In January 2013, the Tourism Authority of Thailand organized a major four-day travel show, the “Amazing I-San Fair 2013,” to promote Northeast Thailand, set to be the next major tourism boom region. The show provided showcasing and networking opportunities for a number of superb travel and tourism products, both current and emerging.
With 20 provinces, many of which straddle the Mekong River and share a border with both Laos and Cambodia, the region boasts a variety of tourism products in terms of arts, culture and cuisine, religions, traditions, folk music, local handicrafts, festivals and archaeological discoveries. Visitor arrivals to the region, including both foreign and domestic, totalled 30.2 million in 2011, up from 26.6 million in 2010.
The Northeast is shaping up as an important part of the Asian Highway, and the East-West and North-South Economic Corridors, a huge network of highways which will link the South China Sea with the Bay of Bengal, and Singapore with Kunming. In the next few years, these highways will make it possible to drive comfortably throughout the Greater Mekong Subregion. In addition, low-cost airlines are providing strong connectivity between the cities of this region.
Air: The Northeast’s major airports are Khon Kaen, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, Roi Et, Buriram and Loei. Most domestic flights to and from Bangkok operate to and from Don Mueang Airport, while Thai Airways flights serve at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Road: More than 15,000 kms of highway criss-cross the region, traceable back to the network built by the United States to supply its military bases in the 1960s and 1970s.
Bus: All provincial cities are connected to Bangkok by daily and nightly, direct, air-conditioned bus routes.
Rail: Two railway lines connect the region to Bangkok, with daily services. One runs east from Khorat, through Surin to Ubon Ratchathani; the other runs north through Khon Kaen and Udon Thani to Nong Khai.
UNESCO Heritage Sites and Other Interesting Places
Here are some of the region’s most fascinating sights:
Ban Chiang Archaeological Site — Considered the most important prehistoric settlement so far discovered in Southeast Asia, Ban Chiang was the centre of a remarkable phenomenon of human cultural, social and technological evolution. Discovered in 1966, the site is located 55 kms from Udon Thani province.
Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex — spans 230km between Ta Phraya National Park on the Cambodian border and Khao Yai National Park, the site is home to hundreds of species of flora and fauna, birds and animals. The area contains substantial and important tropical forest ecosystems.
Ubon Ratchathani: the largest province of Northeast Thailand probably best known as a gateway to Laos. Known one of the world’s most spectacular exhibitions of candle-wax sculpture.
Nong Khai: The first Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge over the Mekong linking the Thai province of Nong Khai and Lao capital of Vientiane was opened in 1994 with Australian government funding.
Mukdahan: A second Friendship Bridge between Thailand and Laos opened on Dec. 20, 2006 linking two provinces on both sides of the Mekong river, viz., Savannakhet in Laos and Mukdahan in Thailand.
Nakhon Phanom: The Third Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge, linking Nakhon Phanom province in Thailand with Thakhek, Khammouane in Laos was opened in November 2011.
Recommended attractions are Phanom Rung Historical Park in Buriram, Farm Chokchai in Nakhon Ratchasima, and Dan Kwian a village noted for unique pottery widely used for interior and outdoor decoration.
Some Products & Services which exhibited at the Amazing I-San Fair 2013
Charoen Hotel: Located in the heart of Udon Thani’s business and shopping center, surrounded by beautiful greenery. All its 239 rooms are tastefully decorated and fully equipped. Contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kosa Hotel: Claims to be the first first-class property in Khon Kaen, boasting a superb central location and adjacent to a shopping mall. Along with 200 deluxe rooms and suites, the hotel can accommodate several sizes of conference and banquet rooms, including a grand ballroom for more than 1,000 people. www.kosahotel.com
Rungyen Resort: Six hours drive from Bangkok, located in a highland area with cool climate and the scenic beauty. Thai food uses fresh vegetable from home-grown hydroponics and local farm. Serves Chateau de Loei white or red wines, Thai’s first premium wine. www.rungyenresort.com (in Thai)
Fountain Tree Resort Cowboy & Adventure World, Nakhon Ratchasima: Country-style resort covering over 100 acres of natural ambience. Various fun and adventurous activities based on cowboy and country themes, such as ATV car, paint ball, archery, ancient gunshot, water challenge, water bicycle, nano-bike, games zone, etc. Good for theme parties and seminars memorable. Has 152 rooms and nine garden bungalows. www.fountaintreeresort.com (in Thai)
Phanomrungpuri Hotel (Buriram Hotel): A Khmer boutique style in Nang Rong, Buriram, with the mixture of local lower-northeastern Thai and Khmer art. Located 320 kms from Bangkok and only 20 kms from Phanom Rung Historical Park and Mueang Tam Sanctuary. Convention Hall can take 170 people for meetings, seminars, banquets and weddings. www.phanomrungpuri.co.th
The Loei Palace Hotel: Located next to the city park with 156 rooms and suites, meeting rooms and a ballroom. An excellent launchpad for exploring Loei, including the Phu Rua, Phu Kradung and Phu Luang National Parks. A tour to the Loei winery and vineyards can be arranged. www.oamhotels.com/loeipalace/
The Piano Resort Khao Yai: claims to be the first and only musical resort in Thailand that blends music and its value with all the services to truly refresh body and mind and reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Everything is designed to perfectly combine nature and music. Ideal point of departure for your excursions in Khao Yai/Nakhonratchasima. www.thepianoresort.com (in Thai)
Husband and Wife Guest House and Handicraft: derives its unique concept from the sophistication of ethnic pride, northern philosophy and the art of living in harmony with local family. Located just steps away from the Mekong River, the three-floor wooden guesthouse is designed in Lanna and Isan style with an exotic garden and handicraft shop where guests will find many original artworks and unique woven fabrics. www.facebook.com/HusbandandWifeGroup
UD TOWN: One of the largest lifestyle open-air malls, open since December 2009. The 13,000-square-metre are has more than 90 shops, including TESCO Lotus supermarket and UD Bazaar lifestyle market. Udon Thani is also one of the cities most heavily populated with retired expats. The mall attracts people from neighbouring Northeastern provinces as well as from Bangkok and Vientiane, Laos. www.goudtown.com
Mile High Playhouse Khaoyai: is the first theatre in Khao Yai, Nakon Ratchasima province. The Mile High Playhouse Semi-open standard theater has a seating capacity of 337, two conference rooms with capacity of 60 seats and 120 seats, both which can be opened to allow participants to experience nature and see the Khao Yai mountain. www.milehighplayhouse.com (Thai version)
All Green Learning Center: Located at the fringe of the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site, Khao Yai National Park, the center seeks to create awareness, educate and provide alternative ways of interacting and adapting to our environment. Based on the belief that learning for alternative models and distributed solutions for self-sustainable development is almost non-existent in schools, colleges and even universities, the AGLC provides hands-on training for practical solutions, and various other fun and educational activities. AGLC does this by using real-life working demonstrations and displays the concepts in a fun and sustainable environment. The priority for AGLC is Sustainable Human Consumption though education. www.allgreenlearningcenter.org
Jiva Hair Health Treatment Center: Services based on latest Hair Technology and Ayuravedic Method of hair revitalization.
Offer intensive hair treatment with fresh herbs. The center, which combines the modern medicine and traditional Thai medicine. www.herbforhair.com or www.thaiherb.com
Rice Mind (a health drink): Rice Mind is 100% natural healthy cereal drink made from Thai Jasmine Brown Rice. GMO free, fat free, lactose free, hypoallergenic and easily absorbed by the body. for the health conscious consumers as well as those who are allergic to other cereals. Further details, www.ricemind.com