Tag - blossom

Ubon, Thailand

Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand
Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

Ubon Ratchathani Province is located in the southeast of the Isan region of Thailand. The capital city bears the same name, but is more commonly known as Ubon. The name means Royal Land Lotus Blossom in the Thai language and refers to the exceptional natural beauty of the area.

The city, which sits on the northern bank of the Mun River, was originally founded in the late 18th century by Lao immigrants and still retains many aspects of Lao style and culture. For an insight into the rich and interesting history of this area, pay a visit to the Ubon National Museum.

Ubon Ratchathani is best loved for its stunning national parks. No visit is complete without seeing the spectacular Phu Chong Na Yoi National Park, which covers an area of 687 square kilometers, featuring stunning views from the cliffs at Pha Pheung and the huge Bak Tew Yai Waterfall.

Another area of great beauty is the Kaeng Tana National Park and don’t miss the Pha Taem National Park with its pre-historic cliff paintings showing scenes of fishing, rice farming, figures of people and animals.

There are many beautiful waterfalls in the area, and it is possible to swim in the clear waters of most. Some of the best include Nam Tok Saeng Chan, Nam Tok Thung Na Muang and the magnificent Nam Tok Soi Sawan.

It goes without saying that there are many interesting temples to explore, embodying design features of both Lao and Thai temple art. Look out for Wat Tung Si Muang, Wat Supattanaram, the rectangular chedi of Wat Phra That Nong Bua, Wat Si Ubon Rattanaram and many others.

Koh Hat Wat Tai is a small island in the Mae Nam Mun which is great for swimming and sunbathing. Another attraction in the area are the Warin Chamrap District Temples. These are two temples where people from all over the world gather to study meditation. Wat Nong Pa Phung is reserved for Thai people, while Wat Pa Nanachat is for non-Thais.

The silk weaving village of Wat Nong Bua is located 18 kilometers from the city and makes a great day trip, while many people travel to ride the Kaeng Saphue rapids or take a boat trip on the turbulent white waters.

Ubon has a large night market, which is a great place to get a cheap meal and buy some local produce.

If you are in the area during the festival of awk hansaa in July, make sure you stay for the Candle Festival, when processions of wax religious images are carried through the city on floats.

Saraburi Sunflower Fields

Saraburi Sunflower Fields
Saraburi Sunflower Fields

If you pass through Saraburi province at this time of year (around December), you will notice something beautifully unusual in the scenery. Blurs of yellow and orange, bright colours popping out of the green farming countryside, will entice the curious traveller to stop and take a closer look – and believe me, this rural attraction is well worth stopping for.

Starting in November of each year, the province of Saraburi, as well as surrounding central provinces, hit a sunflower high season. The rural landscape fills with vibrant yellow flowers, 72 square kilometres of them, to be exact. As the fields blossom, the province takes measures to ensure that tourists who come to experience this sight will be pleased. In addition to the flowers, there are markets and activities set up on the roadside to offer more entertainment after the fields have been explored. This makes Saraburi a popular destination for Thais on car trips, and a fantastic surprise for the traveller who stumbles upon it.

Being a city girl by nature, the last sunflowers I saw were in a Van Gogh print in a guesthouse bathroom. And so, the sight of man-sized sunflowers, big and blossoming and tall enough to make me feel comparatively short for the first time since arriving in Asia, was surreal; stunning in a giddy, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” kind of way.

The sunflowers are more than picturesque, though you will easily fill rolls of film while walking through the fields. The scene of vibrant yellow blossoms, with lush palm trees and cool granite mountains in the backdrop, is downright beautiful. Also, the fields are large and uncrowded enough to explore in peace, with the opportunity to study the flowers up-close.

The busier fields offer booths of local wares at the entrance, perfect for souvenir-hunters. I would recommend bypassing the sunflower-print blouses and umbrellas and going straight to the roasting sunflower seeds. Here you can sample the freshest of sweet and salted varieties, still warm from the cooking pan (20 baht per bag).

Some fields also offer elephant rides, a highly recommended experience, where sightseers can perch in a basic wooden seat and enjoy the bumpy ride through the fields, led by friendly guides on small but healthy-looking elephants (100 baht for 2-3 people). 

Saraburi province is north of Bangkok, an easy 2.5 hour drive on Highway 1. While the sunflowers aren’t located in the city of Saraburi itself, the province has placed sunflower posters and signs on the major roads, offering directions. The people of the region are friendly and more than willing to offer their personal tips for the best sunflower fields. Just be sure to bring plenty of film!

Anne Merritt is Canadian and has an English Literature degree. She has worked as a journalist for a university newspaper. She is currently living in Ayutthaya as an ESL teacher and is sharing her experience of Thailand with KhaoSanRoad.com.