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Nakhon Ratchasima, often affectionately abbreviated as Korat, is a city in northeastern Thailand. It is often referred to as the gateway to the Isaan, the largest region of the country. Korat is a place where rich history and modern lifestyle seamlessly blend, which is why you can discover many things to do in Nakhon Ratchasima.

Things to Do in Nakhon Ratchasima – the Gateway to Isaan

So, the city is not only an important transportation hub but also a place full of fascinating attractions and cultural treasures that especially attract many Thai visitors. In this article, we will take a look at some of the top sights that Korat has to offer and show you an area that is still relatively unvisited by foreign tourists.

How to get to Nakhon Ratchasima

There are several ways to get to Nakhon Ratchasima, which is approximately 260 kilometers northeast of Bangkok. You can either reach the city by car via Highway 2 from the south or Highway 24 from the north. Another option would be to take one of the buses from the central northern bus station Mo Chit in Bangkok.

Although Nakhon Ratchasima has its own airport, it is currently not used by any airline. The last commercial flights took place there in 2019.

In addition, there is also the option to travel to Nakhon Ratchasima by train from Bangkok or other train stations such as Ayutthaya or Lopburi. The train journey offers a relaxed and scenic travel option where you can enjoy the beautiful countryside on the way to Nakhon Ratchasima. Tickets for the journey to Nakhon Ratchasima can be found with our partner 12go.asia.

Accommodation in Nakhon Ratchasima – our hotel tip

The capital of the province, Nakhon Ratchasima (also known as Korat for short), offers many accommodations in various classes and price categories. For example, you can choose a hotel in the city center and explore a lot on foot.

The Srivichai Hotel is located right in the center of Nakhon Ratchasima – it’s only a few minutes’ walk to the famous Thao Suranari Monument. The rooms are clean and modern, equipped with air conditioning, Wi-Fi, television, refrigerator, seating area, and a private bathroom. A parking lot is also available if you arrive by car.

The Srivichai Hotel in Nakhon Ratchasima, Korat

You can find more hotels in Nakhon Ratchasima or the surrounding area here.

1. Thao Suranari Monument

Visiting the Thao Suranari Monument, also known as the Monument of Ya Mo, is one of the most famous things to do in Nakhon Ratchasima. It was built in honor of Thao Suranari, who played a crucial role during the Siamese-Laotian War in the 19th century. The monument is an impressive bronze statue that stands on a majestic pedestal surrounded by flowers and offerings. It symbolizes the heroic contribution to the defense of the city and its residents.

The Thao Suranari Monument, the most famous attraction in Nakhon Ratchasima

The Thao Suranari Monument is a place that reflects not only the history of Nakhon Ratchasima but also a place of worship and remembrance for the locals. Every year, thousands of people come here to honor Thao Suranari and express their gratitude for her heroic deed. It is also an impressive testament to the important role of women in Thai history.

2. Wat Phayap

The Wat Phayap is an impressive Buddhist and royal temple in the center of Nakhon Ratchasima. “Phayap” means west, as it is located to the west of the old city wall. It is distinguished by its beautiful architecture and peaceful atmosphere and has been renovated many times over the years. The main architectural structure of Wat Phayap is an artistic design from the Ayutthaya period and resembles the shape of a junk boat.

Other notable features of Wat Phayap include, firstly, the statue of King Narai, which is revered in a majestic pose in a traditional Thai pavilion. A second feature is the Sri Maha Bodhi tree, which originates from Bodhgaya, India, establishing a connection to Buddhist history and culture.

The Wat Phayap in the center of Nakhon Ratchasima

One special highlight on the premises is a dripstone cave that houses stalactites and stalagmites and contains an ancient sacred Buddha statue. Here, visitors have the opportunity to pay respect to this 300-year-old Buddha statue and pray for luck and contentment. You can visit the temple daily from 5.00 AM to 8.00 PM for free.

3. Korat City Wall

The city wall of Nakhon Ratchasima is an impressive testament to the rich history of this region. The historical city wall was built during the Ayutthaya period. It originally served to protect the city from potential attacks and extended over a considerable length, lined with imposing gates and towers that once served as defensive structures.

The city wall of Korat, one of the attractions in Nakhon Ratchasima

Over time, the city wall has undergone many changes, but it remains a significant landmark and one of the most popular things to do in Nakhon Ratchasima, reflecting the history and cultural richness of this region. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the remaining parts of the city wall and the gates on a stroll.

The structure is not only a relic from the past but also a symbol of the continuous development and change that Korat has experienced over the centuries.

4. Maha Weerawong National Museum

The Maha Weerawong National Museum provides a deep insight into the history and culture of the Nakhon Ratchasima region. The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts, including ancient artworks, historical documents, and archaeological findings. They were collected from various provinces by Somdej Phra Maha Wirawong, a former abbot of Wat Sutthajinda.

In honor of the aforementioned abbot, the Maha Weerawong National Museum was established in 1954 by the Fine Arts Department on the grounds of Wat Sutthajinda. It is open from Wednesday to Sunday between 9.00 AM and 4.00 PM. Admission is free, and if you are interested in culture and history, you should pay a visit to the museum.

5. Wat Sa Kaeo

Wat Sa Kaeo is a historic temple located within the city walls of Nakhon Ratchasima, founded during the reign of King Narai. The temple’s name is derived from its proximity to the well-known Sa Kaeo Pond. The original main temple of Wat Sa Kaeo was an exquisite example of Ayutthaya architecture but was later replaced due to its deterioration.

Wat Sa Kaeo, one of the attractions in Nakhon Ratchasima

This new temple features an unusual architectural structure, with no interior columns and thick window frames between the windows. It also houses an ancient Buddha statue in the Sukhothai style, revered by the locals. The temple’s history is marked by the veneration and admiration of this Buddha statue, which remained unscathed even after the roof collapsed in 1950 and continues to garner great respect.

6. City Pillar Shrine

The City Pillar Shrine is not really one of the tourist attractions in Nakhon Ratchasima for most visitors. It is especially interesting for local visitors. It was built during the reign of King Narai the Great. However, the original shrine was destroyed in 1826 by Chao Anuwong. The old shrine was small and made of wood with six pillars, a zinc roof, and slate covering.

View of the City Pillar Shrine in the center of Nakhon Ratchasima

It housed the city pillar and was of great importance to the locals. The shrine was replaced in 1963 by a new one consecrated by King Mongkut and later by King Bhumibol Adulyadej. The residents of Nakhon Ratchasima hold great respect for this shrine and regularly pay homage to it. Registered as a historical monument the shrine is an important cultural and religious site in the region. Nowadays, the shrine’s location is being expanded with a large golden Chedi right next to it.

7. Wat Boon Night Market

The Wat Boon Night Market in Nakhon Ratchasima is a lively and colorful night market that delights the senses with its culinary delights, craftsmanship, and vibrant atmosphere. This market stretches along the streets near the Wat Boon Temple. It is located in the eastern part within the old city walls and is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

The daily Wat Boon Night Market in Nakhon Ratchasima

The Wat Boon Night Market usually opens its doors in the evening, with most stalls opening around 5.00 PM. Visitors can sample a wide range of Thai dishes and street food specialties, including fried noodle dishes, grilled skewers, fresh fruit juices, and many other delicacies. In addition, there are a few stalls here selling clothing, handicrafts, and souvenirs. The market offers a great opportunity to experience the local culture and satisfy your hunger.

We ourselves love night markets, and the Wat Boon Night Market offers countless opportunities to try new things and immerse yourself in the culture of night markets in Thailand. Especially in Isaan, everything is still relatively non-touristy and comparatively inexpensive.

8. Wat Sala Loi

To the northeast of downtown Korat lies the temple Wat Sala Loi, which was built in 1827 by the famous Thao Suranari and her husband. The assembly hall is designed in Thai style and has the shape of a boat riding on the waves. It was even awarded as the best avant-garde religious building by the Siam Architects Society in 1973.

Wat Sala Loi, one of the attractions in Nakhon Ratchasima

Externally, the temple building is adorned with clay tiles that tell the life story of Buddha on the wall, making the architecture unique. Inside the hall, there is a large Buddha statue. The exterior is additionally decorated with a plaster figure of Thao Suranari praying in the middle of a pond, as well as a small pagoda containing her ashes. You can visit Wat Sala Loi daily from 8.30 AM to 4.30 PM for free.

9. Terminal 21 Skydeck

The Terminal 21 Shopping Mall exists not only in Bangkok and Pattaya, but there’s also another one in Nakhon Ratchasima. This innovative chain of shopping centers is known for its unique concept design. It has various floors which are built to resemble different cities from around the world. For example, there’s a section for London, Paris, Istanbul, Tokyo, and much more. As you stroll through the mall, you can discover landmarks from these respective cities.

View from Terminal 21 Skydeck in Nakhon Ratchasima
View from Terminal 21 Skydeck in Korat

A highlight at Terminal 21 Korat, and thus another of the top Nakhon Ratchasima things to do, is the Skydeck. From the outside, it looks like an airport control tower, and from the inside, you can enjoy a fantastic view of the city and its surroundings. On the 5th floor of the shopping mall, you have the opportunity to take the elevator to the 110-meter-high Skydeck and marvel at a 360-degree panoramic view. The great thing is that it is completely accessible free of charge and open daily from 10.30 AM to 9.30 PM.

10. Bung Ta Lua Park

Bung Ta Lua Park is a green oasis of peace and relaxation, frequently visited by locals. It is part of the adjacent Army Camp but is freely accessible to all visitors. The park surrounds the picturesque Ta Lua Lake, providing locals and tourists with a wonderful opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy nature.

Jogging track in Bung Ta Lua Park, Nakhon Ratchasima

The park features vast lawns, walking paths, and a variety of recreational opportunities, including boating on the lake, picnics, and playgrounds for children. Bung Ta Lua Park is also a popular meeting place for families, nature enthusiasts, and those seeking relaxation who want to experience the beauty of nature in Nakhon Ratchasima. Especially in the early morning and late afternoon, many locals come here to engage in sports like jogging or cycling.

Not a must-see, but if you enjoy visiting parks and need some distance from the city, then this is the right place for you.

11. Wat Non Kum

Wat Non Kum is an impressive temple located approximately 42 kilometers from the city of Nakhon Ratchasima. It is also known by the names Wat Luang Pho To or Wat Lan Boon Mahawihan Somdet Phra Buddhacharn. The temple is famous for its imposing black bronze statue of Luang Por To (Somdej Toh Promrangsi). It is the largest of its kind in the world. Interestingly, Wat Non Kum was founded by Soraphong Chatree, a well-known Thai film star.

The famous Wat Non Kum outside of Nakhon Ratchasima

The most outstanding feature of Wat Non Kum is undoubtedly the giant statue in the Viharn. Luang Pho To is the largest brass statue in Thailand, measuring 8 meters in width and 13 meters in height. This temple, however, is not only a place of worship and spiritual contemplation but also of beauty and tranquility. It is nestled beautifully in a garden with a pond.

Wat Non Kum is a significant cultural and religious center in the Nakhon Ratchasima region, attracting both locals and tourists alike. It is open every day from 9.00 AM to 4.30 PM, and there is no admission fee.

Have you ever been to Korat? Which of the things to do in Nakhon Ratchasima do you like best? Share your feedback in the comments.