In the past, we had gotten very close to the Northeastern Provinces of Thailand in some of our trips, while just across the Mekong River or land border from both the Lao and Cambodian sides. And while we had just spent some time in Thailand about a year prior to this trip, we felt compelled to plan another trip with the area known as Isaan as the primary focus.
For this particular trip, we decided that having a car and driver for travel from city to city and to specific sites we had in mind offered us the best option for seeing everything we wanted to see. As mentioned in the Sukhothai page, we had arranged for Nook Tourguide and her fiancée/driver Eak (“Ed”) to meet us at the Phitsanulok Train Station near Sukhothai. After one day touring the ancient city we headed down the highway to Udon Thani in the north east in Ed’s comfortable dual fuel (gasoline and propane) mini-van.
Additional pages describing our Isaan Tour
- Udon Thani
- Nakhon Panom / Renu Nakhon
- Sakon Nakhon Wax Castle Festival
- Khong Jiam City
- Ban Pa-ao & Ubon Ratchathani
- Illuminated Boat Procession
- Nakhon Ratchasima (Kohrat City)
- Mostly Isaan Food Report
While this region is a vacation destination for Thai nationals, it really doesn’t see much tourist traffic from international travelers. The area is known for a distinctive style of cuisine that is probably more like Lao food than Bangkok style Thai.
We timed our trip to be in the northeast along the Mekong at the end of Buddhist Lent, known as Ok Phansa so that we could enjoy some local festivals and just about every city we hit had something special going on. It really was fun.
There are features of great natural beauty in the region like Phu Phra Bat Historical Park and Pha Team National Park, known the first sunrise in Thailand due to its eastern-most location.
The date also coincides with the unofficial end to the rainy season. During our trip in October 2010, there was some flooding in Thailand but not nearly as much as was seen in 2011 and we were there but we managed to mostly avoid it. We did have to drive through some standing water in a couple places and at the end of our trip, once back in Bangkok, the city received a lot of rain and the river was still rising on the day we left. We did have to adjust our schedule to avoid one city that we had planned to go but we mostly had good weather.
As you might imagine, the food everywhere we went was just great. Having Nook Tourguide with us gave us the confidence to eat a number of meals in local markets, which was a real treat. We would really encourage anyone traveling to Thailand to take advantage of the wonderful street food.
We tried our best to support the local masseuse industry wherever we went as well. At prices that ranged from about $6 – $10 USD for a 1-hour massage and $12 – $20 USD for a body scrub, it was hard to say no.