Admiring Flowerbeds among Sandstone Slabs Along the Mekong River Ubon Ratchathani

| March 14, 2016

The period towards the end of the rainy season. when the cool breeze starts. sees nature taking up its new mantel. as most plants and animals get prepared to enter hibernation During this brief transitional period. wildflowers burst into full bloom. painting cliffs and highlands in profuse colors. The route along the Mekong River in the flowering time enables you to discover the natural wonder of this brief period. the window of opportunity for nature lovers. Starting from the city of Ubon Ratchathani, take Highway 217 after passing Warin Chamrap District, up to Phibun Mangsahan District. Make a stop at Kaeng Saphue – major rapids in the Mun River, with a pleasant public park on the river bank, lined with food shops and stalls. From here take Highway 2222 to Khong Chiam District, the starting point of the route along the Mekong River.
Khong Chiam is a tiny district at the eastern edge, where the reddish Mekong and the bluish Mun meets. life here is peaceful, even forlorn, a perfect place for anyone seeking and enjoying solitude. Yet, full facilities for tourists can be found, including such Unseen Paradise accommodation as Tho Saeng Khong Chiam and several low-cost but comfortable guesthouse to b e chosen from. Delicious Mekong fish make up delicacies offered in riverside eateries such as Araya Raft, Sim Saeng, Kung Khong, and Song Fang Khong.
Major attractions in Khong Chiam District include the Two-Colored River Viewpoint within Wat Khong Chiam, the meeting point of the Mekong and the Mun River, Don Hin Tang Public Park, straddling the Mekong, and Cruise along the Mekong, to Kaeng Tana, passing sites such as Hai Cave, Rim Mun Waterfall, Mun River Mouth, and the Two-Colored River. Another popular site to observe the sunrise over the Mekong is Wat Tham Khuha Sawan, situated on the high slope just outside Khong Chiam District. A stroll in the Khong Chiam Morning Market where fresh-brewed coffee is served starts you off sprightly for a day’s trip. Not far from Khong Chiam is Kaeng Tana National Park, with Kaeng Tana Rapids over the large expanse of rock, Kaeng Khanwae where spectacular potholes can be seen. Don Tana, the white sand dune in the middle of the Mun River, and Tat Ton Waterfall, a water curtain over rock cliff, 50 meters wide. Lan Pha Phueng within the park is a superb site to watch the sunrise. At the start of the cool season, wild flowers such as Dusita., Kradum Ngoen Vat Namkhang, and Waeo Mayura are in bloom on the stone slabs. Accommodations and camping grounds are available in the park.

From Khong Chiam, take Highway 2134 for about 6 kilometers, and turn right on Highway 2112. About 9 kilometers ahead, a signboard points the way to Pha Taem National Park, about 5 kilometers inside. Here is the site of the famous prehistoric cliff paintings. Pha Taem is part of Phu Pha Kham, the mountain range southernmost of Phu Phan. The perpendicular rock cliff straddles the Mekong, with flat stone slabs on top. Colored paintings aged over 3.000 years adorn the cliff, in groups, as the largest and oldest such paintings found in Thailand. Start the visit at the Tourist Information Center, next to the parking lot. From the open space to the back of the center, full views of the Mekong River are afforded. A further walk over the rock slab leads to Lan Pha Taem, the vantage point of the park. A trail leads through the painted cliffs, in 3 groups. Pha Kham Group features largely effaced animal figures. 300 meters further is Pha Taem Group, the largest and clearest group of paintings, comprising over 300 figures along 180 meters cliff, featuring elephants, giant catfish, oxen, and wolves as well as humans and hands, over 200 figures. The furthest group is Pha Man Noi and Pha Mon Group, featuring ancient lifestyle. The lookout at Sara Rap Sadet – the Royal Reception Pavilion is next, with a further trail leading back to Pha Taem without making a detour.

The last group of cliff paintings can also be accessed by car, using the road to the lookout spot at Sala Rap Sadet. Along the way, wondrous flowerbeds can be spotted. At the special time of the year when the cool breeze starts towards the end of the rainy season dazzling wildflower burst of the stone crevices painting the slopes in profuse color be they light purple Dusita Saratchan or Thipkeson Golden Soi Suwan or sparkling white Kradum Ngoen. Their brief appearances are best observed early in the morning, and can be captured even in ordinary snapshots. Another peculiar feature of Pha Taem National Park is the Colonnade, the mushroom-like structures comprising poles topped by flat rocks, evidence of rock layers sculpted by nature.
From Pha Taem National Park office, turn back into Highway 2112, a narrow but well-asphalted road that edges closest to the Mekong. The first and foremost site to visit on this route is the Soi Sawan Waterfall, about 12 kilometers down the route. Take the right turn and continue for about 3 kilometers to the parking lot. From there take a trek on foot for 500 meters to the waterfall. Soi Sawan – divine necklace waterfall, cascades down the horseshoe shaped cliff, forming two streams of 3 0 – meters long which join into one and plummet to a large pool below. Crossing the source of the waterfall, another stunning Howerbed can be found, similar to the one near the park office, but covers a wider area. From here, a trail leads to Pha Chek-Pha Moei, another site of cliff paintings. The 3 kilometers trail crosses several flowerbeds. It is not clearly marked, and park officials should be acquired as guides.
Next, turn back to Highway 2112 and continue up to the intersection formed with Highway 2135, turn right towards Ban Thung Na Muang, and look to the right for the signboard leading to Saeng Chan or Long Ru Waterfall, the waterfall through a hole, one of the Unseen Thailand attractions. The waterfall is distinctive in the manner it plummets to the pool through a hole, not over a cliff. Nearby is Thung Na Mueang Waterfall, flowing only in the rainy season.

Sam Phan Bok Ubon Ratchathani Thailand

Returning again to Highway 2112, before reaching the main intersection, a laterite sideway to the right leads to Wat Tham Patihan, the starting point of the route to Dong Na Tham-Pha Chanadai, a spectacular route that leads you through rock gardens, natural colonnade, stunning flowerbeds and steep cliffs forming the eastern edge of Thailand, where you can observe the sunrise before anyone else in the country. The route is rough, cutting through deep jungle. Only powerful 4 – wheel drive cars can make the trip. A number of adventurous trekkers climb about 8.5 kilometers and put up camps to wait for the sunrise at Huai Phok Waterfall each day. Further treks can be taken to Pha Chana Dai on two routes, with different views and attractions. The route from Wat Tham Patihan is the shortest to take. About 600 meters ahead is the peculiar stone formation Hin Tao Cham Chan, the moon-admiring turtle. It is also the site where a rare orchid, endemic to the locality, a red dendrobium called Uang Ma Wing or Daeng Ubon was discovered. About 1 kilometer further is Sapan Waterfall, a pleasant rest-place before reaching Tham Hin Rock Garden in the next 3 kilometers, with a wondrous flowerbed, before reaching Twin Colonnade and Ngoen Taem, the viewpoint over the Mekong, and Pha Chanadai, the ultimate sunrise watching area, on the protruding cliff over the Mekong.
Turn back to Highway 2112 again and head for Phu Samui, another site of wonderful wild flowers, with peculiar rock formations and a spectacular sunrise. The trekking trail to Phu Samui is about 1.5 kilometers. Highway 2112 leads to the final site on the route at Ban Pha Chan. with wondrous colonnades on the way, standing over 20 meters high, some measuring 30 meters in diameter. Ban Pha Chan is located at the narrowest stretch of the Mekong, running through steep cliffs, providing an impressive view of the Mekong.

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