Introducing Phu Wiang National Park
Uranium miners discovered a giant patella bone in this region in 1976 and the palaeontologists who were called to investigate then unearthed a fossilised 15m-long herbivore later named Phuwianggosaurus sirindhornae after Princess Sirindhorn. Dinosaur fever followed (explaining the epidemic of model dinosaurs in Khon Kaen), more remains were uncovered and Phu Wiang National Park was born.
Enclosed excavation sites, including one with a partial skeleton of Siamotyrannus isanensis, an early ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex, can be easily reached by trails from the visitor centre or nearby parking areas. Those who want to explore further (best done by 4WD or mountain bike) will find dinosaur footprints, waterfalls and a superb viewpoint.
Phu Wiang Museum, 5km before the park, has palaeontology and geology displays, including full-size models of the dinosaur species that once lived in the area. Kids will love it. They'll also go ape over the giant photogenic dinosaur statues in nearby Si Wiang Dinosaur Park. Wiang Kao, the district inside the horseshoe-shaped mountains that comprise the park, is a fruit-growing area and a great place to explore by car, if you want to look at traditional village life.
The park has one 12-person bungalow and a campsite. Simple food is available during the day only.
The park entrance is 90km west of Khon Kaen. Buses from Khon Kaen's ordinary bus terminal go to Phu Wiang town (40B to 50B, 1½ hours, every half-hour) where you can hire a túk-túk (400B return) or motorbike taxi (200B) for the remaining 19km to the park entrance. If you only pay for a one-way trip, you'll risk not being able to get a ride back.