Ubon Ratchathani

Ubon Ratchathani

Quintessentially Isaan

A Lao-speaking granny rises before dawn to prepare food for ochre-robed monks on alms round. In a hut overlooking their paddies, farmers break for a midday meal of sticky rice with chilli paste. Young people lounge beside the Moon River after dark, discussing possibilities that their grandparents could never have imagined. In Ubon Ratchathani, the soul of Isaan keeps one foot in the past, as the other steps into the future.

More on Ubon Ratchathani

Browse hotels in Ubon Ratchathani on Agoda


Provided by Travelfish partner Agoda.



Before Lao immigrants founded Ubon Ratchathani (“Royal Lotus City”) in the 1700s, Dvaravati Mon and later Khmer people had ruled the area as far back as the fifth century CE. While minor Khmer ruins can be seen today at Prasat Ban Ben in southern Ubon province, nearby Sisaket and Surin provinces have much larger communities of ethnic Khmers. As with much of Isaan, or Northeast Thailand, a Lao dialect is widely spoken in Ubon.

Somtun Jinda. Just yum. : David Luekens.
Somtun Jinda. Just yum. Photo: David Luekens

Underrated as a travel destination, Ubon — both the city and the same-named province — attracts a trickle of independent travellers looking to wander far off the usual tourist tracks. Locals temper the language barrier by going out of their way to help travellers, who are still viewed as guests rather than opportunities for a profit. Ubon’s huge tourism potential remains largely untapped, with many travellers viewing it as nothing but a stop on the way to/from Southern Laos.

Modern Ubon city feels like a small town in many places thanks to the laid-back outlook of its roughly 200,000 residents. Mostly Lao/Isaan-Thai but also with significant numbers of Chinese- and Vietnamese-Thai, the folks in Ubon are, generally, among the most warm-hearted in Thailand. Their gentleness ends in the kitchen, however, where they churn out Isaan food so spicy that it induces tears and helplessly runny noses. Warning: it’s ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,300 words.)

Log in to Travelfish

Please sign in to read the rest of this page. The full text is around 1,300 words.

Log in now
Become a Travelfish member

Choose from a free two-day pass right through to a lifetime membership.

Find out more

21 other destinations in Northeast Thailand

Learn more about That Phanom
That Phanom

One of our favourites

Learn more about Sangkhom
Sangkhom

A sleepy river town

Learn more about Phanom Rung
Phanom Rung

Marvelous Khmer ruins

Learn more about Nong Khai
Nong Khai

Welcome to Thailand, hello to Laos

Learn more about Loei
Loei

Pack a sweater

Learn more about Phimai
Phimai

Small town, big ruins

Learn more about Khao Yai National Park
Khao Yai National Park

Welcome to "Big Mountain"

Learn more about Dan Sai
Dan Sai

Home to the Phi Ta Khon Festival

Learn more about Khong Chiam
Khong Chiam

Where the Mekong meets the Moon

Learn more about Chiang Khan
Chiang Khan

Popular with Thai travellers

Learn more about Nakhon Ratchasima
Nakhon Ratchasima

Gateway to Isaan

Learn more about Mukdahan
Mukdahan

A growing city by the Mekong

Learn more about Sakhon Nakhon
Sakhon Nakhon

Important temples and a lake

Learn more about Khon Kaen
Khon Kaen

The heart of Isaan

Learn more about Surin
Surin

Home to elephant olympians

Learn more about Si Saket
Si Saket

Quirky temples, fiery food

Learn more about Yasothon
Yasothon

Watch out for rockets

Learn more about Nakhon Phanom
Nakhon Phanom

Tremendous Mekong scenery

Learn more about Udon Thani
Udon Thani

Ancient pottery and abundant markets

Learn more about Buriram
Buriram

Rich Khmer heritage

Learn more about Chaiyaphum
Chaiyaphum

Silk and Siamese tulips