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Isan (Thailand)

Содержание
General
Amnat Charoen
Khon Kaen
Maha Sarakham
Nakhon Phanom
Nakhon Ratchasima
Nong Khai
Phimai
Preah Vihear
Roi Et
Si Saket (province)
Si Saket
Surin
Ubon Ratchathani
Udon Thani
Статьи
Wikitravel. Isan (Thailand). 01.2008.

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Isaan (อีสาน; also Isan, Isarn and even Esarn), Thailand's north-east region, is an often overlooked part of the country. There's no coastline, so there are no beaches to draw in the sun hungry crowds; however, Isaan is a multicultural area where Laos, Cambodia and Thailand meet, and has a rich history. A mainly agricultural region, it's the poorest part of Thailand. There's a good chance that your tuk-tuk driver in Bangkok originally hailed from Isaan, but went to the big city in search of work.
 Understand
Isaan is a wonderful part of Thailand to visit if you have tired of Khao San Road, one temple after another, or the beach. The relative isolation and underdevelopment of the area mean that Isaan is one of the poorest regions of Thailand; this also means that it is a good place to get a little off the beaten track.
 Talk
While the national language Thai is dominant and well-understood, the local Isaan dialect is closely related to Lao. Khmer is also widely spoken in areas near the Cambodian border. Although the person you meet in the market might speak little or no English, it's more likely than not that they are already bilingual or multilingual.
 Get in
 By plane
Provinces with airports, and flights to/from Bangkok (links are to provincial capitals):
 By bus
Frequent bus services go everywhere.
 By train
Regular train services connect Bangkok with Ubon Ratchathani (via Nakhon Ratchasima, Buriram, Surin, Si Saket and other stations along the way) and Nong Khai (via Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, etc).
 Get around
Depending on where you're coming from and where you want to get to, buses, minibuses, songthaews, motorbikes and bicycles are all good ways to get around.
The train system is also a good way to get around, however the number of locations served is limited.
 Eat
Isaan cuisine borrows heavily from Lao cuisine and is distinctly different from central Thai cooking, although there has been a considerable amount of cross-pollination. Perhaps the best-known Isaan dish is som tam (or tam mak hung in Lao/Isaan), a spicy salad prepared from unripe papayas. While Thais prepare this with dried shrimp, in Isaan the preferred style is with preserved crab (puu) or mudfish, an acquired taste. Other characteristic dishes include roast chicken (kai yaang), sticky rice (khao niaw) and a wide variety of cold meat, mint and lemon juice "salads" known as larb.
A word of warning: Isaan food is known even among Thais for being fiery hot!
Amnat Charoen
Amnat Charoen (อำนาจเจริญ) is the capital of Amnat Charoen Province in Isaan, the eastern region of Thailand.
 Do
There's really not much to do here. When some locals were asked what they did for fun they replied "We go to Ubon Ratchathani". If you're lucky you might stumble on a fair.
Khon Kaen
Khon Kaen (ขอนแก่น) is the provincial capital of Khon Kaen Province.
 Get in
 By plane
Thai Airways flies from Bangkok to Khon Kaen and back again three times a day.
 By train
 By bus
Busses to/from Bangkok's Northern (Moh Chit) Bus Terminal depart every 15 minutes from early until late.
 By car
It's easy to get to Khon Kaen by car - just follow the four lane Highway 2.
 Get around
Numbered songthaews charge 8 baht/person/trip (pay when you get out). Just wave your hand and the songthaew will stop to let you get on; ring the bell and it will stop again to let you get off.
 See
Wat Nong Wang is a nine storey temple beside Bung Kaen Nakhon lake
Wat Kham Khen
 Buy
Khon Kaen is famous for its silk.
There is a food market in the centre of the town.
There are two shopping centres (Oasis Plaza and Fairy Plaza), a Big C and a Tesco Lotus.
 Eat
Duan's Restaurant German and Thai food, at Am-Mart Street
First Choice. Opposite Sofitel.
Pizza Uno. Pizzas, European and Thai Food, in the City Center.Location and menu
 Drink
Zolid Discotheque (located in Hotel Charoen Thani Princess)
Club 172 (located in the High Tech plaza) has erotic dancers
 Sleep
Charoen Thani Princess
Europe Guesthouse, 23/5 Nikon Samran Road, Nai Muang; +66-43271083 [1] - European managed guesthouse with rooms from 230 baht
Kaen Inn
Kosa
Roma
Sofitel
Maha Sarakham
Maha Sarakham (มหาสารคาม, also spelt Mahasarakham) is the provincial capital of Maha Sarakham Province.
 Get in
Regular bus service from several nearby cities is available daily. Banner signs at the bus station are printed in Thai and English. You may either purchase a ticket before you get on the bus, or just pay in baht after you get on the bus.
In February 2007, bus fare from Khon Kaen to Maha Sarakham was 45 baht for a one way ticket.
The last bus out of town is often at 6 or 7 pm, so inquire before you stay too long.
 Buy
There is a modern shopping center on the main street between the bus station and the Taksila hotel. Here you will find the obligatory KFC restaurant, several banks as well as excellent street food vendors.
 Sleep
Taksila Hotel - nice, but not spectacular, accommodation. Room prices start around 700 baht per night (February 2007)
Nakhon Phanom
Nakhon Phanom (นครพนม) is the provincial capital of Nakhon Phanom Province.
 Understand
Nakhon Phanom is on the North Eastern region of Thailand, approximately 456 miles northeast of Bangkok and 235 miles southwest of Hanoi, Vietnam. It borders LAOS on the Khamoun Province or the Tha Khaek district. Nakhon Phanom was well known during the days of Vietnam war, serving the American Forces of the 56th Air Commando Wing, hosted by Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base. The mission of the American Forces were search and rescue and interdiction of the Ho Chi Minh Trails in Laos 30 miles to the east.
The city is beautiful landscape with the Mekong river running adjacent to the city marking the current border between Thailand and Laos. A bridge has been recently approved (Dec 2007) and will be built across the Mekong at Nakhon Phanom in the next few years.
The population of Nakhon Phanom is a diverse mix of Thais, Thai-Vietnamese, Thai-Chinese and perhaps a few Thai-Indians. The main languages spoken are Thai, Isaan and Vietnamese. Isaan being the most popular of them. The primary culture is Lao as Isaan was part of Laos until the late 19th century. Ho Chi Minh resided in a small village between the city center and the air base to the west during the late 1920's and early 1930's. A new museum has been constructed and his home preserved and opened to the public which draws many Vietnamese tourist.
Although a small town Nakhon Phanom is famous for its centuries old temples and beautiful landscape. The city has a reserved and traditional Isaan culture. A traveller may well find the residents of the city to be very hospitable and kind. The surrounding villages have many tribal clutures unique to Isaan and Laos.
 Get in
The two most common means of getting to Nakhon Phanom from Bangkok is by road in Private tour busses and also government operated tour busses. These busses start from the central North and North Eastern Bus Terminal or Moh Chit in Bangkok. The fare for bus travel ranges from 300 to 850 Baht depending on the type of bus. A more convenient and more popular bus type is the VIP Air conditioned busses operated by the Transport Authority of Thailand. It operates under the label 99 or 999. This busses are 24 seater with seats as confortable as seats in the business class of an aeroplane. A toilet is also available inside the bus. The distance between Nakhon Phanom and Bangkok is approximately 740 km. This is about a 10 hour bus journey. Although it seems long, a bus travelling out of Moh Chit at 7:15 pm arrives at Nakhon Phanom at 5:30 am. and busses leaving from Nakhon Phanom to Bangkok leaves at 6:00 pm and arrives at 4:30 am. The many conveniences and comforts available in the bus guarantees a convenient ride.
The other more convenient but a more expensive alternative is the air travel. PB air operates most of the Air planes travelling to and from Nakhon Phanom. The flights alternate between morning and evening flight on every other day of the week. For more information please contact [www.pbair.com] The flight time is about 45 minutes. A much more convenient means of travel for the time sensitive travelers. A one way flight from Bangkok to Nakhon Phanom costs approximately 2900 baht.
There are currently no trains travelling to the city. The closest train terminal is about a 4 hour ride away in the citie of Ubon, Udon or Nongkhai.
 By plane
2 times a day from Bangkok
 Get around
The most convenient ways to get around the city are the famous three wheelers of the North East, more commonly referred to as "Sky Lap" There are also busses and vans running to other provinces throughout the day easily accessible from the central bus terminal or in front of the local market.
 See
Temples are ofcourse the most visited places. Especially the Phra That Phanom Temple at the That Phanom Province 53 km from the Nakhon Phanom city center.
Sightseeing is another common reasons for visit by tourists. Tourists that are looking to stay away from other more crowded and busy tourist locations in the country or just need a getaway from the busy hustle bustle of the daily city life often travel to Nakhon Phanom to relax and see the more local and traditional Thai culture and their way of life.
Now a days with convenience of commute between Thai Laos and Vietnam, many tourist also travel through Nakhon Phanom and Laos to Vietnam. It is approximately a 5 hour journey to get into Vientam from Nakhon Phanom. Many local travel agents can arrange group visits to many attractions in Laos and Vietnam. Also with the business in Vietnam growing at ground breaking pace, many business travellers also travel through Nakhon Phanom into Vietnam for business trips, or to seek and learn about more business opportunities.
Travel to Tha Khaek across the Mekong into central Laos following Route 12 has recently become popular both for those seeing to visit the new jungle preserves created by the Democratic People's Republic of Laos as well as visit the location of the famous Ho Chi Minh Trails. Visa entry is now possible on the ferry between the two cities.
 Buy
Nakhon Phanom is famous for its silk fabric and silver ornaments. However, most of the silk pattern and manufacturing is accomplished on handmade looms in the local villages in traditional Lao style, known as Isaan today within Thailand. The silver is manufactured and crafted both within Issan and Laos.
 Eat
Nakhon Phanom has one of the best sticky rice and grilled chicken with papaya salad in the country. This local food is most popular amongst tourist travelling to Nakhon Phanom.
 Drink
There are local bars and areas of night life within the city. Although small, it is famous amongst the young population of the city that are looking to get out and party.
 Sleep
There are several hotels within the city ranging in prices and amenities offered. Amongst the most popular for travellers are:
  • Nakhon Phanom River View Hotel
  • Menamkong Grand view Hotel
  • Windsor Hotel
  • Srithep Hotel
 Get out
Nakhon Ratchasima
Nakhon Ratchasima (นครราชสีมา - usually referred to simply as Korat or Khorat) is the provincial capital of Nakhon Ratchasima Province, and is Thailand's 6th largest city.
 Get in
 By plane
As of June 2007, there are no longer any direct flights into Nakhon Ratchasima. The nearest airport with flights to/from Bangkok is at Buriram.
 See
Phimai Boat Races are held yearly by the people of Amphoe Phimai during the second weekend of November.
Village Farm Winery (just off Highway 304 at Wang Nam Kheao) tel. +66-44228407 [1]. This winery / bed & breakfast is situated amongst the rolling hills just next to Khao Yai National Forest and is designed to be natural getaway. Rooms start at 2000 baht for a dorm style room and 3800 baht for a room with private bathroom. Dinner with wine, breakfast, and a wine tasting are included. Because of the height above sea level, the area is cooler than normal. The Village Farm is a great place for a romantic or family weekend away from the rush, but you may want to look elsewhere if you are looking for a wide range of activities.
 Do
While it's not a resort town, there are plenty of things to do, including:
The Mall - a huge shopping mall with a quite beautiful waterfall theme
Waterslide park - has an Olympic-sized pool, great to do some laps and stay in shape
Landscaped jogging park - near the military base
Thai discos
Massage parlors
Cinema and bowling alley
 Contact
Modern Intenet cafés are plentiful and charge around 15-20 baht/hour.
 Get out
Phimai
Phimai (พิมาย) is a small town in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, Thailand.
 Get in
Local buses run approx. every 20 minutes (06:00-19:00) from the nearby provincial capital of Nakhon Ratchasima (also known as Khorat).
 Get around
The town itself is quite small and can be easily explored on foot. Visiting the Banyan Tree requires renting a bicycle, motorcycle, or taxi.
 See
Phimai is famous for the Phimai Historical Park and its Khmer temples, among the best-preserved in Thailand and similar (if much smaller) than those at Angkor Wat.
The largest banyan tree in Thailand is located approximately 2 km outside the center of town.
 Buy
The night market takes place every evening in the center of town (16:00-21:00). The Monday market takes place each Monday on the outskirts of town, near the new bus terminal and the Phimai Inn. The 8 market takes place on the 8th, 18th, and 28th of each month beyond the South Gate of Phimai, alongside the road leading to Baitey's and the Vocational School.
 Eat
The night market offers cheap food for more adventurous visitors (don't expect to be able to identify everything on display). Baitey's Restaurant, in its new location 1 km south of the city center, serves popular Thai and Chinese dishes, along with a few Western staples, in a scenic open-air setting. A small, unnamed restaurant behind the 7-11 is another good choice with an extensive English menu.
 Drink
The most obvious choice for late-night entertainment is a restaurant next to the 7-11 and across from the night market, in the center of town. Serving beer and whiskey until 01:00-02:00, it's a popular spot for young Thais (and foreigners) to gather for celebrations and musical performances. A young man plays guitar and sings every evening and will even play a handful of popular English songs if a foreigner is present. There are also various karaoke bars scattered in and around the city.
 Sleep
Old Phimai Guesthouse offers clean budget rooms and dorms in the center of town and is run by a friendly Thai family who are more than happy to answer any questions visitors might have. The guesthouse also has a communal front porch, kitchen, and book exchange, as well as tourist information posted in the lobby.
Phimai Hotel in the heart of the town offers air-conditioned rooms.
Phimai Inn is slightly more upscale and has a swimming pool and restaurant, but is a hike from town.
Nong Khai
Nong Khai (หนองคาย) is the provincial capital of Nong Khai Province in the north-eastern Isaan region of Thailand. The city lies on the western bank of the Mekong river, only 20km from Vientiane, the capital of Laos.
 Understand
Nong Khai is a sleepy Thai town with strong Lao influences, and is home to small Chinese and Vietnamese communities as well.
Most locals speak both Thai and the local dialect called Isaan, which is closely related to both the Thai and Lao languages. Many locals speak a little bit of English, mostly tourism-related words, and are generally very friendly and helpful if you smile and are polite.
 Get in
 By plane
The nearest airport (on the Thai side) is in Udon Thani, 56km away. There are direct shuttle buses four times a day between the airport and the Friendship Bridge (2km outside Nong Khai), plus taxis and minibuses that will take you in to Nong Khai proper.
Thai Airways and Air Asia operate flights between Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Udon Thani. Nok Air operates a service between Bangkok (Don Muang) and Udon.
 By bus
There are departures to Udon Thani at least once per hour from the BKS station on the main drag, Prajak road. The hour-long ride costs 20 baht in 3rd class (non-air con).
There are several departures daily from Bangkok (~9 hours), and across the border direct from Vientiane (55 baht, 17000 kip, two hours) via the Friendship Bridge.
A 1st class bus service connects Nong Khai directly with Suvarnabhumi Airport (the new BKK).
 By train
Until the long-awaited extension to Vientiane materializes, Nong Khai is the terminus of the Thai railway line from Bangkok via Khon Kaen and Udon Thani. A first class sleeper ticket from Bangkok to Nong Khai or vice versa is currently about 1200 baht, and a second class sleeper ticket (surprisingly comfortable for the price) is about 700 baht. Sleepers often sell out at peak times so you may need to book in advance.
 Get around
The only mode of public transport in the city is by tuk-tuk. Although the price has gone up recently due to the increased cost of gasoline, they remain inexpensive at 20-30 baht/person to anywhere around the city centre.
Some tuk-tuk drivers will ask for much more than 20-30 baht/person, but you can generally bargain with them to reach a reasonable price. When bargaining, smile and be patient and polite.
A trip to or from the Friendship Bridge will cost upwards of 70 baht if only one passenger is on board.
Another great way to discover Nong Khai and its surroundings is by bicycle. Some guesthouses and several rental places around town offer bicycles (30 baht/day) and motorbikes (200 baht/day). Lower prices can usually be negotiated for longer rentals - try the rental stand outside the Mut Mee guesthouse.
 See
Nong Khai has one sight that cannot be missed - Sala Kaew Ku (also known as Wat Khaek), located 6km east of Nong Khai on Highway 212.
This utterly bizarre park of massive sculptures (some over 20m tall) is the handiwork of the mystic Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, who bought the land in 1978 when he was kicked out of his native Laos - a similar park of his earlier work remains near Vientiane. Synthesizing Buddhism and Hindu ideologies, Buddhas, many-armed goddesses, naga snakes and all sorts of human-animal hybrids dominate the scenery. Entry is a non-obligatory 10 baht donation.
There is no direct public transport and you might find it a little tricky to get back, so you're best off arranging a return ride with a tuk-tuk (100 baht or so, including the cost of the driver waiting one hour).
Particularly noteworthy is the Wheel of Life, depicting his theory of the cycle of life; you enter via from a womb-shaped tunnel and walk the circle past statues depicting the stages.
Luang Pa's mummified remains are enshrined on the third floor of the Sala Kaew Ku pavilion itself.
 Do
Nong Khai is a charming city to wander around on foot or rented bicycle (30 baht/day) and meet the friendly and helpful locals. It's also a good place from which soak up the Isaan culture of the neighbouring towns, which can easily be reached by bus from the main BKS ("Bor-kor-sor") bus station in the city centre, on Prajak road.
If you expect the usual tourist traps of Bangkok and Phuket, you will be disappointed. There are no superclubs, go-go bars and mega malls to fill your hours. This is a place to chill by the Mekong river watching passenger and cargo boats transit between Thailand and Laos, or to finish that paperback that has been sitting in your luggage for weeks. You may also consider stocking up on travel necessities before trudging on to Laos. Many who have planned an overnight stay for transit means have ended up staying for weeks.
For those interested in Muay Thai boxing lessons on a long-term basis, go to the boxing stadium beside the Grand Hotel and inquire from ex-Muay Thai boxing national champion Arjarn Lart, a friendly local who speaks just enough English to get you by. This is the real deal, so do not expect an air-conditioned gym with cushy floor mats surrounded by ceiling high mirrors.
During the months from January to May when the Mekong river level resides to its lowest, the Jomanee ("Joe-mar-nee") 'beach' appears near the Friendship Bridge, 2km west of town. Food and drink vendors readily provide mats, shade and music for the hundreds of locals - and two or three tourists - who patronise their stalls. An excellent spot to watch the sunset.
 Buy
There are plenty of banks with ATMs in town, in particular on the main drag, Prajak road, and on Meechai road, which is runs parallel and to the north of Prajak road. Some ATMs limit the amount you can take out to 3,000 baht/day. The ones inside Tesco-Lotus near the cashiers allow up withdrawls up to 25,000 baht. The only bank branch open on Saturdays is at the Tesco-Lotus mall. If you stand in front of the main entrance pass the building on the right side and enter near the bookshop.
The recently renovated Thasadej market is a 500m covered alley market beside the Mekong river, where one can find hand made Thai and Lao products, Chinese teas, cheap (and often low quality) electronics, clothes and a bewildering assortment of other items. It's open daily 08:00-18:00.
South of town on the Udon Thani road is a Tesco-Lotus, a fully-fledged western-style supermarket with satellite shopping arcade and a cinema.
 Eat & Drink
The majority of Nong Khai locals eat out at the dozens of restaurants and bars along the Rimkhong (the riverside road) at the east end of town. Food here is cheaper and often better than in the town centre. English not always spoken but increasingly Nong Khai restaurants have menus in more than one language. One of the better European-style bars, The Bridge Bar [1], is also in this area. And floating on the Mekong river below Wat Hai Sok is the romantic Gaia Bar [2]
There are also many Thai food vendors along Prajak road that sell excellent cheap food.
Both of the above areas are aimed principally at evening customers, so many eateries don't open until after dark. However, there are a number of Thai (and European) establishments in and around Thasadej market which are open during the day.
Ruan Thai Coffee & Breakfast, Rim Kong road (near Surreal). Run by a very pleasant young Thai woman who does her best to speak English. The prices are a little high, but the food is excellent and the restaurant itself is also quite nice.
Surreal, Rim Kong Rd (near the Thasadej market). A must-stop for many passing through. An old abandoned wooden house converted into a lounge-bar. Surreal bar & restaurant has a nice view of the Mekong, fruit shakes, music and cocktails. The pool table is free to use for customers. You can also buy, trade and sell second-hand books there.
Dee Dee and Thai Thai on Prajak road, the main street in Nong Khai, are two Chinese-style diners right next to one another that serve good Thai and Chinese food. They are open later than most other restaurants.
Daeng Naem Nueang, along the Mekong on Rim Kong road slightly downstream from Surreal and just upstream from the Tha sadej market, is a Vietnamese restaurant widely acclaimed among Thai and Vietnamese residents of Nong Khai. The staff are friendly, but not all proficient in English, so bringing a Thai friend would help a lot. They also offer pre-made take-away packages of 'naem neuang' (a delicious Vietnamese dish) if you want to eat at home instead.
Im Im Dim Sum Serving dim sum, noodle, fried snacks, coffee and tea. Located in downtown Nong Khai, Soi Sook Pracha near the PP Sport Centre.
 Sleep
Budget accommodation is of good value, extensive and affordable relative to the other more popular cities of Thailand.
Mut Mee Guesthouse [3], by the Mekong River. Long-established. In a large tree filled garden overlooking the river, it has both simple and higher quality rooms. It has a boat called the Nagarina which cruises on the river at sunset and a beautiful floating bar, known as Gaia, which opens at night. Yoga & meditation classes are also available.
Amazon Guesthouse: a garden guesthouse. Laid-back but efficient accommodation. Close to the natural park and Mekong River. Has an outdoor lounge area where you can relax with a book and enjoy views of the river.
Mekong Guesthouse, also by the Mekong river on the bridge side of the market has rather expensive rooms with aircon but they also have a dorm for 150 baht with hot shower and TV. There's a good chance of being the only person in there too.
Friendship Guesthouse, in the Soi right next to the Sawasdee G.H. (402 Meechai Rd), on the left side towards the Mekhong. It's only 10 minutes from the bus station by foot, so save the 20 baht because the G.H. is a bit expensive, but one of the most beautiful and romantic places in town. A renovated dark-red wooden house set in a lush garden with beautiful double rooms for about 400 baht.
The Meeting Place [4] is a Western guest house with rooms from 200-350 baht with air-con. Best to call for a reservation.
Khiang Khong Guest House, beside the river. A new guest house, family run. Good rooms, hot water, comfortable beds.
 Get out
Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is just across the Mekong, and most visitors can get visas on arrival at the border.
Roi Et
Roi Et is the provincial capital of Roi Et Province.
 Eat
101 PIZZA is on the street that circles the lake in the middle of Roi Et. Good western food - pizza, burgers,etc. Service is great by friendly staff. Owner Joe is from Canada and a fountain of information for the tourist.
Si Saket (province)
Si Saket (ศรีสะเกษ) is the provincial capital of Si Saket Province.
 See
Preah Vihear - ancient cliff-top temple adjacent to the Thai-Khmer border near Kantharalak.
Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew, more commonly known as Wat Lan Khuad ("Temple of a Million Bottles"), is a bizarre yet entirely serious Buddhist temple complex constructed entirely out of glass bottles. Even the pictures on the walls are assembled from bottle caps. The temple is in the small town of Khun Han in the south of the province, and is a worthwhile detour if visiting Preah Vihear with your own transport.
Si Saket
Si Saket (ศรีสะเกษ) is the provincial capital of Si Saket Province, in the Isaan region of Thailand, about 550 km north-east of Bangkok.
 Understand
Much of the local population are farmers earning an average of about 100 baht per day.
 Get in
The nearest airport is at Ubon Ratchathani.
 By bus
There are many bus services to destinations throughout Isaan and beyond, including Bangkok (approx. 8 hours).
 By train
The main north-east train line passes through Si Saket.
 Get around
There are neither meter-taxis nor tuk-tuks, but you can hire a motorbike-taxi or take a samlor (three-wheeled bicycle-taxi).
 See
Pra That Ruang Rong - a beautiful wat (temple) about 4km outside of Si Saket. By car/motorbike/motorbike-taxi: Follow the street towards Surin over the bridge and take a right towards "Rasi Salai", when you see the road-sign. Then turn right when you see the large blue sign depicting "Pra That Ruang Rong". Another minute and you have arrived. The whole complex takes about 90 minutes to visit. Open only in the daytime. Truly worth a visit if you are in the area!
Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew (more commonly known as Wat Lan Khuad or "Temple of a Million Bottles") - a bizarre yet entirely serious Buddhist temple complex constructed entirely out of glass bottles. Even the pictures on the walls are assembled from bottle caps. The temple is some 61km south of Si Saket, in the small town of Khun Han, and is a worthwhile detour if visiting Preah Vihear with your own transport.
 Eat
There are quite a few good restaurants in Si Saket.
 Drink
There are a few places you can go to in the evening/nightlife, one of the most famous being Sugars on Lak Muang Road. Then you could go off to the Nona disco on Kuang Heng road, and last but not least to the I-Bar at the Prompiman Hotel on Lak Muang Road, not far from the train station.
 Sleep
Kessiri Hotel
North-East Hotel
Prompiman Hotel
SP-Boutique Hotel
 Get out
  • Preah Vihear - ancient Khmer temple, about two hours to the south
Preah Vihear
Preah Vihear, also known as Prasat Khao Phra Wiharn in Thai, is an ancient temple adjacent to the border between Thailand and Cambodia.
 Understand
Preah Vihear is perched on a hilltop with a commanding view of its surroundings. Predating Angkor Wat by 100 years, the history of the temple/fortress is somewhat unclear, but it is known to be dedicated to the god Shiva and thought to have been constructed in the reign of Suryavarman I (1002-50), with further significant additions by Suryavarman II (1113-50).
Long considered to be inside Thailand, King Sihanouk of Cambodia claimed the temple on the basis of French colonial maps. The Thai government agreed to submit the dispute to the International Court of Justice, which in 1962 issued a controversial ruling awarding Preah Vihear to Cambodia - which soon after plunged into civil war. The temple was open to the public from Thailand (although unreachable from Cambodia) until 1975, when it was occupied by the Khmer Rouge (whose rusting artillery guns still litter the area). It re-opened from the Thai side in 1998, and in 2003 Cambodia completed the construction of a long-awaited access road allowing Cambodians to visit the temple.
 Get in
While the temple is located in Cambodia, access to the temple is possible both from Thailand as well, with no Cambodian visa required.
 From Thailand
The temple is at the end of Route 221, but public transport options are limited and the easiest option is to charter a car for the day (1000 baht and up, plus gas). The roads are surprisingly good and, depending on how hard your driver hits the gas pedal and/or how many water buffaloes decide to cross the road along the way, you can get there from Ubon in an hour and a half.
If this is out of your budget, the nearest town of any size is Kantharalak, which can be accessed by frequent public bus in 2 hours or so from the nearby towns of Ubon Ratchathani and Si Saket. For the last leg of the trip (34 km), however, you will have to hitchhike or charter a songthaew/tuk-tuk/moto taxi.
At the entry gate into Khao Phra Wiharn National Park, you will have to pay a 200 baht entry fee (Thais 20 baht); note that the park is open only from 08:00 to 15:30. The road ends at a large parking lot, the final leg (less than a kilometer) into Cambodian territory you will have to cover on foot. At the Thai immigration post you'll be charged an additional 5 baht for a second ticket, and you'll also have to show your passport - they'll take a photocopy, but no stamps are issued and no visas are needed. After the road ends, walk over the smooth rock surface to the entry gate and pay another 200 baht fee (this one to enter Cambodia) and get your ticket punched, and now you can proceed to the ruins.
 From Cambodia
A packed laterite access road from Siem Reap via Anlong Veng, a distance of over 200 km, was completed in 2003.
A new road has been constructed linking Siem Reap to Koh Ker. From there, it's an ardous day ride on badly worn out dirt and sand tracks to Preah Vihear.
You can also reach the place on a three days motorbike trip from Kompong Thom (view details)
 Get around
The only way to get around is on foot. The 500m elevation and the resulting breeze provide some relief, but it's still a hot and sticky 120m (vertical) up the hill.
From the Cambodian side, you can hire a motorbike-taxi to take you up the steep ascent to the temple.
 See
The Thai and Cambodian paths join together at the bottom of the slope (north end of the adjacent map), and from here the only way is up.
The fun starts with 162 stone steps, a fairly steep climb that will get you warmed up nicely. Your reward is a short set of stairs decorated with nagas and Gopura I, a solitary pavilion with a fluttering Cambodian flag.
A 500-meter gently climbing avenue leads up to Gopura II, another smallish pavilion, and a large boray (water cistern) to the left.
Yet another avenue (somewhat shorter this time) leads to, yes, Gopura III, but also the first courtyard of the temple and the first point where visitors to Angkor Wat will start feeling a sense of deja vu. Make a detour to the left side of the gopura to see relics of a more modern era, in the form of a rusting artillery gun and a few bunkers.
A short causeway decorated with nagas leads to the inevitable Gopura IV and behind it the second courtyard. On the other side of the courtyard is Gopura V, and beyond it the Main Sanctuary, the centerpiece of the site which now houses a miniature Buddhist temple.
But what makes the effort worthwhile lies just outside, so sneak out the left side to find yourself at Pei Ta Da Cliff, with a sheer 500-meter drop and a jaw-dropping vista of the Cambodian jungles below. To contemplate the view without getting sunstroke, locate the crevice that leads into a little cavern of sorts, with shade provided by the tip of the cliff overhead and, unfortunately, some barbed wire to spoil your pictures (and stop you from falling off).
There's one more sight worth seeing in the area, accessible only from the Thai side:
Pha Moh I-Daeng, clearly signposted from the parking lot and only a few hundred meters up the hill, is the present Thai border and the new home of the flagpole that previously fluttered on Pei Ta Da. There are more stunning views of Cambodian jungle here, including a side view of Preah Vihear - although seen from afar the buildings blend surprisingly well into the hillside. The cliff has an interesting bas-relief of three figures whose identities are still unknown. The carving is the oldest of Thailand. It seems to date from the 10th century when Koh Ker was the capital of the Khmer empire. A walkway gives easy access to the bas-relief which is on an overhanging part of the cliff. On the Thai side there is also a visitor centre with models and pictures of the temple complex.
 Buy
There are ramshackle assemblages of shacks at both the Thai parking lot and the Cambodian base of the hill, as well as all the way along the path up the hill in the temple area itself. These sell not only the expected T-shirts, postcards and cans of Pepsi, but premium cognac and cigarettes by the carton as well: it's tax-free shopping for the Thais! As foreign visitors are few, expected to be besieged by little boys and girls shouting "Hello" and hawking postcards, but they usually take the hint after a couple of "bye-byes".
 Eat
Places to eat are rarer on the ground than drink stalls, although there are some pretty basic grill stalls towards the end of the Thai parking lot shopping shacks.
For more selection and a semblance of hygiene, there are a number of roadside restaurants on the Thai side before the park entrance, along the road from Kantharalak.
 Drink
Drink stalls are ubiquitous along the trail.
 Sleep
There are only very basic accommodation options in the immediate vicinity.
Cambodia: the village at the foot of the mountain provides two or three very basic "guesthouses" in simple wooden shacks. There is also a wooden, very basic guesthouse (shower and loo outside) at the bottom of the steps, where the locals live . Electricity from 6pm to 10pm. (June/2006)
Thailand: the nearest place with a variety of accommodation is the town of Kantharalak (approx. 30 km), which is also the nearest place with direct bus services to Bangkok, Si Saket, Ubon Ratchathani, etc.
More distant Thai-side possibilities are the towns of Si Saket (approx. 95 km, and nearest train station), and Khu Khan (approx. 95 km, and most convenient place to stay near the border if travelling to/from Anlong Veng); and the city of Ubon Ratchathani (approx 120 km) - however, the most direct access to all these places is via Kantharalak.
 Stay safe
Land mines remain a real danger in the area, although the temple itself and the access paths have been painstakingly cleared by the HALO Trust. Stay on the beaten path, don't venture into any vegetation which has not been cleared recently, and heed the red warning signs, painted rocks and strings marking the limits of the demined area.
The cliffs are steep and no provisions are made to protect you from your own carelessness. Keep a very close eye on children.
 Get out
In Si Saket Province on the Thai side of the border, the Temple of a Million Bottles (Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew - more commonly known as Wat Lan Khuad) near Khun Han is a worthwhile detour.
Surin
Surin (สุรินทร์) is the provincial capital of Surin Province.
 Understand
Surin is the capital of the capital of Surin province. Its population is small, approximately 40,000 (bear in mind that the province itself is densely populated). It is about 450km from Bangkok and 50km from the Cambodian border. A quiet town, its one claim to fame is its annual 'Elephant Roundup', which takes place in November (book a room in advance).
 Get in
 By bus
There are convenient bus services from Bangkok's Northern Bus Terminal (Moh Chit).
 By train
There are several daily trains from Bangkok's Hualamphong Train Station.
 Get around
Surin is a small town, most journeys in the central area can be accomplished on foot. However, there are also sam-lors (rickshaws/'saam-law') and tuk-tuks. The larger hotels also have a car available for hire. Keep in mind that no one considers overcharging a foreigner to be a serious crime. A sam-lor ride around the central region of the town is 40 baht, a tuk-tuk maybe 50/60 baht for foreigners. If in doubt ask your hotel for advice. When 'getting off the bus' always be extra careful not to be taken for a ride while being taken for a ride.
 See
Elephant Roundup - a three day long event where elephants roam the streets of Surin and perform in various activities: soccer, beauty contests, battle re-enactments, etc.
 Do
Surin is not the most picturesque spot on the Earth, but it does have a few, small attractions.
Surin National Museum - as at May 2007 this Museum was not yet complete, however, it looks to be a good museum. It lies on the outskirts of town, a ride from anywhere else in Surin is a must.
Silk Village
Statue of the founder of Surin
Wats - Surin has several.
Elephant training village - at Tha Tum, about 60 km away.
 Khmer era temples
These stretch from the border westwards to Buriram Province. There are few organised tours (tourism is not overly big in Isaan). You can always find an (expensive) rental car, with driver, at your hotel, or it is possible to visit the major temples by using the local public transport system (this is very cheap). Ask you hotel or guest house for instructions. (Most signs at the bus and train station are in Thai, however, the staff are very helpful.)
Prasat Ta Meuan - a complex of three structures built in the 12th–13th centuries around the time of the Cambodian king Jayavarman VII. The largest building is Prasat Ta Meuan Thom. It is surrounded by an outer wall, and contains a large central, rectangular building on a north-south axis. To the south is Prasat Ta Meuan Toht, a smaller structure, with an outer wall. The last and smallest of three is Prasat Ta Meuan, a small building with no wall, approx 15m x 5m in size. All of these buildings show signs of disrepair and looting. A return journey by taxi to the complex will cost you 2000 baht (April 2007). There are occasional excursion buses, when there is sufficient interest. Check with your hotel or travel agent. There is no on-site English language assistance, nor much information about the complex. There may still be unexploded land mines from the days of the Khmer Rouge. Stay on the paths and do not wander into the surrounding jungle. Entry is free.
Prasat Sikhoraphum - a set of temple ruins in a quiet surroundings, can be reached by bus or train (30km, 1 hour plus)
Prasat Hin Phluang - a collection of several minor ruins near the Cambodian border; private transport (watch out for landmines!)
Prasat Phumpon - a small and jumbled collection of ruins (60km)
 Buy
There is nothing truly distinctive to be found in Surin, however some prices are lower than in Bangkok.
 Eat
Surin has a fantastic night market. Be sure to try the Isaan sausage and Laos-style flattened chicken (gai yang), but be careful with the som-tam (papaya salad)!
In addition to the night market Surin is liberally endowed with small restaurants, and the usual street vendors. Also the major hotels have reasonably priced menus.
 Drink
Surin is not overly well endowed with watering holes but there are a few places where one's palate, and appetite can be quenched.
Most places are located near the Thon Torin Hotel. Adjacent to the TT are two streets lined with small bars, small restaurants, small karaoke bars, and small go-go bars. The larger hotels also have bars and restaurants. There are also several small restaurants managed or owned by ex-pats scattered around town. The largest is the 'Farang Connection', followed by the 'Oasis'. Both are near the bus station.
 Sleep
There are three main 'good' hotels in Surin:
Petchaskem Hotel (500m from the bus station) is an older hotel.
Surin Majestic (next to the bus station) is the newest and best looking hotel in Surin.
Thong Tarin Hotel (about 2km from the bus station) is clean and tidy, and with an attached 'Rose Bath House', where a tired male can find female companionship.
In addition to these hotels there is a range of accommodation around the town, and just outside.
Always ask for a discount (700-800 baht/night) in the non-elephant roundup season!
Ubon Ratchathani
Ubon Ratchathani (อุบลราชธานี) is the capital of Ubon Ratchathani Province in the north-eastern Isaan region of Thailand. Often referred to as simply Ubon (อุบล), it should not be confused with Udon to the north.
 Understand
Ubon was founded on the northern bank of the Mun River by a group of Lao princes fleeing Vientiane in the late 1700's. They applied for King Taksin's protection, duly granted in 1779 along with the city's new name, meaning "Royal City of the Lotus". Modern-day Ubon was a U.S. air base during the Vietnam War and grew rapidly at the time, but little has happened since then. The town of Warin Chamrap, on the south bank of the river, is effectively a suburb of Ubon these days.
The sleepy Ubon office of the Tourist Authority of Thailand (264/1 Khuan Thani Road) is worth a visit to pick up useful English maps of the town and nearby provinces. Basic English spoken. Open daily 08:30-16:30.
 Get in
 By plane
The grandly named Ubon Ratchathani International Airport (UBP) in reality serves only flights to Bangkok. Thai Airways has three daily non-stop flights between Bangkok and Ubon and return. Air Asia has one daily non-stop flight between Bangkok and Ubon and return. Flight time is 55 minutes in AB320 and B737 aircraft.
The airport is at the northern edge of the city almost within walking distance, but accommodation is scattered around Ubon, so better not to consider walking. Much better to go to one of the two limousine (taxi) counters that are located in the airport arrivals hall and purchase for only 100 baht a taxi coupon that will take you to almost any point in the city. Limousine (taxi) rates in Ubon are extremely cheap by Western standards and lower than those in Bangkok. Set prices have been established to most destinations in and around Ubon. A taxi from Ubon to Chong Mek costs only 1,000 baht for the 90km one way trip and a taxi from Ubon to Mukdahan costs only 1,900 baht to travel a one way distance of 192km. The driver does not charge for the return trip like some western countries. There are no taxi meters and the fare must normally be purchased at the Airport arrivals desk.
If you prefer not to take a fixed price taxi, you can always walk the 200 metres beyond the general airport parking area to haggle with the waiting tuk-tuk drivers, but chances are that your trip will end up costing you more.
 By bus
Buses to Bangkok take 10-hours (due to stops) and arrive near the BTS station known as Mochit or Morchit Mai, in the north part of the city. The Nakhon Chai Air private bus company [1] also has frequent, well-maintained buses that ply the route and also leave from the Ubon bus terminal, but arrive at their own private terminal in Bangkok, near the main Mochit terminal.
Ubon is less than 100 km away from the Lao border at Chong Mek / Pakse. A regular bus service now operates direct from the Ubon Public Bus Station (located near the "Big C" shopping complex) to Pakse in Laos, but foreigners "must have a valid passport and Lao visa before they are allowed to board the bus in Ubon. The bus only makes a quick visa check stop at the Thai/Lao crossing at Chong Mek before continuing on to Pakse. If you do not have a Lao visa and wish to get yours on arrival at the border, you must take alternative transport to Chong Mek.
The Chong Mek border crossing is not always open to foreigners who wish to purchase their visa on arrival at the border. Persons with Thai and Lao passports and travel papers can cross freely.
 By train
Daily trains connect with Bangkok and stop at all the southern Isaan provincial capitals (Si Saket, Surin, Buriram, and Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat)). The station is to the south of the city on the opposite side of the Mun River in Warin Chamrap; buses 2 and 6 connect to the center.
One option is to catch the overnight night express train from Ubon (Warin Chamrap station)to Bangkok. Train departs at 6:30pm and arrives Bangkok at 5:30am. Travel first class in a two berth private sleeper compartment with fresh starched sheets and pillows for a little over 2,000 baht per couple. Travel is also available in 2nd class sleeper seats and 3rd class seats for a lower cost.
 Get around
A bus/songthaew network with 13 fixed lines operates around the city. Most lines are numbered and colour-coded; pick up a map at the Ubon TAT office.
Alternatively, there are plenty of tuk-tuks puttering and samlors pedaling around. As always, agree on a fare before you get in, and expect to pay 20-40 baht depending on distance and your haggling skills.
 See
Ubon is a little short on must-see sights, although there are a few mildly interesting temples.
 Thung Si Muang Park
Located at the center of town in front of City Hall, this pleasant little park has several points of interest:
A bright yellow elaborately carved candle sculpture, completed in 2000, standing 22 meters tall and dedicated to the King, showcases Isaan art styles and has become the symbol of the city. The candle is placed on a junk, with a garuda eagle at the bow and a naga serpent around it.
A statue of Phra Phatumvoraratsuriyawang commemorates the tersely named founder of the town.
A Monument of Merit has been erected by former World War II POWs to commemorate the kindness of the people of Ubon.
 Temples
Wat Nong Bua (off Chanyangkun Rd, past the BKS station) is a highly unusual large white angular chedi, said to be a copy of the Mahabodhi stupa in Bodh Gaya, India. Quite stunning in appearance, but the decorations seem rather modern and with reason - the structure was built only in 1957 to commemorate the 2500th anniversary of Buddha's death.
'Wat Thung Si Muang' (Luang Rd) is primarily notable for its wooden scripture hall (hor trai), on stilts above a pond to stop ants and termites. The monastery itself was built in the reign of Rama III (1824-51) to house a replica of Buddha's footprint. The Ayutthaya-style bot is currently (2004) being repaired.
Wat Pah Nanachat (International Forest Monastery) is a famous forest meditation temple with more than 20 foreign/western monks from all over the world. If you come before 08:00 AM you can join in the morning meal, and maybe speak to a monk afterwards. You can take a red song-thaew (public shuttle bus/truck) from Warin Chamrab to Wat Pah Nanachat for about 10 baht.
Wat Nong Pah Pong is the forest monastery of the late venerable Ajahn Chah, one of the most famous meditation masters in Thailand in recent times. About 70 monks live here, and there is a small museum and a stupa (or chedi) with the relics of Ajahn Chah to visit. A few foreign monks live here, also.
 Do
Ubon's biggest event is the Candle Festival, held in early July on Khao Phansa day, which marks the beginning of the rainy season retreat. During three months, monks do not leave their temple, unless for an emergency, and lay people vow to abstain from taking alcohol as well as to refrain from any negative action. Huge wax candles are displayed in Thung Si Muang park, which are carried around town in a procession the next morning.
A less well known illuminated boat procession is also held in October to mark the end of the rainy season (Ok Phansa).
 Learn
 Buddhist meditation
Wat Pah Nanachat (WPN) The International Forest Monastery, Ban Bung Wai, Amper Warin (12 kms from Ubon Ratchathani). [2]. Established in 1975 by the late Ajahn Chah, the monastery offers full training courses in English. Full board and lodgings are available, though prior notice is required. Write to The Guest Monk, Wat Pah Nanachat, Bahn Bung Wai, Warin Chamrab, Ubon Rachathani 34310.
 Buy
D-Block (Formerly Thean Chai) for gardening product made by hand from Isan and concreat product for construction.
 Eat & Drink
Muen Thip (Phichit Rangsan Rd, east of intersection with Thepyothi) is a very popular two-storey place specializing in a Thai interpretation of Korean barbecue (neua yang Kaolee), grilled at your own table and dipped in fiery sauces. A plate of your meat of choice and a large tray of veggies, plenty for two, will set you back 90 baht. English menu available, not that you really need it.
Miss Aree Coffee (Opposite Ubon University) serve you fresh brew coffee.
 Sleep
Ubon Buri between Muang Ubon amd Warin Chamrab. Resort hotel by a lake in the town skirt. From 1000 baht.
Nevada in midtowm. it has a Starbuck right in front of the hotel, has a cinema complex within its area. it is walkable to Tesco and Robinson (the town biggest department store). From 1000 baht.
Torsang Ubon Same owner as Tohsang Khongjian Resort. From 1000 baht.
Sri Isan Hotel Ratchaboot Road, tel. +66-45261011 [3] Boutique hotel across from the open-air market, beside the Moon River. Within walking distance of Ubon Ratchathani Museum and Tung Sri Muang Park. From 550 baht.
Laithong Hotel Phichit Rangsan Road, tel. +66-45264271 - advertises itself with the tagline "In Ubon, Luxury Equals the Laithong Hotel" - which is probably true, if only for lack of competition. A little faded in decor, but kept in reasonably good shape, and features a pool, restaurant, nightclub and karaoke bar. From 1400 baht.
Tohsang Khongjian Resort 66 Moo 7, Baan Huay-Mak Tai, Khongjiam (over an hour away from the city); tel. +66-45351174 [4] A classy resort on the banks of the Mekong River near the Lao border. From 2000 baht.
The Ratchathani Hotel, 297 Khianthani Road, tel.045-244388-90 [5] - boutique hotel with restaurant. Rooms from 650 baht.
Udon Thani
Udon Thani (อุดรธานี, also Udorn Thanee) is the provincial capital of Udon Thani Province in the north-eastern Isaan region of Thailand. Often referred to as simply Udon (อุดร), the city should not be confused with Ubon (Ubon Ratchathani) to the southeast.
 Understand
Udon was a U.S. air base during the Vietnam War and grew rapidly at that time. After several decades of snoozing, Udon's tourism industry has been given by the dual boost of the archaeological site at Ban Chiang and the new bridge to Laos from nearby Nong Khai.
 Get in
 By plane
Udon Thani International Airport (UTH), newly refurbished in 2006, has lots of flights to Bangkok (50 min) and a few to Chiang Mai and Loei. (Tiger Airways' flights to Singapore have been suspended.) To Bangkok, THAI's rack rates are closer to 2300 baht, but Air Asia will fly you for 700 baht and Nok for 1250 if you book well in advance.
There are four daily buses direct to the Friendship Bridge in Nong Khai from the airport, roughly synchronized with flight arrivals. Buy tickets (150 baht) at the taxi desk. Note that these buses will drop you off into a pit of tuk-tuks, which will try to convince you that you need their services at 20 baht a shot; unless you have baggage, you can ignore them and just walk out to the road, from where you can see the Thai checkpoint less than 500 metres away.
 By bus
Buses from Bangkok, an 8-hour ride, arrive at the BKS station to the north of the city.
Buses depart at least once per hour after 11:00 to Nong Khai (20 baht, 1 hour, non-airconditioned 3rd class) on the Lao border. Buses from Nong Khai may drop you off north of the city. Follow the locals and hop on the waiting #6 songthaew for the ride to the bus station, or be left at the tender mercies of the tuk-tuk mafia.
There are six express buses a day direct to the Morning Market in Vientiane (80 baht, 2 hours, air-con 1st class departures at 08:00, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00). These cross-border buses will carry passengers who have not obtained their Lao visas in advance, but may not wait long enough at the border for a visa on arrival to be applied for and issued. This isn't a problem when the queues are short, but at busy times passengers who don't already have their visas may be left behind and have to continue by local bus or tuk-tuk.
 By train
Daily trains connect to Bangkok and Nong Khai, though these are slower than buses.
 Get around
Navigation around Udon Thani is made easier by three large roundabouts in the central roads - a clocktower, a fountain (although no water present) and a statue. It's also possible to orientate yourself with Robinsons or Nong-Prajack park. Street names are next to useless.
 By samlor
Udon Thani has one of Thailand's largest samlor (three-wheeled bicycle taxi) fleets, although as elsewhere they are slowly succumbing to the pressure of internal combustion.
 By tuk-tuk
Tuk-tuks, the noxious vanquishers of the samlor, prowl the streets on the lookout for tourists to rip off.
 By songthaew
Udon Thani has a bus-like network of numbered songthaews; cost is 7 baht per trip.
 See
Udon has a variety of sights although most visitors make a beeline for Laos or the bronze age excavations east of Udorn at Ban Chiang. Within Udon you have the Udon Sunshine Orchid Farm which is famous for a variety of orchids, orchid derived perfumes, and plants that "dance to music".
15 km north of Udon along Route 2 is the village of Ban Nakha, famous for selling home woven silk and cotton garments. It is somewhat commercialized but a walk back from the highway into the village can net some great bargains on silks and cottons.
60 km north-west of Udon near the Amphoe of Ban Phue is PraBuddhabat National Park, a marvelous ridgeline with numerous sandstone edifices several thousand years old. Bronze age cave paintings are also within the park.
40 km south-west of Udon is the Pu Foi Lom Eco-Park located high on a ridgeline. Numerous trails and rainy season water falls are within the park. South of Udon is a large wetlands area/lake called Khumpawapi. In the October time frame traditional dragon boat races are held on the lake. Within Khumpahawapi is a city park with a large troupe of monkeys that have been living there for over a hundred years.
Within the city a large recreational area call Nong Prajack Park is the primary site for locals to exercise and chill out. Consisting of a large lake/reservoir with several small islands, it features pleasant grass areas and activities such as nightly aerobics (to Thai pop music) and feeding bread crumbs to the fish. For the more active, it's also popular for jogging around the outside of the lake.
 Do
Several large markets to visit.
There is a large Night Market that opens from about 6pm to 9-30pm next to the train station
 Buy
Chareonsri Center is Udon Thani's biggest and fanciest shopping mall, featuring five floors of shopping, including a large Robinson's department store and a TOPS Supermarket.
Further out east from the centre is a Makro store, cheap for bulk purchases) and a Big C shopping complex (both groceries and assorted goods) with much cheaper pricing than Robinson's.
On the ring road east-side are several large home improvement stores; Home Mart, Global House, and Tool Pro. Also on the east-side ring road is the new Bo Bei Clothing Market.
On the ring road north-side is a Tesco Lotus superstore.
Within the city itself are numerous 7-11's as well as many mini-marts with western snacks and goods.
 Eat
Udon Thani has a range of buffet restaurants, featuring Korean-style cook it yourself BBQ in a raised dish over a charcoal burner in the centre of your table. Around the outside of the dish, water is placed allowing vegetables to be boiled. An all you can eat buffet ranges from 39 baht to 89 baht.
Chareonsri Center has all the favorite Western and Thai restaurant chains on the 1st floor, and a large food court on the 3rd.
Bella Italia (1st floor) tel+fax: 042-343134 (mobile: 01-799-7736) bellaitalia_restaurant@yahoo.it[1] claims to be the first truly authentic Italian restaurant in Udon Thani, featuring ingredients imported from Italy. English menu, indoor and outdoor seating. Private party bookings and tourist reservations welcome.
 Drink
Udon Thani has a wide variety of Karaoke bars, go-go bars, nightclubs and English and American styled pubs. The area around the Charoen Shopping Complex (locally called Komplek) houses the majority of these.
Dong Dea Moon. With the sea of motorbikes out the front, this a favourite with locals and has regular appearances by some big-name Thai folk acts.
Steve's Bar. Run by an English ex-pat and his Thai wife, serving Western and Thai food as well as a selection of International beers and spirits. Just around the corner,
Tong's Bar. Gay-friendly bar, draws Thais and foreigners, with cheesy Thai pop blaring from the speakers.
Beyond this, bars tend to open and close by the month, if not by the week. The club scene is fairly uni-dimensional with a generic crowd going to the 2 or 3 clubs in town. The best are housed in the basements of the Charoen Grand and Napalai hotels.
 Sleep
Inexpensive accommodation can be found around town, including hotels for as little as 160 baht/night, and apartment rentals from 1800 baht/month.
Charoen Hotel, 549 Phosri Road (500m from airport). 250 standard rooms, 3 superior rooms, and 2 suites, on a 10 acre area surrounded by garden and beautiful landscape in the city. From 950 baht..
Gecko Villa, [2]. Out of town; spacious country house with pool.
Grand Chareonsri (in the shopping centre). The main hotel used by foreigners - but not the most affordable. From 1,400 baht..
Green Gecko, [3]. Large traditional Thai house; luxury villa rental with pool.
Paradise Hotel. Staff are friendly but only speak a little English. Fan rooms with double bed cost 200 baht but smell a bit funny. Free water (2 bottles per day) and maps of the city.
TaNiTa (Lagoon) Resort, 113 Baan Nong Huaw Mue, Nadee, Muang (2 km from airport), +66 -81-8846334, [4]. 9 standard rooms in big area surrounded by nice lagoon and beautiful garden.
Top Mansion (200m from Robinson Charoensri shopping mall), +66 -42-345015 (topmansion@yahoo.com). Convenient for bus and train stations, and Paolo Memorial Hospital
Udon Airport Hotel, 14 Moo 1, Udon-Nongbua Lampoo Road (500m from airport), 66-42-346223-4, 66-42-346513-4 (udonairport.hotel@gmail.com, fax: 66-42-346514), [5]. On a 7 acre area surrounded by garden and beautiful landscape. 115 standard rooms, 3 superior rooms, and 2 suites. Standard rooms are air-con with mini bar, radio, colour TV with domestic and foreign programs, and 24-hour hi-speed Internet access. From 800 baht including breakfast..
 Get out
Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is about one and a half hours away across the Mekong. Express Air conditioned buses leave the Udorn Central bus station three times daily for Vientiane. Bus Fare one way as of 10/2005 is about $2. A visa on arrival for Laos at the Friendship Bridge costs $30 for 30 days (two passport photos are required or there is an additional $1 charge).
The Ban Chiang archaeological dig is a UNESCO World Heritage site about 35 kilometers east of Udon. Both buses and inter-village songthaews will drop you off at the Ban Chiang turn-off.
© Wikitravel, 01.2008.
Текст взят с сайта Wikitravel.org


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Vladislav K.
24-01-2008 15:32
Key for province map:
1 - Amnat Charoen
2 - Buriram
3 - Chaiyaphum
4 - Kalasin
5 - Khon Kaen
6 - Loei
7 - Maha Sarakham
8 - Mukdahan
9 - Nakhon Phanom
10 - Nakhon Ratchasima
11 - Nong Bua Lamphu
12 - Nong Khai
13 - Roi Et
14 - Sakon Nakhon
15 - Si Saket
16 - Surin
17 - Ubon Ratchathani
18 - Udon Thani
19 - Yasothon

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