Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, located in the northeast of the country, is one of the more interesting provinces in the country. It sits to the north of the forested Cambodian border and to the west of the Lao border on the Mekong River. Ubon Ratchathani is also the capital of this province and is around an eight hours' bus journey east of Bangkok. It is only just over ninety kilometers from the Lao border at Chong Mek, a two-hour songthaew ride.
Ubon Ratchathani is in Isan country; Isan is the language spoken in this area of Thailand and is a dialect of Lao, and the Isan people have a very distinct identity different from the rest of Thailand and are much more closely associated with Laos. This can be seen in their dress, food, and language.
Although Ubon Ratchathani isn't much of a tourist destination in itself, it does reward those that choose to give it a chance. It's a handy place to break a long bus journey between Thailand and Laos, and is a quite relaxing city to spend a little time.
Ubon’s centrepiece is Thung Si Muang Park and its unmissable twenty-two-meter-high Candle Sculpture, an
enormous yellow-painted replica of the wax sculptures that star in the annual Candle Festival that takes place every July in Ubon.
There are a handful of temples to visit, including the nineteenth century Wat Thung Si Muang, with its murals and teak library; the white and gold Wat Nong Bua, on the southern edge of the city; the boat-shaped Wat Ban Na Meuang; and the beautiful murals of Wat Si Pradu among others.
The Ubon Ratchathani National Museum -- built a century ago as a city hall, and transformed into a museum in the late eighties -- is well worth a visit. If you're considering a trip to Pha Taem National Park, you can see a replica of the cliff paintings here.
Pha Taem National Park itself is almost a hundred kilometers east of Ubon Ratchathani and is worth visiting for the cliff paintings, the Saeng Chan waterfall, and the craggy rock formations that afford spectacular views over the Mekong River into Laos. Trekking can also be done from the visitors' center. Trips there can be organized from Ubon, and it is also possible to visit using public transport to Khong Chiam, and then hiring transport from there for the last twenty kilometers or so.
There are a couple of backpacker hostels in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand. They are quite far apart in different parts of the city, so get directions to your chosen hostel in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand beforehand. Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand hostels are comfortable and handy for getting information on the surrounding area. The hostels in Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand are particularly useful for visiting Pha Taem National Park, which can't be reached solely by public transport.
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