Sa Kaeo (สระแก้ว), also spelt Sa Kaew, is a city in Inner Eastern Thailand.
Sa Kaeo is the capital of Sa Kaeo province, about 50 km west of Poipet (Cambodia-Thailand border) and 245 km east of Bangkok, in Eastern Thailand. It was once an important and prosperous community with a long history dating to the Suvarnabhumi and the Dvaravati Kingdoms, which is evident from various remains of ancient monuments and architecture, scattered throughout the province, and from artefacts attesting to the history and glory of the past.
Apart from the historical ancient remains worthy of study, Sa Kaeo also possesses abundant natural resources such as the Pang Sida National Park, the Ta Phraya National Park, and the natural canyon-like soil sculpture caused by ground subsidence called "Lalu" with unique characteristics.
At the Thai border in Aranyaprathet, Sa Kaeo is a grand gate opening to Cambodia, connecting international transportation and tourism within one route. Moreover, Rong Kluea Market offers both cheap and second-hand products from various neighbouring countries.
Sa Kaeo is the 74th province of Thailand and used to be a satellite town of [Prachinburi] (called Prachim in the past). In 1933, the system of Thesaphiban or administrative circle was abolished and Prachinburi was designated a province. Therefore, Sa Kaeo became a district in Prachinburi. It was separated from the province and became a province in Dec 1993.
The history of Sa Kaeo can be traced back for over 4,000 years, starting from the Neolithic – Metal Age with a discovery of artefacts at Ban Khok Makok, Khao Sip Sub-district, Khao Chakan District. In a later period, other antiques were found such as in Aranyaprathet and Ta Phraya Districts, presenting evidence that Sa Kaeo was once an important and prosperous community during the Chenla – Dvaravati Periods with their own civilisation and culture under the kings or rulers who believed in Hinduism, both the Shivaite and Vishnuite sects. It can be observed from the ancient remains and inscriptions in the Pallava script at Prasat Khao Noi, Khao Rang, and Chong Sa Chaeng, etc, especially the Pallava inscription at Prasat Khao Noi, Aranyaprathet District, which has been considered as the oldest piece of evidence discovered in Thailand that states the year of its construction, in approximately the year 637.
Moreover, there were discoveries of evidence reflecting the civilisation during the 10th - 11th centuries within this area such as various Prasats or sanctuaries made of bricks or stone, ceramic kilns, ancient moats which have left traces until today, including 2 inscriptions in Prasat Sdok Kok Thom, estimated to date from the 10th century. This Prasat was constructed to be a religious shrine of the God Shiva as stated in the 1st inscription that in 937, King Jayavarman IV had this inscription placed in this Prasat as an announcement prohibiting servants dedicated to this shrine to serve in other businesses, but only take care and conduct a worshipping ceremony to the Shiva Lingam – a Hindu phallic symbol of creative power – or other sacred images enshrined in this Prasat. On the other hand, the other inscription praised the good deeds of King Udayadityavarman II, who had this ancient sanctuary renovated, as well as, finished an inscription on the civilisation and religion. From the aforementioned inscriptions and remains, the system of administration utilised by the Ancient Khmer Empire over the area can be noticed. Therefore, this province can be considered as intellectual heritage which has been passed on and is valuable for further study.
Sa Kaeo covers an area of approximately 7,195 km² or 4,496,961 rai.
From Bangkok there are several alternative routes:
- Take Phahon Yothin Rd to Rangsit, keep left and cross the ring bridge to Hwy 305, passing Ongkharak District and Nakhon Nayok Province. Enter Hwy 33, passing Kabin Buri District to Sa Kaeo Province. The total distance is 214 km.
- Take Hwy 1 and turn right at Hin Kong Intersection. Go along Hwy 33, passing Nakhon Nayok Province, and Kabin Buri District. The total distance is 245 km.
- Take Hwy 304, passing Min Buri District and Chachoengsao Province to Phanom Sarakham District. At km 35, turn right to Kabin Buri District along Hwy 304. At km95, turn right again into Hwy 33 to Sa Kaeo Province. The total distance is 210 km.
- Take Hwy 304, passing Min Buri District to Chachoengsao Province. Then, take the route to Phanom Sarakham District, passing the Khao Hin Son Royal Development Study Centre. At km 54, there is a crossroads. Turn right to Sa Kaeo Province by taking Hwy 359 for 65 km. It is a shortcut to Sa Kaeo.
The Transport Company Ltd provides services of both ordinary and air conditioned buses, leaving the Northeastern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit), on Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, and the Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) many times a day. It takes 4 hours to Sa Kaeo (3.5 hours via the Ongkharak route). For further information contact Tel. +66 2 9362852–66 ext: 311, or the Transport Company Limited (Sa Kaeo Office) on Thetsaban Soi 9/1 Rd, Tel. +66 37 241282, Air Aran Company Limited at Tel. +66 37 421210.
From Sa Kaeo, there is a bus service to other provinces such as Chanthaburi, Nakhon Nayok, Prachinburi, Saraburi, Buriram, and Korat.
The State Railway of Thailand provides a Bangkok–Sa Kaeo–Aranyaphrathet train service 2 times a day. The first one leaves Bangkok at 05:55 and arrives at Sa Kaeo at 10:32 and to Aranyaprathet at 11:30. The second one departs Bangkok at 13:05 to Sa Kaeo at 17:25, and to Aranyaprathet at 18:20. There are 2 trains to Bangkok. The first one departs Aranyaprathet at 06:35 to Sa Kaeo at 07:26, and to Bangkok at 11:30, while the second one departs Aranyaprathet at 13:35 to Sa Kaeo at 14:37, and to Bangkok at 19:30. The fare is 48 baht. For further information, contact Tel. 0 2223 7010, 0 2220 4334, 1690, or , or Sa Kaeo Railway Station at Tel. 0 3726 1217.
Sa Kaew Sa Khwan (สระแก้ว สระขวัญ) are twin ponds. Sa Kaew and Sa Khwan have become a symbol of holiness and auspiciousness, as well as the origin of the province’s name. Moreover, the water in these ponds was once utilised in the Oath of Allegiance Ceremony.
City Pillar Shrine (ศาลหลักเมือง) Within the shrine stands the city pillar made of Chaiyaphruek or cassia wood whose characteristics are in accordance with ancient tradition. This shrine is evidence of the solidarity of the people and a symbol of the loyalty to King Rama IX, as well as, a centre of spirit and unity of the people of Sa Kaeo.
Freshwater Crocodiles at Kaeng Yai Mak (แหล่งจระเข้น้ำจืดแก่งยายมาก) A place where freshwater crocodiles have been discovered since 1981 to have remained in the Huai Nam Yen Forest, where there is an observation tower provided near the National Park's Po Do 1 (Kaeng Yai Mak) Ranger Station.
Tha Krabak Reservoir (อ่างเก็บน้ำท่ากระบาก) A large reservoir under a royal initiative of the king to improve irrigation in the valley. It is an earth fill dam with a height of 17.5 metres and a length of 720 metres.
Namtok Tha Krabak (น้ำตกท่ากระบาก) The waterfall comprises 3 tiers. Each tier is 400 – 500 metres apart from one another.
Khao Chakan (เขาฉกรรจ์) A limestone mountain whose ridge is 90 degrees against the north and the south. Its summit is 240 metres above sea level. Khao Chakan is the largest and stands in the middle between Phukhao Ming on the left and Khao Falami on the right. The three mountains are established as the Khao Chakan Arboretum under the supervision of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Flora.
Wat Tham Khao Chakan (วัดถ้ำเขาฉกรรจ์) A temple of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism. There are 72 small caves within the compound of Khao Chakan. The popular ones are Tham Muet, Tham Hanuman, Tham Khao Thalu, Tham Mahahing, Tham Namthip, and Tham Kaew Phlai Chumphon. The spot of interest is the replica of the Buddha's footprint at Tham Khao Thalu.
Khao Sam Sip Reservoir (อ่างเก็บน้ำเขาสามสิบ) It is under the supervision of the Khao Chakan Development Project (Ban Khao Sam Sip) under a royal initiative.
Khao Chakan Arboretum (สวนรุกขชาติเขาฉกรรจ์) The three mountains are established as Khao Chakan Arboretum under the supervision of the Department of National Park, Wildlife and Flora. The arboretum is a residence of wild monkeys as well as millions of bats flying in long lines in the evening.
Bamboo Ceramic Basketry Village (หมู่บ้านหัตถกรรมจักสานล้อมเซรามิก) The housewives of this village come together and form a group in the form of a cooperative known as Chai Phatthana Women Cooperative.
Namtok Khao Takrup (น้ำตกเขาตะกรุบ) A waterfall. Along both sides, a variety of plants and birds will be found.
Wangnamyen Dairy Cooperative Limited (สหกรณ์โคนมวังน้ำเย็น จำกัด) The second biggest dairy producer in the country, established in 1987. There are more than 1,000 members and more than 30,000 milk cows with a production capacity of 70 tones of raw milk a day.
Namtok Khao Sip Ha Chan (น้ำตกเขาสิบห้าชั้น) A waterfall with a large amount of water flowing throughout the year. The surrounding area is abundant with forest and a variety of birds.
Queen Sirikit Chaloem Phra Kiat Public Water Park (สวนน้ำสาธารณะเฉลิมพระเกียรติ สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าสิริกิติ์ พระบรมราชินีนาถ) A reservoir covering an area of 250 rai.
Tham Nam (ถ้ำน้ำ) A cave with a running stream throughout the year. Inside the cave are stalagmites and stalactites. There is a small waterfall inside the cave.
Chong Klam Bon Wildlife Breeding Station (สถานีเพาะเลี้ยงสัตว์ป่าช่องกล่ำบน) Under the supervision of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Flora, established in 1983 as an initiative the queen, to be a breeding station for rare and endangered animals. It is also a wildlife research station.
Phra Prong Dam (เขื่อนพระปรง) The largest irrigation dam in Sa Kaeo. Most of the area is forest within Pang Sida National Park, which has become flooded, making its scenery beautiful.
King Naresuan the Great's Statue (พระบรมราชานุสาวรีย์สมเด็จพระนเรศวรมหาราช) This statue was erected because in the past, Watthana Nakhon District was once an area where King Naresuan the Great resided during the battles in the east in 1593.
Wat Nakhon Tham (วัดนครธรรม) Within the compound of the temple are interesting attractions. Luangpho Khao, an ancient image of Buddha in a cross-legged posture, cast of lime (white soil from Nong Din Chi). Luangpho Khao's hall houses Buddha relics brought from Wat Pamadunla Racha Maha Wihan, in Ratnapura, Sri Lanka: a replica of Buddha's footprint and the image of Phra Siam Devadhiraj.
Prasat Ban Noi (ปราสาทบ้านน้อย) It is divided into 3 rooms inside: one each in the north and south, while the other is at the centre. Outside the boundary wall lays a pond in the northeast. Inside the boundary wall in the southeast corner stands a construction made of laterite. It is a bannalai, a library. At the centre inside the boundary wall is a prang whose base was made of laterite with a height of 1 metre.
The Replica of Phra Siam Devadhiraj Image (พระสยามเทวาธิราช) The replica was taken to the frontier for protecting soldiers, policemen, and people. Phra Siam Devadhiraj is a sacred image of the people of Aranyaprathet and those in the nearby provinces.
Wat Anubanphot or Khao Noi (วัดอนุบรรพต หรือ เขาน้อย). Inside the temple is a beautiful ordination hall, different from others because of its square base with a width of 11.5 metres, and its pointed traditional Thai spired roof decorated in Thai-style.
Plant Genetic Preservation Project (โครงการอนุรักษ์พันธุกรรมพืช อันเนื่องมาจากพระราชดำริ สมเด็จพระเทพรัตนราชสุดาฯ สยามบรมราชกุมารี) Open as an ecotourism attraction for tourists with guides providing an explanation on various species of plants, herbs as well as the 1,500–2,000 flying foxes.
Prasat Khao Noi Si Chomphu (ปราสาทเขาน้อยสีชมพู) It is believed to have been a Hindu shrine. The prasat is made of bricks without any use of mortar. It comprises 3 brick constructions; namely, the northern prang, the central prang, and the southern wihan. However, only the central one remains in good condition, while only the bases of the northern and the southern ones are left.
Prasat Mueang Phai (ปราสาทเมืองไผ่) The interesting object is an ancient chedi made of bricks into a rectangular shape with 4 porticos engraved in beautiful floral, vine and personage designs.
Talat Rong Kluea or Talat Chaidaen Ban Khlong Luek (ตลาดโรงเกลือหรือ ตลาดชายแดนบ้านคลองลึก) is an important border market on the Thai side. Most products are from the Cambodian border such as brass products, glazed products, ceramics, crockery, clothes, curtains, electronic appliances from Russia, woven products, dried fish.
Aranyaprathet Victory Gate (ประตูชัยอรัญประเทศ) is on the Thai–Cambodian border at Ban Khlong Luek, Tha Kham Sub-district. The gate consists of two posts standing on the opposite sides of the road.
Prasat Sadok Kok Thom (ปราสาทสด๊กก๊อกธม) is a large ancient monument of Sa Kaeo Province. The remains comprise 3 towers, facing towards the east, a moat surrounding its 4 sides, as well as, 2 boundary walls: the outer one made of laterite, while the inner one, sandstone. There was a discovery of 2 stone inscriptions in ancient Khmer script.
Prasat Khao Lon (ปราสาทเขาโล้น) The prasat stands in the compound of Wat Prasat Khao Lon on the summit of Khao Lon, a small hill at the foot of Khao Sakae Krong. It comprises 4 prang towers, but only the central one remains.
Eastern Cultural Fair and Sa Kaew Red Cross Fair (งานสืบสานวัฒนธรรมเบื้องบูรพา และงานกาชาดจังหวัดสระแก้ว) is organised at Wat Sa Kaeo Kindergarten during mid-February every year. There are processions of Sa Kaeo's culture and products, singing contest, exhibitions of the government agencies, various forms of entertainment, and booths presenting various kinds of products.
Cantaloupe Day (วันแคนตาลูป) is held in front of the Aranyaprathet District Office during April every year. It is the period when cantaloupes are harvested. In the fair are cantaloupe floats, cantaloupe and agricultural produce contests, exhibitions of the government authorities, a cantaloupe beauty contest, booths, as well as various forms of entertainment.
Sa Kaeo Establishment Commemoration (งานวันสถาปนาจังหวัดสระแก้ว) is organised approximately in December of every year. In the event, there are cultural and art processions, exhibitions, as well as booths selling products.
Dok Kaeo Blooming Day (งานวันดอกแก้วบานเบื้องบูรพา) is held yearly at the Si Aranyothai Kindergarten and in front of the Aranyaprathet Railway Station around December. In this event, there is a procession of the Dok Kaeo Blooming Day, a light, sound and mixed media presentation, a singing contest, and various forms of entertainment.
Cantaloupes (แคนตาลูป) The distinguishing point of Sa Kaew's cantaloupes is its sweetness and crispness which exceed those of other places.
Silk of Ban Han Sai (ผ้าไหมบ้านหันทราย) is mainly produced at Han Sai Village, Han Sai Sub-district, Aranyaprathet District. It is a hand-woven fabric in traditional patterns with delicacy and uniqueness.
Basketry (เครื่องจักสาน) includes various forms of bamboo fishtraps and containers such as Sai, Krachang, Takhong, and Lop, as well as, sieves, winnowing baskets, and different forms of container baskets.
Bamboo ceramics (จักสานล้อมเซรามิก) are the ceramic and wooden products wrapped with bamboo basketry. The products include vases and ash trays.
Wooden products (ผลิตภัณฑ์ไม้) Wang Nam Yen District has been a famous production venue of Makha Mong - Afzelia xylocarpa - wooden products for a long time. It is also one of the main occupations of the locals as a family business. Most products are made of Makha Mong, Phayung – Siamese Rosewood, Chingchan – Rosewood, Pradu – Burma Padauk, and constructed into furniture such as dining tables, chairs, make-up desks, clocks, tissue boxes, and decorating accessories.
Antiques and used objects (ของโบราณ ของเก่า) are products made of brass, wood, and ceramic. Most of them are replicas of the arts and patterns of ancient objects found at the frontier such as terra cotta Buddha images, god images in various stone prasats.
- I Koi Wine (ไวน์อีโก่ย). Thai herbal wine, a product of Ta Phraya District. I Koi is a kind of wild grape, but its leaves are brown. Its fruit hang in bunches similar to grapes, the younger ones are green or brown, but are not edible. Only the fully ripe ones can be eaten. They are dark brown with a sour taste and high vitamin C.
- Areeya Resort, Ban Klong Sai (Near Pang Sida National Park), ☏ , email@example.com. Small boutique resort in a natural environment. 400-600 baht.