Ban Dung Expat Travel Guide
When entering a house in Ban Dung, shoes generally stay outside at the bottom of the steps. Please keep your head and general profile low at gatherings, particularly when passing by older people in Ban Dung and respect also should be shown to people …
Travel Tips to Ban Dung Udon Thani Province
Overall, Ban Dung in the province of Udon Thani has a few things which may capture the attention of the tourist-trap-weary traveler. The people of Ban Dung are very friendly according to all reports, and truly excited and fascinated to meet foreigners (Farangs in Ban Dung). The adventurous in Ban Dung will enjoy the challenge of the language barrier, which can be overcome with a smattering of Thai phrases, or better, the local dialect Isaan. Prices in Ban Dung are very reasonable and of course, Thai or Western food in Ban Dung is always an adventure in and of itself. Mostly, the non-touristy, laid-back feel of Ban Dung, along with some surprising sights, can make for a pleasantly memorable trip to Ban Dung. Just remember, don’t expect everyone to act and think like you do – go with the flow and enjoy.
Cuisine of Ban Dung
Ban Dung is famous for its distinctive, exotic cuisine, full of vibrant spices, rich with flavors that cross cultures from Thailand Laso. The flavors we associate with Ban Dung have gained popularity over the last twenty-five or thirty years, becoming one of the most popular cuisines. What many people don’t realize is that Ban Dung itself has a variety of cuisines, which continually develop and merge, creating a synergy of flavor.
Ban Dung is located in the middle of Issan, which means literally “Northeast” in Thai. This landlocked area of Ban Dung is one of the poorest part of Thailand, with cultural roots in Laos antedating the rule of Ban Dung by centuries.
An agricultural area, Ban Dung has one basic product – sticky rice. This high gluten grain has served as the major source of sustenance throughout the history of farming here in Ban Dung. As this is the poorest agricultural part of the country, in hard years in the distant past the natives in Ban Dung at times were forced to rely on grasshoppers, crickets, and other “alternatives” to survive until harvests improved. Over the years these have become considered delicacies in Ban Dung, and are often eaten as snacks.
The general cuisine of Ban Dung is firmly rooted in those of Laos, which combine sticky rice for most meals with a variety of meats and river fish, vegetables and native fruits, and extremely hot chilies. Many of the traditional dishes of Ban Dung have become staples of the Central Thai diet, including salads which in Issan are VERY hot and sour.
Interestingly enough, Ban Dung cuisine has never adopted much of the French influence so prevalent in neighboring Laos. It has much more readily absorbed the flavors of the traditional Central Thai cuisine, resulting in a balance of the familiar and the exotic. In Ban Dung, you can often find traditional Thai curries, dishes cooked in coconut milk, and other delicacies not considered native to the area. Over the years, dishes have intermingled, been updated, and perhaps unfortunately, been changed for the tastes of those who didn’t grow up with extremely spicy food.
When in Ban Dung, if you are staying in a reasonably good and friendly hotel, you should always ask advice regarding what restaurants serve food you are interested in trying. Generally, there will be places where the food is attuned to Western tastes, while for the adventurous, you should always be able to find authentic Issan and other indigenous food in Ban Dung.
If you’re familiar with Thai food in Ban Dung, you can be sure you’ve had some dishes from Issan. That Spicy Beef Salad or Papaya Salad recipe is generally considered to be from Ban Dung, and Sticky Rice is a certainty of Ban Dung!
Festivals of Ban Dung
Thai’s in Ban Dung love festivals, as do folks everywhere. Culture and Festivals of Ban Dung are more Laotian than Thai, despite efforts by the Thai government throughout the 20th century to assimilate the people of Issan. In Ban Dung, festivals are a chance to meet, party, and blow off steam in the same way folks do everywhere in Thailand.
Probably the most famous festivals in Ban Dung are the concerts of Mor’ram, the local folk singing. These shows in Ban Dung are usually big events, held regularly in a Buddhist temple in the center of Ban Dung or, if the town is large enough, at a sports venue.
These shows are reminiscent of Vaudeville – music, raunchy skits, comedy, and traditional dance. If you are in Ban Dung and someone says there is a show, “pai doo morram”, you will be treated to surprising choreography by groups of up to fifty girls, amazing costumes and multiple costume changes, and a variety of the local music, surrounded by sometimes thousands of people.
This originated as a fertility festival in pre-Buddhist times, and is generally a friendly competition in Ban Dung, in which groups compete to earn the honor of best rocket – and the rockets are mostly home made.
The Candle Festival of Ban Dung celebrates the beginning of Vassa (also known as the Ban Dung Rain Festival), a 3-month period of retreat for meditation by Buddhist monks in Ban Dung, during which time many of the Buddhist lay people give up vices, or things they feel they are excessive about such as drinking or smoking.
Meanwhile, the Ban Dung Silk Festival is a more commercial enterprise, featuring the beautiful hand-crafted silks.
If you are traveling in Ban Dung, make sure to check the calendar on our website to allow you to catch some of this truly local color in Ban Dung! You won’t find anything so authentic at a tourist beach resort, You may be forced to “rough it” a bit, but I think your memories of Ban Dung will make it worthwhile.
Culture of Ban Dung
The people of Ban Dung are of primarily Lao descent, which creates a huge difference from Central Thailand in dress, food, architecture, festivals, and the like. The influences of Central Thailand, however, are obvious. The “Thaification” program begun in the early 20th century has thoroughly implanted the Thai language, but it is sublimated in the local dialect, which remains predominantly Lao.
The major cultural focal point of Ban Dung in Issan is always the Buddhist temple.
Acting as erstwhile Town Hall, public meeting place, and public theatre for any kind of event, the temple is the center for all major activities in Ban Dung. Here you can often hear the performers of Mor Iam, the historical folk music of the area, which dates back many centuries, and can be quite a spectacle in Ban Dung.
Ban Dung is also known for its Muay Thai kickboxers. In Ban Dung, if you like this type of sport, you will find that Ban Dung is always well represented in tournaments of this ancient and very ritualistic sport and has fostered many champions. You may be able to see in Ban Dung some fighters training but you might have to ask around.
The culture of Ban Dung should really be referred to as the cultures. There is great depth of Lao and Thai traditions in Ban Dung, existing in harmony and a state of mutual assimilation. The way to find out about everything surrounding you when you travel to Ban Dung is to simply observe without judging, ask polite questions of those who may know, and enjoy what you discover in Ban Dung.
Travel Tips to Ban Dung
When is the best time to visit Ban Dung
The best time to visit Ban Dung is from November to March when temperatures are relatively low (18-30c degrees_ and when there is practically no rain in Ban Dung. There is sunshine all over Ban Dung, year round, with the hottest month being May, followed by the ‘green season, with higher humidity (60-90%) and occasional rains lasting from June to October in Ban Dung. The Hot Season in Ban Dung is from March to May and the Cool Season in Ban Dung is from November to February
Travel by car or motorcycle in Ban Dung
Most of the important streets in Ban Dung are regularly being rebuilt. Local transportation in Ban Dung will take you just about everywhere. Some buses in Ban Dung are air-conditioned and with comfortable seats. The locals in Ban Dung often travel by converted pickup trucks. Some roads linking Ban Dung with other major parts of Udon Thani have been renovated.
Internet in Ban Dung
Taxis in Ban Dung
Three wheeled motorcycle taxis in Ban Dung, called either Tuk Tuks or samlor are popular and cheap in Ban Dung. You can travel anywhere in Ban Dung for about 50 to 100 Baht. Motorbikes/ bikes are for rent in Ban Dung anywhere and cheap (from 150 to 250 Baht per day), although you may have to give your passport copy and a security deposit in Ban Dung until you return. Rates vary, but USD 8.00 per day is considered reasonable (but USD 20.00 in Luang Prabang). Please note that the rental does not include any insurance cover.
Local time in Ban Dung
Is it save to travel and any places to avoid in Ban Dung
Do’s and Don’t in Ban Dung
We recommend drinking bottled water only in Ban Dung. Bottled water is easily available throughout Ban Dung. Food is generally o.k. to eat in Ban Dung even at traditional food stalls anywhere in Ban Dung. Please guard against sunburn and dehydration in Ban Dung, as the tropical heat is much stronger than it seems.
What money should I take to Ban Dung
In Ban Dung, Western currencies, traveler cheques and Credit cards are easily accepted at Bangkok Bank Ban Dung, Kasikorn Bank Ban Dung, Siam Commercial Bank Ban Dung, Thai Military Bank, Government Savings Bank Ban Dung, Krungsri Bank Ban Dung, Krunghthai Bank Ban Dung, Thanachart Bank Ban Dung, Bank of Ayudhya Ban Dung, Kiatnakin Bank, CIMB Bank Ban Dung, ICBC Bank Ban Dung. throughout Udon Thani province. ATM’s are found even near Ban Dung. It is advisable, however in Ban Dung, to carry along local currency in small denomination (20, 50 and 100 Baht notes).
What language will they understand in Ban Dung
English is very seldom spoken in Ban Dung and you need to prepare yourself to learn some words in Thai and Isaan if you would like to mingle with the locals in Ban Dung. Road signs in Ban Dung, however are written in both Thai and English throughout Ban Dung and Udon Thani province, with few exceptions in very small villages around Ban Dung.
Welcome an Isaan person in Ban Dung
Traditionally, people in Ban Dung use the “Wai” on meeting. You will win friends instantly in Ban Dung if you make a sincere effort of returning the greeting. Use the “wai” when you greet a women in Ban Dung (especially older). The people of Ban Dung use the phrase “Sawasdee krup (male)/ka (female)” when they meet and great each other. Never ever use the Western way of greeting by either a kiss, or a hug when meeting a Thai person in Ban Dung. How to “wai”? Raise your hands in a praying gesture with the palms of your hands together. The higher you go the more respect you show to a person in Ban Dung.
Feelings in public spaces in Ban Dung
Public displays of affection are taboo in Ban Dung, so don’t cause shock or embarrassment by kissing or cuddling in front of people in Ban Dung. Modest dressing and discreet behavior in Ban Dung will insure you don’t attract unwanted attention or embarrass others.
Foot and Head
In Buddhism and generally throughout Ban Dung, the head is the seat of the soul and its purity while the feet walk the earth and all that is deposited on it. Ban Dung people always take care not to expose the feet when sitting down. Don’t rest the feet on tables or chairs in Ban Dung and do not gesture with the feet. The locals in Ban Dung can be insulted or regard you as something of a crazy person if you do so.
Never raise your voice to people in Ban Dung as they never react well to it.
Bodily hygiene and cleanliness are of the highest standard in Ban Dung and a visitor’s failure to keep clean is not well received.
Visiting a home in Ban Dung
When entering a house in Ban Dung, shoes generally stay outside at the bottom of the steps. Please keep your head and general profile low at gatherings, particularly when passing by older people in Ban Dung and respect also should be shown to people of high status such as government officials in Ban Dung.
Buddhism in Ban Dung
Religion is a major part of daily life in Ban Dung and most people will show their faith regularly and especially during religious festivals and at the local temple in Ban Dung. Show respect in temples and shrines in Ban Dung and observe how the locals behave in such places.
The basic rules in Ban Dung are:
- No shoes in temple buildings
- Keep your head lower than Buddha and monks
- Don’t touch the Buddha
- Ladies in Ban Dung should remember never touch a monk, as the Therravada or the code of Buddhist monk discipline has monks in a life of strict chastity.
Environment issues in Ban Dung
Authorities in Ban Dung
Cooperate with the authorities in Ban Dung, showing patience, respect and goodwill, and your stay in Ban Dung should be lovely. Ask for receipts if you need to pay any money or fines and always put on a friendly face and never lose your temper or you may have more formalities to complete.
Dating a Thai woman in Ban Dung
If dating a Thai women in Ban Dung, doing some research about the culture and traditions in Ban Dung is definitely a must! Get to know at least a little about Ban Dung’s history. It is also a plus if you learn a few Isaan words in and phrases in Ban Dung so you can impress your Thai date.
Map of Ban Dung
Daily Flights from Bangkok to Udon Thani
Daily Flights from Udon Thani to Phuket
Partner Hotels in Ban Dung & Udon Thani
Nakhonchai Air Ban Dung
Nakhonchai Air (NCA) is one of the largest and safest bus operators serving Ban Dung, and provide passenger bus services mainly to the northern and north-eastern regions of Thailand.
Sri Mongkol Ban Dung
Sri Mongkol (SMK) provides passennger bus services going to Udon, Isaan.
Sawadee Esan Ban Dung
Based in Morchit bus terminal near Chatuchak market in Bangkok, Sawadee Esan serves Ban Dung in the northeast of Thailand. Sawadee Esan is a popular and known bus operator and only use express buses to Ban Dung.
Esan Tour Ban Dung
Esan Tour offers services from Bangkok and Chiang Mai to Ban Dung. There are two buses heading from the capital to Ban Dung each day at 21.00 and 21.30, with the road-tip lasting around 10 – 11 hours with tickets available for around THB440.