If there is one thing Thailand doesn’t lack, it is its beautiful destinations and endless sight-seeing opportunities that make for great photos. A Thai province with seemingly endless beautiful places worth visiting is Sa Kaeo, in the eastern part of Thailand. Sa Kaeo is rich in both modern and historical sites.
Sa Kaeo’s official seal displays a rising sun over the Prasart Kao Noi Si Chompoo, which is an important Khmer temple. The province’s motto is “The frontier of the east, beautiful forests and splendid waterfalls, plenty of ancient civilizations, and the commercial venue between Thailand and Cambodia.” A lot to say in one breath, but it is an apt description.
Interestingly, Sa Kaeo happens to be one of the youngest provinces in the kingdom, having been a province for just twenty-seven years. It came about in 1993 when six districts, Sa Kaeo, Khlong Hat, Wang Nam Yen, Aranyaprathet, Ta Phraya, and Watthana Nakhon of Prachinburi were elevated to provincial status.
The province is bordered by Nakhon Ratchasima, Chachoengsao, Chanthaburi, Buriram, and Prachinburi. It also borders Cambodia and has a fair amount of Khmer speaking people who inhabit the neighbouring areas. Sa Kaeo’s northern part is a lush mountain range with ebullient green forests containing large quantities of wildlife. You will also find the famous Dangrek Mountains that are rich in sandstone and evergreen forests and form a natural boundary for the country.
However, the southern border of Sa Kaeo is a different story altogether. The deforested Cardamom Mountains characterise it. The mountains are given their name because cardamom and pepper grow naturally and are harvested for commercial use. The mountains are also fascinatingly famous because they contain rough-hewn log coffins rumoured to have belonged to past Cambodian royalty from the fifteenth century. The place is equally infamous for being the hiding place of many Khmer Rouge militants who would flee to seek shelter after the Vietnamese forces drove them out.
Sa Kaeo also boasts not one but two national parks. The first one is called Pang Sida which has been listed as a UNESCO heritage site. Among the wildlife worth seeing are the critically endangered Siamese crocodile, the white elephant, the leopard, the white-handed gibbon, and the Malayan sun bear.
The other national park in the area is Ta Phraya. This park is primarily known for its incredibly unique formations of rock called “Lalu.” A Lalu formation is an erected development of eroded rocks that are developed through erosion and weathering. The park’s history is equally impressive: before its founding in 1993, the area housed a refugee camp for Cambodian escapees from Pol Pot’s criminal regime. The park includes wildlife as diverse as the common muntjac, the sambar deer, the langur monkey, the palm civet, as well as the fishing cat and the banteng.
But beyond geographical tourism, Sa Kaeo has a number of other places worthy of attention. The Prasart Kao Noi Si Chompoo is one Sa Kaeo’s most important sites, attracting many visitors and followers. It is believed to have originated as a Hindu shrine and is divided into three brick constructions separated by the northern prang, the central prang, and the southern wihan. Of these ruins, the sole one to remain in a more or less fundamental condition is the central one, while the others on the northern and southern faces only have their bases left.
Another interesting locale in Sa Kaeo is Wat Nakhon Tham. Here you’ll find sights such as Luangpho Khao within the Temple compound, comprisied of a lime statue of an ancient Buddha sitting cross-legged. Prasat Baan Noi is equally impressive, as it is subdivided into three southern, northern and central rooms, within which lie constructions made out of laterite.
The statue of King Naresuan the Great is another popular attraction. It is here where the illustrious monarch resided and led many of his heroic battles.
Sa Kaeo is also a commercial hub for markets and traditional shopping due to its neighbour Cambodia. The proof of this is the market Talat Chaidaen Baan Khlong Luek, also known as the Talat Rong Kluea. Products from across the border can be purchased with ease. These include ceramics, brass items, glazed products, clothes, crockery, and food products such as dried fish as well as imports from places such as Russia in the form of electrical appliances.
Some of the most delicious cantaloupes in the country can be found in Sa Keao, distinguished by its sweetness and the delicacy of its crispy texture. I Koi Wine is another favorite item, a Thai herbal wine, it is made from the I Koi grapes which grow in the wild here.
Sa Kaeo has many entertaining festivals that should not be missed. The most delicious one, Cantaloupe Day, is in April and is held in veneration of Sa Kaeo most flavourful fruit. Beauty contests, agricultural product competitions, and much more take place.
Another fantastic festival is Dok Kaeo Blooming Day, in December with spectacles of singing, dancing, and mixed media contests. A similar festival, The Eastern Cultural Fair, takes place each February with singing contests and entertainment booths.
Overall, it is easy to see why Sa Kaeo is a great province to visit with much to do, see, and many picture-worthy opportunities.