We ended up in Wang Nam Khiao on a whim. Initially we were planning a trip to Khao Yai, Thailand’s largest national park, and while I was looking for affordable, high-quality accommodation I came across Nicslongstay. It appeared to be exactly what we were looking for.
Wang Nam Khiao is a district in Nakhonratchasima Province and is situated between two national parks: Khao Yai and Thap Lan. Wang Nam Khiao is guarded from development due to the fact that the national parks are protected land and you can only access the area by passing through a mountainous range.
We arrived during the week; the area is slow moving but I’m told during the weekends the local resorts fill with Bangkokians looking for a quick getaway from the city. Even with such a steady tourist industry, the locals seems to have other forms of income and the tourists are pretty much left to themselves to explore the area.
The district is filled with places to stay and while the signage might seem overwhelming, once you get off the main road you’ll find that each resort is secluded and private, many having only have dirt road access.
Nicslongstay is located ten kilometres from the highway and another five kilometres down a dirt lane off the main road. The resort offers a wide variety of accommodation options, and significant discounts for those willing to travel during the week. All rooms come equipped with a fridge, kettle, hot water shower, and high speed internet. Breakfast is included and is made to order; the food served is fresh and healthy. The owner tries to source as many local and organic products as he can and takes great pride in offering these services to his guests.
We ended up in a lake view bungalow complete with a balcony off the water. The bedroom is surround by three walls of windows allowing visitors to take in the surroundings during all hours of the day. The air was unbelievably fresh and the climate was bracingly cool, which is very difficult to find in Thailand.
Bicycles and kayaks are available free of change and available to use any time, no sign-up sheet or deposit required. Time moves a lot slower here and the area itself is enchanting. We spent a lot of time just being present at the resort and taking in all the surroundings. This is a comfortable option for a lot of people but if you do chose to go sightseeing there is a lot to explore.
On recommendation of the owner, we ventured out to Pha Keb Tawan Cliff at an entrances to Thap Lan National Park. The drive was idyllic, and for a rare moment in Thailand, we were able to drive through the countryside with our windows open as we climbed our way up through the curves of the mountain pass to the cliff. The area atop the cliff is spacious, there isn’t much around other than the public bathrooms and a small stall selling refreshments and papaya salad. The area would be enjoyable anytime, but the main reasons tourists venture this way to is to witness the magnificent sunset and sunrises. This particular day was characteristically foggy, but we weren’t let down.
Before heading back home to Buiram we decided to stop by Uncle Krai’s Organic Farm. As the story goes, Uncle Krai studied engineering in his native Bangkok and learned English and country music from the American GIs during the Vietnam War. From there he developed a great interest in organic farming and took over his mother’s land in Wang Nam Khiao, becoming something of pioneer of organic farming. Farming in Thailand is currently at a very precarious state, and while all farms started out as organic, high costs of farming, lack of labour, and low-quality education has driven the farmers to overuse both fertilizer and pesticides. Even worse, after a year of farming, most farmers are left in debt, their only compensation being enough rice to feed their families. Uncle Krai maintains his commitment to organic small-scale farming; he sells only directly to consumers. His model of success is hopefully one others will take notice of.
Most days Uncle Krai is on hand, either explaining his beliefs about organic farming or singing and playing the guitar for his customers. We were lucky enough catch him on the microphone and got to hear his renditions of songs by the Eagles, Eric Clapton, and John Lennon.
The spread of newly picked organic vegetables was overwhelming. You could literally see the quality and freshness which made me second guess what I had been buying from local sellers in Buriram who usually drive great distances to purchase their stock in bulk. Everything at Uncle Krai’s Farm was available to sample and the prices were comparable to non-organic produce at local markets.
In addition to a wide variety of organic vegetables Uncle’s Krai’s also offers wild honey, herbal drinks, fruit wines and a large selection of mushrooms. Mushrooms require a milder climate than what is common in Thailand. This area, however has taken advantage of its ability to grow them, and thus has become known for mushrooms and mushroom-inspired dishes.
Wang Nam Khiao has adopted the name ‘The Switzerland of Northeast Thailand’ due to its year-round cool climate and mountainous landscape, but there is more to the area than just views and organic farming. There is an atmosphere that must be experienced first hand. The local culture remains insouciant to the constant flux of tourists, thus maintaining the area’s charm.
- Travel during the week to avoid weekend visitors from Bangkok.
- Wang Nam Khiao is best experienced by car, so rent one and go with friends.
- Live in the moment and turn off the phone; this is the perfect place to get lost in nature.
- Stay a minimum of two nights to best experience the area.
- Eat lunch at local food stalls to save money. By dinnertime they will all close and larger restaurants will be your only option.
- Make a stop at the local market to stock up fruit, snacks, and bottled water.
- Bring cash. I saw only one ATM located at the turnoff from the highway.
- Focus your stay on Wang Nam Khiao, there is plenty to keep you occupied and interested.
Nicslongstay Hotel Address
114 Moo 4 Baan Bu-Sa, Wang Nam Khiao, Wang Nam Khiao, Khao Yai, Thailand 30370
After receiving a Muay Thai scholarship to train at a prominent gym in Northern Thailand, Watthanaya packed her bags at 19 leaving home with a one way ticket. She ended up however at a Bangkok street gym affiliated with Sor. Thanikul and married one of the fighters. They took off for Khorat and Watthanaya fought her way through Issan. Now, with a degree in tote, a four year old daughter, and a passion to fight again, she is back. Connect with Frances Watthanaya on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook .