Thailand travel guide




Thailand Travel Guide

Explore Northeast Thailand (Isan)

Isan (the name of the Mon-Khmer kingdom that one time flourished here) is the northern region of Thailand. Isan is located on the Khorat Plateau and bordered to the north by the Mekong River (along the border with Laos) and to the south by the Dong Rek Mountains (along the border with Cambodia).

It is the poorest region in Thailand and almost certainly the least visited area of Thailand (ignored by backpackers and travelers), this could mean
Central Thailand
Southern Thailand
Northeast Thailand
Northern Thailand
Eastern Thailand
Chiang Mai
that Isan is an excellent place to see the “real” Thailand and learn something in relation to the country you're travelling in.

Isan is famed for its very welcoming people, remarkable food and culture. Some of its main provinces include Udon Thani, Roi Et, Khon Kaen, Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan. The Northeast Thailand is a multicultural area where Laos, Cambodia and Thailand cultures joint, has a specific regional cuisine which is quite distinct from the Thai food which you will find in most Thai restaurants.

Isan has a rich history, the Ban Prasat site and the Ban Chiang village in Udon Thani, where remains of fossils, cliff paintings, jewellery, pottery and tools have been discovered, serves as a most tangible evidence of a Bronze Age civilization flourishing 5,000 to 7,000 years ago.

The region is near the heart of the old Khmer Kingdom, so admirable examples of Khmer, Hindu and Buddhist temples can be found throughout the area. Interesting Khmer castles throughout Buri Ram, Nakhon Ratchasima (256 kilometers northeast of Bangkok), Surin and Si Sa Ket are popular tourist attractions. Other places to visit in Isan include Phra That Renu Nakhon, Pha That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom (the most revered shrine in Northeast Thailand), the Khmer sanctuary Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung in Buri Ram, Prasat Hin Phimai in Khorat (Nakhon Ratchasima) and the great temple complex at Khao Phra Viharn near the Cambodian border.

Important festivals and events are performed in Isan, these include the colorful Rocket Festival (Bun Bang Fai) in Yasothon, the Phi Ta Khon in Loei, the Candle Festival in Ubon Ratchathani (647 kilometres from Bangkok), the Elephant Round-up each November in Surin and the Wax Castle Festival. Folk performances of the region include dances such as Serng Kratip Khoa, Fon Phu Thai, Serng Krapo and I-San Bantheong, using traditional instruments like the Pong Lang and Khene.

In Isan, visitors can see some of Thailand's most famous and unspoilt national parks such as Khao Yai (200 kilometres northeast of Bangkok), Phu Kradung and Phu Rua in Loei. Probably, the most famous local products of the Northeast are the exquisite designs of Matmee silk manufactured in most provinces. As a final anecdote, most Tuk-Tuks are manufactured in this region.

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