Nang Rong is in no way itself a tourist destination, it is simply the nearest town to the Phanom Rung Historical Park and a convenient base for visiting the temples. That said, this perfectly normal Thai town's general lack of tourism makes it an interesting example of the elusive "real" Thailand.
In these places with fewer tourists little English is spoken and there is far less roman (A-Z) versions e.g. destination names on buses are only in Thai script, menus (when available) are only in Thai script. But locals are very helpful so it is not a problem.
Motorbike and taxi drivers at the bus station are available but just tell them “it’s walking distance” and they wont persist. Nang Rong is small and if you know where you're going you can walk. Even more fortunately, in the bus station there are several boards that give information about the town and the region, one of these boards has a plan of the town with accommodation marked.
Few (if any) tuk-tuks around town. Hotels can organise a taxi to take you to, wait and return from one or both the sites below, Phanom Rung only ฿800, both sites ฿1000 (for 1 to 4 people). If you are alone (1 person) enquire as motorbikes will do the same for ฿600 (both sites). It’s unlikely your diver will speak any English; just driving you around not acting as a guide.
- 1 Historical Park (อุทยานประวัติศาสตร์พนมรุ้ง) (east on Hwy 24 until the Ta Ko junction, turn right, then after a few kilometres turn left. The route from Nang Rong is well sign posted. Total distance about 35 km.). Prasat Hin Phanom Rung is a Hindu shrine dedicated to the God Shiva. It's an atmospheric pile in pretty good condition set on top of an extinct volcano. The surrounding land as far as the eye can see is flat plains, which make for some inspiring horizon gawking. Locals say to get there earlier (morning) when there will be fewer people visiting the site. 100 baht.
- 2 Prasat Hin Mueang Tam (ปราสาทหินเมืองต่ำ) (8 km beyond Phanom Rung. The route is well marked.). A Khmer sanctuary with outstanding architecture. Don’t forget to visit the site tourist information centre between the school and the lake outside site, outside the park on the road - it’s quite well hidden but has free pamphlets in several languages (incl. English) as well and a small exhibition. Today, anyone can find sanctuary in the peaceful gardens surrounding the ruins. Take a picnic. 100 baht.
A discounted ticket can be bought for both sites for 150 baht (buy at either site).
Rent a motorbike at Honey Inn and go for a country drive. The roads are in excellent condition. The drive up the hill to the temple has some brilliant viewing points. Isaan is poor and neglected region, so detour through the countryside and see rural Thailand. Arrange an early start and head out at dawn to avoid the scorching sun and tourist buses. Free maps and directions (enough to get you to the temples) are available at Honey Inn.
There's not much but there is at least a 7-Eleven and a Tesco Lotus.
There is a night market catering for local needs (this town is not a tourist destination).
ATMs are everywhere.
There's a smattering of cheap, pleasant, nondescript eateries. You won't starve - unless you are vegetarian and then you might live of Oreos from the 7-11s.
There is at least one bar but well hidden. Use restaurants or hostels/hotels sell drinks.
- 1 Honey Inn, 8/1 Soi Sri Koon (From the bus station head to the main road (Rte 24) and head right. Turn left between the tile shop and the hospital. Where the road turns left there is another lane continuing straight, Honey Inn is on the right about 20 m up), ☏ . Basic fan or air-con rooms, free Wi-Fi or use of a computer (20 baht/hour), laundry service, and breakfast served in the morning. Motorbikes are available for hire (300-400 baht), making the temples accessible without requiring scheduled transport or a driver. 250-350 baht.
- 2 Nangrong Hotel, 243 Praditpana Rd (near the morning market, night market & 7-Eleven), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Free Wi-Fi. Comfortable rooms. Free coffee, toast & jam at breakfast. Friendly and helpful. Owner speaks fluent English but most staff don’t but they are very helpful so it’s not a problem. ฿500.
- 3 PhanomrungPuri Hotel and Resort (Buriram Hotel), 212 Prachantakhet Rd (About 1 km from the intersection of Nang Rong’s downtown heading to Lam Plai Mat (Cham Ni) district), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A boutique hotel with Khmer architecture. Free Wi-Fi.
Wi-Fi/internet in hotels is OK; not “fast” so uploading photos can be slow but connections seem stable.