Udon Thani is a provincial capital city in northeast Thailand. Wat Phothisomphon is a Buddhist temple complex from the 1800s, with a 21st-century pagoda. In Udon Thani Park, Nong Prachak Lake has an island with a plant-filled garden. The Udon Sunshine Orchid Farm grows a breed of orchids known for their fragrance. East of the city is Ban Chiang, an archaeological site with Bronze Age farming and burial artefacts.
Udon Thani (Thai: อุดรธานี, pronounced [ʔù.dɔ̄ːn tʰāː.nīː]) is one of the four major cities (Khorat, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, and Khon Kaen) of the Isan region, Thailand, (known as the “big four of Isan”). It is the capital of Udon Thani Province.
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Udon Thani, a northeastern province covering an area of 11,730 square kilometers, is a prime business center of I-San. Located 564 kilometers from Bangkok, it the world heritage site for the prehistoric culture of Ban Chiang.
Udon Thani is probably best known for its archaeological wonders, paramount among them the hamlet of Ban Chiang where the world’s first Bronze Age civilization is believed to have flourished more than 5,000 years ago.
Udon Thani borders Nong Khai to the north, Khon Kaen to the south, Sakon Nakhon to the east and Nongbualamphu and Loei to the west. The province is located on a plateau which is approximately 187 metres above sea level. Most of its areas are covered with rice fields, forests and hills, with the Phu Pan mountain ranges and the Songkhram River are the provinces 2 main natural resources.
The locals are mainly engaged in agricultural activities, with particular rising in wholesale and retail trading activities. That is why Udon Thani is an agricultural market hub or neighboring provinces.
Udon Thani’s provincial seal depicts God Wetsuwan, King of the giants and keeper of the Northern Heavenly Gate.
The Vietnam War transformed the sleepy provincial city of Udon Thani into a booming support center for a nearby American airbase. Since the withdrawal of American troops in 1976, it has continued to grow as an industrial and commercial center within the region.
Today, Udon Thani is the transportation and communications hub of the upper Northeast with several tourist destinations and facilities.
Administratively, Udon Thani is divided into the following districts: Muang, Kumphawapi, Nong Han, Phen, Ban Phue, Ban Dung, Si That, Nam Som, Nong Wua So, Kut Chap, Non Sa-at, Wang Sam Mo, Chai Wan, Nong Saeng, Sang Khom, Thung Fon, Na Yung, Phibun Rak, Ku Kaeo and, Prachaksinlapakhom.
How To Get There
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Udon Thani via Nakhon Ratchasima and Khon Kaen Provinces, a total distance of 564 kilometers.
Buses for Udon leave Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit 2 Bus Terminal) throughout the day from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. The journey takes around 10 to 11 hours and the fare is 145 baht for regular buses (260 baht for air-conditioned buses). Contact Transport Co. Ltd at Tel: 0-2936-2852-66 for more information.
Buses leave the main bus terminal in Khorat every half hour during the day and arrive in Udon five hours later. The cost is 81 baht for regular buses (146 baht for air-conditioned buses).
There are buses running between Udon Thani and other provinces such as Nong Khai, Loei, Khon Kaen, Sakon Nakhon, Nakhon Phanom and Ubon Ratchathani. The buses leave Udon Thani Bus Terminal every 40 minutes.
Trains depart from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Udon Thani every day. Call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20 for more information. The 8.30 p.m. Nong Khai Express (No. 69) from Bangkok arrives in Udon Thani at 6.33 a.m. on the next day. Rapid trains leave Bangkok on the Nong Khai line at 6.15 a.m. and 7 p.m. arriving in Udon Thani at 3.56 p.m. and 5.15 a.m. The first class fare is 457 baht, 2nd class is 219 baht and 3rd class is 95 baht plus applicable charges for sleeper and express services. In the reverse direction the No. 4 express leaves Udon at 7 p.m.
Thai Airways has several daily flights connecting Bangkok with Udon Thani. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2280-0060, 0-2628-2000 or visit their website at http://www.thaiairways.com.
Phuket Air provides daily flight services from Bangkok to Udon Thani. There is also a flight on every Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday leaving from Udon Thani to Chiang Mai. The flight time is 1.25 hours. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel: 0-2679-8999 or visit its website at http://www.phuketairlines.com
Nok Air offers three daily flights from Bangkok to Udon Thani. The flight time is 1.05 hours. The airline also operate flights between Udon Thani and Chiang Mai twice a week. Call 1318 or book online at http://www.nokair.com
Air Asia operates two daily flights from Bangkok to Udon Thani. The flight takes one hour. For more information, Call 02 515 9999 or visit http://www.airasia.com for more details.
Travelling around Udon Thani
A hassle free way to get around the city is by the city bus. The most useful city bus for visitors is the yellow bus No. 2, which plies a route from the No. 2 bus terminal, south along Suphakit Janya road and then east along Pho Si road past the Charoen Hotel. The No. 6 bus runs between the No. 2 bus terminal and Rangsina Market, while bus No. 23 runs between bus terminals Nos. 1 and 2. The fare for all city buses is 4 baht.
The car rental places opposite the Udon Hotel offers sedan, jeeps and vans for hire starting at around 1,200 baht.
By Sam lor
Sam lors drivers in Udon Thani practically doubled their rates overnight when 50 Americans arrived to work on the VOA station outside the town in 1990-91, apparently the engineers were throwing their dollars around with abandon. With a permanent contingent of VOA employees in the area, just about any farang (foreigner) who happens to pass through Udon Thani will have to deal with this two tier price system. Reasonable fares are 10 baht to 15 bahts per kilometer.
Thung Si Muang Festival
Thung Si Muang Festival is held around December every year to showcase and sell local products. The Dragon dancing can be witnessed during the festival.
Ban Chiang Pottery
This ancient style pottery is made according to the findings of the Ban Chiang Archeological Site in Nong Han District, which is a World Heritage Site. Ban Kham Or, is Ban Chiang pottery sculpture center and one of several villages where handicrafts are made. It is located along the Udon Thani-Sakon Nakon Road. Ban Pu Lu is a pottery-painting place.
Na Kha Village, which is 16 kilometers from the province on Udon Thani-Nong Khai route (Highway 2), is famous for its hand woven cloth called “Khit” of which various types of products are made and sold.
Ban Kham Chanot Wang Nakhin
Located in Ban Muang, Tambon Wang Thong, approximately 93 kilometres from Udon Thani’s town is an area called Wang Nakhin (Naga Palace) a place believed and regarded by the locals as a mystical and holy place where the door to the underworld of Naga is located. Covering an area of over 20 rai of land, Wang Nakhin (locally dubbed as Dong Chanot) is nothing but an islet surrounded by water. It is teemed with dense palm trees called Chanot. Traveling to the place is easy by Udon Thani Sakon Nakhon route. At Ban Nong Mek, turn left and proceed approximately 84 kilometres to Ban Dung, and another 9 kilometres to Ban Kham Chanot.
This district, which is 42 kilometers north-west of Udon Thani, has an unusual mix of pre-historic cave paintings, fantastic geological formations and Buddhist shrines, the bulk of which are at Phra Phutthabaat Bua Bok, 12 kilometers outside of Ban Phue on Phra Bat hill.
The area has been declared Phu Phra Bat Historical Park where nature-loving trekkers may take a hike around the area, which takes around two hours.
Phra Phutthabat (Holy Footprint) Bua Ban is located on the Phu Phan hill, approximately 12 kilometres south of Phu Phra Bat Historical Park. Also discovered and unearthed here at the sight are battlements carved in Dvaravati and Lop Buri arts.
Phra Phutthabat Bua Bok
This is where the Buddha’s Holy Footprint was found along side with various Buddha images of Lanchang style that can be dated back to 2025 Buddhist Century. Later in 1920, the Chedi resembles to Phra That Phanom was built on top of the footprint.
Nature-loving trekkers may take a hike around the area, which takes around two hours. The Park is located on the Udon Thani-Nong Khai Highway. Turn left at the 13-km. marker to Highway No. 2021, which leads to Ban Phu and proceed for 42 kilometers and along Highway No. 2348 for 12 kilometers. There is a right-entrance that leads directly to the site. It takes approximately 2 kilometres.
Phu Phra Bat Historical Park
Situated in Ban Phue District, this archaeological site features a large number of ancient buildings and ancient objects of both prehistoric and historic times. They are mostly of Dvaravati, Lop Buri, and Lanchang style.
The site is located in a thriving forest called Pa Khua Nam. In addition, within the site are many rocks of peculiar shapes which resulted from glacial movement millions of years ago. It can be seen that most of the ancient buildings and objects found in this area were modified from what was naturally available and not built entirely by human beings. For instance, a rock was decorated to make a stupa or was chiseled into the shape of a foot.
The site was declared a historical park by the Fine Arts Department in 1991. Archeological evidence found at the site includes Phra Phuttabat Bua Bok, Phra Phuttabat Lang Tao, Phra Phutta Bat Bua Ban, religious buildings modified from rocks, sandstone bai-sema (leaf-shaped stones marking the limits of a Buddhist temple), sandstone images and idols, cave paintings and stone axes.
Phu Phra Bat Historical Park covers the entire area of the Phra Phutthabat Bua Bok which is around 1,200 acres. In addition to the beautiful landscape, caves and caverns, rocks of different sizes and shapes dot the area. Moreover, pre-historic paintings over cliff faces have been discovered, although many leave only the faintest of traces.
Visitors are recommended to explore Tham Non Sao Ae, Tham Woa Daeng, Tham Chang, and Tham Sung to see the paintings that depict the livelihood of pre-historical community which can be traced back to approximately 2,500-3,000 years ago.
The sandstone bai-sema, sandstone images and idols of Dvaravati era are also discovered at Poeng Hin Po Ta Luk Koei.
This is a large cave high up on the side of a limestone mountain at the back of Wat Tham Erawan. This temple is 2 kilometers north of a turn-off between Km. 31 and 32 markers on Route 210 – near the village of Ban Hong Phu Thawng, west of the town of Na Klang.
Ban Na Kha
This village is situated 16 kilometers from town on the Nong Khai route. It is a center of cotton, silk, and khit silk trading. To get there from the Udon Thanis city, take the buses operated on route Udon Thani Na Kha which leave from the stops in front of the Rajabhat Udon Thani Institute and Rangsina market.
Huai Luang Reservoir
This reservoir is located on the Udon Thani-Nong Bua Lam Phu Highway. Approximately at the km. 15 marker, get onto the road which leads directly to the reservoir and proceed for approximately 10 kilometres. With an area of 20,000 rai of land, the reservoir was built for agricultural, fishery, and electricity generation purposes. Activities for tourists include rafting, fishing, and canoeing. For those nature lovers wishing to relax amidst scenic backdrop, you can charter a boat that will take you to see interesting spots of the reservoir.
The huge reservoir under the oversight of the Irrigation Department offers beautiful scenery. Call tel. 0 4224 5540 or 0 4224 2141 for more information.
Krom Luang Prachaksinlapakhom Monument
This monument, built to commemorate the founder of Udon Thani, is located in the center of the town.
This is a lake located within the province with an islet landscaped with a great variety of trees and flowers as a public park in the center. It is a popular place for recreation among the townspeople.
San Chao Pu Ya
This is a Chinese-style shrine located near Nong Bua Market within the provincial town. It is a large beautiful Chinese shrine nearby the pond. The shrine houses a 99 meter-tall replica of a golden dragon, which is used in the annual festival at Thung Si Muang in December.
The City Pillar
Located in the Tung Sri Muang field, in middle of the city, San Lak Muang was established in 1999. The place is where the city’s guardian deity is believed to reside. Built in contemporary Isan style of architecture, the compound also houses God Wetsuwan, the provinces protecting God (as depicted in the provincial seal), along with the city pillar which is highly respected by the townspeople.
Udon Sunshine Orchid Garden
This is located in Soi Kamol Watthana on Udon Thani-Nong Samrong route (Highway No. 204). The garden produces and sells a new species of Thai scented orchid called Udon Sunshine. It is the only known vanda hybrid which is fragrant between the early morning hours and about 2 p.m., and it is the first orchid in the world to be made into a perfume. Please call 0 4224 2475 for more information.
Wat Ban Tat
This temple is located off of the center of the province. Take Highway No. 2 (Udon Thani-Khon Kaen) and make a right turn at Ban Kong Keng and proceed for 9 kilometers. The temple is teeming with trees and small, wild animals. It is here that one of Thailand’s most revered monks, Luangta Maha Bua, resides. As the place is set in a tranquil ambience conducive for practicing meditation, a numbers of Thais practice insight meditation (Vipassana) at this temple.
This is a temple, which houses a white rock Buddha image that was renovated in the reign of King Rama V. The monastery is located in Tambol Mak Kaeng, Amphoe Muang, Udon Thani.
This temple, which is located within the province, was built at the end of King Rama V era (around the early of 20th century).
Wat Pa Phu Kon
A Buddhist park located in Ban Na Kham, Tambol Ban Kong, the temple covers an area of 1,000 rai of teeming forests. The place is perfect for practicing Buddhist meditation. Located next to the temple is the Prathom Rattanamahaburaphachan Chedi where the holy Buddha relics are enshrined. The chedi is of Lanka style, is 25 metre high and is decorated with golden mosaic.
Na Yung Nam Som Forest Park
Yung Thong Waterfall located at Ban Sawang, Mu 2, Tambon Na Yoong, King-Amphoe Na Yung is a waterfall on the ridge of Phu Phan and Phu Ya Ou, where a stream flows through the steep rock cliff. Yung Thong Waterfall is three metres high and composed of water beautifully cascading amongst the stones, especially during the rainy season when it thunders down in torrents among the lush, green flora. Located 103 kilometers from Amphoe Muang, the route to the waterfall passes through Amphoe Ban Phue and Amphoe Nam Som. Upon reaching Amphoe Nam Som, there is a junction from Nam Suem Village, proceed on that route for seventeen kilometers in order to reach the junction that leads to the Reserve Park. The route is part of the project of the Office of Accelerated Rural Development, aimed at speeding up the development in the rural area which is in good condition and can be used all the year round.
Yung Thong Waterfall is 103 kilometers from the province. Located in Na Yung Nam Som National Park, it is a three-layer waterfall surrounded by number of trees and valleys.
Ban Chiang Archaeological Site
This archaeological site is considered to be cultural property of outstanding universal value and was nominated as a World Heritage Site in December 1992. The Site is located at Ban Chiang, Amphoe Nong Han, 55 kilometers from the province on Highway No. 22 (Udon Thani-Sakon Nakon). Turn left at the 50-km marker to Highway No. 2225 and proceed for 6 kilometers.
Ban Chiang National Museum located at Ban Chiang, Tambon Ban Chiang, Amphoe Nong Han, is comprised of two parts. The first part stores antiques. Inside the building, old artifacts, ancient Ban Chiang culture, tools and utensils that showcase ancient technology and surroundings, as well as earthenware pots from 4,000 to 7,500 years old, are displayed. The second part is an open museum in the compound of Wat Po Si Nai. The Fine Arts Department has retained the conditions of archaeological excavations to illustrate how earthenware pots and other items were buried along with the dead. Ban Chiang National Museum is considered the first open museum in Thailand. As for the Ban Chiang earthenware pots, they are known world-wide because Ban Chiang was the origin of a pre-historic civilization. Archaeologists believe the designs on Ban Chiang earthenware are the oldest pot designs in the world.
Traveling to Ban Chiang National Museum is very easy. It is only fifty-six kilometers from Muang District. The route runs along Highway 22 and turns left onto Highway 2225 at kilometer 50, where a road sign indicates the way to Ban Chiang which is six kilometers away. The museum is open to the general public every day, except Mondays and Tuesdays, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an admission fee of 20 baht. The museum has a parking area with toilets and village shops located nearby.
On the way to Ban Chiang, visitors can stop at several villages where handicrafts are made. Ban Kham O located along the Udon Thani-Sakon Nakhon Road is a Ban Chiang pottery sculpture center while Ban Pu Lu is a pottery-painting place.
Wat Pho Si Nai is the site of the open museum section of the Ban Chiang National Museum where the conditions of the archaeological excavations have been maintained in order to illustrate how earthenware pots and other items were buried along with the dead.
Phu Foi Lom
Phu Foi Lom is an eco-tourism tourist destination which provides unique soft-adventurous activities for nature lovers. With an area of approximately 192,356 rai of Phu Phan Noi mountain range, Phu Foi Lom is part of the Pan Don Pa Ko National Reserved Park. Rare flora and fauna can be spotted here. As the place boasts diverse ecological systems, tourists can enjoy trekking along the provided trails. Phu Foi Lom is located approximately 35 kilometres from Udon Thanis town. Traveling there is not complicated, use Udon Thani Loei route, at km 9 marker, turn to Ban Lao and proceed for another 48 kilometres.
Than Ngam Waterfall
A medium-sized waterfall situated amidst lush and pristine forests, the waterfall is more than perfect for swimming and relaxation. Traveling to the site can be done via Udon Thani Nong Bua Lam Phu or Udon Thani Khon Kaen route. For the first route, travel along the highway for approximately 45 kilometres, turn left to Nong Saeng District and proceed for another 5 kilometres. For the second route, travel along the highway for approximately 55 kilometres, turn right to Nong Saeng District and proceed for another 25 kilometres.
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