Only 2.5 hours outside Bangkok, north-east of the well-known Khao Yai National Park, lies Wang Nam Khiao (also known as Wang Nam Keow or Wang Nam Kaew), an area which belongs to Khorat province. The tourism authority of Thailand describes Wang Nam Khiao as the Switzerland of Isan (the Northeast of Thailand). The climate is, thanks to its elevated location, mild and not too hot throughout the year. Hence, I think it is more appropriate to describe Wang Nam Khiao as the Tuscany of Isan or Thailand. If you let your eye wander across the distance, the landscape is also very reminiscent of Tuscany, since one can spot cypress trees, or cypress-like trees, appear again and again in the hilly landscape.
Why Wang Nam Khiao?
If you have been to see Khao Yai National Park on the previous day, you may perhaps think that there’s nothing of beauty left to discover in the area. But on the contrary, driving along the street 3052 is sheer pleasure. Here, the journey is the destination. Drive slowly and stop every once in a while to admire this impressively beautiful landscape.
The independent traveller is best off visiting Wang Nam Khiao by car or motorcycle. The majority of tourists are locals.
Due to the climate the area is perfectly suited for the growing of all sorts of specialities. Along the way are vegetable farms, vineyards, fruit plantations, mushroom farms and more. Most of it is, in keeping with current trends, grown organically. Countless times there are signposts pointing out the route to boutique hotels. But these come with a hefty price tag: For less than 1500 Baht per night there are no rooms to be had.
Travel planning for Wang Nam Khiao
You are best off renting a car with a sat nav in Bangkok or Khorat.
Suggestion for a tour
If you are travelling from Bangkok via Pak Chong, the tour starts in front of the entrance to Khao Yai National Park on the street 2090. Turn left about 200 metres before the park’s entrance onto street 3052. Follow this route for 70km until it runs into street 304.
From Khorat you would take the tour in the opposite direction.
It would be ideal to include a visit to Wang Nam Khiao in a multi-day tour, like this for example:
On day one you explore the Khao Yai National Park. On the second day you get to discover Wang Nam Khiao. Afterwards you can continue your journey either to the north, to Khorat, or to the south by driving through the Thap Lan National Park to the flatlands of East Thailand.
Tour across Wang Nam Khiao
The first time we stopped was at the Toskana Valley. This is a residential complex with its own golf course. The houses are a perfect imitation of a Tuscan village. Unfortunately, you cannot enter unless you are a member, which is why we continued on our journey after taking a few pictures.
Before we left, we came across an eight-legged stowaway, which appeared to be staring at us.
Five minutes later, we noticed a temple and took a turn to explore it further. Unfortunately, I cannot quite remember its name. I assume it was the Wat Sin Thong Wanawat.
The pagoda of the temple
The temple didn’t appear to be too old and I could only see a single monk. He came towards us to welcome us and to exchange a few words. The inner room of the temple contains a shrine devoted to an important monk. In Thailand experienced monks are revered, and coming across such shrines is thus no rarity. Special in this instance was, however, that the monk was immortalised in the form of a life-size wax statue.
A little later we stopped at the Lam Phra Phloeng reservoir to enjoy the view of the landscape once more. In one corner of the lake were, as everywhere along the street, several stalls where natives sold locally produced specialities.
We made our next stop at the Flora Park. I am not usually one for flowers, but my fellow female travellers were all the more interested. Yet, even I was impressed by this park. Besides the flower arrangements there were two tunnels where the plants had grown along metal scaffolds. While one tunnel featured pumpkins hanging from its ceiling, the other had aerial roots.
If you haven’t had enough when the road runs into street 304, turn right and drive across Thap Lan National Park. It seamlessly connects to Khao Yai Park, which lies to its west. A number of tigers still live here in the wild, as was revealed in 2011 as a result of the installation of camera traps.
When is the best time?
During the normal high season time from November to February.
But I think, that from March to Mai it must still be ok, because Wang Nam Khiao has a little colder climate.
Another beautiful agriculture landscape can be encountered in Java, Indonesia!
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