The Historical Park

The Historical
Park near Ban Phu is one of the most extraordinary sites in Thailand, filled with many huge & strange mushroom-like rock formations, which bear carvings and cave paintings dating back more than 3000 years.

T
he park is fairly easy to reach from Nong Khai, by bus, motorbike or car, and makes an exciting one day excursion... it's a great place to take picnic. (Click for map to park)

Most of the rocks in the park have a name relating to the legend of Nang Usa (see next page), a romantic tale of a young girl imprisoned amongst the rocks by her anxious father. This one is known as Nang Usa's tower and the room near the top is her bed chamber. It was up here that her lover, Tao Baros, climbed to make love to her...

The land is said to be the terminal moraine of an ancient glacier and the formations may be caused by subsequent river erosion of two layers (one hard above one soft) of the aggregated rock.


Even knowing this, it is hard to fathom how the rocks came into being... too large for even the strongest machines to lift, and yet too cunningly balanced to look natural!

The park is beautifully looked after by the Fine Arts Department of Thailand which has conducted archeology here since 1981 and opened the park to the public in 1989. The 'Son in Law's Temple' (right) was heavily restored and where the original stones could not be found, new stones of a completely different type were used to make it clear what is original and what is not.

The area has been settled many times since ancient times and many rocks are surrounded by boundary stones made during the Davaravati period (until 11th - 12th centuries AD).

Buddhism had already reached Siam by this time and many of the rocks bear Buddhist images probably carved during this period.

However, many of the Buddha images had their heads defaced during the "Hau" rebellions of the 1880's when the Yunanese swept down over this area.

The paths and tracks in the park are kept in immaculately good order, and there are plenty of signposts in both English and Thai so that you won't get lost.

It's a very good idea to take a picnic with you and eat it from the look out point at the top of the sheer cliff, known as Phra Sadej, just beyond these stairs. From there you can see all the way over the hills, across the Maekong flood plain, and on to the mountains of Laos some 70 km away to the north west. This vista of unspoilt verdant green countryside with the Maekong river running through, is quite simply breathtaking.

The number of visitors to the park is very low so you can feel confident that you can explore it in peace. The museum and information service at the park entrance is excellent with good maps, diagrams, and information. Moreover, the park staff will help you find you way to Buddha's footprint at Butta Bat Bua Bok, or your way home out of the hills back to Nong Khai, via the small town of Ban Phu.