We had a great time touring the northeast Thailand (Isaan, Isan, esarn) region for almost two months. There is something cool about the northeast – and it’s nothing to do with all the amazing sites and scenery you can see there – though there are a few things worth checking out – like Huai Chan Waterfall in Sisaket province. We were there the day Cambodia was firing artillery across the border – but didn’t hear anything. It’s right on the border with Cambodia.
We saw Nong Khai, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Korat, Ubon, Sisaket, Surin, and some baan nawk places in Sisaket where my some of my wife’s family live. All in all it was a great place to visit – and I highly recommend it if you have spousal relatives up that way. Go for the adventure.
The people in the northeast of Thailand are real gems… If your spouse comes from a decent family you’ll see the best Thailand has to offer. If your spouse comes from a family of bar workers – well, you’ll see some of the worst people in Thailand and you won’t have that great a time shelling out cash for sick buffalos, hospital visits, new cars, and short-term loans that are never payed back. Luckily I didn’t have to deal with any nonsense… they took care of me and I had an amazing and restful vacation for over a month and a half.
I’ve read somewhere that less than 2% of all foreign tourists make it to the Isaan region – even to stop in any of the cities. Isaan is a giant place – and there IS a lot to see. There are waterfalls, mountain areas, the border with Laos can be fun for a day or 2… There are lakes for fishing or riding paddle boats on them… fish aquariums… even Sisaket has a well put together fish aquarium now. Entrance fee was dirt cheap – I think even I payed only 30 THB.
There are cultural things to see – morlam laos dancers and great places for som tam, gangleeung, and more… The chicken in the northeast is always better – less fatty, because they use free-roaming chickens for the most part. The som tam is the best. The spice in the Ubon / Sisaket area is the hottest in the nation that I’ve had so far. I always ask for Pedt Silopsilai – so spicy I fall down into a coma. Only in Sisaket do they take that literally as a challenge.
So, basically the best reason to visit the northeast is because you haven’t been before, and the people are great.
Go have a look, see what you’re missing. Chances are you’ll go right back to where you were staying before, but, it’s worth a look so you can appreciate what you have. That’s what it did for me – as well as make me miss the place a bit.