Phitsanulok plays a critical historical role in Thailand. It was the birthplace of King Naresuan, whose charismatic influence liberated the country from Burmese attacks. The city was founded 600 years ago and, since then, has become an important cultural and commercial center in the northern part of Thailand.
One thing we love about Thailand is that it can still surprise you. While hoards of tourists flock to places like Maya Bay and Erawan Falls, there are still some unbelievably beautiful spots tucked out of the way.
Phitsanulok has slowly emerged as a premium historical and cultural destination consisting mostly of tropical savannas and landscapes. Who would not be enticed to visit its golden temples, sacred structures, and stunning architecture? But not just that.
Phitsanulok is now attracting adventurers and nature lovers with its hidden arrays of natural wonders. Cascading waterfalls, pristine jungles, thriving wildlife, crystal-clear rivers, and brooks are just among the eco-wonders awaiting visitors.
To make the most of your visit to Phitsanulok, consider the following must-try activities. It’s your ultimate getaway for a meaningful eco-historical escapade.
Come See Elephants!
Hanging out with elephants is one of the reasons you’re beyond excited to visit Thailand, right? These animals have become a huge part of the culture, a symbol of the country, and one of the main tourist attractions. And for good reason! Seeing these gentle giants up close is a pretty amazing experience. Luckily for you, there are a few options where you can have a day with some happy elephants. The Sappraiwant Elephant Sanctuary is found right by Phitsanulok, Thailand.
Kaeng So Pha Waterfall
Already the tourist destination you are into has places of vivid nature adding to the scenic beauty one gets to view while traveling in the city from one place to another. Waterfalls are one such refreshing site of fun and frolic. Out of all the waterfalls, this one is a beautiful, scenic, simple clear rill. If you wish to expect more water you should go after the monsoon season. Else it is a good-to-go waterfall at any time.
If I told you there were “bat caves” made of limestone and may contain close to 1 million “bats”....would you visit?
the flight of bats in Phitsanulok Province takes place every day in the town of Ban Mung which is in the Noen Maprang District. The area is stunningly beautiful with limestone mountains rising up vertically from palm tree-studded farm fields. It looks like Krabi or Northern Vietnam, but there are so few other tourists here. The true highlight is during the evening when millions of bats stream out of caves in the mountains. They fly through the sky in a thin ribbon that twists, turns, and undulates in a stunning spectacle.
The area is popular with Thai tourists but not many foreigners come. As with most destinations of this type, weekends and holidays can get quite busy, but if you go during the week there are very few other people there. We recommend staying overnight in Ban mung in a homestay
According to the locals we spoke with, bats fly every day of the year, in the rainy season and the dry. They emerge from their caves just before sunset and fly for around 20 minutes. When we visited in mid-February that was around ten past six. There is a small parking area right here that was perfect for us. Most of the bats fly out from two caves which are located behind the temple. You can also go in there and see them emerging, but we didn’t do that. It’s not too far walking or driving from the temple into the town so you could start near the caves and catch the tail-end of the spectacle from in town. The temple location is here.
There are two great national parks in Phitsanulok province both of which can be visited either as a day trip from Phitsanulok or as a part of a longer multi-day adventure. For the best experience, we would suggest spending at least one night in Phu Hin Rong Kla, though.
Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park
Located 120 km east of town, this relatively small national park has played an important role during the civil conflict that went on for almost 2 decades between the Thai government and the communist party which chose this mountainous region as one of their main headquarters. Declared National Park in 1984, 2 years after the war had finished, Phu Hin Rong Kla is nowadays an interesting destination for both nature lovers and political history enthusiasts. Unfortunately, not only humans suffered from bombings for 20 years: at the moment there is not too much wildlife living in the park. The rangers will tell you that few tigers are still left but the small size of the territory and the fact that there haven’t been any recordings for ages suggest that this is more of a hope than truth.
What is left from that period are administration buildings, hospitals, air-raid shelters, and a small museum explaining the history of the conflict that can be easily visited – short trails from the visitor center will lead you there.
Several attractive waterfalls can be reached with non-challenging hikes branching off the main road that crosses the park at different points.
Many scenic viewpoints are also scattered around the park, the most impressive one being Laan Hin Pum, where a number of strange rock formation that looks like a picture from a lunar movie set was used by the communist party as a shelter during the bombings.
The visitor center features a camping ground and a few bungalows to rent if you wish to spend the night in the park. If you don’t have a tent, you can rent it along with a mattress, sleeping bag, and pillow. Reservation is required for the bungalows and it’s possible only through the DNP website.
Namtok Chat Trakan National Park
Located 140 km northeast of Phitsanulok, Chat Trakan waterfall is the main attraction of the national park and it makes for a great multi-day combination with Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park.
The waterfall consists of 7 different levels but very few tourists go past the bottom one, which features a sandy beach by a large natural pool suitable for swimming. A popular picnic destination for Thais, it can be quite crowded during weekends, while it’s a lot quieter and tranquil on a weekday.
If you find yourself in the park, Kradanleg Cliff is definitely worth a visit. It is located only three km away from the park headquarters. It is a prehistoric site where geometric symbols have been carved in the rocks; the meaning of the drawings is still unknown.
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