In a nutshell
Located in the lower part of Northern Thailand, Phetchabun province sits in a fertile river valley with mountain ranges towering both in the west and the east.
Why go to Phetchabun
Mainly overlooked by western tourism, it is a great destination for everyone who want to push themselves out of the beaten track to discover a genuine rural province, with lots of opportunities for nature lovers, an interesting historical park dating back to the Khmer domination period and one of the most incredible temple in the whole country.
Some of the best national parks in Thailand are located in Phetchabun and can be visited all year round including Khao Kho National Park, which is commonly known as ‘’Thai little Switzerland’’ for its wonderful mountain setting and cool weather and Nam Nao National Park roamed by abundance of wild animals. Active travellers will be satisfied with the endless hiking and trekking opportunities suitable to any level of fitness.
Phetchabun town is located roughly 340 km north of Bangkok. Straddling the river valley, this small provincial capital with just 20000 inhabitants is a perfect starting point for exploring the rest of the province with all the major attractions being within two hours driving from town.
When to go to Phetchabun
The rainy season runs from May to October with the worst months in terms of precipitations being August and September. Even if this is the period when forests, rivers and waterfalls are at their best we would recommend you to avoid it especially if you’re planning multi-days treks in the natural parks. Yet the rainy season is a perfect timetime to experience the sea of mist over the mountains almost all day long, so if you are not going to venture into the forests, go without any hesitation.
During November and December everything will still be lush and green and the weather will be constantly dry making your adventures a lot more pleasant and safe. Keep in mind that during the cool season that lasts until February the temperatures will be quite low everywhere but especially in the mountains at night.
April and May will be warmer but still bearable compared to many other places in Thailand.
If you’re in town in January, every year at the end of the month the Sweet Tamarind Fair takes place; the province is famous for production of the sweetest and tastiest tamarind in Thailand and during the fair the local farmers will bring their products to sell and to participate in various contests. Cultural shows and food tasting opportunity will give you a deeper look into the culture and tradition of this part of Thailand.
Where to stay in Phetchabun
Despite being a small capital town far from the usual touristy paths, Phetchabun has enough accommodation options for travellers willing to spend a few nights here. Many of the digs can be found on the main road coming from Bangkok or in some of the nearby side streets. Simple fan rooms are available for less than THB250 while several budget hotels offer better air-con rooms for THB400. There are also a few more upmarket solutions for those with a mid-range budget. Some luxury resorts will let you splurge when you’re visiting Khao Kho National Park.
Where to eat in Phetchabun
Street food will be your main option in Phetchabun with lots of vendors and stalls all around the clock tower that marks the city centre. Make sure you don’t miss the famous khanom jeen, flour noodles served with a gravy sauce and different kinds of vegetables.
While walking around the town you’ll have no problem to find giant sweet tamarinds which are a major source of income for the local community and are sold everywhere.
How to get around Phetchabun
If you want to get the most out of your trip to Phetchabun, we would recommend you to rent a car in Bangkok and drive your way up there. It’s also possible to rent one in town from several car rental shops (expect to pay THB1500 a day). If you feel confident on two wheels, motorbikes are readily available for rent, too, though with serpentine roads, heavy rains during the wet season and long distances between the attractions it is not the solution for everyone.
Motorbike taxies and songthaews (public and private) are available in Phetchabun, but to visit the city you can also rely on your foot. To reach other destinations in the province if you don’t have your own transportation, private songthaews can be hired for the day and local buses are also available.
How to get to and from Phetchabun
The small airport in Petchabun doesn’t have any more regular flights from Bangkok. The closest airport is in Phitsanulok, 165 km away from town.
From Bangkok Morchit Bus Terminal regular buses leave frequently every day to Lom Sak stopping in Phetchabun. The trip takes around 7 hours and tickets start at THB250. The bus station is located a couple of km from the city centre and motorbike taxies are available all day long.
From Phetchabun there are direct buses to several local destinations, the most interesting and useful ones being Phitsanulok, a major transportation hub, and Lom Sak, 40 km north of town from where you can get regular buses to Khon Kaen if you head to the Isaan provinces. Quite surprisingly a daily direct bus to Rayong and Surat Thani is also available if your next destination are the southern islands.
If your making your way up to Phetchabun by car you have a couple of different options; the fastest one is to drive through Saraburi but if you keep the Western route which is just slightly longer you can make a stop in Ayutthaya.
Is Phetchabun a safe place to visit?
Phetchabun is a safe place to travel. You might feel a bit uncomfortable at the beginning because of lack of English speakers and English signs. Western tourists visiting this province are still very few but this will be one of the best parts of your trip. People are nice and friendly and ready to help you whatever you might need.
Two hospitals with good standards are located in town for any emergency.
Remember to bring adequate clothes if you’re planning a trek in the mountains, especially during the winter season when at night-time the temperature can easily drop down close to zero.