Isaan: Memorable adventures through rural Thailand

Out of all the beautiful features of Isaan, there are some that are left unexplored or simply serve the purpose as stopovers. If you would like to take a different direction than most, and travel to the less popular cities (but not less satisfying), then take a trip to Isaan. This rural part of Thailand will leave you speechless with its historic value.

If you would like to take a different direction than most, and travel to the less popular cities (but not less satisfying), then take a trip to Isaan. This rural part of Thailand will leave you speechless with its historic value.

Below you can read about some of the best parts of Isaan!

Ubon Ratchathani

Ubon Ratchathani

(Photo by Ddalbiez, available under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license).

One of the hidden treasures of Isaan is Ubon Ratchathani.

It is a city which is usually passed by visitors and tourists as they make way to Laos. Some travelers even say that the only non-Thai residents are people married to a Thai or teach English to the locals.

For a place to relax and take a break from the dynamic every-day life, Ubon Ratchathani is the perfect choice for just that.

You can’t do much here, except walk around and visit some of the Buddhist temples.

You should definitely visit the Wat Tai Prachao Yai Ong Tue and Wat Thung Si Muang.

There is also a well-known night market which you can go to do some shopping or you can even explore the national museum. Aside from exploring, you can enjoy a quiet dinner on the river to end your day.



(Photo by Ddalbiez, available under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 3.0 Unported license).

Phimai is a historic ruin that is not very far from the city of Nakhon Ratchasima (also called by its nickname Khorat).

Back when the Khmers ruled the area in the 11th and 12th century, most of this historical city was built to be explored today by travel-lovers and enthusiasts. However, Phimai is largely under-visited. Nonetheless, it is still a breathtaking beauty.

It features a centered temple which in an array of a few smaller structures. It also has a huge square wall.

You need to cross a naga bridge (Naga meaning the serpents who are the guardians of heaven), go through a crumbling wall and pass across a field. The main visitors are school groups and the Thai themselves.

It is definitely a treasure worth exploring.

Prasat Ta Muen

Prasat Ta Muan

(Photo by Ddalbiez, available under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Another historical city is Prasat Ta Muen. It was built during the 11th century by the Khmers. It is located between the cities Khorat and Surin.

This historic site contains two large temples, the first one being on top of a hill.

This is the main structure and is the place where the Khmers would pray. You can even find a large Buddha shrine and pits and drains, which were used to purify themselves while they did their rituals. The best part of this part is the breathtaking view which covers the whole area surrounding the temple.

A few miles away you can find the second temple, the Ta Muan Toch, which is smaller and are only a few visitors.

Phu Phra Bat Historical Park

Phu Phra Bat

(Photo by Theppitak Karoonboonyanan, available under Creative Commons Attribute-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license).

Tired of all the temples?

Take a tour to Phu Phra Bat, which is about an hour outside of Nong Khai. It is a national archeological park which contains history within its border. Here, you can find many ancient stone houses and amazing rock formations.

Just like most parts of Isaan, this place too is undervalued and not many people recognize its beauty.

If you decide to visit this historical park, it will most likely be you and school groups learning about history. Historians and archeologists still don’t know the purpose of this area. Remaining as a mystery, you can find 3,000-year-old rock formations.

Nakhon Ratchasima


Also known as Khorat, Nakhon Ratchasima is one of the 4 major cities in Isaan. It is a gateway city, where it once was the boundary between Lao and Siamese territory.

Khorat is estimated to have a population of over 142,000. It is also considered one of the largest towns which even has a big university.

There is not much you can see in Khorat.

However, there are a lot of beautiful temples such as Wat Ban Rai and Wat Phayap. Even though there isn’t much architectural beauty, it is definitely worth exploring for a day or two.

Another interesting fact about Nakhon Ratchasima is that it is the center for processing rice, tapioca, and sugar in Isaan. You can even grab The Korat Daily, an English-language newspaper which is published every month.

Nong Khai

Nong Khai

(Photo by Jpatokal, available under Creative Commons Attribute-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license).

Nong Khai is a beautiful, yet undervalued city in Isaan.

People usually just stop here for a short period of time while they are traveling to and from Laos. However, this unexplored city has much to offer. It may not sound exciting at first and its landscape may not look as promising as you’d expect, but the slow and steady life does have a few surprises to it.

Nong Khai ha a lot of delicious food and coffee shops for you to try out Thai cuisine. You can also take part in river cruises that take place up and down the Mekong River.

For some shopping, you have a really awesome market. And of course, we cannot forget the temples.

What would Thailand be without its temples?

You can visit some such as Wat Pho Chi and Wat Phra That. There is also a sculpture park the Sala Kaew Ku which holds hundreds of statues built by Bunleua Sulilat in 1978.

Final thoughts

Although these parts of Isaan are rarely explored, they still remain beautiful and enchanting because they pose a simpler life than the busier cities in Thailand.

Thinking about visiting any of these parts?

Then start by planning your trip and taking into consideration some unexpected travel risks. Since planning and preparation are the keys to any successful activity, even traveling, it is recommended to purchase travel insurance which can cover your trip to Thailand.

Any medical emergencies definitely need to be insured so that your trip won’t drain your pocket. Even flight problems such as cancellations and delays are possible. Nonetheless, after you’ve completed your preparations, you can start your trip to Isaan make unforgettable memories.