Stoned Chaiyaphum, no not that kind of stoned, more the rocky formation kind of stoned.
Chaiyaphum province is little visited by foreigners but has some wonderful scenery and unusual natural attractions.
It has two distinctive halves; a fertile rolling plateau, and forested mountains with several national parks.
Hill of White Rocks
Found in Phu Laen Kha National Park, Mor Hin Khao or Hill of White Rocks is a startling location with huge sandstone pillars rising out of the otherwise grassy surface.
The main attraction are a set of five pillars rising 12 meters high, which gave Mor Hin Khao the nickname “the Stonehenge of Thailand”.
It’s easy to see the similarity although Mor Hin Khao is a natural formation rather than a man-made one.
About 600 meters away is the Elephant rock park, which contains up to 80 odd shaped rocks which some say resemble elephants. There is also a flower garden here.
Other huge rock formations cover the area, including some that stick out the side of the steep hill offering stunning but precarious viewpoints across Chaiyaphum province.
During the winter it becomes not just stunning but also very pretty as seasonal flowers bloom across the hilltop.
It’s also a great spot to view some spectacular sunrises.
The pillars of white sandstone were formed by erosion from the rain and wind, with the rocks believed to be as old as 195 million years.
There is a small camping area close by if you want to stay overnight.
There are a number of other fascinating areas with unusual rock formations which can be found along trails in the park.
Pa Hin Ngam Chan Daeng is a wide stone terrace with rare rock formations, while the cliffs at Pha Phae have unusual multiple coloured layers.
Hin Prasert is another large rock formation set amongst several dozen huge boulders. It slightly resembles an ancient ‘prasert’ or fort.
Pratu Khlong is a natural archway through a small but ancient collapsed limestone formation.
Getting there: There are frequent air conditioned bus services from Bangkok’s Morchit Mai bus station to Chaiyaphum town. From Chaiyaphum town, take Highway 2051 for 6km then turn left and follow Highway 2159 toward Nong Bua Daeng for 26km. You will see the park entrance on the left.
Pa Hin Ngam National Park
Being on the same range of hills as Phu Laen Kha, this park also features a large number of ancient interesting rock formations.
Amongst others, Sut Phaendin is a 846m high steep cliff which connects Isaan to the Central Region, giving a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding area. It’s about a 2km hike from the park HQ.
Lan Hin Ngam, in common with many other rock formations, resulted from erosion over millions of years. Some people say they resemble a variety of things such as small animals and even a radar dish!
Getting there: The park is at Ban Rai, Thep Sathit, Chaiyaphum province. Take Highway 21 to the intersection with Highway 205. Follow the 205 until you see the turn into Highway 2354. The park is signposted.
Chaiyaphum is fairly easy to reach from both Bangkok and Korat (Nakhon Rachasima). It makes a a nice change from busy tourist places, and has many other attractions apart from rocks!