Isan(Thailand), Foodies are welcome

Isan, also known as Northeastern Thailand, is a culturally rich and fascinating region that is often overlooked by tourists visiting Thailand. Isan is a large region that covers 20 provinces in the northeastern part of the country, bordering Laos and Cambodia. In this article, we will explore the history of Isan, how to get there, the top sights to see, and the delicious cuisine that the region is known for.


The history of Isan dates back thousands of years, with evidence of human settlement in the region dating back to the prehistoric era. The earliest known civilization in Isan was the Dvaravati Kingdom, which existed from the 6th to 11th centuries. The Dvaravati people were skilled in agriculture and irrigation, and their influence can still be seen in the region today.

In the 12th century, the Khmer Empire expanded into Isan, and many of the region’s most famous historical sites were built during this time. The most well-known of these sites is the incredible Angkor Wat temple complex, which is located just across the border in Cambodia.

Isan was later ruled by the Lao Kingdom of Lan Xang, and then by the Siamese Kingdom of Ayutthaya. During the 19th century, Isan became a buffer zone between the French and Siamese Empires, with the French colonizing Laos and Cambodia on Isan’s borders.

Today, Isan is a vibrant and diverse region that is home to a fascinating blend of cultures and traditions. The region is known for its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and delicious cuisine.

How to get there

There are several ways to get to Isan from Bangkok, which is the most common starting point for visitors to Thailand. The easiest way to get to Isan is by flying into one of the region’s main cities, such as Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, or Nakhon Ratchasima. These cities have airports that are serviced by several airlines, including Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, and Nok Air.

Alternatively, visitors can take a train or bus from Bangkok to Isan. The train journey takes approximately 8-10 hours and is a great way to see the countryside. There are also several bus companies that operate services to Isan, with journey times ranging from 6-10 hours depending on the destination.

Once in Isan, the best way to get around is by hiring a car or motorbike. Taxis and tuk-tuks are also available in the cities, but they can be expensive and are not always readily available in rural areas.


Isan is home to some of Thailand’s most impressive historical and natural attractions. Here are some of the top sights to see in the region:

  1. Phimai Historical Park – This stunning temple complex is located in Nakhon Ratchasima province and dates back to the 11th century. The complex is similar in design to the famous Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia and is a must-see for anyone interested in ancient history.
  2. Khao Yai National Park – This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to some of Thailand’s most breathtaking natural scenery. Visitors can explore the park’s lush rainforests, spot wildlife such as elephants and tigers, and enjoy stunning views from its many viewpoints.
  3. Ban Chiang Archaeological Site – This prehistoric site is located in Udon Thani province and dates back to the Bronze Age. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
  4. Wat Phra That Phanom – This revered temple is located in Nakhon Phanom province and is one of the most important

Buddhist sites in Isan. The temple is said to contain a relic of the Buddha and is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over the world.

  1. The Mekong River – The Mekong River forms the border between Thailand and Laos and is a popular destination for tourists. Visitors can take a boat ride along the river, explore the local markets, and enjoy the stunning scenery.
  2. Phu Kradueng National Park – This national park is located in Loei province and is known for its stunning scenery and hiking trails. Visitors can hike to the top of Phu Kradueng mountain, which offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.


Isan cuisine is known for its bold and spicy flavors, with a heavy emphasis on herbs and spices. The region’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its neighbors, Laos and Cambodia, and is known for its use of sticky rice, grilled meats, and spicy salads.

One of the most famous dishes in Isan is som tam, which is a spicy salad made from green papaya, chilies, lime juice, and fish sauce. Another popular dish is larb, which is a spicy minced meat salad made from chicken, pork, or beef.

Isan is also known for its grilled meats, which are often served with sticky rice and a variety of dipping sauces. Some of the most popular grilled meats in Isan include mu ping (grilled pork skewers) and gai yang (grilled chicken).

In addition to its savory dishes, Isan is also famous for its sweet desserts. One popular dessert is khao niao mamuang, which is sticky rice served with fresh mango and sweet coconut milk.


Isan is a fascinating and culturally rich region that is definitely worth a visit for anyone traveling to Thailand. Its rich history, stunning natural scenery, and delicious cuisine make it a unique and unforgettable destination. Whether you’re interested in exploring ancient temples, hiking in national parks, or sampling spicy salads and grilled meats, Isan has something for everyone.

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