Author: Richard Barrow

Weekend Train Trip to Kanchanaburi

One of the few places that I knew about in Thailand before I arrived here was the famous Bridge on the River Kwai. Over the years, I have been to Kanchanaburi about half a dozen times. It is only about two hours or so west of Bangkok. One of the best ways to travel there is by train. And so I was really happy to be invited by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to join them on a special “company outing” to the province by train. But, no ordinary train. They hired three of the special SRT Prestige carriages that included a boardroom so that they could hold their monthly meeting while traveling to Kanchanaburi. These are the photos that I posted live on social media during this trip.

Date of travel: 30th November – 1st December 2019

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End of Buddhist Lent Trip to Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom

Some of the biggest festivals in Thailand take place at the start and end of the three month long Buddhist Lent when monks are supposed to stay in their temples. Over the last three days, I was in Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom in Northeastern Thailand for arguable the best festivals that mark the end of the Buddhist Lent.

Boarding Nok Air DD9402 from Bangkok to Sakon Nakhon in Northeastern Thailand. Flight time is about one hour.

Lert Rot Kaikata Restaurant, Sakon Nakhon

Our first stop in Sakon Nakhon is for breakfast at Lert Rot Kaikata Restaurant on Suk Kasem Road. It seems to be extremely popular. I had Kai Ka Ta which is a pan fried egg and Khanom Bung Yat Sai, a bread roll stuffed with pork. 40 Baht.


Phu Phan Royal Development Study Centre, Sakon Nakhon

This morning we visited Phu Phan Royal Development Study Centre in Sakon Nakhon. It was set up to develop modern and sustainable farming methods and to teach farmers. The general public can visit too.


The Phu Phan Study Centre is most famous for the trio of black animals. Namely Black Chicken, Phu Phan Pig and Tajima Cow. Both the meat and bones of the chicken are black and are apparently good for your health. The cow is also well known for its high quality of meat.

Pon Yang Kham Cooperative, Sakon Nakhon

After meeting the “black cattle” this morning, we then ate some of their high quality meat for lunch at a steakhouse which is part of the Pon Yang Kham Cooperative. They also have a butchers here where you can buy meat to take home.

Kram Sakon, Sakon Nakhon

One of the main products of Sakon Nakhon is cloth that has been dyed indigo (pha yom khram). There are more than 50 groups of weavers in the province that produce indigo dyed cloth for a living.

One such group is a shop called Kram Sakon that not only sells the finished product but has workshops where you can try your hand at creating patterns on indigo dyed cloth. This costs from 300 Baht.


The Wax Castle Festival Parade in Sakon Nakhon

Sabunnga restaurant in Sakon Nakhon

Dinner tonight was at Sabunnga restaurant (สะบันงา) in Sakon Nakhon. All very good. Recommended.


Good morning from Sakon Nakhon in Northeastern Thailand. I’m at Phra That Choeng Chum for an early morning merit making ceremony to mark the end of the three month long Buddhist Lent.

Phra That Choeng Chum

Early morning merit making at Phra That Choeng Chum in Sakon Nakhon to mark the end of the three month long Buddhist Lent.

Wat Phra That Choeng Chum is a sacred icon for Sakon Nakhon. The stupa is 24 meters high and is decorated with 3.75 kilograms of gold. The stupa is built around four Buddha footprints.


Lert Rot Kaikata Restaurant in Sakon Nakhon

Breakfast again at Lert Rot Kaikata Restaurant in Sakon Nakhon. I had Kai Ka Ta, Khanom Bung Yat Sai and a strong coffee.

Wat Tham Pha Daen, Sakon Nakhon

Wat Tham Pha Daen is a well known meditation temple in Sakon Nakhon province. Highlights include Buddha images carved out of sandstone, replicas of Buddha footprints, and a giant golden rock stupa which symbolizes Mount Sumeru.


Wat Phrathat Phanom Woramahawihan, Nakhon Phanom

Wat Phrathat Phanom Woramahawihan in Nakhon Phanom province is the site of an ancient stupa, which has been the spiritual centre of the people in various communities for a long time. The stupa contains a relic of the Lord Buddha and is worshipped by those born on a Sunday.

The original Phrathat Phanom stupa collapsed in 1975 during a heavy rainstorm and has been rebuilt since. The present one is 53.60 meters high and 12.33 meters wide.

Kritsada Rimkhong restaurant, That Phanom, Nakhon Phanom

A delicious Isaan lunch at Kritsada Rimkhong restaurant (ครัวกฤษดาริมโขง) along the Mekong River in That Phanom, Nakhon Phanom.

That Phanom township, Nakhon Phanom

Drone photos of That Phanom township in Nakhon Phanom. The town is on the banks of the Mekong River. On the other side is Lao PDR.

Wat Phrathat Renu Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom

The stupa at Wat Phrathat Renu Nakhon in Nakhon Phanom contains a relic of the Lord Buddha and is of importance to people born on a Monday. The stupa was built in 1918 and is based on the original Phrathat Phanom but smaller. It is 35 meters high.


Drone photos of the town around Wat Phrathat Renu Nakhon in Renu Nakhon district of Nakhon Phanom province.

Nakhon Phanom Riverfront

Sabaidee @ Nakhon Phanom Restaurant

A delicious dinner at Sabaidee @ Nakhon Phanom (สบายดี@นครพนม).


Illuminated Boat Procession in Nakhon Phanom

For some reason, I thought the illuminated boat procession in Nakhon Phanom would be electric lights. But no, each one is lit by hand. You can smell the fumes. Really amazing sight. These one already look beautiful but they are not fully lit yet.

The Nakhon Phanom Illuminated Boat Procession (งานประเพณีไหลเรือไฟ จ.นครพนม) is really beautiful and a lot of fun. I’m glad I came to experience it for the first time. I will certainly come back again.


Good morning from Nakhon Phanom province in Northeastern Thailand. This is the third and last day of my trip. The view from my hotel room is of the Mekong River and Lao beyond. The weather has been really great and you can’t beat a temperature of only 25°C for comfort.

Up close I could see that the lights were in cans of iced coffee. They used paraffin and a wick. Last night, each one had to be lit individually. I’m told there are up to 17,000 lights on one display. Everything is taken away and recycled wherever possible.

Phaya Si Sattanakharat, Nakhon Phanom

The major landmark in Nakhon Phanom is Phaya Si Sattanakharat, which is a 15-meter high seven-headed naga snake. It’s alongside the Mekong River.


Former Governor’s Residence, Nakhon Phanom

The former Governor’s Residence in Nakhon Phanom has now been turned into a museum about the province & the Illuminated Boat Procession. The architecture has Western colonial influence. Entrance is 50B and is open from Wed-Sun.


Saint Anna’s Church Nong Saeng, Nakhon Phanom

Saint Anna’s Church Nong Saeng in Nakhon Phanom is situated along the Mekong River. The present building dates back to 1926.


National Library, Nakhon Phanom

The National Library in Nakhon Phanom is another beautiful Colonial style building. It was built in 1919 and used to be the former city hall. It was damaged in 1940 during a conflict with the French.


Cycle Path and Tunnel

Nakhon Phanom is an easy town to cycle around as it is very flat. They also have cycle paths along the river from the town towards the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. This section is a 300 meter long “tunnel” that goes around a navy base. You can rent bicycles in the town.

R-Cafe, Nakhon Phanom

Today we had Vietnamese food for lunch at R-Cafe in Nakhon Phanom.


Ban Na Chok, Nakhon Phanom

Just outside of Nakhon Phanom town, there is a Thai-Vietnamese Friendship Village at Ban Na Chok. Vietnamese first emigrated here a hundred years ago during the reign of King Rama III to escape from French persecution.


The most famous habitant of this village was Ho Chi Minh who lived here from 1928-1929. This afternoon we visited the Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex that has a statue of the man and a replica of his home.

The Third Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge, Nakhon Phanom

The Third Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge (สะพานมิตรภาพ ไทย-ลาว แห่งที่ 3) over the Mekong River connects Nakhon Phanom Province in Thailand with Thakhek, Khammouane in Lao. The bridge is 1,423 metres long and 13 metres wide and was opened to traffic on 11th November 2011.


Khun Tuanjai Watermelon Farm, Nakhon Phanom

A brief stop at Khun Tuanjai Watermelon Farm (ไร่คุณเตือนใจ) in Tha Uthen District of Nakhon Phanom for a snack of organic seedless watermelons and a hot coffee.


Nua de Restaurant, Nakhon Phanom

Our final meal was at Nua de (ร้านนัวเดอ) in Nakhon Phanom. A good way to finish the trip.


That’s a wrap on my three-day festival trip to Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom in Northeastern Thailand. I hope you enjoyed my photos and I’ve inspired you to visit.

Local Experiences in Suphanburi and Bangkok

The face of tourism in Thailand is changing. Repeat visitors in particular are looking for something different. And they are finding it in second tier provinces, ones that get less than 4 million visitors a year, and in community tourism. What is becoming popular now is community based tourism. The best way to get a local experience is at a homestay. But if your Thai isn’t that good then you might to try tour platforms such as Take Me Tour and Local Alike. During this trip we visited the Bang Mae Mai community in Suphanburi and the Kudeejeen community in Bangkok.

Date of travel: 22-23 September 2019

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Thailand Village Academy Showcase Trip to Ban Chiang

Over the weekend, I was invited on a showcase trip by Thailand Village Academy to Ban Chiang cultural tourism community in Udon Thani. Out of twenty-two communities chosen for this project nationwide (see list here), Ban Chiang came first for its unique culture, local wisdom and heritage, together with skilled community masters who are ready and willing to share their knowledge.

Date of travel: 7-8 September 2019

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Me, Myself & Thailand trip to Nan Province

Over the weekend, I was invited as a member of the media to observe a product testing trip to Nan province for an upcoming guidebook called “Me, Myself & Thailand’ for solo female travelers. As well as solo female bloggers on the trip, there were also representatives of travel agencies and tour operators. The free guidebook will be released at the end of September 2019 and features six destinations in Thailand: Bangkok, Phuket, Nan, Chiang Mai, Kanchanaburi and Nong Khai. I will blog more information about this over on as soon as it becomes available. Click here for a google map list of the places that we visited.

Date of trip: 24-25 August 2019

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Sunflower trip to Lopburi Province

This weekend I went on a two-day trip at the invitation of TAT Lopburi. The highlights were the train trip across the lake at Pasak Jolasid dam and the sunflower fields. More information about the train trip on my blog. For the sunflowers, it isn’t easy to visit as they are often in the middle of nowhere. However, some guest houses in Lopburi offer day trips that include the sunflower fields.

Date of travel: 2-3 December 2018

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Cool Season Trip to Mae Hong Son

This week, I was invited to visit Mae Hong Son Province in Northern Thailand. Although this was my third trip there this year, I really enjoyed myself. And I would go again. Still plenty more to see. This time I packed a fleece jacket as the evenings were very chilly in the hills. The highlights were meeting ethnic people, wildflowers and the sea of mist.

Date of trip: 25-28 November 2018

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