Kalasin is best known for its archaeological treasures and cultural significance including the largest concentration of dinosaur fossils in Thailand, and certainly lives up to its provincial slogan of “Fa Daet Song Yang ancient city, Pong Lang folk music, Phu Thai culture, Phrae Wa silk, Pha Sawoei Phu Phan, Lam Pao River, and million-year dinosaurs.”
Here’s are some of the top things to do in Kalasin.
Explore a land before time when dinosaurs roamed Isan.
Sirindhorn Dinosaur Museum
Thailand’s first dinosaur fossil museum, the Sirindhorn Dinosaur Museum, is located in Sahatsakhan district. It was built following the discovery of dinosaur fossils at Phu Kum Khao, which is regarded as the complete herbivore dinosaur site in the kingdom.
The Museum has eight different zones that offer a glimpse back in time to the very origins of the Earth, the universe and of humans, the Mesozoeic Era of dinosaurs and reptiles, the Zenoloeic Era of mammals and the process of excavating and identifying archaeological specimens.
Among the fossils on display are those of the Phuwiangosaurus sirindhornae, a new dinosaur species unearthed in Thailand, Psittacosaurus sattayaraki and Siamosaurus suteethorni. There are also lifelike, full-size replicas of Tyrannosaurus Rex and other dinosaur species. (*see more photos of the museum at the end of the article.)
Phu Faek Forest Park
The rolling hills and lush forest landscape of the Phu Faek Forest Park in Na Khu district is indicative of Kalasin’s picturesque scenery. Large trees; such as, Makha (Afzeliaxylocarpa), Taengwood Balau and Red Meranti fill the forest, and squirrels, tree shrews, civets and hares also call it home.
The Park is also famous for its massive dinosaur footprints and is often referred to as Jurassic Park, and it is a dinosaur bone excavation site. As the story goes, in 1996, a family noticed strange footprints in the middle of a rock terrace. Thai geologists then came to survey the site, and discovered several footprints belonging to carnivorous dinosaurs, believed to have lived in the area 140 million years ago. At present, four footprints can be seen clearly.
Explore Kalasin’s historical landmarks
Mueang Fa Daet Song Yang
Mueang Fa Daet Song Yang in Kamalasai district is an ancient town believed to have been a flourishing settlement during the Dvaravati period with records referring to either the 8th-10th centuries or the 13th-15th centuries.
The town is sometimes called Fa Daet Song Yang, or some people call it Mueang Sema due to its geographical appearance that resembles Sema – a boundary stone. The town is surrounded by earthen mounds with a length of about five kilometres.
Evidence for Mueang Fa Daet Song Yang are religious ruins including Phrathat Yakhu, an ancient chedi built from bricks with the construction history of three kingdoms.
From the three architectural style combination, it is assumed that Phrathat Yakhu was built during the Dvaravati Kingdom. Then, it was ruined as time passed. During the Ayutthaya Kingdom, an octagonal-shaped chedi was built on top of the old one and during the Rattanakosin Kingdom, the bell-shaped body and the tip were added. The chedi is surrounded by boundary markers carved with bas reliefs of the Buddha’s story. Locals believe that it houses the relic of a well-respected monk.
Explore Kalasin’s cultural treasures
Ban Phon Phrae Wa Silk Weaving Group
Kalasin is famous for the beautiful handwoven Phrae Wa silk, which is unique to the Phu Thai minority. Coming in gorgeous colours like red, pink, purple, blue and green, Phrae Wa silk is considered a rare handicraft and has earned support and praise from Her Majesty Queen Regent Sirikit, The Queen Mother.
The Ban Phone Phrae Wa Silk Weaving village in Kham Muang district is the centre of Phrae Wa silk, which is nationally well-known as the “Queen of Silk”. “Phrae” means cloth, “Wa” means the long measurement of cloth, and altogether means the woven cloth that is one wa long or one arm’s length.
Ban Khok Kong Phu Thai Cultural Village
Ban Khok Kong, a Phu Thai village in Kuchinarai district, is a learning centre of the Phu Thai ethnic culture and tradition, including Phu Thai shirt handicrafts, bamboo wickerwork, Khan Mak Beng needlework (a kind of Bai Sri tray made of banana leaves), and folk musical and cultural performances.
Explore Kalasin’s unique festivals
Makha Bucha Day celebration at Phrathat Yakhu
One of Thailand’s most unique Makha Bucha Day celebrations is held annually at Phrathat Yakhu. This year’s event already took place from 1-10 February, 2020. Usually held for 10 days, highlights include a spectacular procession and display of over 1,000 traditional Isan flags or ‘thung’, along with rituals to worship the stupa that includes daily traditional dances by a large number of dancers – this year, there were 2,563 dancers at the opening ceremony, lighting of 10,000 candles, and a night procession to worship the Lord Buddha on Makha Bucha Day.
The Rice Ear Castle, Bun Koon Lan tradition
“The Rice Ear Castle” is the highlight of the annual Bun Kun Lan tradition of the Ban Ton community in Mueang district. This year’s event already took place from 9-12 February, 2020. Local people gather rice ears from their farm to build a beautifully decorated castle, which takes around three months to complete. The rice ears castle is used to perform the rice offering ritual in the Bun Kun Lan tradition, which is held after harvesting to worship the Goddess of Rice or Phra Mae Phosop for a bountiful harvest. The event takes place annually at Wat Sawettawan Wanaram.
Bang Fai Talai Lan Festival
Ban Kutwa is also home to Thailand’s one and only Bang Fai Talai Lan Festival, taking place annually around May to mark the start of the rainy season. The festival stands out as many of the rockets are launched as part of huge cartwheel-like structures up to six metres in diameter. The highlight is the rocket display, which sees local people compete to launch their rocket to the highest altitude. Legend says this is to warn the sky king, Phaya Thaen, of his obligations to the Lord Buddha and to remind him to send the annual rains.
Bun Khao Sak or Bun Khao Pradap Din tradition
Ban Kutwa Phu Thai Cultural Village in Kuchinarai district is a learning centre of Malai Mai Phai (bamboo garland) handicraft work. Local people weave pieces of bamboo into flower or tree mobiles to hang items like fruits, vegetables, snacks, and even money as offerings to monks during the Bun Khao Sak or Bun Khao Pradap Din or Bun Malai merit-making traditions unique to Isan. The traditions take place twice a year, in the ninth lunar month (August) and the 10th lunar month (September).
Explore Kalasin’s temples, natural attractions, local handicrafts and culinary delights
Temples – among Kalasin’s notable temples and religious attractions are the revered Luangpho Ong Dam Buddha image at Wat Klang in Mueang district; Phra Mahathat Chedi Phuttha Nimit at Wat Phuttha Nimit (Phu Khao) in Sahatsakhan district, a stupa with the golden top weighing 30 kilogrammes enshrining the Buddha’s relics from Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Myanmar, and Lan Xang style architecture at Wat Wang Kham in Khao Wong district including the principal Buddha image of Luangpu Wang Kham.
Natural attractions – Lam Pao Dam, which is built across the Pao and Huai Yang Rivers and is home to the popular Dok Ket Beach; Lam Pao Wildlife Conservation Development and Promotion Station (also known as Suan Sa-on) where animals like rare red gaur, monkeys and birds inhabit a natural open zoo environment; Pha Sawoei on the Phu Phan Mountain range, where in 1954, King Rama IX the Great and Her Majesty Queen Regent Sirikit, The Queen Mother visited the cliff and had lunch here; hence, the place’s name (“Sawoei” is a royal term for eating, “Pha” means cliff); and Famue Daeng Cave on Pha Phueng Mountain which boasts ancient red palm paintings.
Local handicrafts – apart from Phrae Wa silk, Kalasin is known for various kinds of local products and handicrafts; such as, Matmi silk, Khit textile, basketry products, and reed mats that also come with dinosaur patterns, as well as pounded pork and beef.
Culinary delights – the spicy, sweet, sour and salty that represent the Isan kitchen table can also be enjoyed in Kalasin, including the ever-popular Kai Yang (grilled chicken), Som Tam (green papaya salad) and a whole range of spicy dishes. For a sweet tooth, there is Khao Chi (grilled sticky rice with egg) and Khanom Dae-Nga (rice cake with nuts and sesame seeds). In some areas, there are snacks in dinosaur shapes, a fun reminder that visitors are visiting “The Land of Dinosaurs”.
By car: Kalasin is 519 kilometres from Bangkok. Take the route Bangkok–Saraburi–Nakhon Ratchasima (Highway No. 2) until you reach Ban Phai district of Khon Kaen province. Continue on Highway No. 23 and 213 and Highway No. 209 (Maha Sarakham-Kalasin).
By bus: There are air-conditioned and ordinary bus services daily from Bangkok to Kalasin. More details can be obtained at the Bangkok Bus Terminal (Mo Chit).
By train: Take the train from Bangkok to Khon Kaen, then catch a bus from Khon Kaen to Kalasin, a distance of 75 kilometres. The State Railway of Thailand has rapid train, express train and air-conditioned sprinter train services.
By plane: Kalasin has no airport, but there are airports in nearby provinces – Khon Kaen, Udon Thani or Sakon Nakhon – with daily domestic flights from Bangkok. Then catch a bus to Kalasin.