Phetchabun (เพชรบูรณ์) is a city in a province of the same name in Lower Northern Thailand.
346 kilometres from Bangkok, Phetchabun borders on three regions, the North, the Central and the Northeast. The central part of the province is on the Pa Sak river basin with mountain ranges running along both the western and eastern sectors. Because of the fertility of the land, Phetchabun has always been an agriculturally productive area. The very name of the province means the "land of crops and foods".
Today, Phetchabun is a province with rich tourism potential. Its climate is pleasant due to the mountainous and forested areas and it has a history of richness and prosperity for more than 1,400 years. However, there is not a lot here for tourists because it is off the beaten track. Effectively, it is a "branch line" off the normal bus routes.
Buses from Phitsanulok, Khon Kaen, etc., stop at Lom Sak some 40 km distant so few people come here. Regrettably also, the bus terminal is in the middle of nowhere, although there are tuk-tuks.
Quite a few buses stop at this town on the way to Lom Sak. Here are some services you can find from Bangkok's Mo Chit Terminal:
- The Transport Company, Ltd., +66 2 9362852-66
- Phetprasert (Phet Tour), +66 2 9363230
- Thin Siam Tour +66 2 9360500
2-3 buses per hour. First-class service from Phetprasert costs 263 baht and takes 4 hours.
Motorbike taxis and motor trishaws are available at the market, hotels, and the bus station.
Better to bring your own vehicle, if you are planning to go to Khao Kho. Also, you might want to find some gas stations.
- 1 Phetchabun City Pillar Shrine (ศาลหลักเมืองเพชรบูรณ์). Brought over from the ancient town of Si Thep and is considered the oldest such structure in Thailand.
- 2 Wat Mahathat (วัดมหาธาตุ) (On Nikon Bamrung Rd in town). Houses a number of ancient chedis of Sukhothai style.
- 3 Wat Trai Phum (วัดไตรภูมิ) (On Phetcharat Road). Features a Buddha statue called Phra Buddha Mahadhamaracha cast in the ornamental Lopburi-style. The ritual bathing of the Buddha image or the traditional Um Phra Dam Nam ceremony is held during September each year.
- 4 Huai Pa Daeng Reservoir (ห้วยป่าแดง) (10 km west of the town centre). Created by the dam constructed to block the waterway to the west of town for irrigation purposes. It is a pleasant place for recreation and picnic with scenic natural views in the background, particularly in the morning and late afternoon.
- 5 Tat Mok National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติ ตาดหมอก) (15 km east of the town). Has a huge waterfall fed by streams flowing down cracks and crevices of the mountains creating a beautiful 12-level fall. On both sides of the trails leading up to it are large, shady trees providing pleasant surroundings.
- Khaeng Rue Boat Races (Lom Khao, about 10km N of Lom Sak). Every October, there is a boat race on the canals through the village of Lom Khao. The boats are about 40m long, colourfully painted, canoe-like boats with a 12 person crew. The event lasts for 5 days.
- Seng Klong–Long Com Fai. An ancient tradition of Phetchabun villagers. They believe this tradition is the way to beseech the gods and to make merit with them. It is held annually at the end of Buddhist Lent around Por Kun Pah Maung Monument to promote the honour of Por Kun Pah Maung. In this celebration, there are many activities, for instance, the drum contest and the beauty contest. Colour fills its streets and floating lanterns the sky.
- Sweet Tamarind Fair. Sweet tamarind is an important cash crop in this province, and a symbol of Phetchabun. This agricultural fair is held to celebrate the harvest of this fruit on 17–25 January. Farmers sell sweet tamarind straight from their farm at the provincial athletic field where contests, entertainment, and other agricultural exhibitions are also held.
- Um Pra Dam Nam Festival. The villagers in the province closely relate to Pasak River. Such closeness is reflected "Um Pha Dam Nam" or 'Dive the Buddha Image into the Water Festival'. Phra Buddha Maha Thammaracha is highly revered ancient Buddha image of Phetchabun Province. This event is annually held on the fifteenth day of the waning moon in the 10th lunar month of during Sat Thai Period at Trai Pum Temple. The ceremony starts at 13:00. The image is carried around the town, so Buddhists can pay respect to it and stick gold leaf to its body. The next morning, people make merit as it is Sat Thai Day. Food, including krayasat, and other necessities are given to monks. The Buddha image is then taken to be immersed in the Pah Sak River by the governor of Phetchabun. After the ceremony, the water in the river is regarded as sacred. As a result, people swim in it or take the water to drink before the boat racing begins.
- Pineapple Books, 69/35 Klang Meaung Phatthana (Behind the government bus station), ☏ . Foreign language bookshop, over 20 different languages, books bought, sold, exchanged. They sell great coffee too.
- Sweet Tamarind
- Khanom chin — Khanom Chin, popular food of Lom Kao district, is a noodle-like dish made from flour. It is served with gravy and side dish of various fresh local vegetables.
- Sweet Tamarind — Makham Wan
The bus terminal is a very local one, and if you want to go to (say) Khon Kaen or Phitsanulok, then you will need to get a local bus from the terminal to Lom Sak, some 40 km distant, where there is a bus terminal at the edge of that city (some 8 km out) at the main road going to these places.
- Khao Kho (40–65 km northwest) – Mountain ranges to the northwest of town about 1,174 m above sea level covered in the main by deciduous plants. Very cold during November–February, it once was the base camp from which communist insurgents conducted their struggles against the authorities during 1968–1982. Attractions include to so-called cloud sea as well as unusual Buddhist temples and statues of Wat Phra That Pha Son Kaeo.
- Lom Sak (55 km north)
- Nam Nao National Park (90 km northeast of Phetchabun; on Route 12 to Khon Kaen). An immense tract of forest still in perfect condition. With pineries, grasslands and virgin jungles, it is habitat to large number of animals and more than 100 species of birds. Attractions include Tham Pha Hong Caves, formations of stalactites and stalagmites. It is also a point from which to view the scenery at sunset.
- Si Thep (130 km south) – ruins of an ancient city from the 5th to 13th centuries; Si Thep Historical Park contains the ruins of ancient Phetchabun, encompassing Si Thep ancient town, originally called Mueang Aphai Sali. It is believed to have been built during the boom years of the ancient Khmer empire, 1,000 years old. The historic town is surrounded by a moat and a mound; inside, ponds and swamps dot the compound.