Welcome to Ubon Ratchathani!
The main city of its namesake region, Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, (Ubon) is a sleepy city close to Thailand’s borders of Laos and Cambodia. In fact, it was a group of Lao Princes who first settled here in the 1700s, and their influence is still felt to this day. Now, there are daily flights to Ubon Ratchathani, and, though it’s not the most well known tourist destination, those who visit find a vibrant, welcoming city.
While modern-day Ubon may lack some of the world-famous sites found in other Thai cities, that is, in fact, a charm. A worldwide local will discover a fascinating blend of cultures, laid back atmosphere, and hospitable locals.
Where to Begin
For a great introduction to what makes Ubon tick, make a beeline toward the morning market at Talad Yai, on the banks of the Mun River. Everything you can imagine and more is on option, including some delicious street food offerings to kick start your day. From here, it’s just a short stroll to the impressive wood-carved temple of Wat Tung Si Muang. The golden Buddha of Wat Laib is also nearby, however, it can be worth picking and choosing your temples to avoid an overload--instead, perhaps spend an afternoon at the exciting Ubon Ratchathani Zoo.
Worldwide Local Tip: For those wishing to get a taste of monastic life, Wat Pah Nanachat welcomes visitors for stays of up to 30 days. Visitors should write to the Guest Monk well in advance to confirm a space. Upon arrival, you will be expected to participate fully in the daily life of the monastery.
Getting Around Town
Fortunately, Ubon is a relatively compact city, which makes walking by far the best way to get around. If you find yourself wanting to go further afield, classic Thai songthaews and pickup trucks with bench seating in the back, cris-cross the city regularly, until around 6 pm. Routes are number and color coded, and an excellent map is available from the Tourist Authority of Thailand office.
Worldwide Local Tip: Outside of the city center, visitors will find themselves in the delightfully unspoiled countryside. Make use of the excellent tracks and trails by renting a bicycle from one of the many suppliers in town – your accommodation should be able to help with this!
Pay Homage to Buddha
A little removed from the city center, but easily reached by bus or bicycle, is the beautiful Wat Nong Bua with its magnificent central tower, or Chedi. Built to commemorate 2,500 years since the death of Buddha, the design of the complex is largely unique within Thailand and is a popular place of pilgrimage for local Buddhists.
Worldwide Local Tip: Ubon’s extravagant Candle Festival, takes place in early July each year to mark the end of the rainy season. Thung Si Muang park is the heart of the action, where enormous candles are displayed and paraded by local monks – a unique experience in Thailand!
Ubon Ratchathani Restaurants and Foods
Thai’s are notoriously picky when it comes to food, and poor-quality restaurants simply don’t last. Ubon is no exception, so if you are looking for the tastiest bowl of noodle soup in town, you’ll just have to follow the crowds. Street food is a huge part of local culture, making the morning market at Talad Yai and the night market near Ubon Square a gourmet’s delight. Conveniently, Ubon Square is also the center of the city’s nightlife scene, with a number of pubs, bars, and karaoke venues in the area!
Worldwide Local Tip: Pepper’s Restaurant & Baker is somewhat of an institution in Ubon, popular with locals and expats alike. They serve a great menu of Thai, other international food, delicious coffee, and freshly made fruit shakes make it the perfect place to stop.
Enjoy Your Stay!
Perhaps the very antithesis to Bangkok, the quiet and humble charm of Ubon is what appeals to the worldwide local. Hop on a convenient train from Korat to Ubon Ratchathani, and you won’t regret it. Your visit will be a chance to see a part of Thailand that is far removed from the tourist trail. To taste a vibrant local culture and interact with warm, hospitable locals is an opportunity not to be missed.