From Khon Kaen’s Ordinary Bus Terminal, I took a 8.20am bus heading to Khorat, stating that I wanted to stop at Talat Khae, in order to transfer to Phimai. The journey took about 2 hours, ticket was 105 baht. Talat Khae does not have a bus terminal, so the bus just stops at a main junction along the main highway from Khon Kaen to Khorat. In order not to miss the stop, I started paying close attention to the names of places the bus attendant was calling out nearing the 2-hour mark, as well as looked out for road signs indicating the “exit” for Phimai, which is where I was to stop.
After getting off the south-bound bus, I crossed the main highway and waited for the bus to Phimai at a sheltered bus stop where many others (all locals) were already waiting. Within 10 minutes, I was on a non-air-conditioned bus originating from Khorat heading to Phimai. This leg of the journey took about 15 min and cost 15 baht.
Prasat Hin Phimai (100 baht) is right smack in the centre of the small town of Phimai, so the bus practically stops right by it. I left my big bag at the ticket counter, as I did not intend to stay the night in Phimai but push on to Nang Rong instead. Considered by some to be the model for the much grander Angkor Wat, Prasat Hin Phimai is best viewed around noon as the main entrance faces south.
I rented a bicycle from Boonsiri Guesthouse at 20 baht for an hour, in order to cycle to Sai Ngam, which has Thailand’s largest and oldest (>350 years old) banyan tree. As I was leaving Boonsiri Guesthouse after the rental, the elderly lady owner (who spoke little English) kindly gave me two bananas, and I asked her where I could eat Pad Phimai, the town’s specialty. She said she would prepare the dish for me which I gladly accepted. At 35 baht, it contained egg and meat (not always the case), and was at just the right level of spiciness for me. Delicious!
To get to Nang Rong, I first took a bus to Khorat from the bus stop opposite the Phimai National Museum (100 baht; I was the only visitor during my visit). The bus was air-conditioned this time and the 75 minute journey cost 50 baht. It was 5pm by the time I arrived in Khorat, and the next bus to Nang Rong left at 5.40pm, arriving at Nang Rong’s bus terminal just before 8pm.
It was already dark but I quickly got my bearings and walked to my first choice for accommodation: Nang Rong Hotel. Unfortunately, the 250 baht single room with fan and private bathroom did not have hot water, and I did not feel like paying 100 baht more for an air-conditioned room which had hot water. So I walked on to P.California Inter Hostel, where there was a comfortable single room (in the carpeted main house) with fan and private bathroom (with hot water) for 300 baht. There was also free usable wifi which I could access in the room.