate to the old city. From March 23 thru April 3 a festival honors her bravery.
Korat is the largest province in Issan and about 260 km northeast of Bangkok. A number of accommodation options are available. Korat has 4 star hotels as well as guest houses.
Another option is local home stay. These unique home stay experiences offer a glimpse of the everyday Thai culture that tourists seldom get. One good example is Lamai Home stay, who offer local tours as well as home stay.
Phimai may not be as important a site as Angkor Wat, but the 900 year old city in Umphur Phimai, 60 km north of Korat is certainly important enough to be a World Heritage site. The Khmer city was built as an important regional center of the Khmer empire and was connected to Angkor by road.
The site features a large and striking main pagoda built of white sandstone with elaborate designs. The sanctuary is the largest built of stone in Thailand.
Phimai also has a museum with relics, skeletons, tools and stone ornaments and is certainly worth a day or two.
Attractions Near Korat, Thailand
Maha Wirawong National Museum Artefacts found in Nakorn Ratchasima and nearby provinces. Stone Buddha images from the Khmer and Ayutthaya periods, pottery of different sizes, bronze Buddha statues, utensils and wood carvings.
Wat Sala Loi strikes an interesting contrast to most Buddhist temples. Wat Sala Loi is built to look like a junk riding the waves. Much of the interior decor is fired ceramic figurines from Dan Kwian.
Phanom Wan A Khmer temple 20 km outside the city built in the 16th to 17th Buddhist century.
Nakorn Ratchasima Zoo Large grounds with caged and uncaged animals 13 km from the city.
Khao Yai National Park is so large it is included in 4 provinces; Nakorn Ratchasima (Umphur Pak Chong), Nakorn Nayok, Saraburi, and Prachin Buri. Just 15 km from Korat, this 2,000 sq km natural park features mountains covered in virgin forests and vast expanses of grasses.
Be on the lookout for wild elephants, deer, monkeys, hornbill and more. Stop at the tourist center then take a trek on one of the nature trails. With 20 waterfalls and tents for overnighters, this park is a blessing for the nature lover. Contact the National Parks Division of the Royal Forestry Department for more information.
Dan Kwian ceramics are famous for their unique look. Only 15 km from Korat in Umphur Chok Chai, once a caravan stop between Korat and Cambodia. A black bronzed clay from the Moun river creates the unique look.
Ban Prasat Archaeological Site 45 km north of the city is Korat's answer to Ban Chiang. Estimated to be 3,000 years old, the burial pit in Umphur Non Sung has human skeletons and red clay pottery with a distinctive "rope" design. Alloy and shell ornaments suggest it was a community from the Dvaravati period.