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Introducing Northeastern Thailand

For most travellers, and many Thais, the northeast is Thailand’s forgotten backyard. Isan (or ìsǎan), the collective name for the 19 provinces that make up the northeast, offers a glimpse of the Thailand of old: rice fields run to the horizon, water buffaloes wade in muddy ponds, silk weaving remains a cottage industry, peddle-rickshaw drivers pull passengers down city streets, and, even for those people who’ve had to seek work in the city, hearts and minds are still tied to the village. This colossal corner of the country continues to live life on its own terms: slowly, steadily, and with a profound respect for heritage and history.

If you spend even just a little time here you’ll start to find as many differences as similarities to the rest of the country. The language, food and culture are more Lao than Thai, with hearty helpings of Khmer and Vietnamese thrown into the melting pot.

And spend time here you should. Isan saves its finest surprises for those with the patience to come looking for them: Angkor temple ruins pepper the region, superb national parks protect some of the wildest corners of the country, sleepy villages host some of Thailand’s wildest celebrations and the scenery along parts of the Mekong is often nothing short of amazing. Thailand’s tourist trail is at its bumpiest here (English is rarely spoken), but the fantastic attractions and daily interactions could just end up being highlights of your trip.