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Pha Taem National Park

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Located about 25 kilometres north of Khong Chiam is Pha Taem National Park, where brilliant cliffside views of Laos can be had. Pha Taem is best explored by private transport to ensure you get your 200 baht admission fee's worth.

About a 500-metre walk from the main carpark to the base of the cliffs lies more than 300 prehistoric cave paintings estimated to be more than 3,000 years old.

The paintings were found by a professor and some students from Silpakorn University in 1981 and are believed to have been made over a very long period of time and tell the story of the people who made them. The earliest show human hands and a selection of animals while the newer show crops being planted, fish trapping and some primitive agricultural tools. Just above the base, spectacular views can be had of Laos, the Pa Dong Na Tham natural pine forest and Thailand's earliest sunset.

A major feature of the national park is the Phanon Dongrak mountain range, featuring many unique stone formations. The series of "mushroom" rock pillars, Sao Cha Liang, are similar to those found in Mukdahan National Park, 100 kilometres to the north of Ubon Ratchathani. The stone formations can be seen from the road once you enter the park.

North of these sites are three waterfalls: Soi Sawan, Saeng Chan and Thung Namuang. All are at their best during wet season and only reachable by private transport. Our favourite is Saeng Chan Waterfall which spills through a large hole in a rock rather than over a cliff and appears to fall in the shape of a heart. The name means "moonlight waterfall" because the attraction is supposedly best viewed by full moonlight. Another recommended viewing time is just before noon, when the sunlight hits the hole at the same angle as the falling water in a way that causes a glowing appearance.

Just past the falls, the park also boasts Thailand's largest flower field, blooming October until December.

Food and drinks are available in a shaded area by the car park. It's possible to rent camping equipment on site at Pha Taem during dry season, at 30 baht per person with your own tent or a two-person tent hire for 150 baht. A few extremely basic cabins and bungalows are available to rent, but overall we recommend staying in nearby Khong Chiam which has superior accommodation. Pha Taem is less than 20 kilometres from Khong Chian on Route 2112, and in town you can easily rent a motorbike or sign up for a tour to get to Pha Taem.

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Text and/or map last updated on 14th September, 2012.

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