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Ubon Ratchathani is a city in Isaan, (North East Thailand). It is the Capital City of the Province of this name. It is often referred to as simply Ubon, it should not be confused with "Udon" (Udon Thani), to the north.
The grandly named Ubon Ratchathani International Airport (UBP) in reality serves only flights to Bangkok most of the year. Nok Air has 7 daily flights to Bangkok Donmueang. Thai Airways has two daily non-stop flights between Bangkok and Ubon and return. Air Asia has two daily non-stop flights between Bangkok and Ubon and return year-round. AirAsia operates 3 weekly flights between Phuket and Ubon from October to March and between Chiang Mai and Ubon from November to March. Flight time is 50 minutes in Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 aircraft.
Both taxis and limousines can serve destinations outside of Ubon such as Chong Mek and Mukdahan. Prices must be negotiated beforehand.
The main bus station is the BKS (Bor Kor Sor) station known as Mo Chit or Mo Chit Mai, in the north part of the city. As is common in Thailand there are many competing bus services to major and minor destinations.
The Nakhonchai Air private bus company has frequent, well-maintained buses that go to Bangkok, Pattaya, Chonburi and Rayong. Nakhonchai Air has its own private terminal in Ubon. Buses start their journey at this terminal and then continue to Ubon Bus Terminal. The company also has a private terminal in Bangkok.
Daily trains connect with Bangkok and stop at all the southern Isaan provincial capitals (Si Saket, Surin, Buriram, and Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat)). The station is to the south of the city on the opposite side of the Mun River in Warin Chamrap; buses 2 and 6 connect to the center.
A bus/songthaew network with 13 fixed routes operates around the city. Most routes are numbered and colour-coded; pick up a map at the Ubon TAT office.
Alternatively, there are plenty of tuk-tuks puttering and samlors pedaling around. There are also meter taxis, but do not expect them to use the meter. Bargain to where you want to go.
To enjoy the beautiful tracks and peaceful ways outside the city, and to get to know more from Ubon, moving free toward the different neighborhoods, rent a bicycle.
What to see
Ubon is a little short on must-see sights, although there are a few mildly interesting temples.
Thung Si Muang Park
Located at the center of town in front of City Hall, this pleasant little park has several points of interest:
A bright yellow elaborately carved candle sculpture, completed in 2000, standing 22 meters tall and dedicated to the King, showcases Isaan art styles and has become the symbol of the city. The candle is placed on a junk, with a garuda eagle at the bow and a naga serpent around it.
A statue of Phra Phatumvoraratsuriyawang commemorates the tersely named founder of the town.
A Monument of Merit has been erected by former World War II POWs to commemorate the kindness of the people of Ubon.
At one temple a local pointed out a small bus that tours at least 7 temples: useful for temple addicts! (no further details)
Wat Thung Si Muang (Luang Rd) is primarily notable for its wooden scripture hall (hor trai), on stilts above a pond to stop ants and termites. The monastery itself was built in the reign of Rama III to house a replica of Buddha's footprint. The Ayutthaya-style bot is currently being repaired.
Wat Nong Pah Pong is the forest monastery of the late venerable Ajahn Chah, one of the most famous meditation masters in Thailand in recent times. About 70 monks live here, and there is a small museum and a stupa (or chedi) with the relics of Ajahn Chah to visit. A few foreign monks live here, also.
Ubon's biggest event is the Candle Festival, held in early July on Khao Phansa day, which marks the beginning of the rainy season retreat. During three months, monks do not leave their temple, unless for an emergency, and lay people vow to abstain from taking alcohol as well as to refrain from any negative action. Huge wax candles are displayed in Thung Si Muang park, which are carried around town in a procession the next morning.
A less well-known illuminated boat procession is also held in October to mark the end of the rainy season (Ok Phansa).