Situated in the heart of Northeastern Thailand, the small province of Maha Sarakham is considered to be a regional education centre, earning the name "Taksila of Isan" (Taksila was a city where education of all branches centered around in ancient India). The province also houses a sacred Buddha image and has many historical sites, with the province being the former site of the ancient Dvaravati city of Nakhon Champa Si. Maha Sarakham's beautiful hand woven silk and cotton fabrics are sought after for their original patterns.
Maha Sarakham is 470 kilometres from Bangkok and has an area of approximately 5,291 square kilometres. The province is divided into the following districts: Muang, Kantharawichai, Kosum Phisai, Wapi Pathum, Borabue, Phayakkhaphum Phisai, Na Chueak, Chiang Yuen, Na Dun, Kae Dam,Yang Si Surat, Kut Rang and Chuen Chom.
How To Get There
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 and Highway No. 2 to Nakhon Ratchasima and use Highway No.226 to Buri Ram, then take Highway No. 219 via Satuek, Phayakkhaphumphisai and Borabue to Maha Sarakham, a total distance of 475 kilometres.
Air-conditioned and non air-conditioned buses depart from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Maha Sarakham every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 or Mongkhon Tour at Tel: 0 2936 3638-9 for more information
There is no direct train from Bangkok to Maha Sarakham. Visitors can take a train to Khon Kaen and connect a bus to Maha Sarakham. for more information, call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20.
Visitors can fly from Bangkok to Khon Kaen and then connect a bus to Maha Sarakham. For more information, call Thai Airways, Tel: 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000.
Bun Boek Fa and Red Cross Fair
Bun Boek Fa and Red Cross Fair is held at the start of the harvesting season in February. The event is held at the provincial hall to revive and preserve Isan's cultural heritage. It features the Bun Boek Fa procession, which is a story about Mae Hosop, beautiful decorated Bai Si Su Khwan pedestals, folk plays, local music, and many rituals.
Phra Yuen Mongkhon and Phra Ming Muang
Phra Yuen Mongkhon and Phra Ming Muang Buddha images are the most important Buddha images of the province. They are at Tambon Khan Than Rat on Highway No. 213, about 14 kilometres from town. The images are in the Dvaravati style and are made of red sandstone. It is believed that they can make rainfall in the rainy season. Legend says a man built the Ming Muang image, while a woman built the Yun Mongkhon image.
Ban Nong Khuean Chang
Ban Nong Khuean Chang is at Mu 7, Tambon Ban Song Khon. This village is renowned for making quality silk and cotton materials. It is 12 kilometres from town on the Maha Sarakham-Kosum Phisai Road. Turn left at the 12-km marker onto Highway No. 1027 and drive for 2 kilometres.
Ban Phaeng village is famous for making reed mats. It is 38 kilometres from town (Highway No. 208). The mats are local products that are used widely in Thailand. The village does extensive reed farming and has set up a reed-mat-making co-operative to demonstrate the process of making mats and sell them at very affordable prices.
Kosamphi Forest Park
Kosamphi Forest Park is at Tambon Hua Khwang. This park is mainly a forest area on the Mun riverbank that is very popular with locals.
To get there, take Road No. 208 for 28 kilometres and 500 metres from Kosum Phisai. The park is home to numerous monkeys that are always asking for food from tourists.
Chi Long Forest Park
Chi Long Forest Park is at Ban Wang Wa, 10 kilometres from town on the way to Kosum Phisai. The park is on an island that was formed by a course divergence of the Mun River, a main waterway of the Northeast. The island is covered with shady rubber trees and a road circling it makes sightseeing most enjoyable.
Isan Arts and Culture Centre
Isan Arts and Culture Centre is in Maha Sarakham Rajabhat Institute. The centre has exhibits on the origin of Isan art, Isan literature on dried palm leaves and handicrafts such as weaving and fabric designs.
Isan Arts and Culture Research Institute
Isan Arts and Culture Research Institute is in Maha Sarakham University. The institute has exhibits on Isan arts and culture. Of particular interest are displays on the origin of weaving, the development of local fabrics, basketry and woodwork, metalwork, the development of pottery, household items, animal traps and related tools, musical equipment, literature, ancient language inscriptions, and contemporary art of students, as well as various media on regional arts and culture for sale.
Pa Dun Lamphan
Dun Lamphan Forest is a damp forest where rare plant and animal species can be found, such as the Lam Phan plant and Thun Kramom or Paeng crab which is orange, purple, yellow, and white. The forest is 56 kilometres from town.
Ban Isan Museum
Ban Isan Museum is another interesting place that shows the way of life of the Isan people. It is located a short way from Phra That Na Dun. The museum is a research project of Maha Sarakham University. It comprises model houses of the various tribes in the region and there are exhibitions displaying household items.
Ku Santarat is on the way to Na Dun. To get there, take Highway No. 2040 past Kae Dam and Wapi Pathum, then turn right onto Road No. 2045 and drive for 1 kilometre. The site is a stone sanctuary built in the reign of King Jayavoraman VII. This Bayon-style building was completed during 1157-1207. This square laterite structure is similar to Ku Maha That. The front doorway has a remarkably beautiful lintel.
Phra That Na Dun
Phra That Na Dun, or the Buddha Monthon of Isan, is the area where historical and archaeological findings that proved the magnificence of the ancient city of Champa Si were made. Artefacts found here are now on display at the Khon Kaen National Museum. The most important piece is the stupa (pagoda) encasing the holy relics of Lord Buddha in gold, silver and bronze caskets. The site was from the Dvaravati period of the 8th-10th century. This model for Phra That Na Dun comes alive every Makha Bucha Day.