Fly to Udon, drive to Laos

UDON THANI, 8 August 2017: Udon Thani is best known as a gateway province to both upper Northeast Thailand and neighbouring Laos and its capital Vientiane.

The city itself serves as an aviation hub, the closest airport to the border with Laos and the starting point for heritage tours that visit Mekong River towns such as Nong Khai, and the World Heritage sites of Ban Chiang.

Major highways link this city to other provinces, while the border is just 60 km by a four and six-lane highway. It is also an important station on the north-south rail line linking Bangkok with Nong Khai.

Nong Prajak Public Park. Credit TripAdvisor

It will also figure prominently as one of the main stations on a high-speed rail line that will be built over the next five years starting in Bangkok and passing through Nakhon Ratchasima. Khon Kaen, Udon and Nong Khai on its northbound route before crossing  the Mekong River to Laos. It will connect with a high-speed rail line already under construction in Laos.

Check out the top five attractions and invariably the list starts with Ban Chiang one of the earliest Thai settlements. But there are also examples of the whacky side of life in Udon such as the strange giant yellow inflatable ducks that were an instant hit on social media with thousands of images uploaded by selfie-loving Thais. Having your photo taken with the yellow duck became one of those must-do things that have to posted on Facebook. Thankfully the duck lost out to newer fads in fashion and travel trending.

For a current trending on the places people visit the most while in Udon check out TripAdvisor’s top five attractions. The ranking is based on the sheer weight of reviews. If a place racks up a few hundred independent reviews it has to be worth a visit. (Note: We are quoting the best five attractions based on TripAdvisor reviews, 4 August 2017).

Nong Prajak Public Park

Top of TripAdvisor’s must-see places is Nong Prajak Public Park, which is one of three reservoirs in Udon Thani considered scenic attractions.

The park is named in honour of Prince Prajak Sinlapakhom, who is recognised as the founding father of Udon Thani.

The family of yellow giant inflatable ducks on the lake in this park is the focal point attracting visitors who shoot selfies uploading them to their Facebook and Instagram accounts with the ‘@Udonthani’ sign in the background. It’s free publicity for the province, but just how many people ask “why a yellow duck.” No one seems to know.

The park has a running and cycle-track, which are popular with keep-fit enthusiasts both during the early mornings and evenings. There are also climbing frames, swings and other attractions for kids. The park is designated an alcohol free zone.

The park had gained 338 reviews when we checked and leads off as the top place to visit according to TripAdvisor’s count.

Reviewers talk about it being a great place for families to relax. The place is praised as a nice venue for family to enjoy,  while kids can entertain themselves in an area that is safe.

The park is in the central western part of Udon Thani and about a 30-minute walk from the Day and Night complex.

UD Night Market

UD Night Market. Credit TripAdvisor

Located at Thongyai Road, Mak Khaeng sub-district, the night market welcomes visitors intent on shopping for knick knacks, but a much better reason would be to taste local foods from  stalls and roadside restaurants. Udon’s street food is varied and very spicy.

Reviewers describe the market as impressive, although it’s a  jungle of jumbled household and food stuffs. The market is an extensive maze of walkway following the lines of concrete slabs where fruit, veggies and other food items are piled high. There are shops selling clothing and mobile accessories.

There are contrasting reviews on the street and market food, with some reviewers saying it was “heavenly”, but there were enough reviews that suggested otherwise, warning visitors to choose their food carefully, due to its spicy character.

Ban Chiang

Ban Chiang. Credit TripAdvisor

Ban Chiang is the third highest ranked attractions by the sheer weight of reviews. Lying about 56 km from the province town in Nong Han district, Ban Chiang is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and was registered as a World Heritage Site in 1992.

Ban Chiang museum is located by the protected excavation site and provides general information for the public about the site and its importance in ancient history. It is sectioned into various parts displaying antiques (pottery) and anything associated with the ancient culture of Ban Chiang. You can see ancient tools, household and pottery items, many of which are over 4,000 years old.

It should be higher than third on the must-see list. In TTR Weekly’s estimation it is one of the main reasons for visiting this town. The site is well preserved with examples of ancient decorated pottery. There is also a grave site where glass, jade, and bronze utensils apparently dating back to 2000 BC.

The museum is open to the general public daily, except Mondays, from 0900 to 1600. The admission fee is THB30 for Thais and THB150 for foreigners. For additional information call 042 208 340–41.

CentralPlaza Udonthani. Credit TripAdvisor

CentralPlaza Udonthani

Well, here is a stark contrast from your usual tourist attractions. CentralPlaza Udonthani is fourth on the list reviewed by 148 people. You have to go here to see where consumerism is heading in Udon. Located on Prajaksilapakom Road in the provincial town, it was acquired by Central Pattana in 2009. A major improvement project got underway that has since changed the shopping landscape of this northeast town.

CentralPlaza Udonthani celebrated its grand opening in 2012. The shopping mall includes a retail area of 22,000 square metres (240,000 sq ft), five floors of parking space and a new multi-purpose hall of 3,000 sqm (32,000 sq ft). It makes it an ideal venue for weddings, banquets and ensures the town can move into the lucrative events market possibly attracting company incentives mainly from Bangkok.

Phu Phrabhat Historical Park. Credit TripAdvisor

Phu Phrabhat Historical Park

Ranked fifth Phu Phrabhat Historical Park is one of the outstanding attractions in the province located in Ban Phue district.

This historical park is located at the foot of Mount Phu Phan, covering an area of 3,430 rai in Ban Tio, Mueang Phan subdistrict. It displays ancient civilisation and changes in landscape that over thousands of years saw sandstone eroded by nature to become strange rock formations of different sizes and patterns.

The park’s distinguishing feature is its unusual rock formations around which religious shrines have been constructed. Some formations also feature prehistoric rock paintings. The park was established by the Fine Arts Department of Thailand in 1991.

Reviewers are inspired. The natural landscape is pretty unique and features rock formations that seem to defy gravity they noted.

The park opens daily from 0800 to 1700. Admission is THB20 for Thais and THB100 for foreigners. For more information contact 042 250 616 and 042 251 350.

For full detail of top attractions visit: TripAdvisor Top must see attractions Udon Thani  

(Source: Top five attractions TripAdvisor 4 August 2017)