Visiting Isaan is an entirely different experience to travelling through the rest of Thailand. The food is hotter, the people speak differently and even aspects of Thai culture have been adapted for the Isaan way of life. Chances are that only experienced Thailand travellers will notice these changes from the norm, but it really does make for a refreshing change and is a must for those who’ve been to Thailand a few times.
You’ll find Isaan in the northeast of Thailand bordering Laos and Cambodia. You can visit all these countries by going to one of Isaan’s four main border crossings. The land in Isaan is completely flat and used for farming throughout the year despite some very infertile soil and occasional droughts. This is probably why the area is not as prosperous as other regions in Thailand. Isaan gets its name from the Hindu god of death. It may not inspire happy holiday thoughts but is integral to the area’s history.
Isaan is home to several significant archaeological sites. Angkorian temple ruins are scattered throughout the region. The Phimai ruins are the most accessible, but dedicated travellers will head up the hills to Phanom Rung for a more authentic experience. Don’t miss the prehistoric cliff paintings near Khong Chiam.
Who knows what you’ll find by hiking through the countryside? Many areas in Isaan haven’t been touched by the 21st century, so you may find something that hasn’t officially been discovered yet. You could also traverse through Khao Yai National Park. You’ll discover thick forests and huge karsts.
We love Isaan because it’s so different from the rest of Thailand – and for its sensational spices. All the food here is spicier and stronger than the rest of Thailand. So, if you don’t like chillies you might not do as well here. However, if you think you can handle the spicy stuff, try som tam (a spicy green papaya salad), nam prik pla ra (chilli paste with fermented fish) and Isaan sausages during your stay.
When you visit Isaan, you’ll feel like the rest of Thailand has forgotten about this region and that it has been allowed to evolve in its own way.
Plan your trip to Isaan today.