1 Prasat Hin Phnom Rung Set at the top of an extinct volcano, this splendid 12th-century Khmer temple complex some 260km north-east of Bangkok was the predecessor of the Angkor Wat. Legend has it that Suryavarman II (1112-1152) drew his inspiration for Angkor from this temple. This Hindu religious sanctuary, built in honour of the god Shiva, was painstakingly constructed during several centuries by the Khmer rulers. A statue of Nandin the bull, Shiva's mount, sits proudly in the eastern chamber of the central sanctuary. The buildings of the stone sanctuary were astronomically aligned so that during April each year, often at the time of the Songkran Festival, the rays from the rising sun could be seen through all 15 doors. Annual celebrations bring the area to life with music and dance performances, showings of sandstone carvings and Khmer history exhibitions. 2 Prasat Hin Muang Tam Whereas Phnom Rung was for the exclusive use of the ruling class, Muang Tam - in the foothills of the Phnom Rung mountain - was available to the common folk. Although most of its chambers lie in crumbled mounds, it's still worth seeing for its L-shaped ornamental lotus ponds, which are impressive against the backdrop of the historical ruins. Muang Tam's baray, or reservoir, is immense and was constructed to represent the oceans surrounding Mount Meru, the home of the Hindu gods. 3 Prasat Hin Phimai Standing on the banks of the Mun River, the major waterway of the region, Phimai was one of the main stopovers en route to the heart of the Khmer empire at Angkor Wat. Built during the reign of Suryavarman I (1001-49), it's one of Thailand's most extensively restored Khmer temples. Whereas many ancient temples are located in isolated spots, part of Prasat Hin Phimai's charm lies in its incongruous position in the centre of the small town of Phimai. On special occasions townsfolk present a sound and light historical show within the temple courtyard. Originally a shrine dedicated to Shiva, the place was later transformed into a Mahayana Buddhist temple. Its lintels and pediments portray scenes from the Indian epic Ramayana. 4 Thao Suranari monument Every year, thousands of people from neighbouring towns and provinces gather around the monument to honour the memory of Khun Ying Mo, a brave woman who saved the city from the invading Laotian army. In 1825, Prince Anuwong of Vientiane moved his troops in to free Vientiane from rule by Bangkok. Legend has it that the city was taken by surprise and Khun Ying Mo, wife of the deputy governor, led the defence by plying the troops with liquor and gathering the townsfolk to fight for their freedom. 5 Night bazaar The town's main night bazaar, full of jostling crowds, is a popular spot for locals - meaning prices are lower than at many of the more touristy places in Thailand. Wrap your lips around some crispy fried grasshoppers, water bugs, silk worms and other delicious crunchies. If you can't stomach bugs for dinner then tuck into sticky rice with fried pork, or sausages filled with rice, meat, vegetables, garlic and pepper. If you fancy a spot of shopping there's a large range of colourful shirts, shoes and handicrafts at bargain prices. 6 Dan Kwian Dan Kwian is Nakhon Ratchasima's main ceramics centre and a decorator's nirvana. Known throughout Thailand for rough-textured pottery used for interior and outdoor decoration, Dan Kwian and its potters have kept their pottery-making secrets within this enclave for generations. Ceramics are on sale everywhere and demonstrations of the potters' art can be arranged for a small contribution. Choose from sandstone statues, bowls and dishes of all sizes, jewellery, chimes, Khmer-style wall hangings and vases. Many of the larger businesses have excellent facilities for shipping their wares overseas. 7 Ban Prasat archaeological site In the 1970s the villagers of Ban Prasat uncovered a stash of skeletons, ornaments and other artefacts in their backyards. The Thai government excavated the site and built a protective structure over the pit. Today, the villagers proudly maintain a site containing remains from a pre-historic agricultural community believed to have flourished 3,000 years ago. Tourism in the village is beginning to blossom, with several villagers offering home stays and even organising wedding ceremonies for foreigners. 8 Khao Yai National Park Spreading across 2,170 square kilometres and four provinces, the park has an abundance of mountains, rivers and waterfalls. To spot elephants, Asiatic black bears, white-handed gibbons and deer, head into the forest early. If you're lucky you might come across a herd of white elephants at the main salt lick. 9 Wat Sala Loi Located on the banks of the Lam Takhong River, this remarkable temple was built to resemble a Chinese junk riding the waves. In 1973 the Siam Architects' Society presented the temple's architects with an award recognising the design's contribution to modern religious architecture. The walls of the building are decorated with Dan Kwian clay tiles depicting scenes from the life of Lord Buddha. A sculpture of Thao Suranari praying in the middle of a pond sits beside the small pagoda. 10 Pak Thong Chai silk Most of Thailand's silkworms are cultivated in this area. Although the country is home to some major silk factories, a large proportion of Thai silk comes from private dwellings in villages dedicated to its production. The area is the largest exporter of silk in Thailand and many of Bangkok's silk retailers have factories here. For more information go to www.thailand.net.au .