One of the best places to stargaze and watch meteor showers in Thailand is Pha Dong Ko (ผาดงก่อ) viewpoint, located in the Northeastern Thai province of Sakon Nakhon. This clifftop vantage point is atop Phu Pha Lek mountain, and is the highest peak in the Phu Phan Mountain range, which stretches across Sakon Nakhon and neighboring provinces, such as Kalasin, Udon Thani, and Mukdahan.
Pha Dong Ko has a stargazing platform called Song Dao Tower (หอส่องดาว), which is beautifully designed in a Buddhist style, appearing like a pagoda that one might see at a Thai temple. The viewpoint is very isolated — far away from the lights of civilization. Even the villages below the mountain do not emit much light at night, making it the perfect place to stargaze and watch meteor showers. Indeed, many visitors are shocked at the appearance of the night sky lit up with so many stars, which is why the TAT recently launched the Amazing Dark Sky in Thailand tourism project.
The best time of year to watch meteor showers in Thailand is November through February, after the rainy season is over and the night sky is brilliantly clear most days, with no smoke from the burning off of rice fields. Pha Dong Ko is therefore a great viewpoint to watch the Southern and Northern Taurids meteor shower in November, the Leonids meteor shower (also in November), and the Geminids meteor shower in December.
Meteor showers in Thailand are of course best viewed when not interfered with by the light of the moon. Thus you don’t want a full moon during the meteor shower, but a waxing or waning moon, or (best of all) a new moon, when there is no moon visible at all. This year (2023), the best meteor showers to be viewed in Thailand are the Northern Taurids (Nov.11th-12th) and the Geminids (Dec. 13th-14th), when there will only be 2-3% illumination interference from the moon.
If you would like to visit Pha Dong Ko to watch a meteor shower, you can fly from Bangkok to either the Sakon Nakhon airport or the Udon Thani airport. The flight is only about an hour and often costs less than $40 US. You’ll need to rent a car or hire a van driver to take you to Phu Pha Lek in the Song Dao district of Sakon Nakhon. It’s about 90 minutes from downtown Udon Thani and 1 hour and 45 minutes from Sakon Nakhon city.
Pha Dong Ko is one of those Thailand off the beaten track destinations that attracts only a few visitors. So, even on the night of a meteor shower, the viewpoint will rarely be crowded. The few local Thai stargazers who are there will welcome the unexpected appearance of a foreign tourist, and you’ll likely be offered to share in the Thai food and drink they have brought with them.
If would like to combine your stargazing with some camping, we would recommend Phu Phan National Park, which is much closer to downtown Sakon Nakhon, but has a camping area is an excellent place to watch a meteor shower in Thailand.