How do you feel when you talk about your travels and adventures? Does fire burn in your heart with excitement? Does the spark of the explorer in your eyes disarm your listener, and your words take them on mystical journeys? If so, then Isaan could be the destination for your next untrodden, unadulterated, temple-exploring, tomb-raider-like adventure.
Isaan (pronounced Pa-e-san) is a rural region in the northeast of Thailand that is not commonly known to guided tourist tours. Isaan lies at the crossroads of several traveling routes inside, and across Thailand. However, Isaan is not as heavily visited, nor deeply explored as other regions. This makes it a great location for explorers in Isaan who like to trod the lesser-known.
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Phimai historical park (Prasat Hin Phimai)
This park is the sanctuary of the Khmer-architecture temple of the Hindu-Buddhist Angkor empire (802-1431 C.E). Its design is very similar to the more famous Anghor wat temple in Cambodia (southern Thailand border) where the movie Tomb-raider (2001) was shot. The building consists of ornate sandstone statues, carvings and laterite (red clay) walls, and towers.
According to the tourism authority of Thailand, the entrance fee to the park is 30 Thai Baht ($0.87).
Nong Khai statue park (Sala Keoku)
This park features surreal, giant (up to 25m high) concrete statues representing a collection of Hindu & Buddhist beliefs. Probably the most awe-inspiring of them is the meditating Buddha, protected by the seven-headed Naga snake. The snake coils around itself several times, creating a base for the Buddha to sit and support it’s back, while the seven heads are watching over him with their piercing eyes, sharp teeth, fangs and long curved, forked tongues. Standing underneath this statue, you would feel dwarfed by its size, intimidated by its guardian and inspired by the sagesse and solemnity of the meditating Buddha.
And just maybe before you leave, you can visit the Wheel of life, the cycle of life and death (Karma), and take a photo of yourself next to the statue of a person taking one step to Buddhahood, a worthy ending to this enchanting journey in this fascinating part of the world. Isaan is an agricultural area for rice crop. There are small villages.