Phu Phan Mountains

Our Day Trip started in Phueng Daet off AH 16/Hwy 12. I planned to drive through the Phu Phan Mountains, drop into Ban Phon Prae Wa Silk Weaving Village and then visit Sirindhorn Dinosaur Museum at Non Buri on the way back to Khon Kaen.

We made our way along Route 2292 before turning west at Ban Kuan Lueng Dong and heading along the Bang Sai river valley toward the Phu Phan Mountains. Much of the Phu Phan Mountains is National Park.

Phu is the word for mountain in Isaan (and Laos) whereas Khao is used in central and southern Thailand (cf Khao Kho, Khao Luang), and Doi in northern Thailand (Doi Inthanon, Doi Suthep). So although probably pleonastic ‘phu’ is commonly used in co-location with ‘mountain’.

The Bang Sai river valley clearly provided access through the mountains as settlement expanded in days gone by. Today, for 3.5 km of its length, the river forms the border between Mukdahan Province and Sakhon Nakhon Province. It eventually flows into the Mekong River at Bang Sai, just north of the Friendship Bridge in Mukdahan.

Just before we turned onto Route 2339 we saw some signs for a coffee shop that were obviously new. Perfect timing.

Route 2330 is  an interesting drive through the mountains. Numerous tight bends, a good surface, and well signed.

We made a small diversion at Chan Phen.

The way across the plain between the two blocks of mountains to Sang Kho is deep in the south of Sakhon Nakhon Province.

The fertile river valley supports a lot of agriculture.

Sang Kho heralds another interesting mountain route – one that is characterised by 90 bends (one a full 180 degree switchback and seven tight turns through 180 degrees). Theenanon Road is a great drive.

About half way along the drive through the mountains we crossed into Kalasin Province and not long after stopped at Sawoei Cliff Viewpoint.

A food vendor/fruit seller is just about mandatory at any Thai POI. Merch at the larger places.

At this Viewpoint a family was selling wild almonds and various fruits, drinks and other food. There are numerous trees known as wild almond around the world. The one in Isaan is Livingia malayana, prized for its seeds (the ‘wild almonds’) and its wood which is used in construction and for charcoal. Given it was a tourist stop location the wild almonds were reasonably priced.

We left the mountains at Ban Kaeng Ka-Am and eventually headed north-west through farmland to Kham Muang.

Route 2253 took us south to Ban Phon Prae Wa Silk Weaving Village. We visited some of the private looms in the sois of the village.

This village enterprise operates on a cooperative basis with works from individual craftspeople being sold in a number of retail outlets in the main street.

Leaving the silk weaving village we headed south to the Sirindhorn Museuem, a previously visited, quality destination. Unlike our previous visit when there was little difference in the entry price for Thais and foreigners, the overt racism of Thai bureaucracy can’t help itself. Admission for Farangs is now triple that for Thais.  Not quite the extortionate rate charged at many Thai National Parks (at which, it is little known, the entry points are operated by third party private enterprises) but still innately unfair.

The Dinosaur Museum is a rich blend of science, education and entertainment – a feast for the eyes and food for the brain. It has appeal for children as well as adults.

More images of this world-class interpretive center.

Instead of returning to Khon Kaen via Kalasin I decided to check out the huge Lam Pao Dam and the Thepsuda Bridge that crosses it. Well worth the detour.

Around Huai Yang roadworks caused a minor detour but, that apart, the drive back to Khon Kaen was uneventful with less of the arrogant, crazy drivers than usual.


Phu Phan Mountains Road Trip

334 kilometres.

One day.

Mukdahan, Sakon Nakhon, Kalasin, Khon Kaen

Download GPX File
11030-Phu Phan Mountains


© Kim Epton 2023
866 words, 28 photographs, 3 images.

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