Khon Kaen Tourist Attractions
The town of Khon Kaen about 380 km (236 mi.) north-east of Bangkok is in the area where the relatively infertile limestone of the Khorat Plateau gives way to the green belt in the north. It is north-eastern Thailand's second most important center for trade and administrative services after Nakhon Ratchasima, and has the only university in the region. Khon Kaen's economic progress owes much to the Friendship Highway (Highway 2), put in by the Americans as an important supply route for their troops stationed in north-eastern Thailand during the Vietnam War. Its main attraction is its famous museum, apart from which it has little else to offer.By car: highways 1/2 from Bankgkok (440 km (273 mi.)); from Nakhon Ratchasima 190 km (118 mi.)); Route 12 from Phitsanulok (300 km (186 mi.)).By train: station on the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima-Udon Thani line (7 hours, 450 km (280 mi.) from Bangkok).By air: daily flights from Bangkok.
The museum, on the northern edge of town, contains some of the sensational finds from Ban Chiang, including bronze and ceramic vessels decorated with various geometric patterns and flower and animal motifs. The pieces date from 4500 to 3500 bc but their precise origin is uncertain. One of the Ban Chiang burials is also on show. The ground floor holds a fine collection of Thai folk art as well as prehistoric artifacts, plus changing exhibitions.The sandstone sema boundary markers on the ground floor (near the garden exit) and in the gardens depict scenes in relief from the life of Buddha such as his return home to his family after enlightenment. One relief shows his wife caressing Buddha's feet with her hair, while his son points to the sublime presence. Another shows a ceremony, possibly a wedding, while the God Indra can be seen in another. Some of the sema are from Muang Fa Daed and they are finely carved in the 8th to 10th c. Dvaravati style, mixed with traces of Khmer influence. There are also some interesting Dvaravati sculptures and Chian Saen bronzes.East of the museum is an idyllic palm-fringed lake, with a restaurant.
A long lake, stretching for 80 km (50 mi.), Ubol Ratana holds the water used to irrigate the infertile soil of the surrounding area. 26 km (16 mi.) north-west of Kon Khaen, it is named after the king's eldest daughter who renounced her right to the throne and went to live abroad.