A tour of Isaan

Steeped in rich culture, Thailand's north-eastern portion is one of Thailand’s less visited areas. Leave with your driver and guide from Bangkok on an epic journey right into the very heart of Isaan taking in Khmer temples, Lao-influenced culture and glorious scenery along the way. 

Touring style: Professional English speaking guide and driver, private basis.

Best time to visit: November to February. The weather is dry and cool and the flowers are in bloom.

A tour of Isaan at a glance
  • Day 1: Bangkok - Ayutthaya - Korat
  • Day 2: Korat - Buriram
  • Day 3 Buriram to Surin
  • Day 4: Surin - Ubon Ratchathani - Khong Jiam
  • Day 5 Khong Jiam to Pha Taem National Park
  • Day 6: Khong Jiam - Nakhon Phanom
  • Day 7: Nakhon Phanom - Nong Khai
  • Day 8: Nong Khai - Chiang Khan - Dan Sai
  • Day 9: Dan Sai
  • Day 10: Dan Sai - Phitsanulok - Sukhothai Departure
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Day 1: Bangkok - Ayutthaya - Korat

You will depart with your driver and guide and drive north to Ayutthaya to visit the highlights of the historical parks.

For 417 years, Ayutthaya stood as the capital of ancient Siam. Today, it is home to some of Thailand’s most important historical landmarks and a virtual treasure trove of evocative ruins that were once magnificent palaces, temples and fortresses. Among them are Wat Monkol Bophit, Wat Srisanpetch and Wat Panancherng, all of which feature colossal bronze statues of Buddha. Also of interest is Bang Pa-In, the summer home of early Chakri kings and the present home to a collection of fine art accumulated by King Rama V.

Proceed to Lopburi, visiting Phra Prang Sam Yod, a temple with three towers and impressive ornaments as well as the shrine of the Hindu Goddess Kali at the Sarn Prakarn Temple. Continue to the charming little town of Phimai northeast of Korat, known for the magnificent Khmer sanctuary of Prasat Hin. Visit the museum and Historical Park. Return to Korat with a short stop at one of the biggest Banyan Trees in Thailand. Overnight in Korat.

Distances and journey time:

Bangkok city – Ayutthaya (80.7 km): 1.13 hr

Ayutthaya - Prasat Hin Phimai, Korat (274 km): 3.30 hr

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Day 2: Korat - Buriram

After breakfast, visit the pottery village of Dan Kwian. The region of Korat is famous for its beautifully crafted pottery. Make a stop at Wat Khao Angkan, a lesser-known ancient temple from the same era as Prasat Hin Phanom Rung, as well as the site of the extinct volcano. 

In the afternoon, visit Phnom Rung Historical Park, one of the most impressive of all Khmer monuments in Thailand. Overnight in Buriram.

Distances and journey time:

Korat –Wat Khao Angkan (124 km): 1.50 hr

Wat Khao Angkan - Phanom Rung Historical Park (18.7 km): 30 min

Phanom Rung Historical Park – Buriram (71.6 km): 1 hr

Day 3: Buriram to Surin

Depart for Surin. On arrival, head towards the Silver Khwaosinarin Village where silverware is meticulously crafted.

In the afternoon, visit the silk weaving village of Ban Tha Sawang to admire the ancient silk weaving process and beautiful golden brocade Silk fabric. Overnight in Surin.

Distances and journey time:

Buriram – Surin (63.2 km): 1.10 hr

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Day 4: Surin - Ubon Ratchathani - Khong Jiam

After breakfast at the hotel, depart for “Tha Tum Elephant Village”. The Surin Project”, a project under a cooperation between the Save Elephant Foundation and the Surin Provincial Administrative Organization to help establish a world-class elephant sanctuary to focus on providing better conditions for all elephants in the centre. This excursion offers the chance to meet the elephants up close, along with the skilled Mahouts, and also to enjoy the elephant morning show.

On the way to Ubon Ratchathani, you will stop at the Sikhoraphum Sanctuary to see a Khmer temple and the only Apsara sculptures found in Thailand.

Continue to the easternmost town of the Siamese border – Khong Jiam district located on the Mekong and the Mun Rivers. Overnight in Khong Jiam.

Distances and journey time:

Surin town – Tha Tum Elephant Village (57 km): 54 min

Tha Tum Elephant Village – Sikhoraphum District (87.9 km): 1.20 hr

Sikhoraphum District – Wat Thung Sri Muang (138 km): 1.54 hr

Wat Thung Sri Muang – Khong Jiam District (73.2 km): 1.20 hr

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Day 5: Khong Jiam - Pha Taem - Khong Jiam

After breakfast, depart to Pha Taem National Park to see the pre-historic cliff paintings, which date back some 2000 to 3000 years. After familiarising yourself at the Visitor Center located on top of this massive rock formation, walk down the trail from where you will not only see the cliff paintings but can also enjoy superb views of the Mekong river and neighbouring Laos.

Head to the village on the Mekong River, just below the cliffs, to board a local boat. the journey proceeds along this narrow and interesting part of the Mekong River and you will transfer by car to Kaeng Tana, the biggest cataract in the middle of the Moon River to view the beautiful waterfalls. (Note: Kaeng Tana is best seen during dry season)

Return to the resort for dinner and overnight.

Distances and journey time:

Khong Jiam – Pha Taem National Park (51.5 km): 1.19 hr

Day 6: Khong Jiam to Nakhom Phanom

Continue northwards, through beautiful Mekong mountain scenery following the river to Mukdahan. Visit a traditional Lao-Isaan village on the Korat Plateau, where you can interact with the villagers. Hear about age-old customs and try your hands at local crafts. Make a stop at Phra That Phanom, a highly revered sacred monument for both the Thai and Laotian people for centuries.

Dinner and overnight in Nakhon Phanom.

Distances and journey time:

Khong Jiam – Mukdahan (197 km): 2.55 hr

Mukdahan – Phra That Phanom (53.5 km): 53 min

Phra That Phanom – Nakhon Phanom (55.7 km): 43 min

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Day 7: Nakhon Phanom - Nong Khai

This morning, make a visit to the House of Ho Chi Minh at Najok Village. The place is of great historical importance because President Ho Chi Minh stayed here for seven years (1924-1931) when he was the leader of the resistance movement against the French. Drive to Udon Thani via Sakon Nakhon with a stop at “Phra That Choeng Chum” an ancient Sakon Nakhon historical site.

Visit Ban Chiang Archeological Site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of History since 1992. The village is best known for the beautiful pottery the villagers used to make in ancient times.

In the late afternoon, a visit is paid to “Wang Nam Mok” Homestay – a local community project. A warm traditional welcome awaits you before checking in at the homestay. This afternoon, you will enjoy many opportunities to interact with the villagers,  stroll around the rice paddies, take part in their daily activities. In the evening, the villagers will perform the impressive traditional Baci Ceremony, blessing visitors for safe travels, health and good luck. The ceremony is followed by dinner, dining on delicious local specialities.

Distances and journey time:

Nakhon Phanom – Najok Village (2.8 km): 6 min

Najok Village –Ban Chiang Archaeological Site (197 km): 2.50 hr

Ban Chiang Archaeological Site – Wang Nam Mok (162 km): 2.31 hr

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Day 8: Nong Khai - Chiang Khan - Dan Sai

An early start today joining the homestay host for the Buddhist morning alms giving. Join your host family for a short trek to the beautiful “Nam Mok” Waterfall.

After bidding farewell to your host family, continue driving to Loei province. Stop to take a boat trip along the Mekong River at Chiang Khan and visit the charming riverside town characterised by rows of teak shop houses. Arrive in Loei in time to enjoy a stroll around the small town centre. Dinner and overnight in Dan Sai.

Distances and journey time:

Wang Nam Mok – Chiang Khan District (Loei) (147 km): 2.22 hr

Chiang Khan District – Dan Sai District (140 km): 2.16 hr

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Day 9: Dan Sai

Early morning visit to Phra That Sri Song Rak, located on the bank of the Mun River. This large Lao-style pagoda houses relics of the Lord Buddha. Make a visit to the Dan Sai Folk Museum with an excellent display on the history, culture and costumes of the Phi Ta Khon Festival as well as the old tradition of Dansai District. You have an opportunity to experience with the mask painting and purchase a handmade souvenir to take home.

Make a stop at Chateau de Loei and Vineyard. You can sample the grapes, try the passion fruit juice and nibble on fresh vegetables from the orchard and farm – and there’s wine tasting! (Chateau de Loei is open daily from 08:00 – 17:00)

Dinner and overnight in Dan Sai.

Distances and journey time:

Wang Nam Mok – Chiang Khan District (Loei) (147 km): 2.22 hr

Chiang Khan District – Dan Sai District (140 km): 2.16 hr

Day 10: Dan Sai - Phitsanulok - Sukhothai

After breakfast at the hotel, drive through spectacular mountain scenery to Phitsanulok. Visit Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahathat, the most important monastery of Phitsanulok. Continue to Sukhothai Airport for a flight to Bangkok or continue with your Northern Thailand adventure to Chiang Mai and the Golden Triangle.

Distances and journey time:

Dan Sai District - Phitsanulok (147 km): 2.056 hr

Phitsanulok – Sukhothai Airport (84.2 km): 1.15 hr

Highlights

Ayutthaya

The capital of the Siamese Kingdom between the 14th and 18th centuries, Ayutthaya was widely proclaimed by visiting merchants and emissaries the finest they had seen

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