Few cities in Isan reward aimless wandering as richly as Ubon Ratchathani (อุบลราชธานี). Survive the usual knot of choked access roads, and the 'Royal City of the Lotus' will reveal an altogether more attractive face. Racked up against Mae Nam Mun, Thailand's second-longest river, the historic heart of the city, south of Th Kueuan Thani, has a sluggish character rarely found in the region's big conurbations. And throughout the city there are many interesting temples beckoning cultural travellers.
Ubon grew prosperous as a US airbase during the Vietnam War and is now a financial, educational and agricultural market centre. It's not a busy tourist destination, but the nearby Thai–Lao border crossing at Chong Mek generates a small but steady stream of travellers who by and large enjoy their visit.