Siamese Style

Si Saket Province

Si Saket Province is in Red. It borders Northern Cambodia.

Counties is Si Saket Province

1. Si Sa Ket Town
2. Yang Chum Noi
3. Kanthararom
4. Kantharalak
5. Khukhan
6. Phrai Bueng
7. Prang Ku
8. Khun Han
9. Rasi Salai
10. Uthumphon Phisai
11. Bueng Bun
12. Huai Thap Than
13. Non Khun
14. Si Rattana
15. Nam Kliang
16. Wang Hin
17. Phu Sing
18. Mueang Chan
19. Benchalak
20. Phayu
21. Pho Si Suwan
22. Sila Lat

The provincial seal shows the Prasat Hin Ban Samo, a Khmer temple about 1000 years old, located in the Prang Ku district.

The symbol flower and tree of the province is the White Cheesewood The six leaves of the flower refer to the six original districts of the province - Khukan, Kantharalak, Uthumphon Phisai, Kanthararom, Rasi Salai and Khun Han

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What is Si Saket Like?

Si Saket is both the name of the province and the provincial capital. The capital, Si Saket, is a medium sized sleepy town, ideal for those wanting an “authentic” Thai experience. The population is about 30,000

Located in Isaan – Thailand’s northeast – Si Saket is well off the tourist trail. It is a distant 350 miles from Bangkok. The nearest airport is in Ubon Ratchathani, 70 miles away.

The origins of Si Saket and the area surrounding it go all the way back to the Khmer Empire. This is evidenced by the numerous Khmer ruins in the province and the influence of Khmer culture – including food, language and music.

Temples

The most famous temple in the area is just across the border in nearby Cambodia. It is the Angkor period Khao Phra Wihan and it sits on a 2000-foot cliff overlooking the plains of Cambodia. It took over 200 years to build this temple. It was started in the 10th century and portions of the building were overseen by the King who built Angkor Wat. While a lot of restoration still needs to be done, this temple alone is worth the long trip to Si Saket for many travelers.

There is a lot of difficult walking and climbing involved with seeing Khao Phra Wihan. To get in, paperwork needs to be filled out on the Thai side of the border. Visiting on weekends is not recommended, as it is very crowded. The fee is 200 baht. A travel agent or hotel in Si Saket can help you make arrangement to get there.

Wat Sa Kamphaeng Yai is known as the “stone castle.” It is about a mile from Uthumphon Phisai. It was erected on high slope and built of sandstone. It displays numerous carvings and Khmer letters and dates back a thousand years.

Twelve miles from Kantharalak is Prasat Phu Fai. It was constructed with red stone and rocks from the nearby mountains.

The one thousand year old Prang Ku is in Amphoe Prang Ku. Large bricks were used for its construction.

Waterfalls

The area around the town of Khukan, not far from Si Saket, has several lovely waterfalls. They include Namtok Samrong Kiat which, while moderate in size, has great pools you can swim in on several levels. There is also Namtok Huai, an excellent place for a picnic. Finally, also in Khukan, is Prom Wihan Waterfall. It offers a great natural environment with trees and flowers.

Fairs and Festivals

Based on the lunar calendar, approximately the first week of March, is a flower festival in honor of lamduan flowers. There are many activities involving the flower. The four main cultural groups of the area – Khmer, Suay, Lao and Yer) demonstrate the arts and crafts of their cultures. It is also an opportunity to buy local handicrafts.

Durian is the king of fruits and Si Saket celebrates it during June with a parade and exhibitions.

If you are a runner and want to give yourself a real challenge, you can participate in the half or quarter marathons in the third week of August.

What you WON'T find

Some things that you will NOT find in Si Saket are shopping malls, pizza or hamburger chains, taxis, hotels with swimming pools, western restaurants and – western accoutrements of any kind. If you look hard, there is a small department store that has a KFC. If you look even harder, you might find a restaurant that makes an effort at cooking western food.

The province of Si Saket is well known for its hand-woven silk and cotton. Baskets are also a specialty. You will find miniature carts from Khukan Town as well. There are several souvenir shops in the central business district.

Hotels

While a couple of guidebooks claim that Si Saket has a few of guesthouses, yours truly has never seen one. Your best bet is one of the two well known hotels.

By far the best of the two hotels is the Ketsiri located in the center of town. While it is only a three star hotel, the staff are friendly and things like air conditioners, hot water and TVs in the rooms actually work most of the time. They offer a breakfast buffet, but be warned that the fried eggs are ice cold (as though they have just taken them from the frig) and you may want to ask to have them warmed up. Rooms start at about 600 baht.

There is one alternative, but about the only advantage to the Prom Phiman Hotel is that it is very near the train station and it is modestly priced with rooms beginning at about 400 baht. The hot water and air con are sporadic. Finally, the staff seems determined to prove that Thailand is not, as a matter of fact, the Land of Smiles. This is highly unusual because Si Saket is an extremely friendly town in the Land of Smiles

Getting Around Town

Si Saket is a compact town and it is easy to go nearly anywhere by trishaw. If you haven’t tried one of these bicycle rickshaws, you’ll want to experience a ride. Big cities have banned them, but they are still found all over Issan. There are also motorcycle taxis, some of whom might be willing to rent you their bike for a few hours if you want to drive yourself.

Two other towns similar to Si Saket and not too far away are Roi Et (about 150 miles) and Surin (about 60 miles).

If you really want to see the area in detail, you can fly into Ubon Ratchathani and rent a car.

A word about Khukan
First, it is not a one horse town. Actually, I don't think Khukan has any horses. It has one bank, one post office and one traffic light though. There are never traffic jams. There are, however, long lines at certain places during certain periods of the day -- the town's two ATMs and the post office are the worst.

Khukan is a market town so the population, which might be about 3,000 permanent residents, swells beginning about 8 AM as people from surrounding villages make their way to town by any means they can -- ususally song teows -- medium sized trucks with two rows of seats that are able to negociated the horrible roads.

The town gets very quiet about 3 in the afternoon. By 8 PM, the sidewalks are rolled up and tucked away.

Note: Si Saket is also seen spelled as Si Sa Ket, Sisaket and Srisaket.

Update: Khukhan, like Si Saket, is growing. Khukhan now has two 7 Eleven's, and a Teco-Lotus Department store with some bank branches in it. It's not grow up, but it is getting there, for better or worse.