Last Updated: 05/14/20 | may 14th, 2020

Isaan is one of the most under-visited parts of Thailand. The region is its most rural, as well as travelers just pass with it on their method to Laos or avoid it entirely in favor of locations like Pai, Chiang Mai, or the islands of the south.

While Thailand is believed of as this overrun, tourist-filled place, most of the country is really lacking them.

In my two weeks in the region, I saw six other travelers. SEKS! Travelers are so unusual in this part of Thailand that I was commonly satisfied with quizzical looks by locals — faces that seemed to ask: “Are you lost? Chiang Mai is the other way.” (For all the talk of “getting off the beaten path,” few backpackers leave the banana pancake trail.)

After costs close to ten years traveling as well as living in Thailand, I had decided it was time to get off the beaten track as well as see this region (it was the primary reason I took the affordable flight to Thailand in November).

There are only so many times one can go to Chiang Mai! I wished to see the rural interior — Thai life away from Western influences as well as tourist facilities — as well as get to understand Thai culture a bit better.

Isaan is a land of mainly farms as well as villages, architecturally uninspiring cities, as well as spicy as well as tasty food (some of the very best in Thailand). as well as it exceeded all of my expectations. It’s is one of those locations where you can get off the path as well as see what life, unspoiled by tourists, is truly like in Thailand.

I covered the logistics of traveling Isaan in one more publish so today I want to share my preferred sights as well as activities:


Isaan’s gateway city, Korat is the nickname provided to Nakhon Ratchasima. It’s the region’s largest, most well-to-do town as well as features a huge university. like most Thai cities, it lacks any type of genuine inspiring architecture, however it does have a great deal of lovely temples, including Wat ban Rai as well as Wat Phayap.

The city is definitely worth a day or two as you make your method deeper into Isaan. When you’re there, head to the Yellow Pumpkin for a great coffee shop, stay at Tokyo Mansion, as well as eat at the soup stall on the corner of Buarong as well as Suranaree Rds. It’s open at night as well as incredibly popular. I stumbled on it, as well as it was the very best noodle soup I had in Isaan.


This historic ruin is an simple day trip from Korat. It was mainly developed around the 11th as well as 12th centuries by the Khmers when they managed the area. lovely as well as under-visited, this site features a center temple surrounded by a few mini-strictures as well as a square gigantic wall.

To get to the temple, you walk across a naga bridge (naga serpents were guardians of heaven), with a crumbling wall, as well as across a field. The complex influences awe as you approach it, as well as it reminded me a great deal of Angkor Wat (they were developed in the exact same style) however without the crowds. I saw only two other foreigners there, as this ruin is mainly frequented by Thais as well as institution groups.

Nong Khai

Mostly a stopover city for tourists coming in as well as out of Laos, Nong Khai was awesome. There are amazing food as well as coffee shops (try Macky’s Riverside kitchen area or Cake at Toey’s), river cruises up as well as down the Mekong, as well as a great market.

Also, great deals of temples: I’m a huge fan of Wat Pho Chi as well as Wat Phra That Khlang Nam. While I truly liked the sluggish speed of life, what truly blew me away was Sala Kaew Ku. This sculpture park, developed by Bunleua Sulilat in 1978, has numerous statues (mostly of Buddha) in all shapes as well as sizes. It was the coolest thing I saw in all of the city, as well as I particularly liked the giant Buddha with the naga snakes over it (that’s a great deal of concrete!).

Ubon Ratchathani

Another stopover city for tourists on their method to Laos. I liked the relaxed feel here. The only foreigners who stay in this city either married a Thai or teach English.

There isn’t much to do here, so it’s a great location to unwind. You can overload on one of the Buddhist temples in the city (my favorites are Wat Tai Prachao Yai Ong Tue as well as Wat Thung Si Muang), see the famous night market or the surprisingly detailed national museum, as well as eat dinner on the river, however there’s not much more to the city than that! I would likewise suggest a cab to the Wat Nong Pah Pong outside the city (300 baht round-trip). A small temple, the tree-covered grounds, as well as numerous paths make it an incredibly tranquil as well as Japan-esque location to walk around.

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Prasat Ta Muan

In between Korat as well as Surin is Prasat Ta Muan, a historic site including two big temples developed by the Khmers in the 11th century. The very first site is found on top of a hill and, well, rather underwhelming. It’s a lovely temple, with a big prasat (temple) in the middle as well as Indiana Jones–style ruins surrounding it.

This primary structure is where they would pray. There’s a big Buddha shrine as well as some great pits as well as drains where they would purify themselves during rituals. The highlight, though, is truly the view of the surrounding area. You get this sweeping view of the hills as well as farms in the area. I liked the smaller Ta Muan Toch complex much better (it’s about a 20 minute trip from the huge temple). There are far fewer people (I counted eight on my visit), as well as four lovely ponds as well as a well-preserved wall surround the temple. The inner area itself is mainly a stack of ruins, however.

You can see both as a day tour from Korat or Surin, however with more time, stay in Nang Rang for a night as well as lease a bike to get around. If you do, stay at Honey Inn. It’s affordable as well as the owners are amazing (and they will drive you to the bus station in the morning).

Phu Phra Bat historical Park

An hour outside of Nong Khai is Phu Phra Bat, a national archeological park that features ancient stone homes as well as rock formations. After a lovely scenic drive, you’ll show up at the park (it’s going to be just you as well as institution kids) where you can roam a forest as well as see some rock art. The function of the area is still a secret to historians as well as archeologists alike, however the 3,000-year-old rock formations are believed to have been developed at first by river erosion as well as then later customized by religious groups.

Biking around the Countryside

The finest part of Isaan is wandering the rural countryside, as well as that’s extremely difficult to do if you don’t have your own transport. Isaan lacks an extensive transportation network outside the major towns. My preferred memories were the scenic bike rides with the rice fields, farms, as well as little towns, as well as down dirt roads. however I wouldn’t have had those if I had hired drivers to take me around the whole time, which was an costly thing to do.

And, I never got truly far since I might only hire some for the day. When I wandered Isaan with a driver, I wanted I had my own technique to get around. lease a bike or car, go at your own pace, get far off the road, as well as enjoy rich as well as vibrant eco-friendly farmland, friendly as well as curious locals, affordable meals, as well as cows blocking your way!

It’s a pity not many people see this part of Thailand as well as I kick myself for not visiting sooner. This area may be rural as well as lack the activities of other regions, however Isaan is a diamond in the rough as well as a see right here will provide you a interesting look at small-town Thailand. It’s an area to get away from everything as well as enjoy the country.

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