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The ‘Yamo Entrance’ at the junction of Ratchadamnoen Road and Hwy 224 Nakhon Ratchasima (นครราชสีมา), usually referred to as Khorat (โคราช) or, more commonly Korat, is the largest city in the Isaan region of Thailand. Its proximity to Bangkok and Isaan make it a good jumping-off point for travellers who are heading into Isaan. It […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Nakhon Ratchasima (นครราชสีมา), usually referred to as Khorat (โคราช) or, more commonly Korat, is the largest city in the Isaan region of Thailand. Its proximity to Bangkok and Isaan make it a good jumping-off point for travellers who are heading into Isaan. It has excellent transport links to the rest of the country and beyond. Hwy 2 (Bangkok to Nong Khai) runs through the city, as does the northeast railway line which splits in the east of the city: one line runs up to Nong Khai and the other, to Ubon Ratchathani. There are buses which run to just about every city in the northern, northeastern, and eastern regions. You can even get buses to Vientiane in Laos and to the Cambodian border at Aranyaprathet.

The city itself has a population of around 200,000 (Nai Muang district), but the entire urban sprawl of the Nakhon Ratchasima metropolitan area (Muang Nakhon Ratchasima) has a population of approaching half a million. Despite the size of the city, it is not a favoured holiday destination for the average foreign traveller. Instead, visitors are more likely to base themselves in the city as they visit nearby tourism destinations such as Khao Yai National Park National Park, Phimai, and Phanom Rung.

Understand

History

The modern-day city traces its roots back to the late seventeenth century when King Narai of Ayutthaya ordered the construction of the city to protect the Ayutthaya Kingdom’s northeastern frontier from Laotian or Khmer attack. It was just such a Laotian attack that was defeated by local heroine Thao Suranaree in 1826. She, and her army, are credited with freeing the city from King Anouvong’s Laotian forces. These exploits have lifted ‘Yamo’ to almost god-like status in Korat. Her statue, in the centre of the city on Ratchadamnoen Road, is the most visited attraction in the city.

The city continued to grow, helped by the arrival of the railway in the early twentieth century, and, today, is a typical Thai mix of chaos, pollution, and tradition.

Climate

Korat is classified as having the three tropical seasons of hot, rainy and cool (or sometimes dry). But the seasons overlap considerably, and the rainy and hot seasons occur almost simultaneously while the cool/dry season is quite short. In generally during Nov, Dec, and Jan it’s very dry and relatively cool, although daytime temperatures will still often exceed 30 degrees C. Mar-Jun are the four hottest months but there can be heavy rains during this time, particularly in May. The temperatures decreases slightly each month as the area moves into the rainy season. Aug-Oct are the wettest months but tropical storms may be experienced any time between Mar-Oct. The downpours end as Oct ends: the rainfall in Nov is just 20% that of Oct.

The city, with its traffic and concrete, will be a little hotter than the rest of the province. And days in Apr and May can be unbearably hot amidst the urban jungle. Conversely, it can be surprisingly cool between Nov-Jan. It’s not unusual for temperatures at night in the city to drop below fifteen degrees Celsius in the cool season, while out in the rural areas, single-digit temperatures are not unknown.

Orientation

The main road into the city is Hwy 2 (Mittraphap Road) which originates in Saraburi and ends in Nong Khai. The mall, Tesco Lotus and several hotels are next to it. Shortly after the mall, it bears left, goes past the main bus station and onto Khon Kaen. To the north of the city it joins up with the bypass also known, somewhat confusingly, as Hwy 2.

The road network within the city is, for the most part, an American-style grid system. Therefore, once you are familiar with the place, it is easy to find your way around. But if you are new in town it can be a nightmare as every road looks the same. This is particularly the case in the moated historic centre of the city.

The moat encloses the original city, almost a perfect rectangle, one and a half km by one km, and consists of seven main roads that run east to west: Phonsaen, Yommarat, Assadang, Chomphon, Mahat Thai, Supphasit, and Kamheng-Songkhram, and six main roads that run north to south: Chumphon (not to be confused with Chomphon), Jagkree, Manat, Pratchak, Kudan, and Phonlan.

The English spelling of Thai words is an inexact science so don’t be surprised to see variations on these spellings in different guide books, on maps and on street signs. For example, Jagkree is sometimes spelled Chakrii; Phonsaen can be Polsan; Chomphon can be Jompol; Supphasit may have no h; Assadang may have a t replacing one s; Pratchak may have no t, and so on.

To add to your confusion, the names of Jagkree Road and Pratchak Road change south of their intersections with Chomphon Road: to Watchara Sarit Road and Chai Narong Road respectively.

The obvious geographical reference point for travellers is the statue of Thao Suranaree (or Yamo). Every tuk-tuk, motorbike taxi, songthaew and taxi driver will understand “Yamo” so you shouldn’t have any problem getting there. She stands between Chumphon and Ratchadamnoen Road. Both of these are one-way streets and from Ratchadamnoen you can catch songthaews to just about every part of the city. Ratchadamnoen ends where it meets Hwy 224. Turn left onto Hwy 224 and it becomes Hwy 2 (Mittraphap) after about a kilometre. Turn right, and Hwy 224 takes you east and then south towards Dan Kwian pottery village and Chok Chai. At Chok Chai (30 km south of the city) Hwy 224 crosses Hwy 24 which goes to Buriram, Surin, and Ubon Ratchathani.

Three main roads lead off Ratchadamnoen: Chomsurangyat, Pho Klang and Suranaree. These are busy two-way thoroughfares and all three converge a kilometre and a half west of Yamo to form Mukmontri Road which leads back to Hwy 2.

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Get in

By car

There are three routes to take from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima.

  • First Route: Take Hwy 1 (Phahonyothin) passing Don Muang Airport, Wang Noi, and Nong Khae till you arrive at the Saraburi interchange. At Saraburi, turn right along Hwy 2 (Mittraphap Hwy) which finally leads to Nakhon Ratchasima. The total distance of this route is 259 km.
  • Second Route: This alternative route is a little longer in distance but passes some interesting places. Take Hwy 304 via Min Buri, Chachoengsao, Phanom Sarakham, Kabin Buri, Wang Nam Khiao, and Pak Thong Chai to Nakhon Ratchasima. The total distance is 273 km.
  • Third Route: Take Hwy 305 passing Thanyaburi, Ongkharak to Nakhon Nayok. From Nakhon Nayok, turn right on to Hwy 33 to Kabin Buri and then turn left along Hwy 304 passing Wang Nam Khiao and Pak Thong Chai to Nakhon Ratchasima.

By bus

There are two main bus stations in Korat. The new bus station (“bok kor sor mai”) is the larger of the two and is just to the north of the city centre, beyond Big C on the Korat to Khon Kaen stretch of Mittraphap Road. The old bus station (“bok kor sor gow”) is within the city centre on Burin Road between Suranaree Road and Mittraphap.

So, assuming you are in Bangkok, just head to Mo Chit Northern/Northeastern Bus Terminal. No need to consult a timetable: buses leave Bangkok for Korat several times an hour 24 hours a day. Go to the top floor of the terminal building and buy your ticket at window 40, 49, 50, 52, or 53.

Window 40 and 49Ratchasima Tour. Direct 24 hour service. Window 40 for the old bus station and window 49 for the new bus station.

Window 50Suranaree Air. Tickets for services to either station are sold at the same window. Confusingly, there are two windows #50 at Mo Chit (50 and 50ก). The one you need is on the left of the two.

Windows 52 and 53Air Korat Pattana. Window 52 for buses to the new bus station and window 53 for buses to the old bus station. It’s been known for the vendor to just sell a ticket for the next departing service. If you really want to go to the old bus station (“bok kor sor gow”) make sure you buy your ticket from the vendor at window 53 and that your ticket has the number 1 on it somewhere. This denotes the old bus station whereas a 2 denotes the new.

After you have purchased your ticket the vendor will point to a number on the ticket. This is the bay where you can catch your bus. Overhead signs will guide you there, just like following a gate number at an airport.

The price is 220 Thai Baht, one-way from Bangkok to Nakhon Ratchasima. The buses follow the “First Route” described above. A return ticket is available for a slightly discounted price.

Other cities which run buses direct to Korat include Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Mae Sai, Nakhon Sawan Pattaya, Chonburi, Chanthaburi, Rayong, Lopburi, Hua Hin, Hat Yai, Phuket and just about every provincial capital in Isaan. If you are coming from Cambodia, there are buses from the Poipet/Aranyaprathet border crossing (7 buses daily from Rongklue Market, every 2 hours, first at 06:00, last at 18:00). And, if you’re entering from Laos, there are a couple of buses a day between Korat and Vientiane. If you’re entering from Laos at the Savannakhet border crossing then you can get a bus direct from Mukdahan to Korat. All these services terminate and originate at the new bus station. The old bus station is used for some Bangkok services and shorter local routes to places such as Pak Chong and Pak Thong Chai.

If you’ve arrived at the new bus station all the usual Thai means of transport are available for you to get to where you want to go. Tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis, and meter taxis (see Get around) are in abundance at the bus station. To get a songthaew back towards the city centre take the number 15 (purple and white) which waits on the road between the two main terminal buildings at the new bus station.

Tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis also wait at the smaller old bus station but meter taxis don’t. The old bus station is walking distance from many hotels.

Travel by train to Nakhon Ratchasima

Trains leave from Bangkok Railway Station (Hualamphong) daily and can take anything from four to six hours depending on what type of train you catch. Twelve trains a day leave Bangkok for Korat. The times are 05:45, 06:40, 10:05, 11:40, 15:20, 18:30, 18:55, 20:00, 20:30, 21:50, 22:25, and 23:40. The latest timetable can be found at State Railways of Thailand or call 1690. Fares are very reasonable for the 264 km journey. The cheapest ticket on the cheapest train is 50 Thai Baht to Bangkok.

There are two stations in Nakhon Ratchasima.

  • Chira Road Junction Station. The more centrally located of the two stations. It is just to the south of the old city. Tickets from Bangkok are just a couple of Thai Baht extra to go to Chira Road instead of the main station, and if you’re heading for the city centre it is well-worth getting off here.
  • Nakhon Ratchasima Station. The main station is on Mukmontri Road about 2 km from the city centre. Tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis at the front of the station will take you to the Yamo area for around 60 and 40 Thai Baht respectively. Catch songthaews 1 or 14 opposite the station to also convey you to the city centre.

Trains in Thailand are always delayed, even for short commutes. Note this fact and budget more time if you need to transfer to other means of transport, e.g., planes or buses.

By plane

There are no scheduled flights to or from Nakhon Ratchasima Airport (NAK).

 

Get around

By tuk-tuk

These three-wheeled buzz boxes are plentiful in the city. They congregate in large numbers outside shopping centres, department stores, the two bus stations and train station. And individuals will be dotted along all the busy roads.

Happily, the reputation that tuk-tuk drivers have for ripping off tourists in places like Phuket and Pattaya does not generally apply in Korat. The fare from the main bus station to Yamo/city centre is 60 Thai Baht. Agree on this price before you get in. Fares typically go up in multiples of 20 and start at 40 Thai Baht.

Remember, this isn’t a tourist city so your driver will not speak English. He (it’s always a man) may know the names of some hotels and will understand “Yamo”, but that’s about it. This is a prime example of where a smattering of Thai can go a long way.

By motorbike taxi

Wherever you find tuk-tuks you will find motorbike taxis. Their fares are generally two-thirds to three-quarters those of tuk-tuks (i.e., a 60 Thai Baht tuk-tuk fare will be 40 Thai Baht on a motorbike, etc.). Some riders even put up a list of fares as if to prove that they don’t just make up prices. You’re certainly a long way from tourist rip-off territory here.

Safety is obviously a concern for a lot of travellers when it comes to motorcycle taxis. Only you can decide if you want to risk it or not but the rider should at least provide a helmet.

By taxi

Meter-taxis are a fairly new introduction to the Korat roads. They are blue and yellow in colour and scarce in number. If you are lucky enough to see one for hire on the street then you can hail it as you would a Bangkok taxi. It is 30 Thai Baht for the first kilometre and 4 Thai Baht a kilometre after that. You can call for one (+66 44 342255) but if you do that then the meter won’t be used but a fixed fee will be charged for your journey. Furthermore, you can’t book one in advance as you can with a minicab. You just have to call when you want one and hope that one is available. It should be added that the operator doesn’t speak English so get your hotel receptionist to call.

They do congregate at the main bus station and if you catch one from here then the meter should be used. Again, don’t expect the driver to speak English.

By cycle rickshaw (samlor)

The traditional pedal-powered ‘samlor’ (literally, ‘three wheels’) is a large tricycle with room for, at a squeeze, two passengers who sit on a covered, padded seat behind the rider. These days there are far more tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis than samlors but you can still find them dotted along most major roads. They come into their own during the Yamo Festival (end of Mar/start of Apr) when Ratchadamnoen Road is closed and pedestrianized every evening and samlors are the only form of transport allowed.

You’ll notice that all samlor operators are elderly men so don’t get them to take you halfway across the city! A kilometre or so is a more appropriate distance and it will only cost you 20 Thai Baht.

By songthaew

Songthaews are the most popular type of public transportation. A songthaew is a pick-up truck which has been converted into a small short-hop bus. Passengers step into the back of the truck and sit on parallel benches. When you want to get off just press the buzzer and hand your fare through the passenger window to the driver.

You can get on one anywhere by hailing it from the side of the road although there are official bus stops complete with signs displaying which number songthaew(s) stop there. They usually only stop when a passenger presses the buzzer or when a pedestrian hails one but there are a few locations where they will always stop such as mhe mall, Klang Plaza, and Big C.

Each songthaew follows a fixed route (a different system to that which is used in Chiang Mai, for example) and there are around twenty different routes which cover most roads in the city. The vehicles come in a variety of colours and numbers, each denoting a different route. Most have their route number prominently displayed on a board above the window. Some start as early as 05:00 and run as late as 23:00, but generally speaking it is rare to see one before 07:00 and very rare to see one much after 21:00.

For the newcomer, using songthaews can seem quite daunting as nearly all the destinations are written in Thai (on the front and side of the vehicle) and you need to know that the songthaew you are getting on hasn’t just stopped at the place where you want to go. For example, you might be waiting outside the front of the mall wanting to go to the zoo. Along comes a songthaew with ‘Korat Zoo’ written on the side. You understandably jump on the back of the vehicle, however, in that situation, the songthaew is coming from the zoo and is heading into the centre of the city.

Most songthaews go back the way they came, so it is usually pretty straightforward getting back to where you departed from: just cross the road and get one going back the other way.

For the benefit of the traveller, it seems unnecessary to describe every route (you’re unlikely to go day-tripping to the Suranaree Industrial Zone (incidentally, it’s a number 5, white with luminous orange stripe if you do need to go there!), but there are a few routes which will be of use to the visitor. To save on complication, all routes described are based on someone catching a songthaew from Ratchadamnoen Road/in front of Yamo (unless stated otherwise).

Number 1. To get to the main train station, catch a number one heading west on Suranaree Road (just off Ratchadamnoen/rear of Mae Kim Heng market). Catch one outside the station to take you into the city.

Catch one on the corner of Chumphon and Chomphon Road (behind the Chomphon Gate) to take you all the way down Chomphon to Wat Boon Night Bazaar. Get off just as it turns left in front of the Iyara Hotel. It also passes Night Bazaar 1 halfway down Chomphon.

Number 2 (or Number 11). These go to the ‘old’ bus station.

Number 4. Catch one of these from the Chira Road train station (see above) to the city centre/Yamo area.

Number 6. Usually white with a red and yellow stripe, number sixes are the most common songthaews in the city. They vary in their ultimate destination but all stop at the mall and Lotus.

Number 7. Very important for the traveller. Number sevens go to the main bus station (bok kor sor mai). They also stop opposite Big C before they reach the bus station.

Number 15. Catch one of these new purple and white songthaews at the main bus station to get to the city centre (Yamo area). Wait near the main exit of the bus station for one. They also go to the main bus station from the city centre; the same goes for the Number 10 (white with red and yellow stripe).

Number 4129. These call at the mall and Lotus on the same route as a number 6 but they go all the way to the zoo. The number is only displayed in small characters on the sides of the vehicle but they are all white with a yellow and blue stripe along the sides. Most now say Korat Zoo in English on the bodywork (see photo).

The current fare is 8 Thai Baht for a single journey (that’s right, 8 Thai Baht!) but particularly long journeys, from Yamo to the zoo, for example, will be a little more.

See

  • Archaeological Site At Ban Prasat. Ancient Bronze Age artifacts in a burial site dating back 3,000 years.
  • Dan Kwain (Korat’s main ceramics centre). Famous for its rough textures and rust-like pottery glazes.
  • Khao Yai National Park. Thailand’s first national park. Has four different provinces which includes 3,000 species of plants, 200 wild elephants, tigers, gibbons, bears, deer, bats, wild pigs, birds. Lodge houses range from 1,200 Thai Baht. Youth Camps range from 10 to 20 Thai Baht. Camping rate from 5 Thai Baht with your own tent. 200 Thai Baht for adults and 100 Thai Baht for children.
  • Maha Weerawong Museum (Maha Viravong), Ratchadamnoen Road (From Yamo statue, walk up Ratchadamnoen, i.e., against the flow of traffic. Go straight across the junction with Chomsurangyat, go straight on for another 100 m, turn right onto the lane/soi which bisects the library. The museum is behind the library). W-Su, 09:00-16:00. A small, quiet place, it contains mainly ancient Buddha statues and icons. Chairs used by several Thai kings and queens on their visits to Korat are among the more interesting items. The museum closes for all public holidays. 50 Thai Baht (10 Thai Baht for Thais).
  • Nakhon Ratchasima FC (SWAT Cats), 80th Birthday Stadium, SEA Games Sports Park, Hwy 304 (Go W on Hwy 2, Mittraphap Road, and join Hwy 304 about 1 km after the Sima Thani Hotel. The stadium turning is on the right after about 3.5 km. Songthaew 4129, bound for the zoo, goes past the entrance to the site but this still leaves a lengthy walk to the stadium and it may be difficult to get a songthaew back after 19:00. Taxi would be best). Take in a local football match in Korat at one of the best stadiums in the country. The local team plays in the Northeast Division of the Regional League. The regular season runs from Feb-Sep (but play-offs may extend it). The stadium and surrounding sports facilities were purpose-built for the 2007 Southeast Asian Games. 50 Thai Baht.
  • Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo (Korat Zoo) (S on Hwy 304, Korat to Pak Thong Chai Road. Turn left onto Hwy 2310. The zoo is on the left after about 1 km. Easiest way for visitors to get there is by songthaew: catch the 4129, white with yellow and blue stripe, on Ratchadamnoen Road or heading west on Mittraphap/Hwy 2. Opposite the mall or outside Tesco Lotus are good places to catch them. From the centre of town the charge will be 20 Thai Baht. The songthaews go right inside the zoo. Catch one from the drop-off point to go back to the city). Daily, 08:00-17:00. Korat Zoo is one of the biggest in Thailand and, cliché or not, it really is a great day out. The zoo, some 20 km from the city centre, is set in the countryside. As such, the site is huge. The animals live in vast, sprawling natural habitats (except for the snakes) and many of them can be hand fed. Lions, tigers, elephants, bears, giraffes, zebras, chimpanzees, rhinos, cheetahs, wildebeest, alligators, antelope and many, many more species can be found here. Bicycles can be hired to tour the zoo or you can catch the sight-seeing bus for 20 Thai Baht. Electric carts (actually, former golf buggies) can also be hired to get around the zoo at a rather pricey 300 Thai Baht per hour. The zebras, giraffes, elephants and chimpanzees can be fed with bananas, 20 Thai Baht per bunch. There are, of course, many cafes and snack shops dotted around the site. Entrance to “Korat Zoo Lagoon” comes at no extra charge. Swimming caps are compulsory and adults may feel a little out of place in this child-friendly leisure pool. Adults 100 Thai Baht, children 50 Thai Baht. (Thais 70/15 Thai Baht). 50 Thai Baht per car, 10 Thai Baht per motorbike.
  • Prasat Hin Phanom Wan (From Korat take a songthaew from Bus Terminal Number 1, get off at Ban Maka (look for a large water tower), then a motorbike taxi to the ruins). Khmer stupa built of sandstone.
  • Prasat Hin Phi Mai (Frequent buses from Korat City’s Bus Terminal Number 1). Stone Khmer temple complex in Phi Mai. Excellent museum as well.
  • Prasat Nang Ram. Khmer-style, originally meant to be a nursing place during the 12th century.
  • Sai Ngam. On the bank of the Moon River. Includes some of the largest banyan trees in Thailand. Short motorbike taxi trip from Prasat Hin Phi Mai.
  • Statue of Thao Suranaree. (Yamo.), Ratchadamnoen Road/Chumphon Road (From Mittraphap Road (Hwy 2) head E and turn right onto Chumphon Road just past IT City. The statue is halfway up Chumphon on the right). Open 24 hours. The statue stands in a pedestrianized municipal area between Ratchadamnoen and Chumphon Road. Day and night, Thais will kneel before the statue and pray before making offerings of incense and flowers (purchased for twenty Thai Baht from an adjacent hut). It’s fine to take photos of the statue but take your shoes off before ascending the steps. You can also have your photo taken by one of many professional photographers who loiter around the statue. This service should cost 50 Thai Baht and your picture will be printed out there and then on a portable digital printer. Free (20 Thai Baht for incense, candle and flower offering, 50 Thai Baht for photo).
  • Thao Suranaree Bravery Light and Sound Performance Building, Municipal area, Chumphon Road (From Hwy 224, turn right onto Chumphon Road. This small, white building, designed to look like a section of the old city wall, is halfway up Chumphon on the right, just before the turning for Assadang Road). Tu-Su, 09:00-18:00. A rather strange attraction, this one-room museum/art exhibit documents the story of Thao Suranaree (Yamo) through the medium of miniature models. Village and battle scenes are recreated in minute detail and run the length of one wall. On the opposite side of the room is a hugely impressive wall-mounted sculpture, in high relief, of a battle scene. Yamo is near the middle of the scene. On the walls and pillars are some of the oldest photos in existence of the city. Free.
  • Wat Phra Narai Maharat, Assadang/Chomphon Road (Travel E along Assadang, go straight across three sets of lights. The lake and temple are on your right shortly after the third set of lights. Best songthaew to get is a Number 1. Catch it at the corner of Chumphon and Chomphon Road immediately behind Yamo and the Chomphon Gate. Again, you’ll go across three sets of lights, the junctions with Jagree, Manat and Pratchak Road. The red and gold archway entrance to the temple is on your left about 100 m after the Pratchak junction). Dawn-Dusk. One of the most famous temples in Korat. This one is notable for its lake and island temple. Within the building is an ancient sandstone statue of the Hindu god Vishnu. You can cross the bridge and walk around the island but can not enter the building which houses Vishnu. Also, you may see huge water monitor lizards in the undergrowth or in the water. These things are as big as crocodiles, but are generally safe, and provide a surprising photo opportunity in the centre of the city.

Festivals and events

  • Miss Boonlua Memorial. Commemorates Miss Boonlua and the people of Nakhon Ratchasima who died in the battle of Thung Samrit in 1826.
  • Phimai Boat Races. Takes place on the Moon River near the old Khmer city of Phimai and are held yearly by the people of Phimai during the second weekend of Nov. This event includes boats decorated competitions and stalls selling local products.
  • Phimai Festival. Held at the same time as the Phimai boat Races in Phimai Historical Park. This events includes light and sound presentation of Buddhist, historical, and cultural exhibitions.
  • Thao Suranari Commemoration. Held from 23 Mar-2 Apr to commemorate the victory of Thao Suranari. This event includes cultural displays, exhibitions, and fireworks.

Do

  • Golf. The Country Club Khao Yai starts at 250 Thai Baht for guests and 500 Thai Baht for visitors; Friendship Meadows Country Club ranges from 600 Thai Baht for guests to 800 Thai Baht for visitors on weekdays, 400 Thai Baht more on weekends; Misson Hills Golf Club Khao Yai ranges from 800 Thai Baht for guests and 600 Thai Baht for visitors; Rooks Korat Country Club Golf & Resort starts at 500 Thai Baht for both guests and visitors; Voyage Panorama Resort and Golf Club starts at 500 Thai Baht for guests and visitors on weekdays and 800 Thai Baht on weekends.
  • Jogging. Landscaped jogging park near the military base.
  • Thao Suranaree Municipal Area (Between Chumphon and Ratchadamnoen Road. From the west (Bangkok) follow Mittraphap as it changes to Hwy 224. Turn right onto Chumphon Road just past IT Plaza. The municipal area is on your right and runs the length of Chumphon Road). Daily, 24 hours. The municipal area (sometimes referred to as a park) is a long pedestrianized strip sandwiched between Chumphon and Ratchadamnoen Roads. It runs nearly the full length of Chumphon Road from the junction with Hwy 224 up to the Yamo monument. It’s one of the best places in Korat for an evening stroll. Best place to start your walk is at the northern end (Hwy 224) at the ‘Yamo Entrance’ (see main photo at the top of this article). You will pass a short section of moat. Wat Phayap is on your left, and then come to the start of the pedestrianized area. Here, a raised water course follows the line of the long-gone moat and city wall. As you continue your walk you will pass the ‘Light and Sound Performance Building’ (see See) on your left and, near to that, a reconstructed section of the city wall complete with explanatory plaque in English. Further up the municipal area you will come to an amphitheatre and, beyond, the statue of Yamo and the Chomphon Gate. Beyond here, the moat recommences.
  • Volunteer. Dragonfly Volunteer Projects operates out of Korat and arranges volunteering opportunities in schools and orphanages across Isaan.
  • Waterslide Park. Has an Olympic-sized pool, great to do some laps and stay in shape.

Buy

Nakhon Ratchasima has the usual Thai mix of modern department stores, malls and supermarkets; large covered day markets; night markets and smaller street markets. All are easily reached by public transport. Some of the markets may take a bit more finding but are always well worth the effort. The sights, sounds and smells in a Thai market can make your head spin but they are a “must-do” if you’ve never experienced them before.

All the modern malls are open seven days a week. Most small, independent shops are open at least six days a week and often seven. Remember, this isn’t Pattaya or Bangkok, though. Most small shops close at eight at the latest and roads which are busy, shopping thoroughfares by day can be almost deserted by 21:00. But don’t despair; there are always the night markets!

Markets

  • Mae Kim Heng Market, Pho Klang Road (The closest market to Yamo. Turn onto Pho Klang opposite the statue of Yamo. The market is about 100 m down the road on your right. There are also entrances on Suranaree Road and Buarong Road). Daily, 24 hours, most stalls are closed at night. One of the largest indoor markets in Korat, Mae Kim Heng sells food: both fresh produce and prepared dishes. Get there early (06:00-) and you can buy some typical Thai breakfast fare: satays, grilled chicken and warm soya milk with doughnuts for dipping. Viewed from the Pho Klang entrance, the market can be divided into three main sections: fresh meat and fish on the left-hand side, fruit & veg and pre-cooked food down the middle and small restaurants down the right-hand side. At the Suranaree Road-end of the market there is a clothes section, and next to that, just where the market spills out onto the street, are two very popular ‘OTOP’ grilled chicken and sticky rice stalls. Stalls selling fruit, veg, fish and meat then continue down the pavement on Suranaree Road towards the junction with Ratchadamnoen Road. These stalls set up mid-morning, and here you can experience some of the hustle and bustle missing from the main market.
  • Night Bazaar 1, Manat Road (Travel E along Chomphon Road, go straight across the junction with Jagree Road. The market is on your right at the next junction. It is on the stretch of Manat Road between Chomphon and Mahat Thai Road). Daily, 18:00-late. Mainly sells clothes and accessories, and a little food. It’s well-known throughout the city but you may be left wondering why. There’s nothing on sale here that can’t be found at myriad markets and stalls all over the city and it’s pretty small, too.
  • Wat Boon Night Bazaar (Night Bazaar 2) (From the centre of town, catch the number 1 songthaew from the corner of Chumphon and Chomphon Road. Stay on the songthaew until it makes a left in front of the Iyara Hotel. You will see the market from here, just across Kudan Road). Daily, 18:00-late. A bigger, more relaxed market than the crowded, narrow Night Bazaar 1. This one mainly sells food but has some clothing and other goods.

Shopping centres and supermarkets

  • Big C, 118 Mittraphap Road (Follow Mittraphap as it bears left shortly after The Mall, signposted Khon Kaen & Udon Thani, Big C is on the right after a couple of hundred metres) , fax: +66 44 295030, ✉ sgm.korat@bigc.co.th. Daily, 09:00-23:00. This large superstore (officially a “supercenter”) has restaurants, banks, clothes shops, jewellery shops and more on the ground floor and a supermarket on the first floor. As with most modern supermarkets, it sells a lot more than food and drink. Clothes, furniture, household appliances, even motorbikes can all be found on the first floor. Tuk-tuks and motorbike taxis wait outside and songthaews 7 and 15 will get you back to the city centre.
  • IT Plaza (IT City/IT), 324 Mittraphap Road/Hwy 224 (On Hwy 224 near the junctions with Chumphon and Ratchadamnoen Roads) , fax: +66 44 269716. Daily, 10:00-20:30. IT Plaza (sometimes mistakenly referred to as IT City; IT City is a large shop within IT Plaza) is a technology-only department store. The main entrance is on the first floor and is reached by a footbridge over Mittraphap. The ground floor is mainly taken up by mobile phone shops. The first and second floors are occupied by shops selling computers and related accessories. There is a Hot Pot restaurant in the basement/lower-ground floor. For a 21st century high-tech superstore, it’s actually quite dated and tired inside with cracked and missing floor tiles; tatty, chipped walls and lots of vacant shops. In fact, the empty shops and completely unused third floor tell you that residents are doing their electronics shopping elsewhere these days. Indeed, everything that IT sells can be found in much nicer surroundings at The Mall or Klang Plaza Chomsurang.
  • Klang Plaza Assadang (Klang Plaza 1), Assadang Road (From the W, Hwy 224, turn right onto Chumphon Road, take the third left on Chumphon (Assadang Road), go straight across the intersection with Jagree Road and it is on your right, opposite the Korat Hotel). Daily, 10:00-21:00. This is the original Klang Plaza, built in 1976. It was one of the biggest department stores in the northeast when it opened. It has most of the same shops and departments that its younger brother has (except for technology stores) but on a much smaller scale. Walk down the soi behind the shop and onto Chomphon Road to catch songthaews 1, 8, or 12 back to the centre/Yamo area.
  • Klang Plaza Chomsurangyat (Klang Mai/Klang Plaza 2), corner of Ratchadamnoen and Chomsurangyat (Stand in front of Yamo, facing Ratchadamnoen Road, and look left) , fax: +66 44 252534. Daily, 10:0-21:00. This building, staggeringly huge by Korat standards, utterly dominates the downtown/city centre area. It is about 100 m from Yamo but directions are superfluous: you really can’t miss it. The more useful points of interest include: a supermarket, food hall and various restaurants on the ground floor and another food hall on the fifth floor; coin-operated Internet access on the fifth floor; a kids’ play area, including miniature railway on the sixth floor and an exhibition hall often used for sports events on the seventh floor.
  • The Mall, Mittraphap Road (Hwy 2) (From the W (Bangkok) The Mall is on the left halfway between Tesco Lotus and the Hwy 2 and 224 intersection). Daily, 10:00-21:00. A popular daytime haunt for the more affluent members of Korat society. The sprawling complex, which has just had another floor added, has all you would expect of such a place: Western restaurants (including the only McDonalds in the whole city), fashion boutiques, a supermarket, cinema, a large food hall, an outdoor swimming pool, and so on. After window shopping upstairs, head down into the basement/lower-ground floor level where you will find many small independent shops and stalls selling clothes for a fraction of the price of those upstairs.
  • Tesco Lotus (Lotus), 719/5 Mittraphap Road (Hwy 2) (Halfway between The Mall and the Sima Thani Hotel on Hwy 2) , fax: +66 44 2637267. Daily, 06:00-23:00. The newest addition to the Korat retail landscape, Lotus is similar to Big C in that there are small shops on the ground floor and a huge hypermarket on the first floor. Songthaews 6 and 4129, among others, will get you there from the city centre. Beware! You have to cross the ten lanes of Hwy 2 to get a songthaew back to the city centre. Tuk-tuks and motorcycle taxis also wait out the front, and it’s also a good place to catch a bus to Pak Chong or Pak Thong Chai if you don’t want to go to the old bus station.

Eat

Budget

Never let it be said that you can’t eat on a budget in Korat. The cheaper restaurants usually open during the day and can generally be divided into two groups: those which sell pre-cooked khao man gai, kwitiyao and khao moo daeng (boiled chicken & rice, noodle soup and red pork with rice), and those which have a menu and sell khao pad, pad Thai (fried rice, fried noodles) and so on. In the case of the former, you will see the cooked chickens and strips of red meat in a cabinet in front of the restaurant, and they usually just sell the aforementioned three meals. 25 Thai Baht is the going rate for one meal but you can push the boat out and pay 30 Thai Baht for a larger portion! The other type of restaurant will be able to prepare any Thai meal (within reason) and, again, 25 Thai Baht is usually the starting price. Pad krapao moo (spicy minced pork cooked with basil) and khanom chin (fresh rice noodles served with a spicy sauce and vegetables) are particularly popular in Korat. As is pad mee Korat a local, spicier variation on pad Thai. The budget restaurants listed below, therefore, offer something a little different to the khao man gai and kwitiyao eateries which abound on nearly every street.

  • Cafe de Toom, 62 Chomsurangyat Road (From Yamo, go up Ratchadamnoen Road in the direction of Klang Plaza, turn right onto Chomsurangyat Road, go past Klang Plaza and the post office, the restaurant is on your right next door to 7-11 just before the Chao Phaya Hotel). Monday to Friday, 08:00-mid-afternoon(or whenever everything has been sold). Different from most cheap Thai restaurants, this one only sells pre-cooked curries. There are eight to ten different types on display at the front counter ready to eat. Gaeng Massaman (Muslim curry) is sweet and not too spicy, and is thoroughly recommended. Price for all curries is 25-30 Thai Baht. The owner speaks good English and will whip you up a refreshing iced-tea or coffee. The board out front advertises an ‘American Breakfast’ for 90 Thai Baht, a concession made for the many farangs staying at the nearby Chao Phaya Hotel.
  • Long Tua Steakhouse (ลงตัว), Buarong Road (from Yamo, turn left onto Suranree Road, turn left at the first set of lights onto Buarong Road, the restaurant is a few buildings down the road on your right directly opposite the Sri Vichai Hotel). Daily, 16:00-late. Thai-style steak and distinctive noodle soups in an informal and popular restaurant. A refreshingly small menu with just a dozen or so dishes on it (most Thai menus run to hundreds of dishes). Chicken and pork steaks are 50 Thai Baht and beef, 60 Thai Baht. French fries 39 Thai Baht. Vietnamese style noodle soup starts at 25 Thai Baht. All food is available to take away. A very popular place to watch football on the big screen so expect big crowds on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Sleep

Hotels Nakhon Ratchasima City: Popularity

Hotel Stars Discount Price before and discount Select dates
Hop Inn Nakhon Ratchasima ★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Khaoyai Nature Life & Tours ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Grand Ever 9 Condotel ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Kantary Hotel Korat ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
U-Sabai Park Resort ★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Koranaree Courtyard Boutique Hotel ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Fortune Hotel Korat ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
U Place Korat ★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
ABM Service Residence View Isaan Hotel Deals
Sima Thani Hotel ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
The Imperial Hotel & Convention Centre Korat ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Zada Residence ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Med Room Korat ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Sawairiang Place ★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Lilawalai Resort ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Korapura Resort ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
The Rich Hotel ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Punjadara Hotel View Isaan Hotel Deals
Siri Hotel ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Raya Grand Hotel ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under 500 Thai Baht
Mid-range 500-1,500 Thai Baht
Splurge Over 1,500 Thai Baht

Budget

How low can you go? Budget hotels in Korat start at less than 200 Thai Baht, but it’s fair to say you get what you pay for. These hotels will be devoid of any facilities and usually just consist of a reception desk with a flight of stairs leading to the rooms above. At less than 200 Thai Baht, the room won’t have air-con or hot water, are often dated and poorly decorated.

They have a reputation for being “short time hotels”. But the fact that some of them have recently closed down (e.g. Potong Hotel and Sri Chomphon) suggests that the days of 200 Thai Baht-a-night places may be numbered. The Srisura on Suranaree Road, the Chomphon on Pho Klang Road, the Cathay on Ratchadamnoen Road, and Rajsima on Chomphon Road are cheap places near the city center.

  • 14.974593102.1047191 Rajsima (Ratchasima) Hotel, Chomphon Road. Cheap place, not far from either night market. Double with WiFi and A/C THB 270. THB 240-370. (updated May 2017)

The budget hotels listed below are a rung or two above those described above. These hotels have air-con, TV, a restaurant, and so on

  • Chumpol Hotel, Pho Klang Road (From the Yamo statue, head westwards on Pho Klang Road. The Chumpol is on the right.). A little run down but reasonably clean place and good location, many long-term foreigner stay here. 270 Thai Baht gets you a nice fan room. Wifi in most (but not all) rooms. Hot showers, even in the fan rooms. There is a convenience store right at the entrance, and a massage place downstairs. Self-service washing machines (20 Thai Baht a load) at the entrance. 270-500 THB.
  • Far Thai Hotel, 35/37/39 Pho Klang Road (The entrance to Pho Klang Road is immediately opposite the statue of Yamo and the Far Thai is 50 m up Pho Klang on the left.) , fax: +66 44 252797. Pretty basic and quite tatty. 430 Thai Baht is for a double room with air-con, but rooms with a fan start from 260 Thai Baht. All rooms have a TV, but none have a fridge. A small, quiet restaurant serving typically cheap Thai fare is at the rear of the ground floor. No lounge or bar. The closest hotel to the statue of Yamo since the closure of the Potong Hotel. 430 Thai Baht.
  • Sansabai House, 335 Suranaree Road (from the Ratchadamnoen Road end, go down Suranaree Road, straight across the junction with Buarong Road, past the turning for Burin Road, the hotel is on your left, nearly opposite a 7-Eleven.) , ✉ sansabaikorat@yahoo.com. Essentially the same type of hotel as the Far Thai but much brighter and better appointed. Room with a fan, fridge, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, balcony, closet, small table with chairs, Western toilet and shower for 270 Thai Baht. Clean rooms, centrally located with a lot of street food stalls nearby. No bar or restaurant. 270-450-600 Thai Baht.
  • Srivichai Hotel, 9-11 Buarong Road (from Yamo, go down Ratchadamnoen Road, turn left onto Suranaree Road, go down Suranaree, turn left at the traffic lights onto Buarong Road. The hotel is a couple of buildings down Buarong on your left.) , fax: +66 44 267254, ✉ srivichaihotel@hotmail.com. A small budget hotel, the Srivichai is a rival to the nearby Chao Phaya. Quite a cosy place with a small lounge and small bar/restaurant both overlooking the street. There’s a computer with Internet access (30 Thai Baht/hr) near reception. Rooms are basic but functional with air-con, fridge and TV. All rooms are the same price. 500 Thai Baht.
  • Sri Rattna Hotel, Suranaree Road. Check-out: Noon. double fan/ac rooms with own bathroom. fan 200 Thai Baht. a.c 400 Thai Baht.. (updated Mar 2017)
  • Sakol Hotel, 46-48 Atsadang Road. Check-out: Noon. fan/air-con double rooms with own bathroom. air-con rooms have cable tv fan 300 Thai Baht. air-con 500 Thai Baht.. (updated Mar 2017)

Mid-range

  • Chaophayainn Hotel (Chao Phaya), 62/1 Chomsurangyat (From Yamo, go south on Ratchadamnoen Road, turn right at Klang Plaza Dept Store onto Chomsurangyat Road. The hotel is a couple of hundred metres up the road on the right, shortly after the post office.) , fax: +66 44 258657, ✉ hotel@chaophayainn.com. A popular mid-range choice, the Chaophaya is a fairly large yet pretty basic place. Facilities are limited to a sleepy cafe (with a more popular outside dining area), room service and free Wi-Fi. The type of hotel that makes a good base for exploring the city centre but not the type of place that you’re likely to spend a serious amount of time in. Walking distance from Yamo, the museum, Klang Plaza Dept Store and several visitor-friendly temples. Rooms, clean; mattresses, hard. 500-1,000 Thai Baht.
  • Chomsurang Hotel (Jomsurang Hotel), 2701/1-2 Mahat Thai Road (From Hwy 224, turn right onto Chumphon Road, travel the entire length of Chumphon and turn left at the end of the road. You will now be able to see the hotel; a large, tall white building a few hundred metres up the road on your right) , fax: +66 44 252897, ✉ info@chomsurang.com. One of the oldest hotels in Korat and one of the best in its day. That day, however, was some forty years ago. Today, it is quiet, very dated (even the promotional leaflets are fifteen years old) and completely outclassed by other hotels in the city. The fact that the room rates have been considerably reduced from those displayed on the website tells you something. But the location, adjacent to the south entrance of Night Bazaar 1, close to several popular restaurants and 10 min walk from Klang Plaza and Yamo, is hard to beat. 500-1,000 Thai Baht.
  • Korat Hotel, 191 Assadang Road (In the old walled city). Small room is 600 Thai Baht with breakfast, and a larger room 750 Thai Baht. Breakfast is a choice of Thai or Western and is cooked to order. Hotel is dated, but clean, and hot water in the shower. Plenty of tuk-tuks outside, and close to the night market. 600+ Thai Baht.

Splurge

  • Dusit Princess Korat (Formerly, The Royal Princess), 1137 Suranarai Road (Hwy 205) (From the west (Bangkok) follow Hwy 2 then Hwy 224 through the city. Turn left onto Hwy 205 (signposted Phimai, Chaiyaphum). The hotel is on your left after about 1.5 km.) , fax: +66 44 256601. A Sima Thani rival, the Dusit Princess is part of the Dusit International group. Facilities are as you would expect from a luxury hotel and there is a limousine service which can collect you from Suvarnabhumi airport (9,000 Thai Baht). Like the Sima Thani, it suffers from a location adjacent to a main highway and is several kilometres from the city centre. Website claims it is 3.5 km from the train station and 2 km from the bus station are bold to say the least. 1,600-4,700 Thai Baht.
  • Hermitage Hotel (Hermitage Resort), 725/2, Hwy 224 (Follow Hwy 2 then 224 through Korat, the hotel is on your left, set back from the road, just after you have come over the railway line flyover; difficult to get to and from if you do not have a car, buses bound for the Cambodian border at Aranyaprathet stop in front of the hotel) , fax: +66 44 247463, ✉ info@hermitagethailand.com. A 139-room hotel in the southeast of the city. Surrounded by gardens and lakes. A pool, gym and sauna are among the facilities and it comes with a reputation for good food. 1,600-6,000 Thai Baht.
  • Sima Thani Hotel, 2112/2 Mittraphap Road (Approaching from the west (Bangkok) the Sima Thani is on the left just after you cross the railway line flyover. It’s a huge, prominent building; you can’t miss it.) , fax: +66 44 213121, ✉ sale@simathani.com. A former Sheraton hotel, the Siam Thani is the most famous and biggest (265 rooms) hotel in Korat. It’s also one of the most expensive. It’s more traditional-luxury than the V-One’s modern-funky. It has all the facilities you would expect from a hotel and is a favoured destination for any celebrities that happen to be in town. But its location, a couple of kilometres west of the city centre, isn’t great for night owls. 1,400-15,000 Thai Baht.
  • V-One Hotel, 666/6 Chang Pheuak Road (From the west (Bangkok) follow Hwy 2 past Lotus and The Mall. Bear left on Hwy 2 past Big C and the ‘new’ bus station. Turn right onto Chang Pheuak Road in front of the Pegasus Hotel. V-One is a few hundred metres down Chang Pheuak on the left.) , fax: +66 44 342400, ✉ reservation@v-onehotelkorat.com. The V-One is a self-styled “trendy, boutique hotel”. Certainly, its modern, colourful décor and 21st century facilities mark it out as quite different from any other hotel in the city; you have to pay for it, though. It does have affiliated hotels, smaller buildings adjacent to the main building. The rooms in these are smaller and cheaper than the quoted figures. The road the hotel is on is one of the best for nightlife by Korat standards. The V-One also benefits from being close to Hwy 2 and the main bus station. 3,060-11,299 Thai Baht. Booking on the Internet will save you 40%.

Telecommunications in Nakhon Ratchasima

Internet cafés are plentiful and typically charge around 10 Thai Baht/hour or 25 Thai Baht for three hours but the city is served by 4G cellular networks and high speed fiber internet is available across most of the city and its suburbs.

Go next

  • Khao Yai National Park — largest national park of Thailand with fascinating animals, waterfalls and more
  • Krabi — Lignite Tours has a daily bus from Korat to Krabi at 16:50. Fare is 876 Thai Baht (2016). Arrives Krabi about 08:00.
  • Phimai — the historical Khmer remains
  • Preah Vihear — amazing temple right on the border with Cambodia, no separate visa necessary to visit
  • Surin — the annual elephant parade
  • Aranyaprathet and Rongkleu Market — border crossing to Cambodia. There are 7 buses daily from the new bus station to Rongkluea market (05:30, 08:00, 10:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00 and 18:00).

Former founder of Asiarooms.com and now reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne but lived in Berlin during my early teenage years. A longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu. Now based on Mallorca, Spain.

Northeast Thailand

Sakon Nakhon Nightlife & Travel Guide

Sakon Nakhon (สกลนคร) is a town in the Isaan region of Thailand. Phra That Choeng Chum Understand Sakon Nakhon is 647 km from Bangkok. It has an area of 9,605 km², mostly in the Phu Phan mountains. It has many forest temple meditation retreats. Sakon Nakhon is a Buddhist town with five Buddhist stupas. Its […]

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Sakon Nakhon Wax Candle Procession1000x600
Sakon Nakhon Nightlife & Travel Guide

Sakon Nakhon (สกลนคร) is a town in the Isaan region of Thailand.

Introduction to Sakon Nakhon

Sakon Nakhon is 647 km from Bangkok. It has an area of 9,605 km², mostly in the Phu Phan mountains. It has many forest temple meditation retreats.

Sakon Nakhon is a Buddhist town with five Buddhist stupas. Its history dates back three thousand years. Legend says that Nongharn town, now Sakon Nakhon, was built in 11th century when the Khmer ruled this region. When the Khmer lost their power, the town was under the rules of Lanxang or Laotian Kingdom. It was renamed “Muang Chiang Mai Nongharn”. When the town joined Siam, it was renamed again as “Sakon Thavapi”. In 1830, during the reign of King Rama III, it was renamed “Sakon Nakhon”.

Language spoken in Sakon Nakhon

A mix of Thai and Lao is spoken in Sakon Nakhon. Central Thai is perfectly acceptable. There are few expats living in the city and few foreign visitors, but don’t expect English to be widely spoken or to see English translations beyond road signs. Locals will do their best to help you with whatever English they know, but it’s advisable to dive headfirst into learning the dialect and start mixing with the locals.

Visit our Hotel Partners in Sakon Nakhon

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

How to get into to Sakon Nakhon

By car

From Bangkok, take Hwy 2 to Saraburi and turn right onto Hwy 2, via Nakhon Ratchasima, Ban Phai of Khon Kaen Province to Ban Tha Phra. Get onto Hwy 23 via Maha Sarakham and Kalasin, then use Hwy 213 to Sakon Nakhon. (7-9 hr respecting speed limits)

By bus

The Transport Co. Thailand and private bus companies operate daily service from Bangkok to Sakon Nakhon. Buses leave the Northeast Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) daily.

By train

The State Railway of Thailand operates daily train services from Bangkok to Udon Thani, where visitors can catch a bus to Sakon Nakhon, 159 km away (3-4 hours, 100 Thai Baht, air-con. Buses going to Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan may stop in Sakon Nakhon). The night train from Bangkok usually departs at 20:00, and is supposed to reach Udon Thani around 06:00 but 09:00 is more likely. Around 1,000 Thai Baht for a soft bed in a 2-bed first-class cabin with air-con.)

Fly to Sakon Nakhon

Nok Air flies from Bangkok to Sakon Nakhon (900-2,500 Thai Baht one-way; 15 kg checked in luggage included).

Air Asia flies from Bangkok to Sakon Nakhon (200-1,300 Thai Baht one-way since 2014; checked in luggage is a low-cost extra).

Cheap Flights to Sakon Nakhon

OriginDeparture atReturn atFind tickets
Bangkok13.08.202115.08.2021Tickets from 2 899

Get around Sakon Nakhon

You can get around by bus, samlor, and motored tricycle that are available in the city. Fare is negotiated.

There is no rental company catering for tourists, but you can arrange in almost any motorcycle shop, or any guesthouse, a daily rental for around 100-200 Thai Baht, or monthly for 1,500-2,000 Thai Baht.

What to see in Sakon Nakhon

  • Phra That Choeng Chum (พระธาตุเชิงชุม). It is built to cover footprints of four Buddhas, namely Phra Kakusantha, Phra Konakom, Phra Kassapa, and Phra Kodom or Phra Sri Ariyametrei (The present Lord Buddha). Next to Phra That is the chapel that houses Luang Por Ong Saen, a sacred Buddha statue of the province. It is featured on the reverse of the ten satang coin.
  • Nong Han (หนองหาร). With a depth of three to eight metres, the lake supports agriculture, livestock farming, and a fishery. There are more than 20 islets in the lake such as Ko Don Sawan, the biggest islet where a deserted temple and ancient Buddha images are found.
  • Somdej Phra Srinagarindra Park (สวนสมเด็จพระศรีนครินทร์). The park’s compound includes an ancient pond, called Sra Pangthong. The park includes beautiful flowers and trees, jungle, water park, rock garden, exercise area, and a 69-m-high fountain.
  • The 60th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen Park (สวนเทิดพระเกียรติ ๖๐ พรรษา มหาราชินี). The park includes a botanical garden, pavilion, fountain, viewpoint, and bird sanctuary.
  • Freshwater Fish Aquarium (สถานแสดงพันธุ์ปลาน้ำจืด), Sai Sawang Road. The Freshwater Fishery Station aquarium features different species of freshwater fish native to Isan.
  • Sakon Nakhon Cultural Centre (ศูนย์วัฒนธรรมจังหวัดสกลนคร). The centre features tools, belongings, history, and documents of different ethnic groups.
  • Phra That Dum (พระธาตุดุม). The lone stupa is built with laterite in the same period as Phra That Narai Jeng Veng, but the stupa is smaller and without a base. The lintel featuring God Vishnu in reclining position is placed on the northern arch. There are carvings depicting gods riding different animals over the Rahu.
  • Archan Man Purithattha Thera Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์บริขารอาจารย์มั่น ภูริทัตตเถระ). The museum houses a bronze statue of Archan Man Purithatto and the glass case that houses his ashes that turned into crystal. The display, including his tools, is placed on a marble altar and his life history is shown nearby.
  • Sapan Khom or Sapan Hin (สะพานขอม หรือสะพานหิน). It is considered as an ancient bridge to link Sakon Nakhon and the countryside as this area once was swamp. The present bridge is made from laterite, replacing the old one that was removed for road construction.
  • Phra That Narai Cheng Weng (ปราสาทพระธาตุนารายณ์เจงเวง). The lone stupa is built from sandstone on a laterite base and carved beautifully. Its lintel features Lord Krisna killing a lion in Bapuan Khmer art. The art appearing on this stupa is quite similar to many other Khmer ruins found in Isan.
  • Phu Phan Rajanivet Palace (พระตำหนักภูพานราชนิเวศน์). The palace is the royal residence of the king, queen, and royal family during their missions in northeast Thailand.
  • Phu Phan National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูพาน). The park features limestone mountains and different forest such as deciduous dipterocarp forest, jungle rain forest, or mixed deciduous forest. Wildlife found in the park include langur, civet, and slow loris.

Historical attractions

  • Phra That Phu Pek (พระธาตุภูเพ็ก). this ancient Khmer Ruin was built from sandstone, standing on a laterite base.
  • Tham Seri Thai (ถ้ำเสรีไทย). During WWII, Seri Thai used this cave for arms and food storage as it is well camouflaged by lush vegetation.

Natural attractions

  • Phu Phan Mountain Range (เทือกเขาภูพาน). The range is quite well known, but remote, at the border of Sakon Nakhon and Kalasin.
  • Namtok Kham Hom and Kong Ping Ngu (น้ำตกคำหอม และ โค้งปิ้งงู). The entrance to Namtok Kham Hom winds like a grilled snake, or Kong Ping Ngu in Thai.
  • Pha Nang Mern and Lan Sao E (ผานางเมิน และลานสาวเอ้). It is quite a nice place for camping and for watching the sunset view. Below the cliff, there is a track leading to Lan Sao E, literally, “the place for the lady to show beautiful attire”.
  • Pha Savoey (ผาเสวย). In Kalasin, the cliff heading south is the place where the king once visited and ate lunch.
  • Namtok Huay Yai (น้ำตกห้วยใหญ่). The falls are 12 km from park headquarters. It cascades via several steps amid dense jungle.
  • Namtok Preecha Sooksan (น้ำตกปรีชาสุขสันต์). The 12-m-wide falls cascade down the mountain.
  • Stone Arch (Thang Pi Pan) (สะพานหินธรรมชาติ [ทางผีผ่าน]). The stone arch, 1.5 m wide and 8 m long, bridges two groups of rocks together creating a shelter underneath it.
  • Phu Thai ethnic group at Ban None Hom (ชาวภูไท บ้านโนนหอม). have immigrated from the left side of Mekong River to settle down here over a century ago.
  • Cliff carving at Phu Pha Yon (ภาพรอยสลักผาสามพันปีที่ภูผายล). Phu Pha Yon, the mountain in the compound of meditation centre houses cliff carvings featuring lifestyles of the local people in the pre-historical period.
  • Phra That Phu Pek (พระธาตุภูเพ็ก). Phra That Phu Pek is believed to have been built in the 11th century to serve as a Hindu temple. It was adapted to serve Buddhism later.
  • Wat Tham Kham or Phu Kham (วัดถ้ำขาม หรือ ภูขาม). The temple once was a meditation place of Archan Fan Archaro. The temple also houses ashes of Phra Archan Tet Tetrangsi, now a pilgrimage site.
  • Archan Fan Archaro Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์อาจารย์ฝั้น อาจาโร). The museum, in the shape of a pagoda and three folds of lotus, houses a life-size statue of Archan Fan in a sitting posture with a stick in his hand. The other exhibits include ashes in glass box and tools, as well as his history.
  • Wat Kham Pramong (วัดคำประมง). This temple served as a meditation place for Phra Kru Santi Worayan (Luang Pu Sim Buddharo).
  • Nam Oun Dam (เขื่อนน้ำอูน). The clay dam, managed by the Royal Irrigation Department, is built to preserve water from the Nam Oun, a tributary of the Songkram River which originates in the Phu Phan Range.
  • Prasart Ban Panna (ปราสาทบ้านพันนา). The Khmer ruin has a lone stupa with a rectangular laterite base and baray around. It is believed to have been built in the same period as Phra That Phu Pek.
  • Phra That Sri Mongkol (พระธาตุศรีมงคล). The rectangular pagoda is decorated in modern design and stucco. Its base contains decorations in terracotta featuring history of Lord Buddha. The modern design is a renovation of the old pagoda which had only a laterite core.
  • Tham Phra Buddha Saiyard (Tham Phra Thong or Phu Pha Thong) (ถ้ำพระพุทธไสยาสน์ [ถ้ำพระทอง หรือภูผาทอง]). The cave is at Tambon Kor Kiew, 9 km from Amphoe Warich Phume.
  • Phu Ang Sor (ภูอ่างศอ). The mountain is in Tambon Kham Bor, 18 km from Amphoe Warich Phume.
  • Wat Tham Apai Damrong Tham or Wat Tham Phuang and the Museum of Archan Wan Uttamo (วัดถ้ำอภัยดำรงธรรม หรือวัดถ้ำพวง และพิพิธภัณฑ์อาจารย์วัน อุตตโม). The temple has a four-gabled marble pavilion with a double roof. Its ground floor features paintings of the history of the famous monk Archan Wan.
  • Phu Pha Lek National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูผาเหล็ก). The park encloses part of the Phu Phan Range with Phu Ang Sor as its highest peak. Most areas are covered with deciduous dipterocarp forest, mixed dipterocarp forest, dry evergreen forest, various kinds of bamboo and herbs. Wild hogs, barking deer, mouse deer and various birds are found. Attractions in the park include:
    • Pha Suriyan (ผาสุริยันต์). The towering cliff on the top of Phu Pha Lek offers nice view point and sun rise view.
    • Pha Dong Kor (ผาดงก่อ). The cliff is on the peak of Phu Pha Lek, part of Phu Phan range. It is special with a huge rock at the cliff edge.
    • Pha Nam Joke (ผาน้ำโจ้ก). This high cliff on the peak of Phu Pha Lek offers views of Huay Huad Reservoir and a panorama of Udon Thani and Khon Kaen.
    • Pha Pak Wan Pre-historical Painting (ภาพเขียนก่อนประวัติศาสตร์ผาผักหวาน). The 3,600-year-old painting is on a big rock at Ban Phu Takham. It features women standing in line and holding each other’s shoulders.
    • Lan U-sa Sawan (ลานอุษาสวรรค์). The plateau, covering 2.5 km² in area, is on top of Phu Pha Lek. It comprises forest, mountain, rock and grassland, and looks like a man-made garden.
    • Dinosaur graveyard (สุสานไดโนเสาร์). Many fossils have been found in the middle of the Phu Pha Lek Mountain and at the forested edge of Phu Phan. Fossils of plant and petrified wood have also been found.
    • Hor Song Dao (หอส่องดาว). The observatory is at 700 m elevation on Phu Pha Lek’s peak. With a full panoramic view, it is a good place to observe the stars and meteor showers.
    • Nam Phung Dam (เขื่อนน้ำพุง). The first rockfill dam in northeast Thailand is 1,720 m (5,640 ft) long and 40 m (130 ft) high. The dam generates electricity for Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom.
    • Thai So Cultural Centre (ศูนย์วัฒนธรรมไทยโส้). The centre features tools of Thai So, an ethnic group that migrated from the left side of the Mekong River.
  • Phu Pha Yon National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูผายล). It features plateau and sandstone mountain, blanketed by deciduous dipterocarp forest, dry evergreen forest, hill evergreen forest. The trees found in the park include thingar, Lagerstroemia calyculata Kurz, Irvingia malayana. Wildlife found includes barking deer, sambar deer, Asiatic wild dog. Attractions in the park include:
    • Huay Huad Reservoir (อ่างเก็บน้ำห้วยหวด). It was created by the irrigation dam at the initiative of the king. There is a strangely shaped rock, by the pavilion on the right side of the reservoir.
    • Namtok Kham Sang (น้ำตกคำน้ำสร้าง). With a height of 25 m (82 ft), these are the highest falls in the park. The falls are 1.8 km from park headquarters.
    • Phu Pha Yon (ภูผายล). The mountain has beautiful scenery. Its cliff houses carvings which can be dated back to over 3,000 years ago.
    • Pha Paya Tao Ngoy (ผาพญาเต่างอย). There is a rock in “ngoy tortoise” shape which is going towards Phung Stream. Locals believe that the tortoise represents fertile land and named the village Ban Tao Ngoy.
    • Lan Dusita (ลานดุสิตา). The vast rock plain turns colourful in late rainy season when various tiny flowers are in full bloom.
  • Wax Castle Procession. Held during the 12th-15th days of the waxing moon in October to mark the end of Buddhist Lent. On the night of 13th day, people join to decorate wax castles at Ming Muang Field. On the 14th day, wax castles from different temples will join the procession, roaming the municipality to Wat Phra That Cherngchum Woravihara. Isan people believe that the wax will welcome Lord Buddha who comes back from heaven to help all creatures on earth. Communities from around the Sakon Nakhon province spend a considerable amount of time and money constructing large model Buddhist temples out of wax. It draws quite a large number of Thai tourists, and a few expats as well, but is still relatively unknown to foreign tourists. As Buddhist Lent is determined by the lunar calendar, it is held in October, but not on the same day each year.

What to Do in Sakon Nakhon

  • Huai Huat Reservoir (30 km south of Sakon Nakhon on Rte 2339). The reservoir is a part of Huai Huat National Park, a consequence of Huai Huat Dam construction. Fronting the reservoir are a royal hall, a flower garden, and a natural arrangement of various forms of rocks.
  • Nam Phung Dam (45 km west of Sakon Nakhon on Rte 22 to Udon Thani, then 8 km south on Phang Khon-Waritchaphum Road). Huge dam provides a sanctuary for numerous teals. A trip to Mae Un Waterfall and a fishing trip are some examples of various activities at the dam.
  • Nam Un Dam (At Kut Bak). A multipurpose dam. 172 m long and 40 m high, it dams up a huge lake with a surface area of about 6,000 acres.
  • Nong Han Lake (หนองหาร). A 32-km² lake in Sakon Nakhon is a popular place of relaxation. Its offshore isles, particularly the Don Sawan, are both beautiful and restful and can be easily reached by hired boats. However, if you are considering swimming here, read Sakon Nakhon#Stay safe first.
  • Phu Phan National Park (25 km on Sakon Nakhon-Kalasin Rte 213). The park is scattered with limestone mountains, groves, and savannahs with several natural attractions such as Tat Ton Waterfall and Kham Hom Waterfall. Foreigners pay 10 times what the Thais pay to enter.
  • Songkran Festival. Songkran is Thailand’s traditional New Years from the 13-15 Apr annually. Do not think Songkran is just for the big cities as seemingly the entire town comes out to play for several days of water throwing madness. It is about the best fun you can have in Sakon. Most of the action takes place from the temple Wat Phra That Choeng Chum and several blocks to the northwest. Phang Khon is also an excellent place to be especially around Ban Nong Bua which is directly at Nam Oum Dam.
  • Ruam Nam Jai Tha iSakon Fair and Red Cross Fair (งานรวมน้ำใจไทสกลและงานกาชาด) – Held at the beginning of each year by the city hall, the fair comprises floats showing cultures and tradition of different ethnic groups in the province such as Phu Thai, So, Yor, Saek, Ka Lerng, Kula, Vietnamese, and Chinese. The float parade starts from Ming Muang Field at 14:00 and travels via Sukkasem Road to city hall. The other entertainments include a folk culture contest, a traditional dinner, and stage performances.
  • So Ram Luk Festival (งานเทศกาลโส้รำลึก) – The festival to commemorate the So ethnic group is held annually on the 4th waxing moon of March at Amphoe Kusumal. Traditional rites conducted by a number of So people start in late morning.
  • Boon Mahachart Festival and Boon Bangfai or Rocket Festival, Amphoe Phang Kone (งานบุญมหาชาติและบุญบั้งไฟ อำเภอพังโคน) – The festivals are held annually in the first week of May. Its activities include the local rocket contest, Mahachart Preying, Phang Kone Cuisine Festival, and the local rocket parade.
  • Boat race (งานประเพณีแข่งเรือ) – Held at the same time as the wax castle procession, the ancient boat race takes place at Phang Thong Pond or Tha Nang Arb, Ban Tha Wat.

Go Shopping in Sakon Nakhon

Local products

  • Ban Charn Arts and Crafts Centre (ศูนย์ศิลปาชีพบ้านจาร) – At Ban Charn, Tambon Mueng, Amphoe Ban Muang, the centre is a production base and training hub for weaving silk and local textiles, as well as blacksmithing and wood carving.
  • Ban Pan Mor (บ้านปั้นหม้อ) – The pottery village Ban Chiang Krua is in Tambon Chiang Krua, Amphoe Muang, 15 km from Sakon Nakhon city via Hwy 22. The farmers here receive additional earnings through the pottery business.
  • Wha Yai and Ban Don Daeng Weaving Village (หมู่บ้านทอผ้าบ้านวาใหญ่ บ้านดอนแดง) – In Amphoe Arkat Amnuay, the villages are well known for woven cotton, silk dyed in Khit-style. All textiles are dyed with natural dyes.
  • Big C Shopping Centre (corner of Khu Mueang Road and Jai Pah Suk Road). Daily 09:00-22:00. General shopping. There’s a food court, a MK Restaurant and a decent sushi stand.
  • Kut Na Kham Arts and Crafts Centre (at Ban Kut Na Kham, Charoen Sin, 112 km from Sakon Nakhon). Where pottery, fabrics, and wood carvings are made by hand to unique designs.
  • Makro (1 km west of centre on Rte 22 to Udon Thani). Cheap bulk purchases.
  • Robinson (east from the centre). Groceries and assorted goods, with much higher pricing than Big C or Lotus but Tops Supermarket carries many imported food items mainly from Europe, the US and Japan.
  • Tedsaban Market (corner of Pracha Rat Road and Khu Mueang Road). Primarily a vegetable market, but you can also buy some cheap clothes (especially at night when the market expands to the opposite side of the street) and other odds-and-ends. It’s also a great place to pick up a quick Thai meal in a plastic bag.
  • Tesco Lotus (west, just out of the centre, on Rte 22 to Udon Thani). Superstore.

Restaurants in Sakon Nakhon

  • Baijak Coffee & Steak House (behind the PTT petrol station just outside of town on the highway to Udon Thani). 11:00-21:00. Excellent little steak house. English menus.
  • Ban Fa Prong Coffee & Bakery (from Big C supermarket, follow Rop Mueang St east for 900 m; the restaurant is on the right before the corner with Charoen Mueang). 07:00-21:00. Delicious range of Thai, Isaan, French, and international cuisine with menu in English. Air-con, English spoken, nice set of international desserts. 50-200 Thai Baht.
  • Dog Meat (Ban Tha Rae, north of Nong Han Lake on the road to Nakhon Phanom). Dog meat is sold to those meat-eaters desperate to taste sour and spicy dog-bone soup, peppery dog meat salad, or dark spicy smoked dog sausage. Gourmets say the meat, boiled or fried, is particularly succulent and tastes like deer. Dog oil is said claimed to be a useful ointment for scratches or burned skin. The thought of eating dog horrifies most Thais, and the promotion of canine cuisine is not something the Tourism Authority of Thailand is keen to support. In villages throughout Sakon Nakhon dog meat is still consumed.
  • Green Corner (Rat Phatthana Road, opposite the city’s main bus terminal). A modern bakery and restaurant. Sells Thai and Western meals. Popular with expats and foreigners also because it’s one of the few restaurants that has an English language menu and air-con.
  • Pon Yang Kham (15 km southeast of Sakon Nakhon on Rte 223 between the military camp and Non Hom town). A butchery specialising in the production and distribution of high quality beef from charolais and limousin French cattle breeds. Supplies high-end restaurants in Bangkok. Also has an affordable restaurant at noon. 50-300 Thai Baht.
  • Rajaphat University Restaurant (on Rte 22 to Udon Thani, after crossing Rte 223). 30-200 Thai Baht.
  • Sakon Nakhon Farmers Market (AKA bypass market) (southwest of Sakhon Nakhon at intersection of Rte 213 (to Kalasin) and Rte 223 to Mukdahan (AKA bypass intersection)). Daily 16:00-19:00. Fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, meat, fish, takeaway food, and an amazing range of insects, frogs, birds, snakes, larvae, worms.
  • Sakhon Steak and Sandwich House (ITU Road, at entrance to the PLR Apartments). 08:00-23:00. Tesco Lotus (road to Udon Thani). Supermarket with food court. 20-100 Thai Baht.

Get out for a Drink in Sakon Nakhon

  • Golden Pond (Tor Phatthana Road). A popular discothèque.
  • Patchachin (corner Prem Prida Road and Mankhalai Road). Thai pub and restaurant. Very popular with younger affluent Thais. No English language menus.
  • Soi Jet, Suk Kasem Soi 7 (in a small alley off Suk Kasem Road). Hard to find but serves good quality Thai food. It is another pub popular with younger, affluent Thais looking for a more relaxed night out. Thai-language menu only.
  • Welcome Bar (Tor Phatthana Road). The local expat bar.

Where to stay in Sakon Nakhon

Hotels Sakon Nakhon: Popularity

HotelStarsDiscountPrice before and discountSelect dates
Hop Inn Sakon Nakhon★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Chokdee PlaceView Isaan Hotel Deals
At Sakon Hotel★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Honghub sakon★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Imperial Sakon Hotel★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
MT PlaceView Isaan Hotel Deals
U Style HotelView Isaan Hotel Deals
NH Elegant HotelView Isaan Hotel Deals
NK Residence Sakon Nakhon★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
JC HotelView Isaan Hotel Deals
Siwasom Resort Sakon Nakhon★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
โรงแรมตามตะวัน Tametawan HotelView Isaan Hotel Deals
Dara Maison Boutique HotelView Isaan Hotel Deals
Livable HotelView Isaan Hotel Deals
HUG SakonnakhonView Isaan Hotel Deals
PC Palace HotelView Isaan Hotel Deals
Tamarind Resort★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Chokdee Place★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Baan Phra ChanView Isaan Hotel Deals
Baan Esan Country House★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
  • AP Place Hotel, 525 Ratbamrung Road.
  • Baan Esan Country House, 166 Dong Pattana Soi 1 (Sakonnakhon-Udon Rte 22 close to Rajaphat University), Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Cute traditional northeastern-style guesthouse five minutes from Sakon Nakhon airport, with a beautiful garden and landscaping. Jasmin and fragrant flowers, orchids, spa, sauna, and hot tub spa. Wi-Fi, satellite TV. English spoken. Inclusive breakfast, with latte and cappuccini, very flexible owners who often arrange delicious home made meals, arrange takeaway deliveries in the guesthouse, arrange transport from/to the airport. Offers motorbike rental. Daily, 500-2,000 Thai Baht; monthly, 3,500-6,000 Thai Baht.
  • Dusit Hotel, 1784 Yuwa Phatthana.
  • Imperial Sakon Hotel, 1892 Sukkasem Road.
  • M.J. The Majestic Hotel, 399 Khu Muang Road.
  • N.H. Elegant Hotel, 1636/32 Rop Mueang Road.
  • PLR Apartments, ITU Road (Near football stadium). Check-in: 10:00, check-out: 12:00. All rooms are fully furnished. 26 inch LCD TV, water heater, cable TV, 24 hour security, laundry service. 300 Thai Baht per day; 3,000 Thai Baht per month.

What to see and do in Sakon Nakhon

Visitors to Sakon Nakhon are in for a treat. This region abounds in natural splendor and spectacle, and time spent here immerses you in the Buddhist traditions of the nation and can even take you back in time a few million years.

Thai culture places great emphasis on respecting your elders, so we will visit our ancestors first. In the area between Sakon Nakhon and the bordering province of Kalasin, the Phu Pan mountain range houses full-skeleton fossils of sauropods from approximately 120 million years ago. The fossil record here also includes some plant and petrified wood samples, and the larger fossils can be seen in large-scale open pit excavations. Satisfy your inner archeologist with a visit to the digs.

We have to turn a lot of calendar pages to get to the next stop, chronologically speaking. Phu Pha Yon Mountain sits in the midst of a meditation center 40 km outside the city. The mountainside holds one of the best examples of prehistoric representative art. Local tribes carved depictions of people, animals, and agriculture into the side of the mountain more than 3000 years ago. Surrounded by natural beauty in peaceful surroundings, this mountain is well worth the short trip from Sakon Nakhon city.

Seasoned travelers will often tell you that the best places in any locale are the places that the locals frequent. The residents of Sakon Nakhon tend to take their leisure along the shores of Nong Han Lake. The lake covers more than 120 square kilometers and is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the kingdom. The shoreline has largely been converted into a massive public park for the city, and a number of small islets dot the lake. Hire a boat to visit the largest of these, Ko Don Sawan, to see ancient Buddha images in a deserted temple. The untamed greenery of the island makes it a popular nesting ground for several species of birds.

It can be a lot of fun to join local festivals while on vacation, even if you don’t understand what you’re celebrating! Thailand’s traditional New Year’s celebration is in April each year, and is called Songkran. The festival traditionally marks the beginning of the rainy season. While Songkran can be an excuse for rowdy behavior in more southerly cities of Thailand, in the northeast it is a more civil event. People pour water on one another to cool off and to share a laugh. Most businesses will close during Songkran days, so expect larger crowds, but the more, the merrier.

Should you be in the region in October, there is the annual Wax Castle Parade. Competing teams spend countless hours building replicas of popular temples and structures, and then form a parade to show off their handiwork.

When its souvenir time, take a trip to Ban Charn Arts and Crafts, or Wha Yai and Ban Don Daeng. Ban Charn Arts & Crafts Center is a training and distribution center for the local crafts of woodcarving, silk production, and blacksmithing. Wha Yai and Ban Don Daeng are renowned for local silk products and textiles. Take home a memory or two!

Eat, drink and sleep in Sakon Nakhon

Apart from the hardcore survivalist types, most tourists enjoy a good meal after a day of touring waterfalls and temples. And of course, you have to eat a good breakfast, or you’ll have no energy for the next day’s activities. Don’t worry about anything. You definitely don’t have to go hungry in Sakon Nakhon.

First things first: yes, they eat dog in Sakon Nakhon. Among Thailand’s seventy-six provinces, Sakon Nakhon has the largest reputation for the preparation and consumption of dog meat. You shouldn’t be alarmed by this at all. You’re visiting a very different culture, and this is their custom. Further, you won’t be served dog unless you order it. If you’re curious and adventurous, the local fresh market is rumored to be the place to pick up your serving.

For other types of meals, you have many choices. Of course the Thai food will be fresh and flavorful, just like in every province of the kingdom.

Recommendations for Thai restaurants in Sakon Nakhon

Mit Auppatam

Thai oriented menu, but also with Western options. This is a good choice for breakfasts, as they serve a really decent omelet. Lunch and dinner also available, but bring an interpreter.

Phra Cha Chuen

Thai food only, but served in a more casual setting. Great meals, unpretentious, nice atmosphere.

Green Corner

If you’re after a more westernized menu, this is your spot. Of course good Thai and Isaan-style options are on the menu, but you’ll also find a selection of pizzas, Italian food, and a nice bakery.

Sakon Nakhon Sandwich and Steak House

Western and Turkish menu with good prices. Located at the entrance to the PLR Apartments, on ITU Street. Run by Hakkan with his lovely wife.

Nightlife in Sakon Nakhon

Many of us have the habit of looking for a pub or nightclub sometime after dinner is done. While Sakon Nakhon is not known as a party town, don’t give up all hope. There’s always a place to find an open bar stool, a live band, and a cold drink. In Sakon Nakhon, you can try the karaoke bar inside the MJ Hotel. But if you prefer to listen instead of sing, you still have options. Toon Army Bar offers a live band and a friendly atmosphere. A more dance-oriented vibe is at the Golden Pond Disco just around the corner from Toon Army Bar, but you’re likely to find it rather crowded with local students. Welcome Bar is on the same street as Golden Pond, and is targeted slightly more to the western visitor. If you like live rock, specially Thai Rock, why not head to the Tawan Daeng with excellent singers. Finally, check out Mak Mi Sigh Tan country music bar for more live band enjoyment.

Stay safe in Sakon Nakhon

Swimming in Nong Han is risky because of parasitic liver flukes.

Go next

North to Bueng Kan, east to Nakhon Phanom, southeast to Mukdahan, southwest to Kalasin, or west to Udon Thani.

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Northeast Thailand

Udon Thani Expat & Tourist Guide

Wolfgang Holzem

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Udon Thani (อุดรธานี, also Udorn Thanee) is a city in the Isaan region of Thailand. Often referred to as simply Udon or Udorn (อุดร), the city should not be confused with Ubon — Ubon Ratchathani in southeastern Isaan.

Introduction to Udon Thani

Founded in the 1890s by Prince Prajak Silapakom, Udon Thani is the 7th largest city in Thailand.

Udon had a USAF airbase during the Vietnam War that increased its wealth and importance. Surrounded by one of the major agricultural areas of the country, Udon Thani has become a regional hub for agriculture, commercial distribution, shopping and a fledgling tourism industry.

Udon Thani F.C

Udon Thani F.C

Because of the US presence (the airbase until 1976, a U.S. consulate until 1995, and currently, a Voice of America radio station in Amphur Ban Dung) many Thais were well-paid and learned English, making them more marketable to foreign labour recruiters.

Udon has a large number of its expats who have worked or are working overseas, particularly in Middle East oil fields. This has contributed both to the wealth of the area and its desirability as an expat destination.

More than 5,000 expats from Europe, Australia and North America have settled in the area.

Visit our Hotel Partners in Udon Thani

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Travel to Udon Thani

By plane

  • Udon Thani AirportHas several 50 min daily flights to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi [BKK]) (Thai Airlines: around 2,500 Thai Baht) or (Don Mueang [DMK]) (Air Asia from 500 Thai Baht and Nok Air from 1,250 Thai Baht if booked well in advance). There are also direct flights to Chiang MaiLoei and Phuket (Air Asia flies to Phuket with tickets often around 1,000-1,200 Thai Baht, which is comparable to a 2-night bus/train trip via Bangkok).

To get to the city there is a limousine service (actually a minibus) for 80 Thai Baht/person that will drop you and other passengers at the location of your choice. Minibus tickets are available in the booth just to the right as you leave the terminal building. If there are more than two of you, it may be cheaper to call a taxi (Tel. +66 42 323239) or to use Grab ride-hailing service, which (as of January 2019) costs 160 Thai Baht to/from central Udon. Taxis are not permitted to wait for passengers at the airport, but some do it anyway, asking 200-400 Thai Baht for the 4 km journey. Some hotels have pickup services and may take an extra passenger or two if space permits. Some long distance buses to Khon Kaen were seen in the airport, with numerous people boarding them. No local Udon Thani songthaews have been seen near the airport.

Udon Thani Wallpaper

Udon Thani Wallpaper

If you are travelling on to Nong Khai, there is a bureau straight ahead of you when you get to the arrivals hall which sells minivan tickets to Nong Khai. They have a minibus which meets most flights and for 200 Thai Baht they will load you into a minivan. It takes one hour to reach Nong Khai and if you ask the driver he will take you to your hotel, or drop you off at the Thai side of the Friendship Bridge. You can then proceed into Laos.

Cheap Flights to Udon Thani

OriginDeparture atReturn atFind tickets
Bangkok03.08.202104.08.2021Tickets from 1 373
Phuket16.08.202121.08.2021Tickets from 2 089
Nakhon Si Thammarat04.09.202110.09.2021Tickets from 2 757
Chiang Mai16.08.202121.08.2021Tickets from 2 811
Chiang Rai01.03.202203.03.2022Tickets from 3 044
Vladivostok04.01.202209.01.2022Tickets from 54 150

By bus

There are four bus stations in the city:

  • City Centre Bus Station, Station 1 (BKS Station). The city’s main bus station is near Central Plaza.
  • Bus Station 2 (Northern Bus Station) (On the western outskirts of the city on the road in from Loei  towards Nong Khai). Buses to and from northern Thailand such as Loei , Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai. A tuk-tuk into the city costs about 100 Thai Baht from there (Dec 2014). Songthaew 7 will take you there as well.
  • Bus Station 3 (Just off the ring road, north side of the city). Third-class buses to Nong Khai.
  • Nakhonchai Air Bus Terminal Udon Thani (Tahan Road opposite the Army Hospital). First class and VIP day and overnight buses to Bangkok. Nakhonchai Air has a high reputation for quality, and for managing its drivers to drive safely. Buses from Bangkok also stop at Bus Station 1 when arriving in Udon Thani, before terminating at their own terminal. Nakhonchai Air has buses departing to Bangkok at 08:50; 09:40; 19:00; 20:50; 21:25; 22:00; and 22:45. Travel time is about 7-9 hours depending on traffic. Regular, 454 Thai Baht; VIP, 606 Thai Baht.
  • Udon-BangkokBuses from Bangkok (Mo Chit), an 8-hour journey, arrive at the BKS station in the city centre. BKS buses to Mo Chit depart at 20:00; 20:30; 21:00; and 21:20. Nakhonchai Air also runs buses to Bangkok.
  • Udon-Chiang MaiA VIP seat on a bus (e.g., Chackrapong Tour) costs 666 Thai Baht. (Dec 2014). The overnight journey takes 10.5 hr. This has to be one of Thailand’s worst bus trips as roads en route are small, rural, and winding. Those on the top of double decker buses may get queasy from all the toing-and-froing. Also, as the mid-point is one of Thailand’s more remote areas, your bus may not make the customary 20 min. break mid-way, or any break at all. Chackrapong buses to Udon drop you at the remote Bus Station 2, a reason to avoid it if you can by taking Phetprasert.
    • Phetprasert has three buses a day from Chiang Mai to Udon (and onto Nakhon Phanom). They leave Chiang Mai at 14:30, 17:30, and 19:30, arriving in Udon at 02:15, 05:15 and 05:30 respectively. Fare (Apr 2015) is 636 Thai Baht. Phetprasert drops passengers at Central Plaza Shopping Mall, a very good location in the centre (Mar 2015). Buses to Chiang Mai depart the shopping mall at 17:45, 18:45, and 20:45. Buy Phetprasert tickets in the city centre bus station, a 5 minute walk from the shopping mall.}}
  • Udon-Khon KaenAir conditioned buses and minivans depart from Udon’s Bus Station 1 downtown. There are at least two departures per hour. Duration of the trip is roughly 90 min for the 125 km route. As the old “Non-air conditioned terminal” in downtown Khon Kaen is closed now, the bus will go straight to the Terminal 3 six kilometers south on the city outskirts. The bus will pass through the city center though, and will stop a few times to drop off the people, so it may be wise to watch the map and get off at the location nearest to your hotel, then take a tuk-tuk or Grab there. 80 Thai Baht.
  • Udon-Nong KhaiBuses from several companies depart at least once per hour after 08:00 to Nong Khai, 1 hour, non-air conditioned 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 to the bus station or take a tuk-tuk. 50 Thai Baht (Oct 2013).
  • Udon-PattayaThe 407 Bus Company has daily 08:00, 18:30, and 20:55 buses to Pattaya. The morning bus takes about 12 hours as the bus makes many stops. Night buses take about 10 hr. Fare is 636 Thai Baht VIP (Nov 2015). The 407 Company has its office/bus stop near, but not in the city centre bus station. It’s on the corner of the main street out the front of the bus station near the 7-Eleven.
  • Udon-Points eastBuses depart around once per hour to Sakon Nakhon (100 Thai Baht, 3 hours, air conditioned, 160 km from Udon Thani, on the way to Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan).
  • Udon-VientianeThere are six express buses a day direct to the Morning Market in Vientiane (80 Thai Baht, 2 hours, air-con 1st class departures at 08:00, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00). Some companies will not sell this trip if you cannot show a visa. These cross-border buses will sometimes 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. There is a notorious scam of foreigners charged up to 100 Thai Baht for a 2 min ride, plus 25 Thai Baht for the bridge crossing, plus tuk-tuk or taxi to Vientiane.

By train

Daily trains go to Nong Khai (45 mins for just a bargain 11 Thai Baht) and over the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River to Laos. Trains are also frequent to Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok. The overnight express sleeper to Bangkok is scheduled to take 9.25 hours, but usually takes longer. Nevertheless, it is still quite comfortable and pleasant, especially when taken in a sleeping berth or compartment. A daytime express train to Bangkok traverses a causeway over the large and scenic artificial lake created by the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam (in Lopburi Province). Connections to the major centres of southern Isaan (Buriram, Surin, Sisaket and Ubon Ratchathani) can be made in Nakhon Ratchasima for those who like to travel by rail.

In all, there are daily daytime trains, and three daily nighttime trains from Bangkok to Udon Thani and vice versa (most of which normally originate or terminate at Nong Khai), and several local trains to other destinations, including Nakhon Ratchasima.

  • Train StationThe Udon Thani train station is convenient, near the main tourist area and Central Plaza shopping complex.

Getting around in Udon Thani

Navigation around Udon Thani is made easier by three large roundabouts on the central road, Hwy 2: the clock circle, the fountain circle and Prince Prajak Circle. It’s also possible to orient yourself with Central Plaza or Nong Prajak Park. There is a bypass road that goes around the city.

Udon Thani Wallpaper

Udon Thani Wallpaper

By taxi

The main bus station, near Central Plaza has a taxi stand. Grab ride-hailing service works in Udon as well, though prices start from 60 Thai Baht even for a shortest ride, and increase pretty quickly afterwards.

By bicycle taxi

Udon Thani has many samlors (three-wheeled bicycle taxis), although as elsewhere, they are slowly succumbing to the pressures of the internal combustion engine.

By tuk-tuk

Tuk-tuks, three-wheeled motorcycles, are readily available in most commercial areas. Negotiate a price for your journey before you get in. Note that in Udon Thani the locally made vehicles (called Skylabs) differ from those in most of Thailand outside Isaan in that their fronts are adapted motorcycles. If you travel to Laos, you will also see such vehicles (called “jumbos”) there. Tuk-tuks prowl the streets on the lookout for tourists. Apart from long journeys the price should be around 30-50 Thai Baht. If you get into the bus station early in the morning and need a guest house they may pretend they can’t speak English, drive you around in a small circle “looking” for guesthouses before dropping you around the corner from the station; however, some may not speak English and are just trying to be helpful. They will then ask for 100 Thai Baht for a 30 Thai Baht journey. There is plenty of accommodation within walking distance of the station.

Udon Thani Wallpaper

Udon Thani Wallpaper

By songthaew

Udon Thani has a bus-like network of numbered pick up trucks with 2 benches in the back songthaews; cost is 8 or 10 Thai Baht per trip (10 Thai Baht outside the ring road).

By bicycle

  • Bicycle RentalBicycles are available for rent at the northeast corner of Nong Prajak Park. 20 Thai Baht/hour.

Bicycles can also be rented by the day from Asia Backpackers and SPM House.

By motorbike or car

Motorbike rentals are readily available at many locations in Udon Thani such as Soi samphanthamit. There are also many shops that accept online bookings such as Udon Rent A Bike and www.motorbikerentaludonthani.com.

If you wish to travel with a little more comfort, it is recommended to rent a car, the most well established local car rental in Udon Thani is UD Car Rent. You will also find most manjor International car hire companies at Udon Thani Airport.

Sightseeing Tips to Udon Thani

Excavations at Ban Chiang
  • Ban Chiang (About 35 km E of Udon). An archaeological dig that is a UNESCO World Heritage List. Both buses and inter-village songthaews will drop you off at the Ban Chiang turn-off.
  • Ban Nakha (15 km N of Udon on Rte 2). A village famous for selling hand woven silk and cotton garments. It is somewhat commercialised but a walk back from the road into the village can net some silk and cotton bargains.
  • Nong BuaA park with a lake just to the east of the railway line. It is noted for its Chinese pagodas over the lake and the dragon pole.
  • Phu Foi Lom Eco-Park (40 km SW of Udon). Numerous trails and rainy season waterfalls. South of Udon is a large wetlands area/lake called Khumpahawapi. In Oct, traditional dragon boat races are held on the lake. Within Khumpahawapi is a city park with a large troop of monkeys that have been living there for over a hundred years.
  • Phu Phrabat National Park (60 km NW of Udon near the Ban Phue). A marvelous ridge line with numerous sandstone edifices several thousand years old. Bronze age cave paintings are also within the park.
  • Red Lotus Lake (Talay Bua Daeng, ทะเลบัวแดง), Tambon Chiang Haeo, Kumphawapi District, . Take a boat ride through a lake full of red flowers (they are actually red hardy water lilies) at the lake of Nong Han (หนองหาน). The bloom starts in October, but is best viewed from December to February during the morning. Bird watchers may also spot herons and other fowl. Boats and drivers are available for rent by the hour at the side of the lake, 300-500 Thai Baht. A suggested over night stay is the Ma Der Bua Hotel next to the lake. They also have a restaurant and provide a toilet for five Thai Baht.
  • Udon Sunshine Orchid FarmFamous for a variety of orchids, orchid-derived perfumes and plants that “dance to music”.Due to poor public transportation in Udon Thani, the only mean of transportation for tourist to get to these tourist attractions is by Car rentals or Taxi service.
Udon Thani Wallpaper

Udon Thani Wallpaper

What to do in Udon Thani

  • Daytrip to Nong KhaiCatch a 45 minute train at either 08:34 or 11:42 to Nong Khai for 11 Thai Baht. Either catch train back at 13:03 or catch a mini bus back for 50 Thai Baht. Every 30 min from bus station. If you wish do rent a car and travel a little more comfortable, there many car rentals agencies available in Udon Thani, such as UD Car Rent, Avis, Budget.
  • Major CinemaWatch a film at Major Cinema in Central Plaza. Some movies in Thai and some in English so choose the appropriate showing.
  • Nong Prajak Lake ParkDaily, 04:00-20:00A large recreational area within the city and the primary site for locals to exercise and chill out. Consisting of a large lake/reservoir with several small islands, it features pleasant grassy 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 or cycling (bike rentals available). Two paved pathways circle the lake: the inner one for cyclists, the outer one for those on foot. The circumference of the outer one is 3.3 km (2 mi). Most of the jogging path around the lake is ungated, but a portion is locked from 20:00-04:00.
  • Your Fitness Udon Thani322/19 Prachaksilpakom Road (Between Bangkok Hospital and 7-Eleven, behind the shops), . Monday to Friday, 08:00-24:00; Saturday to Sunday, 12:00-24:00New (Jan 2020) gym in Udon, one of only a few. Centrally located near Central Plaza and the railway station.
  • Visit a Thai League 2 Football match of Udon Thani FC at the Institute Of Physical Education Udon Thani Stadium.

Go shopping in Udon Thani

On the east-side ring road is the Bo Bei Clothing Market. Within the city itself are numerous 7-Elevens as well as many mini-marts with Western snacks and goods.

  • Big C (SE of the city centre on Nittayo Road; SW of the city centre on Rte 210). Daily, 09:00-24:00Two locations. Hypermart, groceries, housewares, clothing.
  • Central Plaza (Formerly Chareonsri), 277/1-3 Prajaksillapakom Road, . Monday to Friday, 09:30-21:00. Sa, Su, Hols, 09:00-21:00Udon Thani’s largest indoor shopping mall, featuring five floors of shopping, including Asia Books, a Robinson’s department store, Tops Supermarket, Sizzler steakhouse, KFC, Pizza Company, Swensen’s Ice Cream, Boots pharmacy, IT products, mobile phones, cineplex.
  • Landmark Plaza / TukComShopping complex with SFC Cinema.
  • Makro (E of the city centre). Daily, 06:00-22:00Cheap bulk purchases.
  • Night Market (W of the train station, five min walk from the central bus station.). 17:00-22:30Eat in and takeaway food.
  • Tesco Lotus (UD Town; another on the ring road, N side). Supermarket with lower prices than Tops Supermarket at Central Plaza. Several locations. The most central one is in UD Town (hours: 07:00-24:00). The one on the north ring road is a Tesco-Lotus Extra (hours:08:00-23:00).
  • Tops market CentralPlaza277/3 Prachuksilpakom Road, . Western and Thai foodstuffs; salad bar; deli; bakery. Monday to Friday 11:00-21:00; Saturday to Sunday 10:00- 21:00.
  • UD Town (Adjacent to the train station). Mall with a food court, Tesco Lotus store, three different Oishi restaurants, McDonald’s, Swensen’s Ice Cream, Pizza Company, WaWee Coffee and numerous retail businesses.

Eating Tips for Udon Thani

Street vendors abound throughout the city. Satay, noodle soup (beef, pork, chicken and duck are common), pad Thai, som tam, grilled chicken, meat on a stick, various sweets and rice dishes are available at nearly all times. Udon Thani has a large range of buffet restaurants including Korean-style cook it yourself BBQ in a raised dish over a charcoal burner in the centre of your table.

  • Bongkotch Restaurant (ร้านอาหารบงกช) (At the top of Soi Suphanthanit). Popular Thai restaurant with good food and low prices. 40+ Thai Baht.
  • Fuzzy Ken’s298/15 Sayoutis Road (Opposite 7-Eleven on Sayoutis Road; 1 min walk from central bus station 1 or Central Plaza; 10 min from railway station), . M-Sa, 08:00-late. Closed SuA wonderful hybrid: a restaurant serving Thai and Western food, a used bookshop, and a shop selling hard-to-find Western foodstuffs (Bovril, Marmite, Heinz beans, Vegemite, meat pies). A Brit, Ken is a terrific source of local info. Serves beer and wine. Good website. Free Wi-Fi. Huge breakfast, 145 Thai Baht (Aug 2017).
  • The Good Corner Restaurant and BarNutty Park, Prachak Road (Just around the corner from the “bar street”; across from UD Residence), . Daily, 08:00-23:00; kitchen closes 22:00Owned by a Danish lady, serves breakfast, pizza and Thai food. Great quality and decent prices.
  • Maeyaa (ร้านอาหารแม่หยา), 79-81 Rachapasadu Road (ถ.ราชพัสดุ) (Just S of Phosi Road and W of Amphoe Road, about 3 km from city centre). Terrific family restaurant, an Udon institution. Three floors, crowded with Thais at mealtimes. Extensive photo menu and have an English menu available. Thai and Western food, but best to stick with the Thai. Also known for their extensive ice cream selection including banana splits. Air conditioned.
  • Diary Restaurant (Diary), 128/17 Ban Lao Road., Soi 6 Udon Dutsadi, Udon Thani 41000 (Opposite Gomen City Estates), . 10:00-21:00 Tuesday to SundayInternational and Thai food, great quality & affordable prices. Serving Isaan food, Vegetarian food, Thai curries, Western breakfasts, Mexican & Italian food. Online ordering & delivery available.

Nightlife in Udon Thani

Udon Thani has a variety of karaoke bars, beer bars and Western bars. “Farang bars” tend to be concentrated in the area between Central Plaza and the railway station. Bars close sharply at midnight as the police are strict. Police set up roadblocks at the hour to look for drunk drivers. If you are driving a motorbike and over the limit it will cost you a night in a very uncomfortable Thai jail, most of the next day, and 3,000 Thai Baht. It was also reported that a drunk farang got court drunk and the fine was 10,000 Baht and they gladly drove him down to the nearest ATM

  • Day and Night Bar Complex (Next to the Pannerai Hotel). Noon till midnightAbout seventeen beer bars in this open air, but covered, bar complex.
  • Nutty ParkL-shaped alley containing a dozen or more small bars popular with tourists and expats. Nutty Park contains what may be the best farang-oriented bar in Udon, the Good Shot Bar. It’s clean and well lit, with nice hostesses and two pool tables. Serves Thai and Western food from two nearby restaurants.
  • Tawan Daeng next to 7/11 at Soin Sampan is a Thai Calabrao style Isaan night club with live music and plenty of drinks.
  • Fun Bar –Best farang-oriented beer bar on Soi Sampan, operated by Bill and his Thai wife.

Where to stay in Udon Thani

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget less than 500 Thai Baht
Mid-range 500-1,500 Thai Baht
Splurge over 1,500 Thai Baht

Hotels Udon Thani City: Popularity

HotelStarsDiscountPrice before and discountSelect dates
Centara Hotel & Convention Centre Udon Thani★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hop Inn Udonthani★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
De Princess Hotel Udonthani★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Thanburi Hotel★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Takanta Place★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
At Home at Udon★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Siamgrand Hotel★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Delio Boutique HotelView Isaan Hotel Deals
Charoen Hotel★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
The Pannarai Hotel★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
The Siri PlaceView Isaan Hotel Deals
Nuntiya Terrace★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Kitlada Hotel Udonthani★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Prajaktra Design Hotel★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
The One Residence★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Paradise Hotel UdonthaniView Isaan Hotel Deals
Prajak Place★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Goodhome@Udonthani★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
President Hotel Udonthani★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Prajaktra City HostelView Isaan Hotel Deals
There are many hotels in town. Prices vary, and as with most things, you get what you pay for. Rates range from 200 to 2,000 Thai Baht or more per night. Apartment rentals from 1,800 Thai Baht/month. Private pool villas can be rented for catered stays of two nights or more.

Cope in Udon Than

Co-working space in Udon Thani

  • Smarthub322/19 Prachaksilpakom Road (Near Central Plaza and the train station, between Bangkok Hospital and 7-Eleven, behind the shops), . Daily, 09:00-21:00Work spaces, meeting rooms with audio-visual equipment, Internet, copier, fax, office support staff. Coordinates are approximate. 60 Thai Baht for 1 hour, 180 Thai Baht per day.

Dental Clinics in Udon Thani

  • Wattra Dental ClinicSai Uthit Road (Purple storefront across from 7-Eleven at Bus Station 1 downtown, 100 m from CentralPlaza), . M-Sa, 09:00-19:30; Su, 09:00-17:00Competent, English-speaking dentist(s) who work with up-to-date technologies. 800 Thai Baht to re-cement molar crown.

Where to go next after Udon Thani

  • Ban Dung City, Udon Thani Province
  • Nong Khai is a very pleasant riverside town near the border with Laos. The Friendship Bridge is located here and this is the main overland border crossing into Laos on the way to Vientiane. Many travellers pass through Nong Khai on their way in and out of Laos without realising that this a worthy travel destination in its own right.
  • Khon Kaen another similar city on the train line heading south. Buses leave frequently and take 1,5 hours, trains take longer.
  • Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is about one and a half hours away across the Mekong. Express air conditioned buses leave the Udon Central bus station six times daily for Vientiane. Bus fare one way is 80 Thai Baht. A visa on arrival for Laos at the Friendship Bridge costs about USD35 for 30 days (two passport photos are required or there is an additional USD1 charge).
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Northeast Thailand

Loei | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Loei (เลย) is a city in the Isaan region of Thailand. Contents 1 Understand 2 Get in 2.1 By car 2.2 By bus 2.2.1 From Bangkok 2.3 From Phitsanulok 2.3.1 Within Isaan 2.4 By train 2.5 By plane 3 Get around 4 See 5 Do 5.1 Festivals 6 Buy 7 Eat 8 Drink 9 Where […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Loei (เลย) is a city in the Isaan region of Thailand.

Understand

Loei is a city surrounded by undulating mountain ranges whose fog-shrouded summits are abundant with flora. The well-known mountains are Phu Kradung, Phu Luang, and Phu Ruea. Its temperature is comfortably cool, with beautiful geographical surroundings, as well as unique cultures and traditions. In the cool season it can get decidedly chilly, one of the few parts of Thailand that ever gets down to 0 degrees Celsius.

Loei is 520 km from Bangkok, covering an area of 11,424 square kilometres. The city’s population is roughly 23,000. It is a boundary (with Laos) province in the upper northeastern part of Thailand, on the bank of the Mekong River along the Phetchabun mountain range.

In the past, it was a small community in a prosperous empire during the same period as the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Later, the Lan Chang Empire became weaker, therefore, the community moved to be with Ayutthaya. During the reign of King Rama V of the Rattanakosin period, the community was upgraded to become Loei Province.

Stay with our Hotel Partners in Loei City

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Get in

By car

From Bangkok, take Hwy 1 or Phahonyothin Road, passing Saraburi. Turn onto Hwy 21, passing Phetchabun. Then, take Hwy 203, passing Lom Sak, Lom Kao into Loei Province at Dan Sai, Phu Ruea to Loei. It takes approximately 7-8 hours. Alternately, from Saraburi, take Hwy 2, passing Nakhon Ratchasima to Khon Kaen, for a distance of 536 km and turn left onto Hwy 12, passing Chum Phae and take Hwy 201 to Loei Province through Phu Kradueng, and Wang Saphung, a distance of 540 km.

By bus

From Bangkok

The Transport Co., Ltd. provides daily buses between Bangkok–Loei, both normal and air conditioned. The trip takes approximately 10 hours. For further information, contact the Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2), Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Tel. +66 2 9362841-8, +66 2 9362852-66. There are private bus companies such as Air Mueang Loei Co., Ltd.’s Bangkok office at Tel. +66 2 9360142 or Loei Office at Tel. +66 42 832042; Chumpae Tour Ltd., Bangkok office at Tel. +66 2 9363842 or Loei office at Tel. +66 42 832285; Phet Prasoet Co., Ltd.’s Bangkok office at Tel. +66 2 9363230, Phu Ruea office at Tel. +66 42 899386, Dan Sai office at Tel. +66 42 891908.

From Phitsanulok

Many buses are available from Phitsanulok, which is a particularly convenient starting point for exploring the area west of Loei (Dan Sai, etc.).

There are two bus terminals in Phitsanulok. No.1 which is very accessible by foot and no.2 which is like 5 km away from the city on the highway 12 on Indochina junctions. 50 Thai Baht to get there on a songtheaw. Both terminals have the exact same time for the busses going to loei. So just stick to terminal no.1. Time schedule for busses to loei are 9:30 and 12:00. Arrive earlier so you can catch the early bus, otherwise it’s all booked pretty fast.

Price as of 2017, goes for 207 Thai Baht.

Within Isaan

There are regular buses to Loei from Khon Kaen (buses every 30 min) and Udon Thani (100 Thai Baht). Buses depart from bus station 2, somewhat inconveniently outside the main town.

By train

There is no railway station in Loei. However, visitors can take a train from Bangkok Railway Station (Hualamphong) to Udon Thani or Phitsanulok, and take a bus to Loei.

By plane

There are 2-3 flights weekly from Bangkok on Nok Air, one of Thailand’s domestic discount airlines to Loei Airport (LOE). Service has changed from time to time. If it is not available, the next-nearest airport with commercial flights is Udon Thani with flights to/from Bangkok , Chiang Mai, and Phuket using Thai Airways, Nok Air, and Air Asia (Thailand). As noted above, there are frequent buses from Udon Thani to Loei.

Cheap Flights to Loei

OriginDeparture atReturn atFind tickets
Chiang Mai01.09.202102.09.2021Tickets from 4 534

Get around

Songthaews can be used to reach the town from the bus station (10 Thai Baht). Tuk-tuks are also available to and around town. Local buses and/or songthaews serve some of the noteworthy sights mentioned below.

See

Most interesting tourist attractions are sufficiently far away they require public transport or a motorbike to reach them.

  • Chaopho Kut Pong Shrine and the City Pillar Shrine (ศาลเจ้าพ่อกุดป่องและศาลหลักเมือง)The city pillar was made of the golden shower wood elaborately carved into a lotus shape at its top and gilded with gold leaf on black lacquer. Its height is 139 centimetres (55 in).
  • Chaloem Phra Kiat Public Park, Pa Loeng Yai (สวนสาธารณะเฉลิมพระเกียรติฯ ป่าเลิงใหญ่) A public park on the Loei River. There is a decorative garden with flowers and decorative plants.
  • Office of the Loei Tourism Coordination Centre (อาคารที่ทำการศูนย์ประสานงานการท่องเที่ยวจังหวัดเลย) Previously the city hall and Mueang Loei District office. The Loei Provincial Council of Culture collected the king’s chair at this place. The Fine Arts Department has registered it as a national monument for preservation.
  • Wat Tham Pha Pu or Phiang Din cave (วัดถ้ำผาปู่ หรือ ถ้ำเพียงดิน), Houses the remains of Luangpu Khamdi Paphaso, who discovered this place. The temple is a grand cave within a stone mountain. There are Buddha images enshrined in the cave, as well as stalagmites and stalactites.
  • Phu Pha Lom Forest Park (วนอุทยานภูผาล้อม) Steep limestone mountains with various pointed summits similar to a wall surrounding the virgin forest in the middle. There are various kinds of plants, herbs, sightseeing points, and caves as well as, Bo Nam Sap or Nam Phut, which is a sacred seepage pond.
  • Si Khun Mueang temple (วัดศรีคุณเมือง) This temple is a collection venue of Lanna and Lan Chang arts. The ubosot’s roof is in many layers reflecting Lanna-style. There are also many objects of art such as a carved Buddha image gilded with gold leaf on black lacquer in the forgiving posture of the Lan Chang style.
  • Phu Khwai Ngoen Buddha’s footprint (พระพุทธบาทภูควายเงิน) The Buddha’s footprint is 120 centimetres long and 65 centimetres wide, enshrined on a whetstone and was registered as a national ancient monument in 1935.
  • Phu Khok Ngio Buddha statue (พระใหญ่ภูคกงิ้ว) A walking Buddha image in the blessing posture, cast of fibre and golden resin combined. It was cast by the Second Army Area Command and the people as a form of merit making for the king and queen.
  • Thai Dam Cultural Village (หมู่บ้านวัฒนธรรมไทยดำ) Thai Dam people migrated from Chiang Khwang Town, Laos in 1905 to settle at Ban Na Pa Nat. At present, the Thai Dam culture is still preserved.
  • Crown Princess’s Sirindhorn Art Centre (ศูนย์ศิลป์สิรินธร) A venue displaying paintings of students who have gained popularity at both national and international levels. Moreover, it is a source of knowledge on arts and culture, including both permanent and rotating exhibition halls, and an arts training building.
  • Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary (เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าภูหลวง) Phu Luang means ‘large mountain’ or the ‘mountain of the king’. On the east of Phu Luang, dinosaur footprints on the rock, aged more than 120 million years, were discovered. The most distinguished ones on Phu Luang are Pinus merkusii and Kesiya pine forests, savanna on plains, mounds, and stone terraces.
  • Pha Ya cave (ถ้ำผายา) is inside Wat Tham Pha Ya at Ban Mai Santi Tham, Tambon Na Dok Kham. Inside the cave is a flock of millions of insect-eating bats.
  • Suan Hin Pha Ngam or Thailand’s Kunming (สวนหินผางาม หรือ คุนหมิงเมืองไทย) A limestone garden aged around 230-280 million years, occurring from the aggregation of beach deposits. Then, an uplift of the earth’s crust, together with millions of years of natural rot have made this mountain strangely beautiful, similar to the stone garden in Kunming, Yunnan, China.
  • Mahoran Cave (ถ้ำมโหฬาร) A large cave whose entrance enshrines a Buddha image in subduing Mara posture. The area within the cave is quite large consisting of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as, caves in smaller sizes. A Buddha’s footprint was also found on the wall of the cave.
  • Phothisat Cave (ถ้ำโพธิสัตว์) or Thailand’s Guilin is within the compound of Wat Tham Phothisat. It is a complex cave.
  • Piang Din Waterfall (น้ำตกเพียงดิน) is 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) beyond Suan Hin Pha Ngam. The waterfall is at the end of the asphalt road.
  • Phrathat Si Song Rak (พระธาตุศรีสองรัก) Its architecture is in the Lan Chang style. Phrathat, a stupa containing the Buddha’s relics, is 19.19 metres high and 10.89 metres wide with a square base of 12 redented corners. Moreover, within the compound of the temple is enshrined a Buddha image canopied by a seven-headed Naga in the Tibetan-style.
  • Neramit Wipatsana temple (วัดเนรมิตวิปัสสนา) Both the ubosot and chedi are constructed of laterite. A replica of Phra Phutthachinnarat is enshrined as the main image.
  • Phi Ta Khon Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์บ้านผีตาโขน) An educational attraction for those interested in the Bun Luang and Phi Ta Khon Festivals. There is an ubosot reflecting the skills of local craftsmen as well as a replica of Phrathat Si Song Rak.
  • Pho Chai Na Phueng temple (วัดโพธิ์ชัยนาพึง) Enshrined within the abbot’s cell is the Prachao Ong Saen Buddha image, an ancient image of the town for many generations. On the outside of the ubosot are paintings which were created in 1916.
  • The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (สะพานมิตรภาพน้ำเหืองไทย-ลาว) A bridge crossing the Hueang River connecting Thailand and Laos.
  • Cotton Blossom Festival. Every year, in early-February.
  • Phitakon (ผีตาโขน, Phi Ta Kon, Phi Ta Khon) (Dan Sai is about 2 hours W of Loei. It can be reached by bus). The best worst-publicised festival in Thailand. Every year in Dan Sai (ด่านซ้าย) the Phi Ta Kon festival is held. Revellers make traditional masks, which they wear in a parade down the main street of Dan Sai. Traditionally, the masks were made to frighten evil spirits away, the wearer dons the mask and drags bells behind them with the intention of clearing the surrounding area of evil spirits (generally while drinking large amounts of home brewed spirits of a different kind). Afterward, the parade begins and thousands of people head through the streets for what becomes a chaotic fertility festival, many participants in the parade carry phallic water guns and comically over-sized wooden penises with them.
  • Phu Kradueng National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูกระดึง), Moo 1, Ban Si Than, Si Than Sub-district, Phu Kradung District (Hwy 2019 leads to the park) , ✉ phukradueng_np@dnp.go.th. A sandstone mountain park with a wide plain summit, whose shape is similar to a leaf of the elephant ear or a heart. Sites in the park: Nok Aen cliff: A small stone terrace with pine trees standing at the cliff’s edge. It is a beautiful sunrise spot overlooking the scenery of the grass field and mountain range; Lom Sak cliff: A wide stone terrace with a large pine tree near an overhanging cliff. It is a place where the sunset can be the most clearly viewed; Tat Hong waterfall: When falling from the cliff to the basin, it creates a loud and resonant sound of water. Therefore, it is called “Namtok Tat Hong”. (updated Jun 2016)
  • Phu Ruea National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูเรือ), Nong Bou Sub-district, Phu Rua District (The park is 48 km from Loei. Take Hwy 203 to Phu Ruea Sub-District then turn right and go about 4 km to park HQ) , ✉ phurua1@hotmail.com. Its special feature is an overhanging cliff in the shape of a junk’s prow. It is considered the coldest national park of the country. Interesting sites: Decho Viewpoint: sunrise view spot; Lon Noi cliff: From this spot, Phu Luang, Phu Pha Sat, Phu Khrang and a sea of complex mountain ranges can be seen; Sapthong or Kulap cliff: A steep cliff with seepage full of water throughout the year where there is plenty of golden yellow lichen; Huai Phai waterfall: This waterfall is drops from a steep cliff with an approximate height of 30 metres; Phu Ruea peak: The highest spot in the national park at 1,365 m. Within its compound is a stone terrace and grass field mixed with pine forest including Pinus merkusii which is naturally grown and Kesiya pine which is planted. (updated Jun 2016)
  • Phu Suan Sai National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูสวนทราย), Saeng Pha Sub-district, Na Haeo District (From Loei, take Hwy 2003, 2031, and 2113 to Na Haeo District and then about 4 km further to Ban Mueng Prea. Turn left on Hwy 1268 and turn right at its last junction at the km0 kilometre post. From km0 it is just a few meters to park HQ). Dry evergreen forests mixed with deciduous trees. Along the high area are hill evergreen forests which are also a natural boundary between Thailand and Laos. Interesting sites: Khing waterfall: The waterfall has many rock tiers. At this spot, the government has constructed a royal residence for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who visited on 12 February 1991; Chang Tok waterfall: 500 m higher than Namtok Khing which is also along the Phrae River. It is steeper than the lower one; Wang Tat waterfall: 1.5 kilometres above Namtok Chang Tok on the Phrae River; Tat Hueang or Thai-Lao waterfall is on the Hueang River, consisting of three tiers with a height of approximately 50 metres. There is water throughout the year; Pha Khao waterfall: On the Heuang River, the border between Thailand and Laos.; Four direction rock: On its south side are four rocks rising up in the middle of the tropical evergreen forest. The locals go to pay respect at this place once every three years, thus it is called “Song Pi Ham, Sam Pi Khrop”; Kuai Lo rock: A sandstone whose shape is similar to a mushroom bud rising in the middle of the tropical evergreen forest; Hill 1408 Viewpoint: The highest viewpoint and centre of the national park; Hill 1255 Viewpoint: The scenery of Ban Huai Nam Phak below as well as Phu Soi Dao and Phu Wiang in Laos. (updated Jun 2016)

Do

  • Climb Phu Kradung (camp at the top if you wish).
  • Phu Rua National Park.
  • Visit the rock formations at Phu Luang.
  • Take in the views of the Mekong at Chiang Khan, Pak Chom, or Tha Li.
  • Mountain Hike, 24/16 Charoenrat Road. Kutpong district. Loei City. Postcode 42000. Thailand. (Visit TAT Tourism Authority of Thailand (Loei Office) or Mountain Hike office on Charoenrat Road, behind Bangkok Bank building) , ✉ mountain.hike@outlook.com. Mountain hiking or cave tour, with standard or tailored packages, in Mt. Phuluang Wildlife Sanctuary, Phuruea National Park and Mt. Fuji San. (updated Feb 2019)

Festivals

Dok Fai Ban Makham Wan Mueang Loei Red Cross Fair (งานกาชาดดอกฝ้ายบาน มะขามหวานเมืองเลย) held in front of Loei City Hall 1–9 February every year. Parades from various districts, as well as cultural performances are highlights of the fair.

Thai–Lao Songkran Festival (งานประเพณีสงกรานต์ไทย-ลาว) held in Tha Li District 12–15 April of every year. Large numbers of Lao participate in the festival.

Bun Bang Fai Lan Festival (งานประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟล้าน) held within the compound of Wat Erawan Phatthanaram, Erawan District on the full moon of the 6th lunar month or during May of every year. It is Loei’s biggest festival.

Phrathat Si Song Rak Fair (งานนมัสการพระธาตุศรีสองรัก) an annual event organised on the full moon of the 6th lunar month, around the end of April until early-May to celebrate Phrathat Si Song Rak, a significant place of worship of the town.

Bun Luang Festival and Phi Ta Khon (งานประเพณีบุญหลวง และการละเล่นผีตาโขน) held annually in Dan Sai District on Saturday–Sunday after the full moon day of the 6th lunar month, and after paying respect to Phrathat Si Song Rak. Phi Ta Khon is a local activity of Dan Sai and Na Haeo Districts, relating to the belief and faith in Buddhism and the spirit of ancestors. Phi Ta Khon parades are organised in the Bun Luang Festival, an annual local merit-making ceremony. On the first day, the Phra Upakhut procession proceeds from the Man River to Wat Phon Chai and on the next day, it enters the town, while the Phi Ta Khon participants throw their costumes and accoutrements into the Man River. After that, a series of all 13 chapters of the Great Birth Sermon will be read.

Chiang Khan’s End of Buddhist Lent Festival (งานประเพณีออกพรรษาอำเภอเชียงคาน) organised in front of Chiang Khan District Office on the full moon day of the 11th lunar month every year. There is the Prasat Phueng procession, long-boat races, Ruea Kap races, illuminated boat contest, Tak Bat Devo, and various local cultural shows and entertainment in the festival.

Sea of Fog and Beautiful Flower Blossom on Phu Ruea (Winter Flowers Fair, Phu Ruea District) (เทศกาลหมอก ดอกไม้งาม บานสะพรั่งภูเรือ) is held on the grounds in front of Phu Ruea District Office during the New Year’s Festival, around 31 December–3 January every year. Activities in the festival include a temperate plant fair, floral float parade, temperate flowers and decorative plants contests, Mae Khaning evening party, dances in the winter breeze.

Buy

There are various kinds of local products of Loei such as sweet tamarind, kunchiang (Chinese pork sausage), mu phaen (dried pork slices), glacéd coconut, souvenirs related to the Phi Ta Khon Festival, quilts, silk and cotton fabric. For local fabrics, visit Ban Kang Pla, which offers Loei fabric, a product unique to the province. For rattan furniture and utensils, visit Ban Na Kraseng, Tha Li District.

Eat

There are any number of restaurants within the city, which is easy to walk around. Many ethnic Chinese provide a good variety, and all are reasonably priced.

  • 17.4936989393101.7243006731 Loei’s American Burger (Junction of Khirirat Road and Khirirat Soi 3). Daily, 11:00-20:30. Good Western and Thai food by Doug and his Thai wife. (updated Sep 2015)

Drink

Where to stay in Loei

  • Phuluang Hotel, 55 Charoenrat Road (About 1-2km from the bus station on the edge of town). Shower water is hot, but not much pressure. In the hotel restaurant fried rice with a large bottle of beer for 135 Thai Baht in the evening, and a Western breakfast for 90 Thai Baht. Has free Wi-Fi and the Internet computer is 40 Thai Baht per hour. There are plenty of restaurants nearby. Little English spoken, depending who is on the counter, but you can muddle through easily enough. Tuk-tuk from the bus station is 40 Thai Baht. 350-900 Thai Baht.
  • Sugar Guest House (Pronounced su-gar, not shu-gar), 4/1 Wisutitep Road, Soi 2. Run by friendly, English-speaking Pat. The rooms are plush by backpacker standards and very good value for money. Breakfast and bike hire services available. 180-380 Thai Baht.
  • Country HouseKhokngam, 203 Moo 1. Khokngam Village, Dansai. 42120. Thailand. (From Loei Airport or Loei City Center, using highway route no 201 onward to the nor th and turn right into a highway route no 2013 21 enroute to Phuruea District and continue to Khokngam village for 15 km. The house is on the main road no) , ✉ countryhouse.khokngam@outlook.com. Homestay in a nice contryside for rent, short or long term. Ideally good for long stay vacations in Loei or retirement guests who want to have a simple and a slow life in Loei. 1,500 THB per day. (updated Feb 2019)

Go next

  • Chiang Khan – Thirty minutes from Loei bus station if you time it right via the overnight bus from Bangkok’s Mo Chit bus station, or 60-90 mins by songthaew. The guesthouses of Chiang Khan look across the Mekong at Laos. The wooden town, replete with wats, is backed by a mountain topped by a Thai navy lookout surrounded by tamarind trees. A teak plantation on another mountain shades the home of forest monks caring for a temple in a cave. The cafe in the main street sells coffee made with milk from a dairy hidden in the hills. Nearby cotton is teased and netted into quilts. On a beach of coloured pebbles, children run into the river where they float around in tubes from old tyres. It’s a place to stay and watch the river world go by.
  • Phitsanulok – gateway to Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and the rest of northern Thailand.

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