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What towns/cities to visit in Isaan


mrblonde

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Me and my english gf and visiting Thialand again in November for 4 weeks, and plan 2 (or 3) of them in Isaan, to see the other side of the country.  What areas would you recommend, and why please?  Am thinking of Surin on 18th/19th Nov for the elephant festival, but open to suggestions on other regions to visit, and what to see.  We havent got a wish list as such, just to see more of the place than the neon lights of BKK and Pattaya

 

Where would you suggest please?

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I would suggest you give the elephants a miss. Don't encourage the behind the scenes barbarity.
Otherwise you could try a trip to Ubon to Udon along the banks of the Mekong . .

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I'd go south if it's a holiday personally. Some wonderful islands to visit. If you want off the beaten track and within easy reach of trang train station. Koh Libong for a secluded low cost beach retreat is nice for a couple. 

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I know this is probably unreasonable prep for your trip, but you will enjoy Isan a LOT more being able to speak Thai (ideally Lao).  I love traveling there, but for me the main attraction is connecting with the people, and without the language, you're only going to get a fraction of that.

 

That said, my favorite cities (provincial capitals) I've been to in Isan are, in no particular order:

 

Ubon

Surin

Mahasarakham

Buriram

Nong Khai

 

Udon is okay, but too many grumpy farang long-term residents for my taste.  Khorat (based on the few times I've been there) strikes me as a place that has a lot of the bad parts of a city without the good parts. I've never liked Khon Kaen much because it feels way more Thai to me than Isan (lots of Central Thais and Chinese Thais have settled there).  Keep in mind that as recently as the 1960s, relatively few people in Isan even spoke Thai; in the 1920s, almost nobody spoke or could read or write Thai there.  The Thais administered it (since the early 1800s) to keep the Lao from rising up against them as they did in the early 1800s), but they really didn't pay much attention to it until the 20th Century, especially from the early 1970s on, to try to quell the communist guerrillas taking hold there.

 

And yes, as another poster said, skip the elephant festival (but do check out Surin)--keep in mind that every elephant controlled by a mahout had to go through a sadistic, barbaric procedure of being "broken" as a very young baby to be that "docile" around humans.  Every single one. Yours presence at elephant shows just legitimizes and encourages that treatment.

 

If you're more into things away from cities, then there are mountains you can climb in northern Isan (Loei, etc.), also check out Khao Yai national park (they still actually have wild elephants there), and you should definitely see the Khmer ruins at Phimai and Phanom Rung--the Khmers had a thriving culture extending into what is now Thailand, back when the people who would later become the Central Thais were living near-naked in the forests of southern China without a writing system.  The descendants of those Khmer people populate Buriram, Surin, and Sisaket in Isan today (and still speak their language and maintain their culture).  But realistically, the only evidence of Khmer culture you'll be able to notice in Isan are the Khmer ruins.

 

I also recommend you travel by train there whenever possible; those double-decker buses are a deathtrap, and the train is nice...a 2nd class sleeper to Ubon or Nong Khai, for example, or the Express Diesel Railcar for shorter journeys on the southern route.  Of course, many provinces are simply unreachable by train.

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   There are those who feel the process of breaking an elephants spirit is repugnant, I don t see much difference between that and what is done to horses. Livestock is livestock and hypocrites are hypocrites.  I would suggest going to Ban Chang about 40km north of Surin, it is a town with over a hundred elephants. There is even an elephant cemetery there and you can see how  the mahout lives. A small hotel in town has a pool and costs 500 baht a night. There will be three or four elephants on the hotel property.

   Ubon  has cave paintings that are over 3000 years old and worth a trip.  Painted long before Khmers built the civilization that the above poster feels such a strong connection to. There are many Khmer ruins in the Surin / Sisaket area however if you travel by train as suggested you will not see.

   If you can there is a nightclub in Surin, Ubon and Koen Kaen  named Tawandang.  Great Morlum and stage show, reasonably priced and worth a visit. You will see a real Isaan party.  

   Isaan food is amazing and while the suggestion to learn a new language for a three week vacation is a ridiculous,   sep lie  (phonetic) means tastes very good and you will certainly receive a smile when you tell the cook or server.

 

 

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   There are those who feel the process of breaking an elephants spirit is repugnant, I don t see much difference between that and what is done to horses. Livestock is livestock and hypocrites are hypocrites.  I would suggest going to Ban Chang about 40km north of Surin, it is a town with over a hundred elephants. There is even an elephant cemetery there and you can see how  the mahout lives. A small hotel in town has a pool and costs 500 baht a night. There will be three or four elephants on the hotel property.
   Ubon  has cave paintings that are over 3000 years old and worth a trip.  Painted long before Khmers built the civilization that the above poster feels such a strong connection to. There are many Khmer ruins in the Surin / Sisaket area however if you travel by train as suggested you will not see.
   If you can there is a nightclub in Surin, Ubon and Koen Kaen  named Tawandang.  Great Morlum and stage show, reasonably priced and worth a visit. You will see a real Isaan party.  
   Isaan food is amazing and while the suggestion to learn a new language for a three week vacation is a ridiculous,   sep lie  (phonetic) means tastes very good and you will certainly receive a smile when you tell the cook or server.
 
 

Speed Night club in Buriram is Fun, bring ear plugs, For Sure


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   There are those who feel the process of breaking an elephants spirit is repugnant, I don t see much difference between that and what is done to horses. Livestock is livestock and hypocrites are hypocrites.  I would suggest going to Ban Chang about 40km north of Surin, it is a town with over a hundred elephants. There is even an elephant cemetery there and you can see how  the mahout lives. A small hotel in town has a pool and costs 500 baht a night. There will be three or four elephants on the hotel property.
   Ubon  has cave paintings that are over 3000 years old and worth a trip.  Painted long before Khmers built the civilization that the above poster feels such a strong connection to. There are many Khmer ruins in the Surin / Sisaket area however if you travel by train as suggested you will not see.
   If you can there is a nightclub in Surin, Ubon and Koen Kaen  named Tawandang.  Great Morlum and stage show, reasonably priced and worth a visit. You will see a real Isaan party.  
   Isaan food is amazing and while the suggestion to learn a new language for a three week vacation is a ridiculous,   sep lie  (phonetic) means tastes very good and you will certainly receive a smile when you tell the cook or server.
 
 

Speed Night club in Buriram is Fun, bring ear plugs, For Sure


Sent from my iPhone using Thailand Forum - Thaivisa mobile app
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