Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrUbon Ratchathani, capital of the state with the same name, is a hop, skip, and a jump away from Laos and Cambodia. Knowing this, it makes a perfect stop-over for those in transit to the rest of South East Asia. This is one of the four major cities in the Isan region of Thailand, Isan translating to "northeast." This city, rich in culture and diversity in northern Thailand, Ubon Ratchathani also translates to "Royal Lotus City." By no means is this city a mega metropolis like Bangkok, but it is a gentle place for relaxing and an area where many come to understand Thai and Lao culture.
The Isan region has its own dialect of languages and is also known for its own flavor of food and culture that differs greatly from the rest of the country. It should be known that this city has a Laotian feeling due to its significant history with the neighboring country. However, this city of 200,000 on the Mun River has its own airport that also doubles as the Royal Thai Airforce Base. (This military base obviously creates a strong military presence, but one should not be intimidated by this). Ubon Ratchathani also served as a base for American soldiers during the Vietnam war, but doesn't have a very western feel like one would think.
The reasons why one may visit this sleepy city in the north-east of Thailand may vary, but one should feel peace in this ancient area full of culture and historical significance.
HistoryAs said earlier, Ubon Ratchathani is very close to the Laos border and nestled in this area for a good reason. In the late 1700s, many princes were fleeing the capital of Laos. Thao (Thai royal) Kham Phong came to the kingdom of Siam looking for asylum from King Siribunsan of Laos due to war. King Taksin, leader of the Thonburi Kingdom, granted asylum to the prince and also named the city.
This peaceful city lay dormant and uneventful until the 1940s when the French bombed many cities, Ubon Ratchathani being one that was hit. This act of violence was directly attributed to the Thai attacks on French Indochina territories.
During World War II , the city used its train station as a hub for prisoners of the war by the Japanese.
Finally, the last monumental moment was its creation of the airport by the American military for the Vietnam War. This airport is still used today for commercial and military flights.
Things to See and DoUbon Ratchathani offers the same modes of transportation as other cities in Thailand. From bicycles costing ฿20 ($0.62) a day to motorcycles costing ฿150 ($4.65) a day, your options are endless. It would be recommended to hire a Tuk Tuk as it is the cheaper method if you have great haggling skills.
Candle FestivalAs said, this quiet city, for most of the year, has a relaxing feel. However, in July one can partake in the great Candle Festival. One will light candles and take them to Thung Si Mueang (a park) to celebrate the marking of Wan Khao Phansa (Buddhist lent). Another festival takes place in October to mark the end of the rainy season as well.
- Wat Pah Nanachat is a monastery for those wanting to learn how to become a Buddhist monk.
- Wat Nong Pah Pong houses many monks and is one of the leading areas for meditation in Thailand. It is a very secluded and forest temple.
- Wat Thung Si Muang is a temple on stilts that houses a replica of Buddha's footprint and was made in the 1800s.
- Wat Nong Bua is a relatively new temple (1950s) commemorating the 2500th anniversary since the death of Buddha.
- Wat Ban Na Mueang sits on a lake with koi fish everywhere that one can feed. It is a place where many come to think and gain introspect.
FoodGiven that this area of Thailand has its own culture, much different from the rest of Thailand, its food will also be different and contain different characteristics.
- Som Tam is one of these foods, generally known as Papaya Salad. This spicy salad is not for the faint of heart, one should be careful! Thailand love its spicy foods. Highly recommended!
- Isan sausage is a fermented skewered sausage that's a delicacy and eaten by many as a late evening snack.
- Larb is a mixture of fish sauce, herbs, and lemon juice with sliced meat. Also highly recommended!
Get Out of TownThailand is well known for it's amazing setup for travelers. Ubon Ratchathani is no different then other cities in Thailand.
Ubon Ratchathani has an airport that offers five flights per day to Bangkok, but the prices are not so cheap.
Ubon also has a major bus terminal to travel to any destination in Thailand for around ฿800 ($25) or less.
Finally, Ubon Ratchathani also a train station servicing all the major areas of Thailand.
Many travelers will head to Laos from here. VIP mini-buses are offered at most guesthouses.
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Author: ChaseHunter. Last updated: Dec 20, 2014