Getting to know the Isaan
Thailand’s northeastern portion is known as Isaan. Isaan borders Cambodia and Laos, which have had a direct influence on Isaan culture, cuisine, and religious beliefs. From a melange of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and practices to spicy cuisine and an entirely different dialect spoken, Isaan is in a world of its own compared to most Thai destinations.
Despite housing some of Thailand’s poorest areas, Isaan also boasts some of the country's most prized monuments. Among these is the historical site of Prasat Hin Phimai. Though little known by most travellers, this site is home to a Khmer-style temple complex that gives Angkor Wat a run for its money. In fact, historians believe this site was an inspiration for the yet-to-be-built Angkor complex. Located inside the town of Phimai, the temple marks one end of the Ancient Khmer Highway, which leads all the way from Angkor. For those seeking one of Thailand’s most striking, unique and less-visited destinations, this temple complex is an absolute must see.
The Isaan area can be reached via plane (flying into the regional airports of Nakhon Ratchasima, Udon Thani or Ubon Ratchathani), train by Bangkok or by car… for those who don’t mind a long drive out!