"Esan, or Isaan" Thailand Off The Beaten Path Tip by riproy
Thailand Off The Beaten Path: 267 reviews and 235 photos
Esan, or northeastern Thailand, is a little traveled part of the country. It doesn't have any beaches so it is not a draw for tourists. In my mind, this is why the northeast has the friendliest people in the Kingdom, not jaded by the tourist droves. For this reason alone, it is worth visiting.
Esan is a located on a large high plateau. It is dry and arid most of the year. Because Esan lies on what was once a salt-water lake so the soil is not very fertile although the primary economic activity is agriculture. Combine the poor soil with a short rainy season and you have the poorest part of the country. The language spoken is called, conveniently, 'Esan' and is similar to central Thai, but more like the Lao language. No matter, everyone is taught central Thai in school and therefore most speak and understand it. English is a less common than other areas of the country because it receives fewer tourists.
Esan is serviced well by airports, trains and buses.
Loei province has a quality vineyard (reds are especially sought after) and a number of national parks at high elevations (see my hiking TL).
Buriram has Khao Phanom Rung, a ruin from the Khmer empire 1000 years ago that is majestically placed atop a hill and is worth the visit.
Surin is known for its elephants, and there is an elephant festival every November that is interesting. Ever seen elephants play football?
Nakhon Ratchasima has Thailand’s largest national park, Khao Yai, and there is Phimai - more Khmer ruins.
Ubon Ratchathani has Pa Tam where you can see paintings that are many hundreds of years old on a rock cliff overlooking the Mekong.
Yasothon has a rocket festival in May (see my Must See Activities tip)
Mukdahan has a large Indochina market on the banks of the Mekong,
There is a lot more. If you want more info you can visit the TAT website or consult a Lonely Planet guide book, or if you have specific questions, try asking me.
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