Ubon’s centrally located airport is only a three kilometre walk from Thung Si Muang Park. Meter taxis and hired “limousines” are available at the arrivals terminal.
Nok Air, Thai Smile, Air Asia, Thai Lion Air and Thai Airways collectively offer 18 flights a day between Ubon and Bangkok, often with extremely good deals if booking a few weeks in advance. At time of writing, the newer Kan Air had launched a single daily flight direct to/from Chiang Mai using a propeller plane.
Last stop on the Northeastern Line, Ubon’s train station is located across the river in Warin Chamrap, where taxis, tuk tuks and songthaews are always waiting to shuttle new arrivals to their hotels.
From Bangkok’s Hualamphong station, express trains depart for Ubon at 03:35, 06:15, 07:25, 10:20, 14:00 and 18:00. Fares start at 95 baht for a hard third-class seat, running up to 220 baht for a fan-cooled second-class soft seat and topping out at 1,080 baht for a first-class air-con sleeper, with several options in between. These trains can also be caught in Pak Chong (Khao Yai), Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat), Buriram, Surin and Sisaket.
From Ubon, trains return to Bangkok at 04:25, 05:50, 07:30, 18:40, 21:00 and 22:25. The 10-hour ride is a mildly pleasant rumble through the rice paddies.
There are also several local trains running between Ubon, Surin and Khorat, but keep in mind that these stop at every tiny village and move a lot slower than the express or rapid trains. They also have fewer seating options.
Ubon’s large bus terminal is located on Highway 231 in the city’s far northwestern corner. A meter taxi to/from town will cost around 60 baht, while tuk tuks usually ask for more. Most of the city’s songthaews also stop here.
A wide array of regular buses and minibuses can take you all over Northeast Thailand and beyond, including into Southern Laos. Fares include:
Bangkok (Morchit): Upwards of a dozen private companies and the “999” government service run buses between Ubon and Bangkok regularly between 08:00 and 23:00. Fares range from 250 to 600 baht, depending on the company and class, with the most common first-class buses with toilets coming in at around 400 baht. The trip can take anywhere from nine to 12 hours. Many Bangkok-bound buses stop in Sisaket, Surin, Buriram, Nang Rong (Phanom Rung), Khorat and/or Pak Chong (Khao Yai).
Phibun Mangsahan: Local buses depart hourly from 06:00 to 21:00, cost around 40 baht and take about an hour. You can also take a Khong Chiam bound minibus, or a songthaew from the market in Warin Chamrap.
Khong Chiam: Minibuses depart hourly from 06:00 to 18:00, cost 80 baht and take around 1.5 hours. These also service Phibun Mangsahan.
Chong Mek (Laos border crossing): Minibuses depart hourly from 05:00 to 18:00, cost 100 baht and take about 1.5 hours, dropping passengers at a bus station within walking distance of the checkpoint. The border closes at 20:00 and buses run onwards to Pakse from the other side.
Pakse, Laos: International buses depart at 09:30 and 15:30, cost 200 baht and take around three hours. The bus will stop and wait for all passengers to clear Thai and Lao immigration before continuing into Laos. We were told that it’s no problem for foreigners to get visas on arrival at the border.
Kantharalak (closest city to Khao Phra Wihan or Preah Vihear): Buses depart roughly every hour from 05:20 to 18:00.
Sisaket: Minibuses depart hourly from 06:00 to 18:00, cost 50 baht and take about an hour.
Khorat: Multiple buses depart hourly from 07:00 to 20:00, with many stopping in Sisaket, Surin, Buriram and/or Nang Rong. If heading to the Cambodia border crossing at Chong Chom, transfer in Surin. If wanting to transfer to the Cambodia border crossing in Aranyaprathet or continue south to Chanthaburi or Trat (Ko Chang), transfer in Buriram.
Mukdahan: Minibuses depart every half-hour from 06:00 to 17:30, cost 111 baht and take around 2.5 hours. These also service Amnat Charoen. A few regular buses also run between Ubon and Mukdahan.
Nakhon Phanom: Minibuses depart hourly from 06:30 to 16:30, cost 182 baht and take around four hours.
Udon Thani: Departs at least every hour from 05:30 to 11:30 and again at 13:00 and 15:00, costs 315 baht and take around six hours. Some of these buses also service Yasothon, Khon Kaen and/or Sakhon Nakhon.
Nong Khai: Departs at 08:00, 09:00, 11:00 and 13:00, costs 410 baht and takes around eight hours. Also services Khon Kaen and Udon Thani.
Uttaradit: Departs at 01:15, 06:00, 13:00 and 18:30, costs 540 baht and takes around 12 hours. Also services Phitsanulok. If heading to Phrae or Nan, transfer in Uttaradit.
Chiang Mai: Departs at 07:30, 12:45, 14:45, 13:15, 15:45 and 18:00, costs 800 baht and takes around 14 hours. Also services Khon Kaen, Phitsanulok and Lampang.
Chiang Rai: One daily bus with Nakhon Chai Air departs at 16:00, costs 968 baht and takes -- a long time.
Rayong (Ko Samet): Departs at 06:30 and 06:45, then hourly from 15:30 to 19:30, costs from 590 to 885 baht depending on class, and takes 11 hours. Also services Chonburi and Pattaya. Additionally, a VIP bus runs direct to Pattaya at 05:45.
Ubon has a cheap and reliable fleet of songthaews (roofed pick-ups) cruising the city’s main roads from 06:00 to 19:00. A handy map is available at the TAT office, or, if you're feeling brave, just hop on and push the buzzer on the roof to signal the driver when you want off. Songthaews #1, 2, 3, 10 and 11 are the most useful as they run to/from downtown and the bus station. All rides are 10 baht regardless of distance.
Old-fashioned pedal-powered samlors, tuk tuks and meter taxis are all widely available in Ubon, with the latter usually being cheaper and more comfortable, but less of an adventure. You’ll often see an open taxi cruise past when you need one, but you can always call the taxi centre at T: (045) 256 111, which will incur an extra 20 baht fee.
If you want to save cash while seeing nine of Ubon’s temples in one highly manufactured swoop, golf-cart-esque “tourist cars” depart from the southern end of Thung Si Muang Park whenever they’ve collected seven passengers between 08:00 and 15:00. To avoid having to wait around, you can put your name down and come back at a pre-determined time. The cars run more frequently on weekends, when you’ll be swept up in a smiling wave of merit-making Thai tourists. The service is free but tips for the drivers are appreciated.
Ubon is a very spread-out city with scorching heat for much of the year -- not the greatest place for walking. A better option is to rent a bicycle, available for 60 to 100 baht per day at the Sri Isan and Ratchathani hotels. If staying at The Outside Inn, you can use their bicycles for free.
The Outside Inn also rents out automatic motorbikes running from 240 to 280 baht per day. Alternately, try Jay-Jay Car & Motorcycle Hire [T: (089) 625 5823]; delivery available) at the corner of Nakhonban and Sappasit Rd (opposite Wat Chaeng), which offers motorbikes starting at 250 baht per day along with several types of cars and trucks starting around 1,000 baht per day. Cars can also be rented from mainstream agencies like Avis and Sixt at the airport.
Ubon is a very large and spread-out province with loads to see, making it a worthy place to splurge on a car for a day or two. If you prefer to be chauffeured, private drivers can be arranged through most hotels for between 1,500 and 3,000 baht for a full day, depending on where you want to go. Expect to pay around 2,500 baht, all up, for a taxi to take you on a round trip to Pha Taem National Park and other attractions around Khong Chiam.
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