Wang Nam Khiao, also sometimes spelt as Wang Nam Khieo, is a beautiful district within Thailand’s largest province of Nakhon Ratchasima. In the northeastern part of the country, in the region known as Isan, you might also hear Nakhon Ratchasima referred to by its previous name of Khorat.
The name Wang Nam Khiao translates roughly as the castle (or palace) of green water; don’t expect to see any castles or green water though! It is said that the name arose because of being able to see the vibrant green reflections of the trees in the area’s clear waters.
Wang Nam Khiao is a mountainous area that is famous for its excellent air quality. Indeed, it is often celebrated for having the purest air in all of Thailand. Soaring mountains that are carpeted with lush greenery, combined with deliciously fresh air, have led to the area being nicknamed the Switzerland of Isan.
A fabulous place for enjoying a range of outdoor activities, nature, and scenery, here are a few things to enjoy in Wang Nam Khiao:
Stunning views and Thap Lan National Park
Whilst you will encounter many beautiful vistas as you travel around Wang Nam Khiao, some of the most picturesque views can be admired from Thap Lan National Park (also sometimes spelt as Tub / Tup Lan National Park). The second biggest national park in Thailand, gaze out across the towering mountains and verdant jungles, peer down into yawning valleys, inhale the fresh air, and feel at one with Mother Earth.
The national park has numerous fantastic walking trails with varying lengths and levels of difficulty. You can spot an array of interesting flora and fauna, with the rare fan palm trees of particular interest to keen botanists. Creatures that live in the park include macaques, gibbons, buffaloes, deer, bears, tigers, and elephants, as well as various species of reptile, bird, and insect.
Several lovely waterfalls are spread throughout the national park. The large Huai Yai is particularly impressive, and other popular waterfalls for relaxing and picnicking include Bor Thong, Huai Kum Phu, and Heo Nok Kok.
The cliff at Pha Keb Tawan is well-worth a visit, if only to have fun catapulting seeds into the forests below! A fairly novel activity, buy a bag of large seeds from the cliff-top vendors and see how far you can launch them. Hand-held catapults are provided, or you can use the super-sized catapults that stand on the edge of the rugged cliff.
Admission to Thap Lan National Park is 200 THB (approximately 5.50 USD) for non-Thai visitors. It is recommended that visitors have their own form of transportation to fully make the most of their time in the national park.
The whimsical Mister Mushroom
Mister Mushroom is essentially a mushroom farm with a large shop and a restaurant, but you’ll see when you visit that it is a lot more entertaining and fun than you may first have thought!
Instead of rushing straight to the mushroom-growing area, take some time to first look at the colourful and interesting ornaments scattered in front of the attraction. Most have a mushroom theme, and there are quirky little mushroom people, animals sitting amongst mushrooms, and mushrooms in all shapes, sizes, and colours. There is also a large stone set into the side of a grassy slope that naturally resembles a heart.
You will then walk through a small exhibition area, with details about the mushroom-growing process and the farm’s history. Listen to the highly-catchy and repetitive song playing in the background … although it is Thai, you may giggle when you know that it is a song all about mushrooms!
Inside the darkened warehouse you can see various types of mushrooms in different stages of growth. Fungi protrude from well-ordered rows of vertically-stacked containers, and there are also containers directly on the floor in the centre of the warehouse.
After you’ve seen how mushrooms grow you will exit the warehouse close to the restaurant and shop. This would be a perfect time to try some mushroom fries, or even a pot of mushroom ice cream! The shop sells a wacky assortment of mushroom-related souvenirs, along with numerous mushroom pastes, cooking sauces, and other items for cooking.
There is no charge to visit Mister Mushroom, although you will probably be tempted to spend money in the restaurant and shop.
Golden statue of Luang Phor Khun Parisuttho
Luang Phor Khun Parisuttho was a revered and highly-esteemed Buddhist monk who was the abbot (head monk) at Wat Ban Rai in Wang Nam Khiao, a popular temple thanks to both the presence of the venerated monk and an enormous ornate elephant statue. Believed to have magical spiritual powers, many people visited Luang Phor Khun Parisuttho to pay their respects, worship, make merit, and seek blessings. He was one of the most famous and respected Buddhist monks across Thailand, with people coming from far and wide to visit.
After his death in May 2015, at the age of 91, a large golden statue of the monk was erected on some nearby land, now known as Wat Ban Rai 2. At the time of visit, construction work was still taking place around the base of the enormous and dazzling statue.
Vendors sell flowers for offerings at the bottom of the steps, with many Thai people still coming to pay their respects and try to improve their fortunes. There are also, interestingly, many people selling lottery tickets!
Peaceful and scenic Village Farm and Winery
Nestled in the peaceful countryside and at an altitude of 500 metres (1,640 feet), Village Farm and Winery is an ideal place to relax in tranquil surroundings. The large farm grows several types of grape, as well as a variety of other fruits. You can take a stroll through the orchards and vineyards, enjoying the farm-life atmosphere. The establishment produces some of the best wines in Thailand; head to the wine tasting rooms to discover what makes these wines so popular!
There is a relaxed restaurant and lounge where you can enjoy a tasty meal over a glass of wine, and wine-related products, such as grape presses and large barrels, add interesting touches to the décor.
Varied activities at Montana Farm
Montana Farm is a cross somewhat between a working farm and a mini attraction park. You can enjoy a diverse selection of activities as you wander through the charming grounds. Brightly-coloured flowers, leafy plants, and quirky statues are scattered throughout the farm, and you can get up close and personal with animals like sheep and ponies. Rather unusual for Thailand, you can also have fun feeding alpacas!
There is a quaint bridge, where couples, families, and groups of close friends are encouraged to affix a lock to symbolise the enduring strength of their relationship. Enjoy energetic activities such as archery, shooting, and quad-biking, or giggle as you try to succeed at an assortment of fairground-type games.
See the crop-growing areas, and learn more about organic processes employed by the farm. And then see if you can taste the difference with a tasty meal at the farm’s restaurant. The restaurant serves typical Thai dishes, such as fried rice and spicy soups, prepared using mainly fresh and organic ingredients. You can also buy fresh produce at the farm shop, or perhaps pick up a souvenir t-shirt?
The admission charge for Montana Farm is 50 THB (approximately 1.40 USD) per person.
Other things to enjoy in Wang Nam Khiao
The mountainous nature of Wang Nam Khiao means that the temperatures can often be lower than you may expect. A large thermometer stands at the side of the main road, fairly close to Village Farm and Winery, letting guests and locals alike marvel at the cooler conditions. Set in pretty gardens, it’s worth a quick photo stop.
Suan Lung Krai was Wang Nam Khiao’s first chemical-free farm. You can see the organic crops growing in the fields and peruse a temptingly fresh assortment of produce in the farm shop. If you see a man playing guitar and happily singing in the shop this is Lung Krai, the farm’s founder. A leader in organic agriculture, he is highly respected in the local area.
If you happen to visit Wang Nam Khiao between the months of December and February you can visit the vibrant Flora Park. At the time of visit, the park was unfortunately still being prepared. In its full glory, however, it is a magical riot of colour, with blooms from all around the world used to create gorgeous and detailed displays. It is also the scene of the yearly Flora Fantasia Festival, held in January.
A picturesque and peaceful place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy feeling more connected with nature, add Wang Nam Khiao to your Isan itinerary for a fantastic time.
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