Udon Thani, a bustling and modern province located in the North East region of Thailand (or commonly referred to as Isaan) is located 560 km. from Bangkok. The province is best known for Ban Chiang archaeological site which shows evidence of human settlement in the region dating back over 5,000 years. Udon Thani can be regarded as the main economic and transportation hub of Isaan, a direct result of the construction of the Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base as a joint-military base with the United States during the Vietnam War. Today, Udon Thani is one of the most travelled to destination in the country with 17 daily flights to and from Bangkok as well as daily flights to Chiang Mai, Hatyai, Phuket and Utapao.
Udon Thani is a culturally diverse province with the country’s largest Vietnamese community and its proximity to Laos and China also attract domestic and international travelers, traders and investors. The province’s accessibility attracts tourists all year round to see the local sights, travel to neighboring provinces or even to travel to Laos and Vietnam. Well known tourist attractions in Udon Thani include Nong Prajak Public Park, Ban Chiang archaeological site, UD Night Market, Phu Prabhat Historical Park and Wat Phothisomphon.
Given the number of tourists, there is also a wide selection of accommodation to suit all budgets, ranging from hotels, resorts, B&B and inns. Getting around town is also a breeze. Tourists can rent motorcycles or cars from established companies like Budget and Hertz or from local car rental companies with most requiring a small deposit and a license. For the more adventurous travelers there are Songthaews, a bus-like network of pickup trucks with seating benches in the back charging a flat fee or approximately 10 baht; Skylabs, three-wheeled motorcycles similar to Tuk Tuks in Bangkok, similarly these require the passenger to agree on the fare prior to taking a ride. On rare occasions, travelers may see and ride bicycle taxis or “Samlors”, these also require an agreement on fares.
Additionally there are buses for tourists wishing to travel to Vientiane, Laos, available from the main bus terminal in the centre of town. The buses depart 6 times daily and cost 80 baht per trip. Alternatively, tourists can take a minibus from Udon Thani airport to the Friendship Bridge for 200 baht. Travelers should check Visa requirement prior to travelling to Laos.
In addition to tourist attractions, Udon Thani has a wide range of mouth-watering dishes for travelers to try. Famous Isaan dishes include Som Tam or papaya salad, however, they can also be made from fruits and other vegetables; Larb Moo or minced pork salad; Nam Tok Moo or grilled pork salad. Most Isaan dishes go well with jasmine rice, although sticky rice is preferable. Generally, Isaan food are quite spicy, so do tell the cook if you can’t quite handle the heat.
So for your next holiday, come visit Udon Thani and experience the Isaan lifestyle.
/// Written by Nutpawin Worachitakaramanee, Thailand