The Isan Province of northeast Thailand sees few tourists, and it is the least developed region in the country. However, Isan can be a strikingly original vacation for those looking to explore the culture of Thailand and escape the tourist crowds.
The province has a much lower level of English spoken, and there are few tourist amenities. However, the cultural activities are spectacular, especially if you can make it to one of the major festivals at one of the more substantial Buddhist or Khmer temples.
Located mainly in the southern part of Isan, the Khmer temples are reasonably far apart making it difficult to see more than a few of them. We'd recommend Phanom Rung as it is large, partially restored, and sits on top of an extinct volcano. Some people say that it's the original blueprint for Angkor Wat, and few would deny that it's awe-inspiring (plus there are far fewer tourists!).
In many villages in the province, there is a small weekly festival - or "mor lam" - every Friday and Saturday night in a field or a temple. The celebrations are a mixture of a multiplicity of traditional songs, dances, and costumes are broken up by original skits or small speeches. Though they're a great deal of fun, many tourists miss them when taking a holiday in Thailand because they're off the beaten path.
The food is excellent too and is famous in Thailand for being spicy and its incredible and unique flavours are not found elsewhere in the country. While there are no beaches, few English speakers, and even fewer tourists, the historical and cultural experience visitors can have makes the Isan province well worth considering for your holiday in Thailand.
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