Traveling in Thailand does not have to mean Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket or Chiang Mai. Every province has something different to offer. Located in the north of Thailand and bordering Laos, Phitsanulok is surrounded by several beautiful sceneries, waterfalls and temples.

Phitsanulok is my home province. I found myself here often when I visit Thailand. The place is a good representative of rural Thailand. Rice paddies and plantations are common along major roads. Behind the plantations, mountains fill the background.

Rice paddy in Phitsanulok
A rice paddy at sunset in Phitsanulok

Getting around is a challenge since there are not as many public transportations as Bangkok. Where I stayed at had a bus passed route about once every hour. On the plus side, driving is easy because there is very little traffic.

There is a local temple near where I stayed at. This kind of temple’s architecture is common everywhere in Thailand.

I spent quite some time taking photos of it. Someone came and told me that my visit is welcome. I wasn’t sure what he meant. He thought I was an undercover cop investigating illegal drug trade. He said this temple is the center for a drug trade in the area. He even mentioned that the head monk is involved.

I didn’t believe it at first. But later on, I visited the temple again and took this picture. I can’t make out what exactly they are doing. Regardless, It doesn’t look good. According to Vinaya Pitaka, Buddhist monks cannot have money.

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat (Wat Yai)

But enough of that. The real star temples of Phitsanulok is Wat Yai, or “Big Temple”. The temple isn’t really big. They just call it that. It’s the home of one of the most beautiful Buddha statues in Thailand.

Buddha statue "Phra Phuttha Chinnarat"
Buddha statue “Phra Phuttha Chinnarat”
Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, Phitsanulok
The main building of Wat Yai (“Big Temple”). It’s not big as you can see.

Sukhothai Historical Park

About an hour away from Phitsanulok is the old capital of Thailand between 13th and 14th century. The place has many small temple ruins in the area. I can spend a whole day taking photos here and still not cover everything. The temples are ruins of the former capital of Thailand. Many historians consider Sukhothai as the first civilization of Thailand although Thai culture existed long before that.

Sukhothai Historical Park
I used low angle for this shot to include the lotus pond as the foreground.

Life in Small Town

Living in the rural Thailand has a very peaceful atmosphere. I stayed at my mother’s vacation houses in a small town near Phitsanulok. Every morning I’d hear the rooster crowing. Almost everyone around there is a farmer.

Vacation Homes near Phitsanulok
I waited for the clouds to move away from the milky way before getting this shot.

Typical of any rural area, the night sky is very dark. Milky way is very easy to see. That didn’t make the taking the photos of it as easy. The weather was hot even at night. And insects were all eating me. I had to dance while waiting for my camera to take pictures to shake the insects off.

The Locals

Living in a small town allows me to experience how the locals lived. Here are photos from the markets in Phitsanulok. Unlike in the west, people don’t care when I take picture of them.

A Market in Phitsanulok

While at one of the markets, I visited another local temple during a celebration there. The locals paraded and danced around the temple with very loud music.  Few people were drinking and smoking.

A woman drinking alcohol in front of the temple.
A woman drinking alcohol in front of the temple.



There are three waterfalls in Phitsanulok. They are Kaeng So Pha, Sakunothayan and Poi. I visited all except Poi. The water looks like Thai tea because I was there during the monsoon season. Since the water current is very strong, the park does not allow swimming. They wrote it on the rocks as a sign that the rule is not negotiable.

The two waterfalls I’ve been to don’t look very different. The main difference would be the accommodations. Sakunothayan has restaurants, gift shops and lodgings while Kaeng So Pha only has picnic areas. Winter is the best time to visit these waterfall.

I hope you enjoy the rural experience of Thailand.

Categories: Travel

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Revisiting Phitsanulok

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