Elements of “Edutainment” At Phu Wiang National Park

The 325-square kilometer area that is now known as Phu Wiang National Park really caught the public's imagination when dinosaur remains were discovered there in the early 1980s.

Located within Phu Wiang district of Khon Kaen province, about 450 km northeast of Bangkok, the area was formally designated as a national park by the Royal Thai government in 1992 in order to preserve its magnificent natural attractions and excavation sites.

According to scientists, the Phuwiangosaurus was a giant Sauropod, which ruled Thailand's northeastern region over 110 million years ago (during the Early Cretacous period). These were the first dinosaur remains to be discovered in the kingdom (in 1981), near a dried up stream called Huay Pratu Tee Ma.

After Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visited the site to observe the excavation process, the scientist leading the dig decided to name the dinosaur “Phuwiangosaurus Sirindhornae” to honor the princess and the Chakri Dynasty. Since the Phuwiangosaurus had a sole rival (Siamotyrannus) during the Early Creatacous Period, the huge herbivore was one of the most powerful creatures in Indochina.

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On the way to Phu Wiang National Park, visitors are recommended to pay a visit to Phu Wiang Museum, which is located about 5 km away from the entrance to the park. This facility displays some interesting items relating to paleontology (the study of fossils) and geology, including full-size models of some dinosaur species, as well as various body parts, such as spines, neck bones, rib cages, and collar bones. It offers a good deal of entertainment, too, as well as providing visitors with useful, educational information, so it tends to be of particular interest to children and young people.

The park now has nine enclosed excavation sites within a 20 sq km area, which are open to members of the public from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Visitors can view an early ancestor of the Tyrannosaurus Rex, as there's a skeleton of Siamotyrannus Isanensis on display, which lived about 130 million years ago. This site can easily be reached via a trail that runs from the visitor center. A free tour with an English-speaking guide is available on advance booking. For those who particularly interested in the excavation sites, they may wish to rent a bicycle or drive to the park by car, since this will allow them greater freedom to explore the sites in even greater detail.

The park includes a number of breathtaking natural attractions, too, including caves and waterfalls, which are especially popular attractions during the cooler winter months (December through January). Although most of these attractions are located quite a long distance away from the visitor center, visitors can reach them easily by following the various trails that run from there.

Tents and bungalows are very affordable accommodation options at the park. For further information, call Phu Wiang National Park's visitor center on Tel: +66 (0)43 358 073.