Uthai Thani has a lot of traditional Thai culture to offer and barely explored cave systems. But due to his location far away from the other well-known travel destinations like Chiang Main and the southern highlights, the region does not get the deserved attention. Therefore this rural and quiet province welcomes less western visitors. The people of Uthai Thani are living an ordinary life in raft accommodations along the river as it was once done in Bangkok along the Chao Phraya. For travellers who want to see the old traditional and cultural lifestyle of the native people in the rural part of the country far away from the frequently visited places, for those is Uthai Thani is a real suggestion.
Uthai Thani is situated in the lower part of the northern region of Thailand. Recent excavations have indicated that this area was inhabited by prehistoric people. There are several tourist attractions and places of interest, but because the township area is far from the main highway few visitors make the trip to this interesting province. Uthai Thani occupies a total are of 6,730 square kilometres and is located about 220 kilometres from Bangkok. It is divided into 8 districts; Muang Uthai Thani, Nong Khayang, Nong Chang, Thap Than, Ban Rai, Sawang Arom, Lan Sak and Huai Khot. In this 8 districts are about 50,000 people living, who are mainly working in the agriculture. Thereby especially the northern, eastern and southern areas along the rivers are used intensively by farmers.
The province stretches from the upper plains of the Chao Phraya river valley, to mountains covered with forests in the west. The Sakae Krang River, a tributary of the Chao Phraya River is the main river of Uthai Thani province. The strong bond of the population with the river Sakae Krang, which led to the foundation of that settlement many hundred years ago can still be seen today. The people are living in little rafts cottages with small-sized fish and shrimp farms behind it. The river Sakae Krang is till today an important transportation network as well as water provider for the many rice fields in this region. The locals therefore respect and admire the river which is crucial to their life.
The province is rich in traditional Thai culture and for many unknown caves and territories.
With the car from Bangkok the fastest way to Uthai Thani is along the highway number 32 over Ayutthaya along the Chao Praya River to Tha Nam Oi. From there take the exit to the road number 333 to Uthai Thani. The total journey should take about 2:30 hours.
Cheaper but slower is to travel by Bus from the northern bus station Mo Chit. The busses are departing regularly between 5:00 a.m. – 04:00 p.m. The journey in the acclimatised busses should take about 3 hours.
Like in the most rural areas in Thailand the Songthaew is a common mode of transportation. Songthaews and busses are commuting among the main streets and little villages, whereas Songthaews and motorbike taxis can be hired for private rides. As everywhere in Thailand, we recommend to negotiate the price before getting into the passenger seat.
Huai Khao Khaeng sanctuary
In the province lies the biggest part of the Huai Khao Khaeng sanctuary with almost every kind of forest found in Thailand. The unspoiled nature of the reserve makes it an ideal home to various rare and endangered animals. Due to these attributes, Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Reserve was named in 1991 by UNESCO as a Natural World Heritage Site. Due to the many endangered species which live in this sanctuary, a special permission handed out by the authorities is necessary to enter the park. From the city it is a 90 km drive direction west.
Tham Hup Pa Tat (Jurassic park)
To get to the two from limestone encircled valley, visitors have to go through an about 50 meters long by bats occupied cave. The way up to this cave is through a forest. The cave is not lighted up and in the middle part pitch-black. At the end is the first little valley. Through another cave discoverer can get to the second valley. The interesting thing on these two valleys is that they are shielded by the high mountains and therefore have a higher humidity than its surrounding. Due to this fact the abundant flora is growing faster and better than other plants in this area. Visitors will feel like going back through time, that's why it is called Jurassic Park. The valleys where discovered about 30 years ago by a monk who climbed up the limestone mountains to set up a prayers flag. 20 years later a tunnel has been built to make these valleys accessible. The fee is 100 Baht for entering the Tham Hup Pa Tat. It is a 50 km drive from the city.
The Mountain Pathawi is 250 meters high, 750 meters long and about 40 kilometres outside the city centre. The area around the mountain is covered by high trees with many monkeys occupying those. In the Khao Pathawi are about 20 bigger and smaller caves where geologists found stone tools that prove that in this region was inhabited by prehistoric humans. Some of the interesting caves are Tham Prathun, Tham Bandai, Tham Ang, Tham Phutthaprawat, Tham Buddha Prawat , Tham Pla and Tham Khang Khao.
Tham Khao Phraya Phai Rua
The cave lies in a plain and isolated limestone mountain and consists of a long tunnel system. The structure is similar to a labyrinth where visitors can lose the orientation. For about 50 Baht per person a monk will lead the tourists through the cave. The exact length of the tunnel is not known but estimated to be about 1.5 to 3 kilometres long. Some parts of the cave can only be crossed crawling. A detailed guided tour through the entire system with its 12 rooms takes about 4 – 5 hours.
Many local villages on the island have specialized in local handicrafts like incense stick making, knife manufacturing and basket weaving. Due to the abundance water rice fields on the island visitors can observe the farming process in all its stages.
Ban Khok Mo Weaving Village
This is a small village of Thai-Lao residents whose ancestors migrated here in the Rattanakosin period. Villagers change to weaving when the harvest ends. Their products are made from Sin Tin Chok Silk, Mat Mi silk and traditional-style fabrics with floral patterns.
Bung Khok Chang Ancient City
This town is surrounded by a moat and an earthen wall. A sacred pond is at the outer corner of each wall. Artifacts unearthed here include tools, utensils and a stone scripture in the Mon language. The city was built during the Dvaravati period, which lasted from the 6th to the 13th centuries. The ancient town lies about 50 km to the north-west.
Ban Samo Thong Hot Spring
This is a small spring with clear water, pungent with the aroma of sulphur. The spring has an area of 4,000 square metres and consists of 3 separate springs. From Uthai it is about 60 km to the west.
Wat Ta Sung (Wat Chantharam)
This fascinating and large temple is located about 6 km from Uthai Thani town on the banks of the Sakae Krang River. The temple is one of Thailand's largest meditation centres for monks and lay people and features a huge meditation hall and a main temple whose interior walls and ceiling is completely covered with mirrors.
Wat Sangkat Rattana Khiri
Inside the main hall of this temple is "Phra Phuttha Mongkhon Sai Sit" or "Luang Pho Mongkhon", an ancient bronze Buddha image form the Sukhothai period. In addition, in one corner of the temple is a pavilion housing a statue of the father of King Rama I floating on Sakae Krang River. This attraction reflects the lifestyle of Uthai Thani people that has always been linked with water. Water is used here to grow pandanus and for raising fish in floating baskets, particularly gourami. This has become the main occupation of the province and has made it famous.
Wat Mani Sathit Kapittharam
Also known as Wat Thung Kaeo. On the compound there is a big Khmer pagoda which is 8 meters wide and about 16 meters high. The over one hundred years old pagoda has some holy Buddha relicts and an image of Luang Pho Yeam, the creator of the complex in it. The temple also consists of a pool, built with flagstones and filled with holy water. In the middle of it is the blessed inscription from Luang Pho Yeam.
Bot Nam Temple
The small but very beautiful temple complex lies on an island opposite the main market from Uthai Thani. The temple is still used for religious ceremonies by the local population which can be seen regularly. King Rama V visited this complex in the year 1906 on a raft. The raft the king used can still be admired on the compound.
Uthai Thani shares the general climate of central Thailand’s provinces with tropical climate all year round. The temperatures in the months from February until May are around 35 degrees. The rainy season starts in July and ends in November. During the rainy season temperatures can still reach 25 to 30 degrees. In July and August the weather is often good with just some sporadic and short showers. From September on the rain gets more and it can rain for many days without stopping.
The best time to visit Uthai Thani is during the dry season from November until April. Especially the period from May to June is a real tip with good weather, less tourist and cheaper costs due to the low season.