Mar 5, 2020
Isaan Food in Udan Thani, Thailand
Location : Udon Thani, Thailand
What is Isaan?
Isaan is the local word for 'Northeast of Thailand', consisting of its 20 provinces. Apparently, there is no specific Udon Thani cuisine. Locals refer to their culinary tradition simply as Isaan. Mostly, because of the diaspora of Vietnamese and Chinese into the region, plus cross-border migration from Cambodia and Laos, Isaan could simply mean a fusion of all these flavors and tradition which could be Vietnamese-Thai, Northern Thai, Lao-Thai, Cambodian-Thai and Chinese-Thai. If eating is not enough and you want to roll up your sleeves and get dirty in the kitchen, the only choice is to attend the cooking class at Isaan Workshop.
My first indulgence in Udon Thani was food - of course! My constant question to the locals was, "What is a special Udon Thani cuisine and where can I find it?" My next meal comes from their reply. Moreover, they told me that the popular food in Udon Thani is not necessarily unique to the city - more like unique to the Northeastern region of Thailand. A lot of the dish names were new to me - Cao Pia, Gaeng Sen Kai, Larb Moo, etc. Although somewhat similar already to most of the better known Thai dishes, they offered a unique flavor and twist. None disappointed - but nothing surprising about that. If there is anything consistently good about Thailand, it's the food.
Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Udon Thani may have the largest concentration of Vietnamese in Thailand. There is even a Ho Chi Minh Museum just 10 km outside city center. Apparently, there have been 3 waves of Vietnamese migration into Thailand, escaping the horrors of World War II. In 1945, there was a diaspora of as many as 46,000 Vietnamese who came into Udon Thani. Currently, the Vietnamese are on its third generation here already. Some have intermarried with the local Thais and some have changed their names into Thai (to escape discrimination). They made efforts to assimilate while holding on to their roots and tradition. This can be seen in the numerous Vietnamese restaurants or Thai-Vietnamese fusion in the regional cuisine. This is similar to the Peranakan phenomenon in Malaysia where the fusion of the Chinese and the Malays spawned a cultural renaissance not unlike that of the Italian renaissance. But to get a better appreciation of this renaissance, best to head out to this area clustered between the Sri Suk Post Office and the Mosque where you see a concentration of Vietnamese-inspired Thai cuisine.
The Isaan cuisine is perhaps unique to the Northeast - similar to Thai but with a pleasant and familiar twist if you've been around Southeast Asia. It's hard to describe taste. Let me just say that 9 days is not enough to cover its culinary offering. Come to Udan Thani and experience this gastronomic indulgence!
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
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Next stop: Vientiane Revisited
Udon Thani Travel Information / Tips
Phitsanulok to Udon Thani by bus
You can either go to the Bus Terminal 1 or 2 in Phitsanulok for a bus bound for Udon Thani. There are more trips from Terminal 2. But I ended up in Terminal 1 (window 34) where you only have 2 daily trips: 9:30 am and 10:30pm. B293, 6 hours. From Terminal 1 Phitsanulok, you will be taken to Bus Station 2 (and it will not go to Bus Station 1 which is further east) in Udon Thani. You may have to take a tuk-tuk if your hotel is near Station 1. Tuk-tuk/motorcycles inside the bus station will over-charge you from B100-B150. Just wait for the city bus that goes inside Station 2 - only B20. Inside the bus, you'll see a map with the bus' red-line route. Use this as your guide where to get off.
Udon Thani Attractions
- Night Market -
- Nong Prajak Public Park -
- Phu Prabhat Historical Park -
- Ban Chiang Museum -
- Wat Phothisomphon -
- Thai-Chinese Cultural Center -
Udon Thani Blogs by TheLoneRider
- Isaan Food in Udan Thani, Thailand Mar 5, 2020
- Low Season (2020) Feb 29, 2020
- Thai Food Cooking at ISaan Workshop Feb 26, 2020
- Movie Review: Parasite Feb 25, 2020
- Abundance in Udon Thani, Thailand Feb 25, 2020
Travel Tips for Thailand
How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days
- Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
b) flight booking to Thailand
c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
d) filled-in tourist visa form
e) 2 passport pictures
f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
g) passport with at least 6 months validity
- After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
- NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.
60-Day Thai Tourist Visa
NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.
- bring the following to the Immigration Office:
a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
b) Baht 1900
c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
- submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
- when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
- when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
- when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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