Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Ubon Ratchathani.
Memorised by all local school kids, a line in Ubon Ratchathani’s provincial poem proclaims: “The people believe in Dharma“. Buddhism has long thrived in the area’s multitude of temples, including some as old as the city itself. Ubon’s wats aren’t quite as awe-inspiring as those of Bangkok or Chiang Mai, but together they’re an intriguing collection with some highly unusual ... Read more about An introduction to Ubon Ratchathani’s temples .
Displaying a mix of Lao, Burmese and Thai artistic styles, Wat Thung Si Muang was built in the early 1800s to house a replica of the Buddha’s footprint -- an ancient symbol of Buddhism. If you can only visit one wat in Ubon and you don’t feel like going too far out of the way, this is probably the best choice. Wat Thung Si Muang’s best-known feature is the ho trai, a small hall used to ... Read more about Wat Thung Si Muang .
Located in Ubon city’s northern reaches but well worth the effort to reach, Wat Phra That Nong Bua features the only depiction of the Mahabodhi temple in Northeast Thailand. Built in 1957, it’s a Thai-style replica of the ancient stone pagoda that stands at the place where the Buddha is believed to have become enlightened at Bodh Gaya, India, some 2,500 years ago. Rising to an impressive ... Read more about Wat Nong Bua .
Built in 1855 and alternately known as Wat Si Thong, easy-to-find Wat Si Ubon features an ordination hall that mimics Bangkok’s famous Wat Benchamabophit. While you won’t find block after block of marble here, you will get a chance to glimpse a sacred Buddha image, Phra Kaew Butsarakham, which is thought to be the largest chunk of topaz in Thailand. Don’t get too excited: it’s only seven ... Read more about Wat Si Ubon Rattanaram (Wat Si Thong) .
The main attraction at Wat Chaeng is not the large and unimpressive wihaan up front, but rather a small wooden hall shrouded in trees out back. Built in the early 1900s, the dark-wood structure is fronted by one-of-a-kind crocodile guardian statues made from white stucco. The structure is best known for its delicately carved upper section depicting a lotus pond under three suns (this is the ... Read more about Wat Chaeng .
Affectionately called Wat Pa Yai, the somewhat gaudy Wat Maha Wannaram was established in 1807 by Ubon’s second ruler. It’s regarded as the principal wat in Ubon, containing one of the province’s most sacred Buddha images. The large and striking stucco image, Phrachao Yai In Paeng, was crafted in the Lao style and has been completely covered in glittering gold leaf. It now sits in a ... Read more about Wat Maha Wanaram (Wat Pa Yai) .
Located along a scenic bend in the Moon River, Wat Suppattanaram Worawihan is one of Ubon’s largest and most active temples. While the main attraction for travellers is a bulky and architecturally distinctive ordination hall, the sweeping river views and fish-feeding opportunities seem to be the main draw for many locals. Appearing as a stately block of white with a slanted ocher roof, the ... Read more about Wat Supattanaram .
Along with a proud tradition of creating floats for the annual Candle Festival, the often-overlooked Wat Si Phradu boasts one of the more architecturally interesting buildings found in any of Ubon’s temples. Guarded by a colourful pair of yaksha demon-giants, the large modern Lao-style wihaan is topped by a broad tiered roof that cuts in various sharp angles, with the lowest parts ... Read more about Wat Si Phradu .
Set in a quiet corner of the city’s eastern reaches, Wat Burapha is a forest meditation temple with a more tranquil atmosphere than most of Ubon’s wats. After being founded in the early 20th century, it was frequented by the late Ajahn Sao, a forest monk partly credited with revitalising the Thai Forest Tradition, along with several of his disciples. Built in 1915 and later damaged by ... Read more about Wat Burapharam .
During our visit to nearby Wat Si Phradu, a German expat enthusiastically told us that Wat Tai Prachao Yai Ong Tue (or Wat Tai for short) was “the most beautiful temple of your life”. That was a definite overstatement, but the wat does make for a dizzying walk through the wild world of Hindu/Buddhist iconography. The temple grounds stretch on both sides of the road and feel like the home ... Read more about Wat Tai Prachao Yai Ong Tue .
Many of the monks seen around Ubon follow the Thai Forest Tradition, focusing on meditation, rather than study, and attempting to live as closely to the way that the Buddha lived as possible. The founder of two of the area’s best-known forest monasteries, Wat Nong Pah Pong and Wat Pah Nanachat, was also the inspiration for a global meditation ... Read more about Wat Nong Pah Pong and Wat Pah Nanachat .
While many Thai cities have their own provincial museums, Ubon’s is particularly comprehensive and compelling. History buffs should be sure to start their explorations here. The attractive European-style brick-and-cement building was constructed in 1918 and served as Ubon’s city hall for several decades before being repurposed into the National Museum in 1983. It features beautifully ... Read more about Ubon Ratchathani National Museum .
Once used for cultivating the rice served to Ubon’s leadership, Thung Si Muang became a public park around the turn of the 20th century. The broad square of green stretches straight north from the National Museum and City Pillar shrine, surrounded by a lotus-filled moat. It’s where Ubon comes to relax and exercise. The park contains a statue of Ubon’s founder, Chao Kham Phong, and a ... Read more about Thung Si Muang Park .
Throughout Thailand and other Theravada Buddhist countries, communities have long gathered to offer requisites, including candles, to monks as they embark on the rains retreat, or Khao Phansa. Ubon turns this Asanha Bucha ceremony into a two-day Candle Festival, or Hae Thian, complete with a parade of floats featuring detailed wax sculptures. Drawing over 200,000 visitors, it’s one of the ... Read more about Hae Thian (Candle Festival) .
The families of Baan Pa Ao have hand-crafted beautiful brass and silk products for five generations. Not a tacky made-for-tourism attraction like some of Thailand’s craft villages, this is an opportunity to watch the artists at work as you soak up the rural lifestyle, all without straying too far from Ubon ... Read more about Baan Pa Ao brass and silk village .
Follow the Moon River 45 kilometres east from Ubon city and you’ll reach Phibun Mangsahan, a small but bustling city known for its river rapids and steamed sala bao buns. Drawing almost no foreign travellers, it makes for a fun stop, if only for lunch, on the way to Khong Chiam and Pha Taem National Park. The main attraction is the Kaeng Saphu rapids, a point in the Moon River where rocks ... Read more about Phibun Mangsahan .