Welcome to Udon Thani!
Despite being the country’s fourth largest city in terms of population, the university town of Udon Thani, Thailand, is great for most travelers. The city is, however, rich in traditional Isaan culture, and remains a wonderful example of modern Thai life.
By selecting lesser-known destinations and embracing travel as a worldwide local, you experience so much more than the average tourist. While many set off to see the sights, you embark on a voyage of discovery, meeting people and collecting experiences along the way. Here’s our guide to doing just that, in Udon Thani.
The Best of Udon Thani Attractions
Begin your visit by joining a steady stream of locals for an early morning stroll through the beautiful Nong Prajak Park, near the city center. Unique sculptures, public exercise equipment, and a lake full of fish to feed, make this park not just a popular hangout, but a center of the community. From here, it’s a pleasant stroll into town which boasts an impressive range of both traditional and upmarket shopping. The traditional Ban Huay market, on the corner of Phonpisai Road Udon Dutsadi, is a great place to become familiar with the locally grown produce. If you smile sweetly, you may even be offered a small taster for free!
Worldwide Local Tip: Udon Thani is a prosperous town, popular with expats and plays host to a sizeable western-style shopping mall known as Central Plaza. While the mall itself is unremarkable, it can be a fun place to people watch while indulging in a little retail therapy!
As ever, walking is the best way to get to know the city on a street level. Every narrow lane and street corner yields another surprise, which could easily be missed on motorized transport. If you need to cover larger distances or the heat gets the better of you, three-wheeled bicycle taxis known as Samlors and their motorized counterparts, the TukTuks are fairly ubiquitous. Be sure to negotiate a price before getting in, or better still ask a trusted local what your journey should cost (you can ask at your hotel, Udon Thani concierges are used to this question), and simply give that amount to the driver upon arrival.
Worldwide Local Tip: Pickup trucks with improvised bench seating in the back, known as Songthaews, criss-cross the city on fixed, numbered routes. A lack of printed maps can make it challenging to find out exactly where each one goes, but at a humble 8-10 baht per trip, it can be a fun experience nonetheless!
Dive into History
If you have a little time on your hands, a day trip to the nearby Ban Chiang archaeological site can be a rewarding experience. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Ban Chiang is home to some of the best-preserved prehistoric ruins in Southeast Asia and sheds more light on the rich history of the region. Spend a day wandering the ruins, taking in some history while enjoying the sunny Udon Thani weather.
Worldwide Local Tip: With a relatively young and affluent population, Udon Thani is home to a thriving nightlife scene. Karaoke, beer, and western music are the order of the day, although bars are always popping up or changing the name, making it hard to establish a favorite. It’s best to just follow the crowds or if in doubt, ask a passerby!
The north-eastern region of Isaan, where Udon Thani belongs, is notorious for its spicy food, even Thais from other regions say so! Spicy noodle soups, succulent satays, and the famous Isaan sausage, usually served grilled on a stick at the roadside, are all staples. Surprisingly, the city seems to have developed an affinity for Korean-style BBQ, and a number of Udon Thani restaurants throughout town feature this specialized style. It’s just another sign of how local tastes have evolved.
Worldwide Local Tip: Street food is at the very heart of Thai culture, and Udon Thani is no exception. For some of the best, head for the local night market, which pops just to the west of the railway station every night from around 5 pm.
Enjoy Your Stay!
While Udon Thani may not be one of the big-name hitters of the typical Thai itinerary, but that’s part of its charm. A worldwide local who wants to get a taste of the real Thailand will enjoy some delicious food and a few cold beers.