A glimpse into the distant past
Published/Last edited or updated: 8th September, 2016
Archaeological excavations at Ban Prasat prove that a community grew rice and raised cattle in the area some 3,000 years ago. Three burial sites are open to the public in this peaceful village, where you’ll also find craftspeople weaving sumptuous silk and hardy reed mats. As a side trip from Phimai, Ban Prasat is absolutely worth a visit.
Located in the heart of the village, Pit 1 is by far the largest of the three sites and is accompanied by a tiny museum. The oldest skeletons were unearthed at a depth of more than five metres, with 2,500- to 1,500-year-old burials found in the same pit along with large amounts of pottery and some jewellery. Laid out alongside ceramics, several skeletons can be viewed from above in a roofed enclosure with a lot of details provided on English info boards.
Apart from basic forms of subsistence and burial methods, little is known about where these people came from or what languages they spoke. It’s likely that they were part of the same loosely defined prehistoric civilisation as the skeletons dating from around the same period found at Ban Chiang up in Udon Thani province.
While there’s very little to see in Pit 2, it’s notable for the discovery of a Dvaravati-style Buddha head that suggests members of this Mon-speaking civilisation lived here by the eighth century. Heartbreaking Pit 3 displays the headless skeletons of women and children along with smashed pottery, indicating executions. Their skulls were discovered a half-kilometre away.
Ban Prasat is worth a visit even if skeletons creep you out. Humble wood houses, old men swinging in hammocks and chickens clucking around resting cows left us charmed. Just south of Pit 1, a century-old wood footbridge called Saphan Takon Rak (“Shout to Your Love Bridge”) spans the lotus-filled Tan Prasat River. Names of residents mark each house in this tight-knit village, which has won awards for community-based tourism.
Several households produce handmade silk, reed mats and traditional Thai musical instruments. At 33/1 Moo 7 on the east side of the village, Supharp Maebklang’s household weaves scarves and other wares made of mut mee silk. Visitors are welcome to stop by and watch a seamstress work her old-fashioned loom; gorgeous scarves start at around 1,500 baht.
Around the corner at 34/3 Moo 7, Chaen Thonsungnern’s house churns out handmade mats and hats made out of the hardy reed grasses that grow in the area. The craftspeople also work out in the open here, with small mats starting at around 200 baht.
Settle into a homestay and a villager will introduce you around town while providing home-cooked meals and modest accommodation for cheap. Mrs Wichet Noyklang’s homestay (T: 044 367 039), located just west of Pit 1, is a good option with a little English spoken. Stroll around and you’ll see at least half a dozen more households advertised as homestays.
Ban Prasat is located 15 km west of Phimai and the excavation pits are open daily from 07:00 to 17:00. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.
If coming with your own vehicle, take Highway 206 west out of Phimai and hang a left (south) on Route 2 before making a U-turn to back track to the side road to Ban Prasat, which is clearly posted in English on a large gate. Alternately you could catch a Khorat-bound bus and tell the driver you’re going to Ban Prasat; you’ll be dropped along the highway and will have to walk or take a motorbike taxi, if there’s one available, for two km to the village.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.