The northeast is Thailand’s forgotten backyard. Isan (ee·săhn), as it’s usually called, offers a glimpse of the Thailand of old: rice fields run to the horizon, water buffalo wade in muddy ponds, silk weavers work looms under their homes, and pedal-rickshaw riders pull passengers down city streets.
Spend even just a little time here and you’ll discover as many differences as similarities to the rest of Thailand. The language, food and culture are more Lao than Thai, with hearty helpings of Khmer and Vietnamese thrown into the mix. And spend time here you should, because it’s home to some of Thailand’s best historic sites, national parks and festivals. The tourist trail is a bit more challenging here if you don't speak any Thai, but the fantastic attractions and daily interactions could end up being highlights of your trip.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Northeastern Thailand.