Ban Kut Haet is a village where the Thai Ka Loeng people settled on this flatland along the Phu Phan valley many centuries ago. Instead of farming and growing rice like other villages in Thailand’s Isaan region, the people of Ban Kut Haet are experts in making khram (indigo) fabric, which they have been using since ancient times.
The soil throughout the Phu Phan valley at the source of the Songkhram River is ideal for growing high-quality indigo plants. The name of river indicates the quality of the soil that allows indigo plants to grow thick leaves that are saturated with color. The villagers of Ban Kut Haet collect the indigo leaves before sunrise to ferment them with a natural process, until they are ready to be put into a pot and made into a paste using a very particular method.
Even though the indigo fabric from Sakon Nakhon is famous for its quality and is registered as a product of geographical indication from the province, the production of each piece of fabric has different details, especially when it comes to the cotton wool.
The indigo fabric from Ban Kut Haet uses cotton that has been hand-picked. Even though the cotton wool may look large and uneven, unlike the ones you see in wool factories, the fabric feels soft and different to the touch because of how it’s grown naturally – just like the way their ancestor’s generation did it many years ago. The indigo paste is made using a secret method that has been passed on from generations that produces the saturated indigo color with good quality and a pleasant odor.
Ban Kut Haet also makes Mak Mao, which is juice that uses local red blueberries grown in the area that tastes both sweet and sour, but also slightly bitter, with a high concentration of vitamin C and antioxidants. Mak Mao is a product of geographical indication, another high-quality product of Sakon Nakhon. The Mak Mao juice from Ban Kut Haet, as well as the indigo fabric, are products highlight the importance of nature and how local villagers rely on their surroundings to both live in comfort and earn a living.
The village is also surrounded by a lot of huge trees, especially the massive “Ton Pueng” type which are sometimes wide enough for 15 people to hug together in a circle around it. The homestay accommodation in the community is a good option to experience this impressive community. Feel the cool breeze from Phu Phan, wake up early to give food to the monks, observe the lives of the community and greet the elderly. Later in the day, you can also travel to Phu Phan National Park.
Also in the city of Sakon Nakhon, you may be able to eat charcoaled grilled Pon Yang Kam beef, or any grilled beef with the jaew sauce at Sa Ban Nga restaurant, where the beef is just as tender. If you visit during the weekend, come to pay your respects at Wat Pra That Cherng Chum temple and stroll along the Pa Khram road that is flooded with of indigo fabrics, open from noon to evening.
Travelling to Sakon Nakon by car takes no less than 9 hours. Follow the route from Pak Chong – Nakhon Ratchasima – Ban Pai – Bora Bue – Mahasarakham – Kalasin – Phu Phan – Sakhon Nahon. By train, depart from Bangkok Station Hua Lampong to Udon Thani, and take a tour bus to Sakhon Nakhon. Another great option is to travel by plane, which takes around 1 hour and 10 minutes with flights from Thai AirAsia and Nok Air. Available car rental service companies include Avis, Wattana Car Rental, Nok Car, Kittipong Car Rent and Thai Car For Rent.
The way to Ban Kut Haet has meandrous roads along the valley of Phu Phan with several scenic attractions for you to visit. For instance, the Kong Ping Ngu (meandrous snake-like road), Kham Hom waterfall, Phu Phan national park, Phra Tum Nak Phu Phan are places you can visit nearby. Another interesting place to drop by is the Christian community of Ban Tha Rae, situated along the Han marsh. At Ban Tha Rae you can find beautiful French colonial buildings that have been there for more than 100 years.
Although it is quite hard to find “normal” restaurants to eat nearby, Sakhon Nakhon is swamped by many local food and “food to order” restaurants, such as at Sa Ban Nga restaurant, where you can find the best local food in the area. Moreover, Sakon Nakhon has more products registered under the geographical indication status than any other province in Thailand, and is also famous for their “Ko Kun Pon Yang Kam” type of beef. The cows are raised in the same manner as those in France, giving the meet a tender texture and quality flavor. You can dine in and eat the real Pon Yang Kam steak at the Sahakorn Steakhouse under the tutelage of Pon Yang Kam cooperative, or at some of the region’s other steakhouses built as western style barns, such as Little Farm Hut, which is around 2 km away from the cooperative.
Lumduan Kai Yang Baan Na Kum Tel.042-747-032
Ban Ton Mai Farm Stay Tel.088-319-1936
Ban Ri Phah Wan Tel.098-664-4936
Nana Resort Tel.042-784-099
Hern Him Phu Sakon Nakhon Resort Tel.085-419-6998
Suan Somjai Resort Tel.084-786-9747
Contact the community
Ban Kut Haet Indigo Dye Silk Community Enterprise Tel. 089-570-7427
Khun Wannipa Srimukda (The Learning Center Chairperson) Tel. 097-262-1574
The examples of Lanna art found at the amazing Wat Pra That Lampang Luang and many other temples in the province of Lampang reflect the state-of-the-art craftsmanship of Lampang, that were created in the ancient era, perhaps thanks to the raw materials that can be found in the area.
Currently, Lampang is the capital of the ceramic industry in Thailand. There are many creative projects that have evolved from basic bowls out of China, to pretty ceramic bowls with a thick, white glaze that are now known as the “Charm Tra Kai” (or the rooster bowl), which has now become the symbol of the province.
Even though there are a number of factories that make rooster bowls in Lampang, the most interesting manufacturer is located the village of Sala Bua Bok, not so far from Wat Pra That Lampang. This village has up to 33 ceramic workshops that are clustered together, which gives them an advantage by allowing everyone to cooperate with each other on manufacturing, quality control and product development in the same manner.
Even so, the rooster bowl is a product of geographical indicator, or the ‘GI’ of Lampang Province, which gets its special character from the Lampang kaolin material, which can be found in the landforms of Lampang. Mixing it with gunpowder and other materials, glazing with clear water, and then drawing patterns underneath the glaze creates its distinctive character.
As well as making rooster bowls and other ceramic products, the village is progressing to creative industries, not only by industrial development but to innovate products that reflect the cultural origins, the way of life, and creativity managed by the community itself. By this, they have created the one and only “ceramic spa” in Thailand.
Here, they use a marble substance from a special kind of ceramic in bathtubs with warm water or in a herbal foot spa. The marble ceramic will help to relax your muscles and unwind – especially if you opt for a Thai massage during your visit. Apart from this, you can also find local dishes that have been transformed into cleaner, healthier versions. When you visit, you’ll also learn how to make chlorophyll water, Nam Prik Pak Nueng (chili paste), Kab Mu (pork crackling), Kang Hua Pli (a local curry) and much more!
Fitting for a ceramic village, you will also have the opportunity to paint some of the unfinished ceramics and glaze them, making your very own souvenir to take home from the community.
Travelling to Lampang is very convenient by plane. There are 6 flights per day from Nok Air and Bangkok Airways, and each flight takes around 1 hour and 25 minutes. You can also choose to travel to Lampang by train. Depart the express train from Bangkok Station Hua Lampong at night time and arrive at Nong Wua Tao, Lampang in the early morning. Ban Sala Bua Bok is only 20 minutes away from the city center. Available car rental services include Eddy Rent A Car, A Lampang Group Car Rental, Lampang Car Rent, Lampango and Wii Rent A Car.
Amphur Koh Ka at Wat Pra That Lampang Luang is not so far from the city center, so spare some time to stroll around this impressive city. Visit some more of the famous temples, and check out Saphan Kao or the Rajsadaphisek bridge, which exhibits the street art of Lampang city center. Also, visit the Kad Kong Ta walking street market (weekends only) and the historical Ban Ta Ma-O on the opposite side of the Wang river.
Most places to dine in Amphoe Koh Ka are usually “to order” restaurants. There is a famous Khao Soi restaurant near Wat Phra That Lampang Luang called “Khao Soi Pa Duean”, or try the traditional northern food at “Huan Ngew Dang restaurant”. There is also a place that sells noodles with slow cooked pork right on the opposite side of Government Savings Bank Koh Ka branch.
Kuai Teaw Pee Ple Sala Chai Tel.081-998-3899
Lampang River Lodge Tel.054-336-641
Monaliza Hotel Tel.054-250-311
Enjoy Resort Tel.081-783-7735
Parichat Resort Tel.054-250-017
Lampang Green Garden Resort Tel.062-309-8568
Contact the community
Ban Sala Bua Bok Tourism Group Tel.095-451-3991
Sometimes, new innovations can happen from combining skills, indigenous wisdom and raw materials nearby to use to solve your own problems before such innovations are spread to the outside world and held in high regard. This is what actually happened to this little S’gaw village at Amphur Mae La Noi, Mae Hong Son Province.
Ban Huai Hom is a village on a mountainous terrain with a magnificent view of rice paddies that are stacked with terraces, with the foggy mist of Tew Doi in the distance. But for the villagers here, the backstory behind this breathtaking scenery is how they used to suffer from the extreme cold weather, especially in winter. Warming themselves at a bonfire may have helped, but not as much as having thick, warm clothing protecting against the chilly winds from the top of the mountain.
This once poor village received five sheep from a missionary back in 1957 in the hope that this would enable them to learn how to make wool from fleece. Even though woolen fleeces were not in line with their past traditions, the villagers used their knowledge of woven cotton to weave, sew and combine with the fleece to make a woven fabric that feels like cotton but keeps you warm like a fleece dyed in beautiful colors.
This special fabric has been developed with a better quality type of fleece from the royal patronage. Until this day, the woven cotton-fleece hybrid fabric is an innovation unlike no other, and has been registered as a geographical indicator of the area.
Other than the woven cotton-fleece fabric, Ban Huai Hom has been growing Arabica coffee for more than 40 years. Their produce is usually in fine condition thanks to their high terrain and fertile soil from the upper part of Thanon Thong Chai mountain range. Even though their coffee-making process may not have been particularly advanced in the past, they have improved over the years to now create better tasting coffee, which is becoming popular in some coffee-loving circles throughout the country.
There’s also a simple homestay where you can see the beautiful view of lush, green rice paddy terraces as soon as you wake up. Taste the different blends of coffee and aromatic drips, and warm yourself in a nice and cozy scarf made by that woven cotton-fleece fabric from the royal patronage into a traditional style. Let this be a vacation unlike anywhere else in the world; a simplistic place with many stories, and a spectacular view to remember.
Nok Air offers flights on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays to Mae Hong Son from Bangkok, or fly from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son via Bangkok Airways. However, the journey from Mae Hong Son city center to the community is quite far and sinuous, which is around 135km long or approximately 3 hours drive. To travel to the community by car from Chiang Mai, follow the route of Chiang Mai – Jom Thong – Hot – Mae Sa Riang – Mae La Noi, which is around 280 km long. This route will take you to other interesting attractions that can be found along the way. By train, depart from Bangkok Station Hua Lampong to Chiang Mai Station, and take a tour bus to Mae La Noi. Available car rental services companies include Car Rental, KTY Car Rent and Sammok Car Rent.
Another tourist attraction near the community include: the Kaew Kamol Cave, a beautiful landmark with sparkling calcified stones. If you travel by car from Chiang Mai, find some time visit Wat Phra That Si Jom Thong, Ban Rai Pai Ngam, Op Luang National Park, Bo Kaew Pine Gardens, hilltop viewpoints and Doi Mae Ho, where you can find stunning fields of bright yellow marigolds along both sides of the road in November.
Kafee Huai Hom Pa Tor Kae Homestay Tel.089-854-0914
Hern Tai Resort Maela Noi Tel.053-689-033
Hern Kum Kong Guest House Tel.053-682-416
View Na Resort Tel.089-700-9232
Flying Bird Resort Tel.053-689-325
Mini Guest House Tel.086-658-0809
Contact the community
Khun Maliwan Nakrobprai Tel. 089-555-3900
Khun Angkhana Nakrobprai Tel. 095-448-2350
Every place in the region of Prib Pree, Will always point to a sugar palm tree. This translated stanza from a poetry about Muang Phet, written by Sunthorn Phu in the reign of King Rama III, not only mentions the famous sugar palm trees of region, but also “Tao Tan” – one of the most important places that produced palm sugar. However, the oldest document that mentions palm sugar in Muang Phet dates back to the era of King Naresuan around 500 years ago when he went fishing at the Tung Tanod Luang in Cha Am.
In the study of botany, academics believe that palm sugar did not originate from Southeast Asia, but from India. However, it was many thousands of years ago when the Indians travelled to the Suvarnnabhumi Land (or the land of gold) and then palm sugar appeared across the ancient port cities, or anywhere connected to Brahmanism, as well as in Phetchaburi, or Muang Prib Pree.
The knowledge about palm sugar in Muang Phet, especially on sugar production, has been passed along for many centuries. The fields of Ban Wang Tan west of Muang Phet is home to probably one of the oldest palm sugar manufacturers in Phetchaburi, which has been going since the Ayutthaya Kingdom era. Today, they still produce palm sugar in the traditional way with very little changes. This tradition becomes an activity to see “Tao Tan”, by bringing in the newer generations to learn about making sugar. The first step begins with climbing up a tree to extract the sugar into a bamboo pipe that is glazed with a little bit of pa-yom to prevent the sugar from being spoiled. The sugar is then stewed in a large basin pan for many hours until it becomes thick in consistency, and then molded into shape. Ripe palm fruit can also be smashed to make “Khanom Tan” as well.
The program of Ban Wang Tan Community only takes up the afternoon. Therefore, if you leave from Bangkok in the morning, you can also visit the beautiful Phra Nakorn Khiri Historical Park, Phra Ram Ratchaniwet Palace, Wat Mahathat Worawihan, and Wat Yai Suwannaram where you can try the delicious Moo Dang (red pork) noodles in front of the temple.
Muang Phet is only 120 kilometers away from Bangkok, which is a little more than an hour’s drive. Or, you can opt to travel vintage-style by train where you can get off Phetchaburi Train Station, which takes around 3 hours from the capital. When you arrive, it’s possible to find a car to rent or negotiate with a taxi or ‘songtheaw’ driver so you can conveniently visit some of the best tourist attractions in Phetchaburi city. Available car rental services include Smile Thai Car Rent and Summer Car Rent.
There are so many places to dine in at Amphoe Ban Lad. The most prominent of all is the Pae Yuan restaurant at Soi Tesaban Ban Lad 22 with interesting menus, and also Ki Wa Ban Lad restaurant that serves many spicy cuisines.
If you are in Phetchaburi city center, do not miss the Puang Phet restaurant with menus that include Pla Duk Pad Cha, Pad Poi Sian, and oven baked lobster with vermicelli. If you visit the area along the river, make sure to dine in Ban Rim Nam on Ratchadamri road where you can taste Pla Kao Sam Sian, Kung Nim Nom Sod and traditional chili paste.
Simple but delicious dishes to try include the slow cooked pork noodles in front of Wat Yai and Nuch Kanom Jeen Tod Mun in front of Wat Koi. Also, try to find some time to taste the traditional dessert of Lod Chong Nam Tan Kon Nai Gee on Ratchadamnern road. The most tasty coffee brew nearest to the community is at Doi Chang coffee Phetcahburi along the Phetchakasem road at Tambon Samor Pluea, Amphoe Ban Lad.
Phet Rim Klong Restaurant Tel.085-820-8237
Cha Pu Chaya Cafe Tel.085-222-9977
Ton Tarn Resort Tel.032-490-088
Ban Tung Tel.062-591-5575
Mai Thong Riverside Resort Tel.095-978-2914
Na Phet Resort Tel.081-372-2483
Kan Noo Resort Tel.098-934-2871
Contact the community
Aree Meeli (Chairperson of Ban Wang Tan Community Enterprise) Tel. 083-901-0646
Ban Phon is a big, fertile ‘Phu Thai’ village located to the north of Lam Pao dam. This is the birthplace of the famous Phrae Wa silk, a stunning fabric that is given the name of the “Queen of silk”. The wonder of this is not only how the threads are finely weaved, but also how it’s decorated with delicate, sophisticated patterns that have been done since the ancient era, as well as how its use is applied in countless of ways.
In the year 1977, His Majesty King Rama IX and Her Majesty Queen Sirikit visited Amphur Kam Muang. Upon this royal visit, all of the Phu Thai people were wearing their traditional costumes, with some women wearing a crimson breast cloth. This caught Her Majesty’s eye and interest in the beauty and the exquisite work of the fabric. Furthermore, the Phu Thai people presented the best, most refined Phrae Wa silk as a gift to Her Majesty to be made into a dress. Until this day, Phrae Wa silk is considered one of the fine examples of craftsmanship that is now known worldwide.
Phrae Wa silk is a breath cloth that completes their traditional costume, dyed in crimson. Phrae means fabric, and Wa means long – comprising the word “Phrae Wa”. It is weaved and decorated with classical patterns that are up to the creativity of the designer.
In the present day, Ban Phon has established the Ban Phon Cooperative Phrae Wa Silk Textile Center and has an exhibition to showcase their products and designs on the fabrics. This encourages a lot of creative design using natural dyes and more complicated patterns which becomes the “Phrae Wa Sip Lai”, which uses patterns to tell a story on one single fabric. This is an extraordinary product that takes years to produce, which makes it superb in quality (but with an extravagant price tag, too).
This village is also a learning center for how to weave a Phrae Wa silk; this is so that the state-of-the-art craftsmanship can be passed on from generation to generation, and never be forgotten. The instructor will teach you everything you need to know, from things like how to raise silkworms, how to make and use threads, how to bleach them to white, dyeing techniques, and the method to bind them together and weave them into a piece of fabric.
Another part of Ban Phon’s appeal is how fertile the land is. Situated in the foothills of the mountain range of Phu Phan, the village and surrounding land can grow fresh, chemical-free milk jujube (a jujube coated with fresh milk) that tastes sweet and is crunchy like no other. This is because the soil from Phu Phan has high levels of potassium, so the jujubes grown here can grow as big as apples. The local cuisine here, such as Om Whai and various kinds of mushrooms, is also very tasty as well.
Visitors can choose to stay over at a high-standard homestay with the villagers of Ban Phon, or opt to stay in one of the various private resorts in Amphur Kam Muang, which are equally as convenient.
For the Phu Thai folk of Ban Phon, Phrae Wa fabric is more than just a piece of silk. Every piece comes from extreme dedication, and the traditional patterns that have been derived from their ancestral wisdom are weaved with heart and soul, binding to its owner for the rest of their lives.
Kalasin does not have an airport, but you can travel to the community by plane from Khon Kaen through Nok Air and Thai AirAsia. By car from there, follow the Kalasin – Kam Muang – Ban Phon route. Ban Phon is located to the north approximately 80 km from the Kalasin City Center. By train, depart on the train from Bangkok Station Hua Lampong to Udon Thani, and get off at Kumphawapi Station. Available car rental services include Napa Car Rent, Runway Thailand, Smile Thai Car Rent and Avis.
Travelling by car is always a good choice, because you will get to pass thick forests right along the Lam Pao dam. See the local mushrooms grown everywhere (you can buy some during the rainy season), and also some strange, unknown vegetables that are harvested during the dry season. Also, don’t forget to find some time to visit the Sirindhorn Museum that holds modern and exciting exhibitions on fossils and dinosaurs that were discovered at Phu Kum Kao.
Even though you can travel to Ban Phon all year round, the neighborhood can be very lively and festive in May during the Boon Bung Fai festival. There will be fire parades and shows everywhere – another experience that you should not miss!
Sunshine by Pai Lin Restaurant Tel.087-849-7765
Kum Mork Hotel Tel.043-856-338
Dino Return Resort Tel.089-819-3737, 084-427-0177
Leelawadee Resort Tel.088-330-0595
Sukwan Boutique Homes Tel.095-659-7273
Techit Hill Tel.094-123-5559
Contact the community
Khun Prawit Wongcharoen Tel. 087-107-8109