Uthai Thani is a province abundant in natural resources, such as forests and wildlife. “Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve” here was proclaimed a Nautral World Heritage Site on 13 December 1991. The reserve has jungles, forests, plains, many streams, and most importantly, a number of rare and endangered animals.
Due to the verdant nature of the area, Uthai Thani is a province with unspoiled natural tourist destinations that are of interest to tourist everywhere.
Furthermore, visitors can see the different lifestyles of locals, such as the life of raft residents on Sakae Krang River, a waterway that aided the birth of the province and which has been a lifeline for its people since ancient times. It is also where provincial trading has flourished. Life revolving around the river eventually grew from a community into the major province that it is today.
The most striking indication of the bond between the people and the river since the old days is that in 1906, when King Rama V visited northern provinces and stayed in Sakae Krang village, the monk Phra Khru Uthai Tham Nithet (Chan) built 2 twin rafts to receive the king. This clearly showed the importance of the river and the lifestyle of the people living off it in that period.
In addition, at the end of the Buddhist Lent, Buddhists from all directions congregate in the province for a major merit-making tradition called Tak Bat Thewo at the foot of Khao Sakae Krang at Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri. This festival has been held in Uthai Thani since ancient times.
Uthai Thani is located in the lower part of northern Thailand. Most of the province consists of forests and high mountains. It has a total area of 6,730 square kilometres. It is divided in to 8 Amphoe
How To Get There
1. From Bangkok, take Highway No. 32, passing Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, ang Thong, Sing Buri, and Chai Nat, then turn left at Tha Nam Oi at Km.206. From there, cross the bridge spanning the Chao Phraya River and turn left onto Road No. 333 for 16 km. The total distance is around 222 kilometres.
2. From Bangkok, take Highway No. 32 pass Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, then turn left across the bridge to Ang Thong. Go through Sing Buri, Amphoe Sapphraya, Chao Phraya Dam, Amphoe Wat Sing, Wat Tha Sung, and into Uthai Thani Market. The total distance is about 283 kilometres.
3. From Bangkok, take Road No. 340 past Suphan Buri, turn left onto Road No. 357, then right onto No. 322 past Amphoe Don Chedi. From there, turn right onto Road No. 3264 to Ban Sa Krachom. Then turn right onto Road No. 333 to Ban Rai intersection and another right to Amphoe Mueang. The total distance is about 302 kilometres.
There are daily regular and air-conditioned Bangkok – Uthai Thani buses during 05.00-16.00 hrs. For more information, please contact the Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit), Tel: 0 2936 2852-66, and Uthai Thani Bus Terminal, tel 0 5651 1914 or visit www.transport.co.th
Tak Bat Thewo Fair
Tak Bat Thewo Fair at Wat Sangkat Rattanakhiri is the most important event held around October. Hundreds of monks residing within the Muang district walk down the steps from the top of Khao Sakaekrang to accept food offerings from Buddhist devotees who gather in the ground of the temple. The fair is based on the traditional belief that the Lord Buddha on one occasion returned to earth from heaven. Local Products
Products made from bamboo and water hyacinth can be hand-bags, baskets and other accessories, all of which are well-made and attractive.
Mostly are fruit and vegetable preserves. Turnips are widely grown on Ko Thepho, a large isle in the Sakaekrang river which are preserved to be exported. Other popular items include the crispy Khao Kung Krop, made from rice and shrimps mixed together and deep-fried.
Local Woven Materials
Woven materials are made mainly around Ban Khok Mo, Thap Than district and the Thai-Laotian village in Ban Rai, Lan Sak and Sawang Arom districts.
Ban Samo Thong Hot Spring
This is a small spring that sprouts up to the surface. The hot water from underground converges to form a little stream that flows down to Than Khok Khwai or Huai Khun Kaeo. The water is clear and pungent with the aroma of sulphur. The water is so hot that it can boil an egg in 5 minutes. The Royla Irrigation Department has constructed Huai Khun Kaeo Reservoir, flooding the stream and the spring itself. However, and earth levee has been developed around the spring and some landscaping has been done to create a good rest area for visitors. The spring has an area of 4,000 square metres and consists of 3 springs. A mineral bath is available for tourists and nearby is a 20-metre-high Buddha image sitting high amidst the wonderful scenery of the area.
Getting There: From Amphoe Ban Rai, take Highway No.3282 (Amphoe Ban Rai-Amphoe Huai Khot) to Km. 41, then turn right to Ban Wang Yang Samo Thong for another 24 kilometres. The total distance from the city is 64 kilometres.
This waterfall is in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve and tourists are permitted to visit it. The waterfall is situated amidst nature surrounded by the Huai Kha Khaeng forest. The water comes from the western mountain of the reserve, resulting in a medium-sized waterfall that drops down several levels before splashing on the boulders below.
Beneath the waterfall is the Cyber Forest Protection Unit. From here, tourists must walk 105 kilometres to the waterfall.
Getting There: From Uthai Thani, take the Uthai Thani-Nong Chang-Ban Rai road for about 79 kilometres. From Amphoe Ban Rai, take Highway No. 3282 to Cyber village in Tambon Khok Khwai for another 30 kilometres. A sign points to the waterfall, then turn right there for 7 kilometres.
Note: The route into the waterfall is 7 kilometres long and is a rough laterite road. It is unsuitable for low cars and sedans.
Ban I Mat-I Sai Hill Tribe Cultural Centre and Karen Village
This hill Tribe centre has a house with a raised lower floor, a thatched roof and bamboo walls. This is a replica of a Karen house for tourists to see and there is also a room displaying tools and utensils of Karens. There is accommodation available and a cultural performance if advance notice is given. Moreover, there are hill tribe volunteers taking visitors to see nearby areas. For more information, please contact Tel: 0 5652 0723, 0 5651 2026.
The Karen village near here is Chao Wat Yang Daeng Village that strictly adheres to old traditions. It leads a simple lifestyle and has a peaceful atmosphere. The interesting event of this village is the New Year Festival that is held on the full moon night of April.
Getting There: From Amphoe Ban Rai, take Highway No. 3011 (Ban Rai-Phu Bon) for about 17 kilometres.
Namtok Pha Rom Yen
Pha Rom Yen Waterfall is in Ban Mai Rom Yen. The highlight of the waterfall is its uniqueness of being a limestone waterfall that falls from a cliff. It can be clearly seen from the road nearby. This beautiful waterfall flows from a small stream 4 levels up. It is about 100 metres high. The highest level is a stream that falls down to a pool on the second level. The highest level is the level that can be viewed from the entrance. The beauty of this waterfall lies in the fact that it falls down a high cliff, splashing into mist down below. The nearby area is bright green with moss and ferns. The surrounding nature provides cool shade for visitors.
Getting There: From Amphoe Ban Rai, take Highway No. 3011 (Ban Rai-Phu Bon) to the entrance of Ban Mai Rom Yen, then turn right for around 2 kilometres. Then go on foot for 400 metres from the entrance to the waterfall.
Wat Khao Wong
Wat Khao Wong is a temple in a valley. It has a beautiful two-storey Thai-style convocation hall. The area has been exquisitely landscaped. The monastery is the 13th of 19 branches of Wat Sangkhathan in Nonthaburi that are in places such as Chiang Mai, Um Phang, the United Kingdom, and India. The monastery was built in 1987 and has a total area of 320,000 square metres. The surrounding area is mountain and forest.
The most striking feature of Khao Wong Monastery is the 4-storey Thai-style multi-purpose pavilion. Built almost entirely of wood, the pavilion has a pond in front with many fish. Around the pond is a garden of colourful flowers. The wood used in the pavilion’s construction was donated by locals and has been transformed into a work of architecture that retains natural qualities. The monastery has a monthly meditation class for those who are interested.
Getting There: Use the same route as Phu Wai Cave. It is about 3 kilometres before reaching the cave (there is a cooperative store selling souvenirs and free accommodation for up to 200 persons).
Ban Khok Mo Weaving Village
Ban Khok Mo Weaving Village is a small village of Thai-Lao residents whose ancestors migrated here in the Rattanakosin period. Villagers take up weaving when the harvest ends. The fabrics produced in the village are unique. They are made from Sin Tin Chok Silk, Mat Mi silk and traditional-style fabrics with floral patterns.
Getting There: From Amphoe Thap Than, take Highway No. 3013 to Amphoe Sawang Arom for approximately 11 kilometres. A 4-kilometre road leads to Ban Khok Mo. The weaving group is next to Wat Khok Mo.
Wat Thap Than
Wat Thap Than was built in the Rattanakosin period around 1897. The locals have shortened the full name to Wat Thap Than. It is said that this area was where Thai troops caught up with invading forces in the late Ayutthaya period. Hence, the name of Thap Than. The monastery has a shady compound and a small chapel and main hall in the traditional style. The item of interest here is the lovely carved door depicting an angel holding an arrow standing on a serpent and another of an angel tending deer holding a pike on a lion. The convocation hall has a main bronze Buddha image in the Man Wichai posture 1.68 metres wide. The main hall houses a replica of Lord Buddha’s footprint in bronze.
Getting There: Take Highway No. 3221 (Amphoe Muang-Amphoe Thap Than) for 19 kilometres. The temple is located on the left about 1 kilometre before the Thap Than district office.
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve consists of almost every kind of forest found in Thailand, including mountain virgin forest, dry virgin forest and pine forest. It has a total area of about 2,780 square kilometres. The reserve covers the sub-districts (Tambon) of Rabam and Pa O in Amphoe Lan Sak; Khok Khwai and Kaen Makrut in Amphoe Ban Rai; Thong Lang in Amphoe Huai Khot; and Mae Lamung of Amphoe Um Phang in Tak. The reserve also connects with Thung Yai Naresuan in Kanchanaburi. The unspoiled nature of the reserve makes it an ideal home to various rare and endangered animals such as wild buffalo, rhinoceros, wild elephant, red gaur, tapir, leopard, wild bull, etc. In addition, it is the watershed of rivers flowing to Srinakharin Dam. Due to these attributes, Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve was named by UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site on 13 December 1991.
Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve has 3 points through which visitors can tour the area:
1. The area around the reserve headquarters is in Amphoe Lan Sak, 34 kilometres from the district. The area has an exhibition building and the Sup Nakhasathian Memorial. The Khao Hin Daeng walking nature trail is about 4 kilometres long. There is also the Pong Thian viewpoint.
2. The area around the Cyber Forest Protection Unit in Amphoe Huai Khot is the site of the Huai Kha Khaeng Nature and wildlife Study Centre to be set up by a private organization of Suep Nakhasathian Foundation under the approval of the Royal Forest Department. The centre consists of a study, a nature trail that has direction and information signs, trailside exhibitions, and viewpoints, among others.
3. The area around Huai Mae Di Noi Forest Protection Unit in Amphoe Ban Rai has a nature study walking trail arranged by the Royal Forest Department for educational purposes.
All 3 points are open to tourists who wish to visit the reserve and study nature. For more information, please contact the Wildlife Conservation Division, Royal Forest Department, Tel: 0 2561 4292-3 twenty days in advance or Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve, P.O. Box 4, Amphoe Lan Sak, Uthai Thani 61160.
Getting There: There are 2 routes to the reserve:
First route is to enter through the reserve headquarters that is around 102 kilometres from the province. Take the Uthai Thani-Nong Chang road (Highway No. 333) past Amphoe Nong Chang to Highway No. 3438 (Nong Chang-Lan Sak) to Km. 53-54, then turn left onto a laterite road for about 14 kilometres.
Khao Pla Ra
Prehistoric colour drawings at Khao Pla Ra is another interesting tourist attraction of Uthai Thani. Khao Pla Ra is a mountain range with verdant jungles, no communities and natural water sources. It is also the home of numerous wild animals. It has truly lovely nature in the area around the cave and cliff in the southwestern part of the mountain at around 320 metres avove sea level. Colour cave drawings stretch for around 9 metres. These prehistoric drawings are of humans and animals in red and black.
They show an agrarian society and are artistic expressions of people in ancient times. The drawings give insight into their lifestyle and homesteads. They are certainly invaluable as artistic heritage of the country. A number of earthenware pieces of three-legged pots and stone axes were also found in the area.
Getting There: From the city, take Road No. 333 past Amphoe Nong Chang, then take Road No. 3438 (Amphoe Nong Chang-Amphoe Lan Sak) for around 21.5 kilometres. You will see the Pla Ra Mountain range on the left. Then turn left onto an asphalt road for about 7.5 kilometres and continue on foot around 2 kilometres up the mountain to the peak to see the prehistoric drawings. The total distance from the city is around 51.6 kilometres.
Tham Hup Pa Tat
Hup Pa Tat is a large valley with an area of about 48,000 square metres. The mountain range surrounding the valley is a limestone range. Part of it is Khao Huai Sok that connects with Khao Pla Ra, about 1 kilometre away. The way up to the cave is a margosa forest. Upon reaching the cave mouth you will see a dark cave. After a walk of around 100 metres, you will emerge from darkness and see the way down to the valley. Looking around you will see a limestone mountain surrounded by high cliffs. This enables sunlight to reach the ground only at midday. Therefore, the valley has higher humidity than other parts and this contributes to a wealth of flora. The thick jungle features gigantic shrubs of the genus Excoecaria that are similar to prehistoric trees.
Getting There: Use the same route as Khao Pla Ra. It is 300 metres before the mountain.
Local History and Cultural Museum
This local museum is at the Uthai Thani Provincial Non-formal Education Centre on Si Uthai Road near the city hall. On display are prehistoric human skeletons, clothes, regalia of city lords, and a room of Thai house and wood models. Advance reservation is necessary. For more information, please call 0 5651 1511.
Rafts on Sakae Krang River
Rafts on Sakae Krang River reflect the lifestyle of Uthai Thani people that has always been linked with water. Water is used here to grow pandanus and for raising fish in floating baskets, particularly gourami, that has become a main occupation of the province and which has made it famous. Tourists can take a boat to view the life of people living on rafts on Sakae Krang River by boarding at Lan Sakae Pier near Municipal 2 Fresh Market in Amphoe Muang or boarding at Lan Suphannika in front of the provincial hall on Si Uthai Road. The route passes Wat Tha Sung and ends at Tambon Tha Sung where Sakae Krang River and Chao Phraya River meets. There are tour boats serving visitors. For more information, please contact Pan House Travel at Tel: 0 2933 0577, 0 2538 0335, 0 2538 3705.
Wat Sankat Rattana Khiri
Wat Sankat Rattana Khiri is at the foot of Khao Sakae Krang at the end of Tha Chang Road in the municipality. Inside the main hall is “Phra Phuttha Mongkhon Sai Sit” or “Luang Pho Mongkhon”, an ancient bronze Buddha imae form the Sukhothai period in theMan Wichai posture. It is 1.5 metres wide and was made in the reign of King Lithai. In the open area of the temple is a stairway ascending to the top of Khao Sakae Krang totaling 449 steps. At the peak is a pavilion with a multi-tiered roof housing a replica of Lord Buddha’s footprint and a large bronze bell built in the reign of King Rama V. It is said that this is a sacred bell that visitors to the province who does not ring the bell is like on who never gets to see the province.
In addition, in one corner of the temple is a pavilion housing a statue of the father of King Rama I, the founder of the Chakri dynastr, who was born in Ban Sakae Krang.
Getting There: From the city, take Road No. 3220 and turn left into the provincial staduum leading up the mountain. The distance is around 4 kilometres.
Wat Tha Sung
Wat Tha Sung (another name is Wat Chantharam) is at Mu 2, Tambon Nam Sum. It is an old temple from the Ayutthaya period. It was formerly called “Wat Chan” which is the name of an abbot. Wat Chantharam later was abandoned until 1789 when the monk Luang Pho Yai came here. Villagers asked him to become the abbot of the temple and he renovated it. The first location of the temple was on the bank of Sakae Krang River. The artifact of the place is a pulpit built by Luang Pho Yai that is opposite the temple. More buildings were later added by the monk Phra Ratchaphrom Yan Nen (Luang Pho Ruesi Ling Dam). The new convocation hall is beautiful with an ornately decorated interior. The inner windows and doors have pictures of angels. His Majesty the King presided over a ceremony to officially open the building. Surronding the building is a traditional columned wall. Images of Luang Pho Pan and Luang Pho Yai 3 times the actual size is at the corner of the front wall. Furthermore, the new site has a wide area as well as many pavilions with accommodation for meditation. The main hall is open during 09.00-11.45 hrs. and 14.00-16.00 hrs. daily.
Getting There: From the city, take Road No. 3265 to the ferry at Amphoe Manorom, about 6 kilometres away. Wat Than Sung is on both sides.
Wat Thammakhosok or called “Wat Rong Kho” by villagers was built in the early Rattanakosin period. It is on Si Uthai Road, Tambon Uthai Mai in the municipality. It was used to hold rites by Uthai Thani government officials to pledge allegiance to the king as well as an execution site. The most interesting places in the temple are the chapel and the main Buddha image hall. The chapel is of the Rattanakosin period. A tiled roof covers the building. The Buddha image here is highly sacred. There are beautiful murals inside, the works of late Ayutthaya artists. The main hall is a larger building that is higher than the chapel. A pedestal inside has around 20 Buddha images on it. The outer windowpanes have plaster drawings of the epic Ramayana as frames. The doors have wooden floral patterns painted in bright red.
Wat Ubosatharam was originally called “Wat Bot Manorom” and is located in the municipality on the bank of Sakae Krang River opposite Uthai Thani Fresh Market. It is surmised that it was built in the early Rattanakosin period. Many historical sites and artifacts are found inside, such as wall murals in the convocation hall from the early Rattanakosin period that depict the life of Lord Buddha from birth till death. They are of exquisite craftsmanship. The murals inside the main hall are also from the same period and depict Lord Buddha showing mercy upon angels in heaven and others scenes. Moreover, there are 3 pagodas, each from different periods and of different styles. Also of interest are the main hall, the convocation hall, the prayer building, the octagonal multi-tiered rood, the Bot Nam raft, the replica of Lord Buddha’s footprint from the time of King Rama IV, a silver Buddha image weighing 30 kilograms, and gifts from King Rama V to Luang Pho Chan Wat Bot when the king visited Uthai Thani on 10 August 1906, like a monk’s bowl with a pearl-inlaid lid, a stone monk’s bowl, a glazed bowl, a sack used when the king visited Europe, a wide-month urn, a vase, etc.
Bot Nam is in front of Wat Ubosatharam on the bank of Sakae Krang River. It was built to receive King Rama V when he visited northern provinces in 1906. Originally a twin raft, it has an elongated carved apex of the gable like normal temple main halls. It also had a front part with a circular sign in Pali stating that the king visited here in good faith. In 1976, the raft was renovated and made into a single raft of floors so it is suitable for monks to use. There is an area for worshippers to sit under a four-sided roof. The sign has been moved to the middle of front part of the roof. Today the raft is used by raft residents for religious ceremonies such as weddings, ordinations, funeral, and merit-making activities.