If you’re planning a trip to the Isan provinces, especially if you’ll travel between Mahasarakham and Kalasin, and you’re a fan of roads, you may be interested in this odd attraction between the two provinces. The Thai Highways Department proudly presents the Largest Kilometre Stone in the World.
One side of the stone shows distances in kilometres: Kalasin 113 , Khon Kaen 190, Nakhon Ratchasima 373, Bangkok 632, Trad 772, and Narathiwat 1781.
The Highways Department claims that the kilometre stone located at km 21+750 on the Mahasarakham-Kalasin highway (Highway 213) is the largest kilometre stone in the world, however I can’t confirm that fact. The area around the stone is called “Rachamangkalapisek Park.” Another notable feature is that the road curves like a snake downhill through the park; therefore that section of road is called “Khong Ping Ngoo” or Toasted Snake Curve. Going off-topic there is a roadside vendor who sells grilled fish and sticky rice in the park so its also a nice picnic site.
According to the information sign posted nearby, its dimensions are three times the dimensions of a standard kilometre stone. It cost 15,000 baht and was completed on 15 November 1997.
The dimensions of a standard kilometre stone are 40 x 30 x 70 cm topped with a triangle shaped roof measuring 8 cm high. So the largest stone will measure 120 x 90 x 210 cm topped with a 24 cm high triangle.
On the 40 cm sides, the highway route number is painted inside a “krut” (a mythical birdlike creature used as the symbol of the Thai Government). The stone is cut to make the krut stick out of the stone on a square which also sticks out. Under the route number, the distance in kilometres from the beginning of the route is painted. Sometimes, there is a km 0 stone. One side faces the road. The other faces out from the road.
On the 30 cm sides, the distances to major destinations on the route (sometimes off route) are painted. These sides face the viewer as he or she approaches them in a car. So a person in a car heading towards Bangkok will see the distance to Bangkok and destinations in between. A person in a car heading towards Pattaya will see the distance to Pattaya and destinations in between.
Another side of the stones shows distances to: Sakol Nakhon 15, Nakhon Phanom 108, Udon Thani 174, Nong Khai 225, Chieng Mai 872, and Mae Sai 1030
Nothing is painted on the top of kilometre stones. The stones are placed every 1 km either on both sides or only on either side of the highway. They can also be placed in the centre median of dual carriageways. Every highway maintained by the Highway Department and some highways built by other agencies have them. But in urban areas they can be hard to spot or they are non-existent. Usually they are replaced by small green metal markers which don’t have the destination distances.
If you can’t afford a GPS navigation system, don’t worry. As long as you don’t plan to go off-road, don’t bother getting one. The stones are helpful enough. They can be used to pinpoint your location on a highway when used with a highway map. I prefer the map published by the Roads Association of Thailand available in book or folded format and sold in many book stores. The stones also tell you what route you’re on and which direction you’re traveling.
A view of the park, notice that the road in the right hand side reappears on the left hand side, showing how curvy the road is. In the background it is more curvier like a zig zag.
I visited the site on the first day of 2004 and had lunch there. (tasty grilled fish)