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.
Phetchabun station guide
Phetchabun - Bus
Situated in the heart of Thailand some 346kms from Bangkok on the banks of the Pa Sak River, Petchabun is a historic town of around 25,000 people. Regular daily buses departing Bangkok’s Mochit Terminal en route to Lom Sak stop at Petchabun’s bus station, which is located in the northeast of the town on the south side of the river.
There is a small airport around 30kms north of the town that offers flights, although not daily, to Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport. However, for travellers looking to get to other parts of the country, buses are the main option. Services to nearby Nakhon Sawan, Phitsanulok, Phichit and Khon Kaen are also available regularly, although you may have to transfer at Lom Sak en route.
The bus station in Phetchabun is on Petcha Rat Alley and is similar to other small town stations in Thailand; there are plenty small eateries and places to buy snacks in the vicinity as well as a 7-Eleven at the entrance to the station. The most common way of getting around town is on motor trishaws and motorcycle taxis, both of which can be found at the bus terminus.
Phetchabun is not on the tourist trail, although it is rich in history given that historians believe it was established by both the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya kingdoms. There are several nice temples dotted around the town, and the surrounding mountainous area is scenic and worth taking a drive through.
Lom Sak - Bus
Lom Sak is a district in the province of Phetchabun. This small town is located on the main road between Khon Kaen and Phitsanulok. The bus station is located to the south of town around 10kms from the centre. A tuk-tuk into town should cost around 80 baht.
There are daily buses from Bangkok that depart the capital’s northern Mochit bus station, and tickets can be booked online. For those travelling further north than Lom Sak, it may be possible to get off at the bus stop in the town centre, but check with the driver before opting not to get off at the main station.
Lom Kao - Bus
Lom Kao is located in northern Thailand’s Phitsanulok province, some 410kms north of Bangkok and 490kms northwest of Ubon Ratchathani. There is no direct bus service to the city from Bangkok, though there are direct buses from Ubon Ratchathani. To get to Lom Kao from Bangkok you must first travel to Lom Sak and take a local bus or taxi from there.
The closest railway station to Lom Kao is in the city of Phitsanulok, on the Northern line. From here passengers can take a taxi or local bus to the city. There is also an airport in Phitsanulok, making it easy to fly and then take a taxi to the city centre.
Lom Kao’s bus station is typical of any small bus terminus in Thailand and it sits along route 203 close to the Lom Kao Crown Prince Hospital. It has a covered but otherwise open waiting area that houses ticket counters and snack vendors. There is a 7-Eleven and a few ATMs not too far away on route 2005. Reserving a seat online ahead of time is highly recommended, as buses can fill up.
Lom Kao sits midway between Phu Hin Rongkla National Park and Nam Nao National Park, both of which are popular points of interest close by. There are also a few places to stay in the city, such as Si Wiang, Phu Hin View and Lom Swiss Hill resorts.
Wichian Buri - Bus
One of the southernmost regions of northern Thailand's Phetchabun province is Wichian Buri, whose main bus station is situated adjacent to its food market. It takes between four to six hours to travel between Wichian Buri Ban Bu Khok Plong bus station and Bangkok's Mochit terminal. Buses depart from the Wichian Buri terminal twice per day.
Wichian Buri's main hotel is the Piyamit Hotel and Resort, but a smaller guesthouse known as Baan Phak Rim Khao is situated just outside the main town. The nearby community of Khaokho is home to the Phukaew Resort and Adventure Park, located close to an adventure park filled with rock climbing and cliff hanging opportunities. Wichian Buri's busiest time of year is its annual grilled chicken tasting festival between August and September.
Wang Pong - Bus
Wang Pong is a district situated in the western section of Phetchabun province. Although not a major tourist destination, it is one of the closest communities to Thung Salaeng Luang National Park, one of the country's most expansive and significant wildlife sanctuaries. It also has the closest bus stop to Thung Salaeng Luang National Park. Bus trips between Wang Pong and Bangkok's Mochit station take just under four hours.
Thung Salaeng Luang National Park is at its most beautiful during November and December, the months when wild flowers grow around the park's limestone hills and forests. Notable park landmarks include the three-tiered Kaeng Song Waterfall, Kaeng Wang Nam Yen rapids, and the Dao Duan and Wang Daeng caves. There are also four campgrounds and a dozen bungalows. Wang Pong also offers the private Sawasdee Bungalows and the Kosit Hotel located on the main highway as places to stay.
Bueng Sam Phan - Bus
An agricultural area, Bueng Sam Phan is located in Phetchabun province. To get here, visitors need to take a bus from Bangkok's Mochit bus terminal to Wichian Buri Ban Bu Khok bus station. From here, Bueng Sam Phan is about 19 kilometres by local bus.
Every November a long-tailed boat race is held on the three-kilometre long canal here and there is a small selection of restaurants close by. The area also hosts a Sunflower Festival each December, with various activities celebrating the blooming of the sunflower fields.
Chon Daen - Bus
Situated in Thailand's northern Phetchabun province, Chon Daen is really off the beaten track. To get there, travellers need to take the Bangkok to Chiang Mai train from either Bangkok’s Hua Lumphong or from Chiang Mai’s railway station to Phitsanulok.
Scheduled local buses depart from here to Chon Daen but it will definitely be of help to bring a phrasebook if your grasp of Thai is limited. Not many foreigners make it to Chon Daen. A good selection of accommodation and places to eat can be found in Phitsanulok.
Nam Nao - Bus
Nam Nao is a small town on Highway 2216 in northern Thailand. It is sandwiched between three national parks, Nam Nao and Phu Pha Man as well as the legendary Phu Kradeung. Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary is also located in the sparsely populated surrounding districts.
Nam Nao is 500kms from Bangkok, but there are no direct buses between the two locations. The town is slightly north of the main road between Phitsanulok and Khon Kaen. Frequent buses travel along this road. People travelling from Bangkok’s Mochit terminal could choose either city as there is very little difference in journey times; these average eight to nine hours in total.
Khao Kho - Bus
The district of Khao Kho in northern Thailand's Phetchabun province is sometimes compared to Switzerland because of its mountainous landscape and relatively cool climate. Phitsanulok Yanyon operates a seven-hour bus service between Khao Kho and Bangkok’s Mochit terminal, but many more bus companies travel between Bangkok and the larger community of Lom Sak.
Khao Kho shares its name with a mountain towering 1143m above the landscape of Phetchabun province. The district also contains a royal palace, international library, war monument, and Itthi military base. Sheer cliffs surround the Si Dit waterfall, which is set in Thung Salaeng Luang National Park. The Blue Sky Resort, the Turtle Hut, and Imperial Phukaew Hill Resort are just a few of Khao Kho district’s relaxing mountain resorts.