"World's Most Elaborate Truck Stop" Top 5 Page for this destination Udon Thani by Hewer

Udon Thani Travel Guide: 68 reviews and 173 photos

I visited Udon Thani for two days late in 2005. I was on my way from Bangkok to Laos and needed somewhere to rest up in between. This was my first trip to the north-east of Thailand, the wild west, frontier country and so on. It wasn't quite like that, but I can see where the stories come from.

There are mixed reports on Udon Thani if you do a search on the net. According to some information, you get the impression that this is a small country town with a few farming families and a dozen or so hardened ex-pats. Elsewhere it's the opposite. I read one person's claim that Udon Thani is massive, outstripping nearby Vientiane in size and a source of surprise to many an intrepid traveller expecting the former. Both reports are actually true. According to World Gazetteer, a German-based statistical bureau, the population of Udon Thani at the start of 2006 was 251,000. This ranks the city second in Thailand, just ahead of Chon Buri, Hat Yai and Korat. Vientiane comes in at a shade over 200,000. Having been to all of those cities (except Korat), I would have guessed Udon Thani to be the smallest. Tree-lined suburban streets, unhurried locals and - save for a handful of intersections - comparatively empty streets tell the story. I guess perceptions are deceiving.

A few local characters

A strange thing happened while I was at Udon Thani Bus Terminal. I wandered over the road to the soft drink stand, bought a pepsi and sat out front and looked over some of my photos. A man (pictured here) approached and asked me if I wanted a picture. I thanked him but said that no, I was fine. That's not what he meant however. He wanted me to take a picture of him. I did so and showed him. He then called all of his mates over and I started doing the same. Needless to say, they were very interested in that camera.

I also found that while I walked around the shopping areas and through the markets, people smiled, nodded or waved in greeting. Not everyone of course, but enough to make it noticeable. The other surprising thing was that nobody made any particularly strong effort to help me part with my money. No touts, no hard selling, no pushy taxi drivers - I wondered what was going on. One thing I will never forget was when I was buying socks in the market. I bought five pairs and the woman took my money, gave me my change then said, "You buy five..take a discount", smiling as she handed over a few baht.

Whenever people write about just about any destination, they'll stress how great the people were (bla bla bla). In this case it really was true.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The locals, hassle-free shopping and fine food
  • Cons:You might not find everything you're looking for...
  • In a nutshell:Fleetwood Mac Rumours Track Three
  • Last visit to Udon Thani: Oct 2005
  • Intro Updated Mar 18, 2010
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Reviews (7)

Comments (3)

  • FridgeMagnet's Profile Photo
    Aug 19, 2010 at 6:09 AM

    I enjoyed reading your page. I will probably pass through here next March.

  • hassan_abu's Profile Photo
    Oct 22, 2006 at 6:26 PM

    Hmmm.. Fried Bugs sounds kinda nice.. : ). Tiger Air is now flying to Udon, maybe I'l give this place a try. Cheers, Abu

  • ann500's Profile Photo
    Jul 15, 2006 at 4:26 PM

    I like your page, you brought the place to life in my mind.

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