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Since the 10th century, Ubon Ratchathani , or simply Ubon, was part of the Khmer Empire until the Ayutthaya Kingdom later conquered it. Towards the end of the 18th century, Laotians migrated to the northern banks of the Mun River and founded the provincial capital. The Laotian influence is evident in the architectural structures of some of the city's religious buildings. During the Vietnam War, Ubon encountered an expansive growth due to its proximity to an American air base.
Today, the province is the largest and one of the most important provinces in northeastern Thailand. It is a major tourist attraction of the lower I-San located 629 kilometres from Bangkok. Due to the large number of fascinating temples dotting the city, Ubon is a place of pilgrimage at the beginning of the Buddhist Lent. Aside from the numerous attraction sites, festivals and holidays are celebrated with a unique Ubon flair. The province borders the Mekong River in the east and features superb scenic view of Cambodia. The province covers 15,517 square kilometers.
A landmark of the province is the Kaeng Sapue , a section of the Mun River that is filled with many rocks obstructing the natural river flow. Being the province's most beautiful cataract, it presents a picturesque scene with numerous small waterfalls cascading everywhere throughout the river, visible during the dry and cool seasons. It is a popular riverside recreational area.
Ban Pa -ao is an ancient village dating back more than 200 years, the first settlement of the Laotian immigrants who were bronzeware craftsmen. Today, the villagers still produce bronzeware products according to the expertise and skills that have been passed down through generations.
Located in Warin Chumrab District, the Wat Pa Nanachart (International Forest Temple) is famous for its meditative teachings and has attracted many foreigners into the monkhood. In the same district is Wat Nong Pa Pong , another important meditation center with a serene and shady environment. The unique all-white, modernized Thai-style chapel is quite a remarkable sight.
Highway 217 ends at the Chong Meg Border that marks the Thai-Laos boundary lines. The road continues on the other side to the Laotian town of Pak Se, situated 38 km from the border.
Regarded as one of the best in the northeastern region, the Ubon National Museum is housed in the former country residence of King RamaVII (1910-25). It contains displays of Khmer, Hindu, Laotian and Thai artifacts, traditional tools, utensils, and handicrafts. The most impressive exhibit is a rare, giant bronze drum dating back to the 4th century believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes.
Dating back from the 1800s, Wat Thung Si Muang is best known for its scriptural repository housed in the middle of a pond and for the mural paintings depicting the local culture some 200 years ago.
In 1853, King Rama I (1851-68) commissioned the construction of Wat Supattanaram Worawiharn , a riverside royal temple. It is the first temple in the Northeast dedicated to the Thammayut sect, a strict branch of Theravada Buddhism. It was built by Vietnamese craftsmen but combined an eclectic blend of Chinese, Thai and European architectural styles.
To commemorate the 2,500 anniversary of Lord Buddha's death, the more modern Wat Nong Bua was built in 1957. The main attractions are the 2 whitewashed towers with four-sided bases decorated with carved standing Buddha images in niches and reliefs depicting tales of Lord Buddha in his previous lives.
The royal temple of Wat Si Ubon Rattanaram has an ordination chapel that was constructed in a similar style to the Marble Temple (Wat Benchamabopitr) in Bangkok. The temple was built in 1855 and contains a rare topaz Buddha image, originally from Laos.
See the phenomena of the two-colored river at Don Darn Pak Mae Nam Mun (Mun River Delta) in Khong Chiam District. At this site, the sky blue colored Mun River meets up with the concrete-greyish colored Mekong River and presents a spectacular sight.
Thung Si Muang is a wide-open ground in the middle of the city used as a recreation and festival celebration area for the townspeople. A monument of the founder of Ubon Ratchathani is also located here.
Wat Thung Si Muang is located on Luang Road in the municipal area. The temple was built during the reign of King Rama III and has a beautiful ordination hall in the northeastern architectural style. A scripture hall is located in the middle of a pond, featuring a roof that shows the Burmese architectural style while the lintel was carved in Laotian architectural art. Mural paintings in this temple feature the civilisations and cultures of the people of Ubon Ratchathani over 200 years ago.
Wat Si Ubon Rattanaram is a royal temple on Upparat Road beside the City Hall. The ordination hall is in the same style as the Marble Temple in Bangkok. The Topaz, Buddha image, the town's sacred image is kept here.
The Ubon Ratchathani National Museum is on Khuan Thani Road. Built in 1918, the building was once used as the City Hall. It is regarded as the museum with the best arrangement and display of artefacts from all districts in the province. Inside, there are displays of prehistoric events, history, and cultures of the natives of Ubon Ratchathani. The Museum is open Wednesday-Sunday from 9:00 a.m. - 4.00 p.m.
Wat Chaeng is on Sappasit Road in the municipal area. It is a well-preserved ordination hall in perfect northeastern style, and is one of the oldest ordination halls in the provinces.
Wat Maha Wanaram, located on Sappasit Road, is an ancient temple of the city. The holy Buddha image that is much revered by the people of Ubon Ratchathani and nearby provinces housed here is "Phra Chao Yai Indra Plaeng". There is also a stone engraved tablet interred behind the pedestal of the Buddha image.
Wat Buraparam, in Amphoe Muang, was once the residence of many famous monks in the field of meditation. Their statues, carved from stones from various rivers, are kept here for the people to pay respect to.
Wat Supattanaram, a royal temple of the Dhammayut Sect in the northeast, was built in 1853. The temple is on the bank of the Mun River, surrounded by beautiful and tranquil scenery. The Thai-Chinese-European styled ordination hall, which houses the principal serene Buddha image of the temple, is worthy of seeing.
Hat Wat Tai is a sandy island in the middle of the Mun River. The island becomes larger than usual in summer. It is also used as a recreation place by townspeople.
Wat Ban Na Muang is 5 kilometres from town. It has a very beautiful ordination hall built of ceramics in the shape of the Suphannahong Royal Barge.
Wat Nong Bua is on the outskirts of Ubon Ratchathani on Highway No. 212 (Ubon-Amnat Charoen). At the 3-km marker on the highway, there is an 800-metre side road leading to the temple. It is the only temple in this province that has a rectangular Chedi built in an imitation of Chedi Buddhakhaya of India.
Ban Kan Luang Archaeological Site is situated in Wat Ban Kan Luang, 3 kilometres from the town along Highway No. 212. Turn right onto Highway No. 2050 for 2 kilometres. In 1992, the Fine Arts Department excavated the site. Discoveries include artefacts, implements, ornaments, beads, pottery and iron axes. It is believed that this settlement dates back at least 2,000 years.
Hat Khu Dua is a sandy river shore on the Mun River's bank about 12 kilometres from town. There are varieties of local food sold along the shore.
Ban Pa Ao is situated at Tambon Nong Khon, 18 kilometres from the city on Highway No. 23. At the 273-km marker, turn right and travel along the track for another 3 kilometres.
It is one of the oldest villages in Ubon Ratchathani. According to history, the villagers migrated from Vientiane, Laos during the reign of King Siri Bun San. The village is over 200 years old and has a special identity of its own which has been handed down from its ancestors, such as the craft of making bronzeware and weaving beautiful silk.
Wat Nong Pa Phong is a mediation centre. The atmosphere is quiet and peaceful. It is on Highway No. 2178 about 6 kilometres from the city. A number of foreigners practise Buddhism here.
Ban Tha Khong Lek is on Highway No. 226 (Ubon Ratchathani-Si Sa Ket Route) about 3 kilometres from the district centre. The clay, taken from the Mun River, is thoroughly mixed with chaff and other kinds of material. The whole process is done by hand.
Wat Phukhao Kaeo is on the slope of a hill in Phibun Mansahan along Highway No. 217. It is 43 kilometres from Ubon Ratchathani. Inside the temple ground is a beautiful ordination hall built entirely from ceramics. Inside the hall are replicas of all the Buddha relics found in Thailand.
Kaeng Saphu is the most beautiful cataract in Ubon Ratchthani. It is on the Mun River near the district office of Phibun Mangsahan, about 45 kilometres from Ubon Ratchathani city centre, on the left-hand side of Highway No. 217. This beautiful cataract of natural rocks can be seen for half the year during the dry season.
The Sirindhorn Dam is about 70 kilometres from the city centre on Highway No. 217. Turn right at the 71-km marker for about 500 metres. The dam was built to generate electricity and to facilitate agriculture.
Wat Pha Nam Bun is on Highway No. 217, about 700 metres from Sirindhorn Dam. It is similar to a hot spring in terms of its appearance, but the water from this spring is of normal temperature and comes up from the ground.
Chong Mek Border is the boundary between Thailand and Laos that marks the end of Highway No. 217, which is 89 kilometres long. This highway will be connected to a 38-kilometre road in Laos leading to Pak Sae, which will be part of the Asian Highway.
Kaeng Tana National Park can be reached by two ways. One is by Highway No. 2222. Along this route visitor can get a beautiful sight of Kaeng Tana, the other route to the National Park Office is along Highway No. 217 (Phibun Mangsahan-Chong Mek route) and then turn left to Highway No. 2173 for another 13 kilometres.
Tat Ton Waterfall is on Highway No. 2173, which is about 6 kilometres off Highway No. 217. This beautiful waterfall is created from the Tat Ton Brook flowing past a stone platform and plunging onto the plain, forming a basin large enough to swim in. Forest and flowering shrubs surround the shady area.
Heo Sin Chai Cave is on Highway No. 2222, about 7 kilometres before reaching Amphoe (district) Klong Chiam, turn left for about 2 kilometres. It is on the same route as Kaeng Tana. The cave is a Buddhist centre with a beautiful reclining Buddha image. There is a waterfall cascading down the cliff to the area in front of the reclining Buddha image, making the place very cool and beautiful.
Wat Tham Khu Ha Sawan is on Highway No. 222 about 6 kilometres before reaching Khong Chiam district. The temple was built in 1978 by 'Luang Pu Kam Khaning Chula Mani". It was his residence and place of meditation while he was still alive. Despite the fact that he passed away many years ago, his body remains in perfect condition. There are scenic spots for tourists to admire the beauty of the Mekong River and the Laotian border.
The Bi-coloured River , or the Mun River's alluvium, is the place where two rivers join: the brown Mekong River and the blue Mun River. It is located in Khong Chiam District, about 84 kilometres from Ubon Ratchathai city centre.
Pak Mun Dam was constructed from stone and reinforced with clay soil. It has a width of 17 metres and a length of 300 metres. The dam facilitates agriculture and generates electricity. It is located approximately 75 kilometres from town, or about 6 kilometres from the area where the Mekong River meets the Mun River. It is possible to travel along the top of the dam wall as a short cut from Klong Chiam District to Amphoe Sirinthon without driving back to Phibun Mangsahan District. Cruising along the beautiful Mun River is possible from the end of the dam to the Bi-coloured River , where the Mun River joins with the Mekong River.
Pha Taem National Park covers an area of 140 square kilometres, where plateau and hills dominate the park's landscape. There are sheer cliffs, which resulted from earthquakes. Most trees are of the deciduous dipterocarp forest. Irregular shaped sandstone is found scattered throughout the area. Beautiful flowering plants grow in the rocky ground. Travelling here can be accomplished from Klong Chiam District along Highway No. 2134, followed by Highway No. 2112, and then turn right for another 5 kilometres. Places of interest within the park are:
Sao Chaliang is on Highway No. 2112, about 11 kilometres from the office on the route to Pha Taem. Sao Chaliang is a natural formation of rocks sitting one upon another forming a mushroom-like shape. Fossils of sea shell, pebbles, and sand grains can be seen in big stone slabs, leading academicians believe that this area must have been a sea bed about a million years ago.
Pha Taem and Pha Kham are located near the national park headquarters. On the cliff's surface are prehistoric paintings dating back to 3,000-4,000 years ago that reflect the ancient way of life of the people who once lived in the area. These painting depict scenes of fishing and rice farming. Figures of people, animals, hands and geometric designs were also depicted.
Tham Mut , at Ban Sa Som, is a cave some 4 metres wide and 6 metres high. Inside there are many carved Buddha images, indicting that it used to be a place for religious ceremonies.
Soi Sawan Waterfall is 30 kilometres form Khong Chiam District. It is a big waterfall cascading from two sides of steep cliffs about 20 metres high.
Saeng Chan Waterfall is only 1 kilometre from Thung Na Muang Waterfall. It is a very beautiful waterfall with a special characteristic of its own-water cascades down through a rock pile resembling a full moon shining onto the world.
Si Mueang Mai
Phu Lon Buddhist Centre is in Tambon Song Yang, about 20 kilometres from Si Muang Mai district. It is a small hill with trees and rocks. There is a cave built by Phra Achan Man Phuritatthathera; it is very tranquil and suitable for relaxation and meditation.
Amphoe Bunthairk, Amphoe Nam Yeun and Amphoe Na Chaluai
Phu Chong-Na Yoi National Park covers an area of 686 square kilometres. The area features scenic viewpoints overlooking Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It has many shady tress and many kinds of flowers. At night, wildlife such as tigers and deer can be seen. It is located on Ubon Ratchathani-Varin Chamrab-Decth Udom-Nan Yeun-Na Chaluai Highway. The Park is on Highway No. 2248 and about 20 kilometres from Na Chaluai District.
Interesting attractions in the National Park include Huay Luang Waterfall, Kaeng Sam Pan Pi, and Natural Walking Track. To visit these attractions, official permission from the national park's headquarters is needed.
Thung Si Udom
Prasat Ban Ben is located at Ban Nong Om, about 63 kilometres from town. It is a small Khmer sanctuary, which comprises three brick stupas on laterite bases built separately. During the excavation by the Fine Arts Department, two pieces of lintel depicting the nine gods of directions and the God Indra on his Erawan carrier were found. According to its architectural design and the sculptures shown, this structure is assumed to have been established some time during the end of the 10 th century and the beginning of the 11 th century.
The Candle Festival is the largest religious ceremony in Ubon Ratchathani. It is celebrated yearly on Asalha Bucha Day and Khao Phansa (Buddhist Lent) Day in July. The ceremony is held at Thung Si Mueang and Chaturamuk Pavillion. At night, there is entertainment to celebrate the Lent candles. The reflection of lights on the candles creates a picturesque effect during the festival.
Kaeng Sa Peu Songkarn Festival is held yearly in April. Villagers will splash water on each other and swim in the Mun River. The festival also features local sports and northeastern folk music.
Hotels and accommodation
- Local Cuisine
How to get there
* By car
- From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Nakhon Ratchasima, then use Highway No.226 to Ubon Ratchathani via Buri Ram, Surin and Si Sa Ket, for a total distance of 629 kilometres.
- From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 and Highway No. 2 till arriving Sikhio, then turn into Highway No. 24 and proceed to Ubon Ratchathani via Chok Chai, Nang Rong, Prasat, Det Udom and Warin Chamrap
* By bus
Buses depart from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Ubon Ratchathani every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 for more information.
* By train
Regular trains depart from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Ubon Ratchathani every day. Call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20 for more information.
* By plane
Thai Airways has several daily flights connecting Bangkok with Ubon Ratchathani. For more information, contact their Bangkok office at tel. 0-2280-0060, 0-2628-2000.