Ubon Ratchathani City Profile
Northeast Thailand has several hub cities, including Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat), Khon Kaen, and Nong Khai. Ubon Ratchathani is the commercial, educational, agricultural, and political center for the most eastern part of Northeast Thailand. During the Vietnam War there was a U.S. military base there, but today it is the center of the Candle Festival, which is held in October.
It is estimated that only a small percentage of foreign tourists visit anywhere in the Northeast; therefore, you will find that living and traveling there is a bit more difficult, since you are off the beaten path. On the plus side, authentic, traditional Thai culture is still commonplace in the Northeast. The people of this region, also known as Isaan, are thought to be the hardest-working and the most friendly in the whole country.
200,000+ in Ubon city
Ubon city and the province of the same name are located in the eastern part of Isaan, and are about 350 miles from Bangkok. Ubon Province is bordered by Laos on the east and Cambodia on the south, where military conflicts have recently eased.
Northeast Thailand has the same three seasons as the rest of Thailand, except that it is much less humid during the non-monsoon months and is somewhat hotter – averaging 90°F/32°C – during the hottest month, April.
It is possible to travel to Ubon by air, train, and air-con bus. Within the city there are convenient public buses, or you can hire a samlor. Both options are very cheap.
Places of Interest
The National Museum and Buddhist temples are the highlights of this town. Two night markets offer fresh food from dusk to dawn. Try the traditional Isaan dishes, gai yaang (grilled chicken), laap pet (duck salad with chili peppers) or som tam (green papaya salad). Vietnamese food can be found at the Indochine Restaurant and Sincere Restaurant is known for its Thai-French cuisine.
Traditional pressure-point Thai massage is available at Thai Massage Clinic on Sanphasit Road, which is also the address of the woven fabric shop Yai Bua. Panchat shop on Ratchabut Road is also a good place for handicrafts. If you have time, try to get out of town to see the rapidly disappearing monsoon forests.
In Ubon city, you will not find many safety issues as long as you use your common sense about locking your door when you leave at night. The areas of Thailand near the Cambodian border have been bases for the Khmer Rouge, the Maoist Cambodian guerrilla army that caused genocide in Cambodia in the 1970s. Although it has become more open in the last few years, most Thais avoid the area and you would be wise to do the same.