Ubon Ratchathani or Ubon for short is a large province in the lower part of Isan, the North East of Thailand. Little visited by foreign tourists, the province bordering Cambodia and Laos is dotted with mountain ranges and several national parks. Ubon’s history goes back thousands of years; traces of ancient man can be found at Pha Taem National Park where rock paintings on cliffs show scenes of prehistoric life. The province’s capital city Ubon Ratchathani town is located on the banks of the Mun river, which flows into the Mekong river at the Thai - Laos border.
To do & see in Ubon Ratchathani
Ubon Ratchathani features a large number of Buddhist temples, several archeological sites and historical museums, as well as natural attractions.
Wat Thung Si Muang
The Wat Thung Si Muang dates from the first half of the 19th century. The temple consists of several buildings including an assembly hall, an ordination hall, a bell tower and a library building where the Buddhist teachings are kept. Its wooden library building or Ho Trai is build on stilts in the middle of a pond to protect the ancient manuscripts written on dried palm leaves from insects. The ordination hall contains a Buddha footprint. Wat Thung Si Muang is located on Luang road, about 500 meters North of the Mun river.
Wat Phra That Nong Bua
The main attraction of the Wat Phra That Nong Bua are two chedis that were modelled after the Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya in India, the place where the Buddha reached enlightenment some 2,500 years ago. Niches around the chedis enshrine images of the Buddha, both chedis are topped with a tapering finial. The temple is located on Thamma Withi road in the North of Ubon Ratchathani town.
The Wat Supatanaram temple was constructed about 1850. The ubosot or ordination hall contains architectural elements of Khmer, Rattanakosin (Bangkok style) and Western architecture. The building which is surrounded by square pillars enshrines a large golden Buddha image. Wat Supatanaram is located on Supat road, on the banks of the Mun river.
Wat Ban Na Muang (Wat Sa Prasan Suk)
The Wat Ban Na Muang is noticeable for its ordination hall and assembly hall, that are build on top of replicas of barges. The ubosot is surrounded by a giant Naga snake and is fitted with rowers, while the viharn is set in a lake. At the entrance stands a huge statue of Erawan, the three headed elephant from Indian mythology. The Wat Ban Na Muang is located near the airport, in the North East part of town.
Pha Taem National Park
Pha Taem National Park, a protected area near the Mekong river and the Thai - Laos border is a forested area with hills, cliffs, plateaus, waterfalls and viewpoints. An area in the park known as Sao Chaliang is dotted with natural sandstone rock formations in various shapes like mushrooms, formed by erosion. Prehistoric rock paintings on the cliffs made some 3,000 to 4,000 years ago depict life of prehistoric man in the area. The paintings show people, various animals and scenes of fishing and farming.
Ubon Ratchathani National Museum
Ubon Ratchathani National Museum exhibits objects from different eras including prehistory, Dvaravati and Khmer. Objects on display included Dvaravati boundary stones, a 7th century Khmer stone inscription, prehistoric items as stone tools and pottery, stone Khmer and Dvaravati Buddha images and Khmer lintels. The museum also features and exhibition dedicated to local tradition and folklore as well as local textiles.
Ubon Ratchathani National Museum is located on the corner of Upparat road (Highway 24) and Ratchathani road, a few hundred meters North of the Mun river. It opens daily from 9 am until 4 pm, closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Thai National holidays. Admission is 100 Thai Baht per person.
Ban Kan Luang archeological site and museum
Ban Kan Luang is a prehistoric site excavated by the Thai Fine Arts Department. Visitors can view an open excavation pit under a shelter. The museum exhibits items as burial urns and iron tools unearthed at Ban Kan Luang. The site is found just North of town along Highway 231 on the grounds of the Wat Ban Kan Luang temple.
Ubon Ratchathani candle festival
The Ubon Ratchathani candle festival is held annually in July to commemorate the start of the Buddhist rainy season retreat. A procession of large carved candles is paraded through the town accompanied by traditionally dressed dancers and musicians, and taken to a number of the town’s temples.
Getting to Ubon Ratchathani
There are several ways to get to Ubon Ratchathani from Bangkok. The 610 kilometer trip can be made by airplane, train or bus.
Ubon Ratchathani airport is located in the North end of town. Thai Airways offers flights from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi international airport. Flights take 1 hour and 5 minutes, fares start at 1,200 Thai Baht one way. Nok Air offers multiple flights daily from Bangkok’s old airport, Don Mueang. Fares for the 1 hour and 5 minutes flight start at around 830 Thai Baht. For more info, check the Nok Air website. Air Asia serves Ubon Ratchathani from Don Mueang, Bangkok’s old airport. Flights take 1 hour, fares start at 690 Thai Baht one way.
Ubon is on the State Railway of Thailand’s North Eastern line. Both daytime and sleeper trains depart from Hualamphong station in Bangkok. The 575 kilometer trip takes 9 to 11 hours, depending on the type of train. Tickets cost 95, 221, 460 Thai Baht for third, second and first class. For more information, visit the State Railway of Thailand website. Ubon Ratchathani train station is found South of the town, across the Mun river, a few kilometers South of the town center.
Ordinary and air con busses to Ubon Ratchathani depart from Bangkok’s North Eastern bus terminal Mo Chit II on Kamphaeng Phet 2 road. The trip takes between 8 and 10 hours, fares vary from a little over 400 Baht to 600 Baht. Ubon Ratchathani bus terminal is located North West of the town center on Highway 231, just West of the intersection with Highway 212.