The history of the city of Chaiyaphum dates back to the Khmer Empire in the 12th
century, when it was a small city on the route from Angkor to Prasat Singh ( Kanchanaburi
province ). The Prang Ku remains from this time. In 1817 the area was settled again
by a group of Laotians led by Nai Lae, official from Viantiane Kingdom. At first
they settled in Baan Nam Khun Nong E Chan ( Nakhon Ratchasima province ), but soon
moved to the current site of Chaiyaphum, then called Baan Luang. When the Lao King
Anouvong of Viantiane declared war on Siam, the local ruler Jao Phraya Lae changed
allegiance and supported the Siamese troops. In 1826 he was killed by Laotian troops,
before these were defeated and all Laos became part of Siam. Jao Phraya Lae was renamed
by the Thai’s to Phraya Phakdi Chumpon and is still a local hero.
Chaiyaphum, the City of Phraya Lae the Brave, features many historical monuments
from its long and storied history, as well as spectacular natural beauty.
Chaiyaphum is a province located at the edge of Isan’s Korat plateau in the area
between the Central and the Northern regions of Thailand, and is therefore roughly
half forests and mountains, half plateau. It is a land of beautiful Dok Krachiao
( curcuma ) fields and abundant waterfalls, especially in the rainy season. Chaiyaphum’s
major mountain ranges include Phu Phang Hoei, Phu Laen Kha, and Phu Phaya Fo, the
origin of the Chi River.
Historically, Chaiyaphum is a place where many periods of civilization have overlapped,
including those of the disparate Dvaravati, Khmer, and Lan Xang kingdoms. Consequently,
many archaeological remains and objects have been found across the province. In more
modern times, Chaiyaphum acted as a border town during the reign of King Narai the
Great of the Ayutthaya period. The town was again abandoned but reappeared in the
early Ratanakosin era as a destination where migrants from Vientiane, Loas settled;
their leader, called Lae, sided with the Thai’s in a regional uprising and was appointed
the first governor of modern-day Chaiyaphum by a grateful King of Thailand.
Besides its storied history, Chaiyaphum Province is famous for its natural beauty,
best appreciated in its four national parks: Tat Thon National Park features dry
dipterocarp forests, Sai Thong National Park contains the spectacular Sai Thong waterfall,
Pa Hin Ngam National Park includes some odd rock formations, and Phu Laen Kha National
Park has dense forests, breathtaking waterfalls, and rocky mountain cliffs. Chaiyaphum
is a region filled with a variety of exotic flora and fauna and visitors can enjoy
jungle trekking, camping, and swimming in its outstanding natural parks.
Most people in Chaiyaphum province are ethnically Lao. The first language of most
people is the Isan language, a dialect of the Lao language.
Principal crops in Chaiyaphum include rice, tapioca, sugar cane and taro root. Chaiyaphum
is renowned as a centre for the Thai silk industry.