"Pak Isan - Almost A Best Kept Secret" Top 5 Page for this destination Northeastern Thailand by AlbuqRay
Northeastern Thailand Travel Guide: 859 reviews and 2,861 photos
Thailand is said to be shaped like an elephant's head facing west with Bangkok located at the mouth. Pak Isan (as the locals call it) is the northeast, or the elephant's ear. It is a poorer part of Thailand and not many tourists go there. In northern Pak Isan are the Mekong/Mekhong/Mae Khong River and historical sites (see my Si Chiang Mai travelogue below). In southern Pak Isan you find the sites along the former Royal Khmer Road (see my Thailand travelogues for Phanom Rung and smaller Khmer sites, and my Phimai and Muang Tam travelogues here).
I already have quite a bit of information on Northeast Thailand in my Thailand tips and travelogues. I shall try to put more specific northeast information here but there will be some overlap. There are also specific destinations (like the mountain top national park with pine trees, Phu Kradung, and the fascinating Khmer temple, Preah Vihear, that is actually in Cambodia but most accessible from Pak Isan) with tips and travelogues.
Many sites in Thailand have been holy sites for a long long time and honored by more than one culture. Unlike the Spanish did in South America, a structure from a previous religion in Thailand would not necessarily be destroyed and might even be treated with respect. This site at Prasat Si Khoraphum near Surin has a Khmer ruin, a Buddhist temple and a sacred Bodhi tree. The Khmer ruin is no doubt the oldest but the Bodhi tree may have watched the Buddhist temple being built.
The northern and eastern borders of Pak Isan are defined by the Mekong River. Mostly Laos is across the river but in the southwest part, Cambodia too. The northern part of Pak Isan has the oldest historical sites in Thailand (e.g. Ban Chiang dates from 3600 BC).
- Pros:Friendly people; Thailand's ancient history; uncrowded sites; great value
- Cons:Can be hot and dry; infrastructure a little limited
- In a nutshell:Rural Thailand - All the benefits without the crowds
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