The Central Heartlands of Thailand
In 2018 I first visited my girlfriends family in the Pak Chong district of Korat, Thailand’s largest province. Subsequently, I’ve visited again, for instance when we explored Ayutthaya, Lopburi and Saraburi. The most convenient way to Pak Chong from Chiang Mai is to fly to Don Mueang Airport in northern Bangkok. From the airport you can take the two-hour train to Pak Chong. Klang Dong village is the precise location of her family home and this is just 15 kilometres from the station. Our travels within Korat Province (and beyond) comprise an array of destinations, most of which I mention below.
Travels through Bangkok
I had passed through Bangkok six months previous when visiting the islands of Koh Chang and Koh Kood. However, this time I had more chance to sightsee from the central Silom and Saladeang where we stayed. One of our hostels was a converted Chinese Temple, named Cloud on Saladeang Silom (below), which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Travels included walking through Khao San Road and China Town, and visiting the vast Chatuchak markets and Lumphini Park. Furthermore, we took the boat on the Chao Phraya River and saw the highlights, Wat Arun and the Grand Palace. After staying in Bangkok for a few nights, we headed to Korat.
Travels to Korat Province
Klang Dong Village
Korat is the largest province by land and encompasses Khao Yai National Park, a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts. My girlfriends family live 30km from the National Park in a strikingly mountainous and spacious location. Additionally, their land contains many types of fruit tree and a small factory where they produce fruit wine and juice. Likewise, their house has direct views of the White Buddha at Wat Thep Phithak high in the mountains. I drove their Isuzu truck to the temple and we walked the 600 steps to appreciate the superb views. Before leaving we sampled Coconut Ice Cream and Thai Tea in the main temple area – both were sweet and delicious.
Pak Chong District
We toured the cities of Nakhon Ratchisima and Pak Chong, sampling Isaan (north-east Thai), Japanese and Korean food. Further, we visited local markets and cafes along with trips to Khao Yai National Park, temples and waterfalls. My girlfriends family were really accommodating, the dishes her Mum cooked and meals at restaurants provided amazing flavours and variety. Therefore, I greatly anticipated tasting different products and ingredients, for instance their homemade wine and juice. Above all, this first stay at the family home was fascinating and gave me additional insight into Thai culture.
Further travels – Khao Yai PB Valley Winery
In early 2020 my girlfriend and I embarked on further travels within Korat accomplishing some outings and activities. One of these was the Khao Yai PB Valley Winery, one of the largest wine producers in Thailand. The Winery is a short drive from Klang Dong, and 20km from the entrance to Khao Yai National Park. We participated in a tour of the vineyards which evoked memories of Wine related study at College and University.
Background to PB Valley
The winery comprises 320 hectares with grapes like Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo grown, in addition to Thai grapes. PB Valley was the first in the region (1989) yet as others emerged the ‘Khao Yai’ was discarded for PB Valley. Subsequently, I discovered that several of Thailand’s largest Wine manufacturers are based in Korat.
My girlfriend and I travelled around the site on a golf cart, stopping to walk through vines. The tour gave us an idea of how extensive the growing and production areas were. We observed much of the manufacturing from fermenting to oak barreling and bottling. Additionally, we tasted some of PB Valley’s signature wines and finished with lunch in one of the restaurants. Tickets were 300 baht each, good value considering the amount of information and operations displayed. The winery was a highlight of our travels in Klang Dong and I recommend visiting if you go to Korat.