East of Khorat the bleached plains roll on, broken only by the occasional small town and, if you’re travelling along Highway 24, the odd tantalizing glimpse of the smoky Phanom Dangkrek mountain range above the southern horizon. That said, it’s well worth jumping off the Surin-bound bus for a detour to the fine Khmer ruins of Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung and Prasat Muang Tam. Built during the same period as Phimai, and for the same purpose, the temple complexes form two more links in the chain that once connected the Khmer capital of Angkor with the limits of its empire. Sited dramatically atop an extinct volcano, Phanom Rung has been beautifully restored, and the more recently renovated Muang Tam lies on the plains below. Most people visit in the morning, so if you’re staying in nearby Buriram or Nang Rong, consider visiting in the afternoon when the sites are less crowded.