Thailand’s answer to the Grand Canyon
Sam Phan Bok Canyon in Ubon Ratchathani in the northeastern province of Thailand may not have the visual impact as the Grand Canyon in the USA, but it is nevertheless a spectacular sight not to be missed. Most of us see Thailand more as a romantic beach and party destination than a place with inhospitable and desert like features.
But should you be in this remote region of the country, it’s well worth the visit. Besides the impressive natural rock formations found here, it’s also relatively free of foreign tourists. While it may be a little out of town, it can easily be reached by road or by boat on the Mekong River.
You simply cannot be more impressed by the sheer vastness and natural beauty of this special place known for its wacky rock formations with 3,000 holes. That’s because hundreds and thousands of holes have carved their initials in the ground here by the all mighty Mekong River.
Sam Phan Bok
There are small holes and big holes. There are dry holes and wet holes. There are holes that resemble the head of the cartoon character, Micky Mouse. There is a heart shaped hole and there are holes that look like they could be that of animals. Heck, you can even let your imagination run wild and formulate your own images.
And if you like you could climb down into some of the larger dry holes and take a few selfies. Just be careful as some of these holes are quite deep and may not be easy to climb up once you’re at the bottom. Rock Climbers have no problem.
If you are planning to spend the best part of the day here exploring the canyon during the dry season, make sure you take plenty of fresh water as the area is vast and it can get extremely hot. However, there are places near the parking area where you’ll be able to buy refreshments.
Now that you’ve become a little curious as to what other attractions are out there, albeit, in some remote spots way off the beaten track, Sam Phan Bok is a true natural wonder located on the eastern corners of Thailand and close to the borders of Laos and Cambodia. It’s a place best visited in the dry season when the water levels are at their lowest. That being during the months between November and April.
Any other time of the year won’t afford you the luxury of what makes this special place so spectacular. Nothing could be worse than visiting the canyon and its amazing rock formations any other time as the water levels would be far too high to capture the surreal beauty as seen here in these photos. Also during the dry season, you’ll have the privilege of walking up to the edges of the dry river bed to gaze in amazement.
And talking about the river’s edge, you can just as easily get to the canyon by boat along the Mekong, which would afford you the canyon’s breathtaking landscape from a completely different angle. Connecting with the local fishermen here is also a great way to get up close and personal with the cultural aspects of real life in rural Thailand.
If boats are not your thing, you can get to Sam Phan Bok using the public transport from the town of Khong Chiam, located in the far corner of Ubon Ratchathani. You cannot miss it. It’s where the dark-blue water of the Moon River meets the chocolate coloured Mekong River.
The scenic town of Khong Chiam is within easy reach of the canyon. Also, there are loads of places in which to bed down as well as a good selection of places in which to eat and drink. And should you have your own transport, the road leading to the canyon is well signposted.