Udon ThaniIsaan region of Thailand. Often referred to as Udon or Udorn (อุดร), the city should not be confused with Ubon — Ubon Ratchathani in southeastern Isaan.
Udon had a USAF airbase during the Vietnam War that increased its wealth and importance. Surrounded by one of the major agricultural areas of the country, Udon Thani has become a regional hub for agriculture, commercial distribution, shopping and a fledgling tourism industry.
The airbase closed in 1976, there was a U.S. consulate until 1995, and there is still a Voice of America radio station. Because of this American presence, many Thais were well-paid and learned English, making them more marketable to foreign labour recruiters. A lot of Udon citizens have worked or are working overseas, particularly in Middle East oil fields. This has contributed both to the wealth of the area and its desirability as an expat destination. More than 5,000 expats from Europe, Australia and North America have settled in the area.
Udon Thani AirportHas several 50-min daily flights to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi ) (Thai Airlines: around 2,500 baht) or (Don Mueang ) (Air Asia from 500 baht and Nok Air from 1,250 baht if booked well in advance). There are also direct flights to Chiang Mai, Loei and Phuket (Air Asia flies to Phuket with tickets often around 1,000-1,200 baht, which is comparable to a 2-night bus/train trip via Bangkok).
To get to the city there is a limousine service (actually a minibus) for 80 baht/person that will drop you and other passengers at the location of your choice. Minibus tickets are available in the booth just to the right as you leave the terminal building. If there are more than two of you, it may be cheaper to call a taxi (Tel. +66 42 323239) or to use Grab ride-hailing service, which (as of January 2019) costs 160 baht to/from central Udon. Taxis are not permitted to wait for passengers at the airport, but some do it anyway, asking 200-400 baht for the 4 km journey. Some hotels have pickup services and may take an extra passenger or two if space permits. Some long distance buses to Khon Kaen were seen in the airport, with numerous people boarding them. No local Udon Thani songthaews have been seen near the airport.
If you are travelling on to Nong Khai, there is a bureau straight ahead of you when you get to the arrivals hall which sells minivan tickets to Nong Khai. They have a minibus which meets most flights and for 200 baht they will load you into a minivan. It takes one hour to reach Nong Khai and if you ask the driver he will take you to your hotel, or drop you off at the Thai side of the Friendship Bridge. You can then proceed into Laos.
By busThere are four bus stations in the city:
City Centre Bus Station, Station 1The city's main bus station is near Central Plaza.
Bus Station 2Buses to and from northern Thailand such as Loei, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai. A tuk-tuk into the city costs about 100 baht from there (Dec 2014). Songthaew 7 will take you there as well.
Bus Station 3Third-class buses to Nong Khai.
Nakhonchai Air Bus Terminal Udon ThaniFirst class and VIP day and overnight buses to Bangkok. Nakhonchai Air has a high reputation for quality, and for managing its drivers to drive safely. Buses from Bangkok also stop at Bus Station 1 when arriving in Udon Thani, before terminating at their own terminal. Nakhonchai Air has buses departing to Bangkok at 08:50; 09:40; 19:00; 20:50; 21:25; 22:00; and 22:45. Travel time is about 7-9 hours depending on traffic.
Udon-BangkokBuses from Bangkok (Mo Chit), an 8-hour journey, arrive at the BKS station in the city centre. BKS buses to Mo Chit depart at 20:00; 20:30; 21:00; and 21:20. Nakhonchai Air also runs buses to Bangkok.
Udon-Chiang MaiA VIP seat on a bus (e.g., Chackrapong Tour) costs 666 baht. (Dec 2014). The overnight journey takes 10½ hr. This has to be one of Thailand's worst bus trips as roads en route are small, rural, and winding. Those on the top of double decker buses may get queasy from all the toing-and-froing. Also, as the mid-point is one of Thailand's more remote areas, your bus may not make the customary 20-min break mid-way, or any break at all. Chackrapong buses to Udon drop you at the remote Bus Station 2, a reason to avoid it if you can by taking Phetprasert.
Phetprasert has three buses a day from Chiang Mai to Udon (and onto Nakhon Phanom). They leave Chiang Mai at 14:30, 17:30, and 19:30, arriving in Udon at 02:15, 05:15 and 05:30 respectively. Fare (Apr 2015) is 636 baht. Phetprasert drops passengers at Central Plaza Shopping Mall, a very good location in the centre (Mar 2015). Buses to Chiang Mai depart the shopping mall at 17:45, 18:45, and 20:45. Buy Phetprasert tickets in the city centre bus station, a 5-minute walk from the shopping mall.}}
Udon-Khon KaenAir conditioned buses and minivans depart from Udon's Bus Station 1 downtown. There are at least two departures per hour. Duration of the trip is roughly 90 min for the 125 km route. As the old "Non-air conditioned terminal" in downtown Khon Kaen is closed now, the bus will go straight to the Terminal 3 which is 6 km south on the city outskirts. The bus will pass through the city center though, and will stop a few times to drop off the people, so it may be wise to watch the map and get off at the location nearest to your hotel, then take a tuk-tuk or Grab there.
Udon-Nong KhaiBuses from several companies depart at least once per hour after 08:00 to Nong Khai, 1 hour, non-air conditioned 3rd class) on the Lao border. Buses from Nong Khai may drop you off north of the city. Follow the locals and hop on the waiting #6 songthaew to the bus station or take a tuk-tuk.
Udon-PattayaThe 407 Bus Company has daily 08:00, 18:30, and 20:55 buses to Pattaya. The morning bus takes about 12 hours as the bus makes many stops. Night buses take about 10 hr. Fare is 636 baht VIP (Nov 2015). The 407 Company has its office/bus stop near, but not in the city centre bus station. It's on the corner of the main street out the front of the bus station near the 7-Eleven.
Udon-VientianeThere are six express buses a day direct to the Morning Market in Vientiane (80 baht, 2 hours, air-con 1st class departures at 08:00, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00). Some companies will not sell this trip if you cannot show a visa. These cross-border buses will sometimes carry passengers who have not obtained their Lao visas in advance, but may not wait long enough at the border for a visa on arrival to be applied for and issued. This isn't a problem when the queues are short, but at busy times passengers who don't already have their visas may be left behind and have to continue by local bus or tuk-tuk. There is a notorious scam of foreigners charged up to 100 baht for a 2-min ride, plus 25 baht for the bridge crossing, plus tuk-tuk or taxi to Vientiane.
By trainDaily trains go to Nong Khai (45 min for a bargain 11 baht) and over the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River to Laos. Trains are also frequent to Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok. The overnight express sleeper to Bangkok is scheduled to take 9 hr 25 min, but usually takes longer. Nevertheless, it is still quite comfortable and pleasant, especially when taken in a sleeping berth or compartment. A daytime express train to Bangkok traverses a causeway over the large and scenic artificial lake created by the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam (in Lopburi Province). Connections to the major centres of southern Isaan (Buriram, Surin, Si Saket and Ubon Ratchathani) can be made in Nakhon Ratchasima for those who like to travel by rail.
In all, there are daily daytime trains, and three daily nighttime trains from Bangkok to Udon Thani and vice versa (most of which normally originate or terminate at Nong Khai), and several local trains to other destinations, including Nakhon Ratchasima.
Train StationThe Udon Thani train station is convenient, near the main tourist area and Central Plaza shopping complex.
By taxiThe main bus station, near Central Plaza has a taxi stand.
Grab ride-hailing service works in Udon as well, though prices start from 60 baht even for a shortest ride, and increase pretty quickly afterwards.
By bicycle taxiUdon Thani has many samlors (three-wheeled bicycle taxis), although as elsewhere, they are slowly succumbing to the pressures of the internal combustion engine.
By tuk-tukTuk-tuks, three-wheeled motorcycles, are readily available in most commercial areas. Negotiate a price for your journey before you get in. Note that in Udon Thani the locally made vehicles (called Skylabs) differ from those in most of Thailand outside Isaan in that their fronts are adapted motorcycles. If you travel to Laos, you will also see such vehicles (called "jumbos") there. Tuk-tuks prowl the streets on the lookout for tourists. Apart from long journeys the price should be around 30-50 baht. If you get into the bus station early in the morning and need a guest house they may pretend they can't speak English, drive you around in a small circle "looking" for guesthouses before dropping you around the corner from the station; however, some may not speak English and are just trying to be helpful. They will then ask for 100 baht for a 30-baht journey. There is plenty of accommodation within walking distance of the station.
By songthaewUdon Thani has a bus-like network of numbered pick up trucks with 2 benches in the back songthaews; cost is 8 or 10 baht per trip (10 baht outside the ring road).
Bicycle RentalBicycles are available for rent at the northeast corner of Nong Prajak Park.
Bicycles can also be rented by the day from Asia Backpackers and SPM House.
By motorbike or carMotorbike rentals are readily available at many locations in Udon Thani such as Soi samphanthamit. There are also many shops that accept online bookings.
If you wish to travel with a little more comfort, it is recommended to rent a car. The most well-established local car rental in Udon Thani is UD Car Rent, and you will find most major international car hire companies at Udon Thani Airport.
Ban ChiangAn archaeological dig that is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Both buses and inter-village songthaews will drop you off at the Ban Chiang turn-off.
Ban NakhaA village famous for selling hand woven silk and cotton garments. It is somewhat commercialised but a walk back from the road into the village can net some silk and cotton bargains.
Nong BuaA park with a lake just to the east of the railway line. It is noted for its Chinese pagodas over the lake and the dragon pole.
Phu Foi Lom Eco-ParkNumerous trails and rainy season waterfalls. South of Udon is a large wetlands area/lake called Khumpahawapi. In Oct, traditional dragon boat races are held on the lake. Within Khumpahawapi is a city park with a large troop of monkeys that have been living there for over a hundred years.
Phu Phrabat National ParkA marvelous ridge line with numerous sandstone edifices several thousand years old. Bronze age cave paintings are also within the park.
Red Lotus Lakephone: +66 89 395 0871address: Tambon Chiang Haeo, Kumphawapi DistrictTake a boat ride through a lake full of red flowers (they are red hardy water lilies) at the lake of Nong Han (หนองหาน). The bloom starts in October, but is best viewed from December to February during the morning. Bird watchers may also spot herons and other fowl. Boats and drivers are available for rent by the hour at the side of the lake, 300-500 baht. A suggested over night stay is the Ma Der Bua Hotel next to the lake. They also have a restaurant and provide a toilet for five baht.
Udon Sunshine Orchid FarmFamous for a variety of orchids, orchid-derived perfumes and plants that "dance to music".
Daytrip to Nong KhaiCatch a 45-minute train at either 08:34 or 11:42 to Nong Khai for 11 baht. Either catch train back at 13:03 or catch a mini bus back for 50 baht. Every 30 min from bus station. If you wish do rent a car and travel a little more comfortable, there many car rentals agencies available in Udon Thani, such as UD Car Rent, Avis, Budget.
Major CinemaWatch a film at Major Cinema in Central Plaza. Some movies in Thai and some in English so choose the appropriate showing.
Nong Prajak Lake ParkA large recreational area within the city and the primary site for locals to exercise and chill out. Consisting of a large lake/reservoir with several small islands, it features pleasant grassy areas and activities such as nightly aerobics (to Thai pop music) and feeding bread crumbs to the fish. For the more active, it's also popular for jogging or cycling (bike rentals available). Two paved pathways circle the lake: the inner one for cyclists, the outer one for those on foot. The circumference of the outer one is 3.3 km (2 mi). Most of the jogging path around the lake is ungated, but a portion is locked from 20:00-04:00.
Your Fitness Udon Thaniphone: +66 42 932933, +66 95 6576161address: 322/19 Prachaksilpakom RdOne of only a few gyms in Udon. Near Central Plaza and the railway station. Coordinates approximate.
Big CTwo locations. Hypermart, groceries, housewares, clothing.
phone: +66 42 110 5555address: 277/1-3 Prajaksillapakom RdUdon Thani's largest indoor shopping mall, featuring five floors of shopping, including Asia Books, a Robinson's department store, Tops Supermarket, Sizzler steakhouse, KFC, Pizza Company, Swensen's Ice Cream, Boots pharmacy, IT products, mobile phones, cineplex.
Landmark Plaza / TukComShopping complex with SFC Cinema.
MakroCheap bulk purchases.
Night MarketEat in and takeaway food.
Tesco LotusSupermarket with lower prices than Tops Supermarket at Central Plaza. Several locations. The most central one is in UD Town (hours: 07:00-24:00). The one on the north ring road is a Tesco-Lotus Extra (hours:08:00-23:00).
Tops market CentralPlazaphone: +66 42 249 207 x101address: 277/3 Prachuksilpakom RdWestern and Thai foodstuffs; salad bar; deli; bakery.
UD TownMall with a food court, Tesco Lotus store, three different Oishi restaurants, McDonald's, Swensen's Ice Cream, Pizza Company, WaWee Coffee and numerous retail businesses.
Bongkotch RestaurantPopular Thai restaurant with good food and low prices.
phone: +66 86 011 4627address: 298/15 Sayoutis RoadA wonderful hybrid: a restaurant serving Thai and Western food, a used bookshop, and a shop selling hard-to-find Western foodstuffs (Bovril, Marmite, Heinz beans, Vegemite, meat pies). A Brit, Ken is a terrific source of local info. Serves beer and wine. Good website. Free Wi-Fi.
The Good Corner Restaurant and Barphone: +66 98 2065125address: Nutty Park, Prachak RdOwned by a Danish lady, serves breakfast, pizza and Thai food. Great quality and decent prices.
Maeyaaaddress: 79-81 Rachapasadu Rd (ถ.ราชพัสดุ)Terrific family restaurant, an Udon institution. Three floors, crowded with Thais at mealtimes. Extensive photo menu and have an English menu available. Thai and Western food, but best to stick with the Thai. Also known for their extensive ice cream selection including banana splits. Air conditioned.
phone: +66 042-241-471address: 128/17 Ban Lao Rd., Soi 6 Udon Dutsadi, Udon Thani 41000International and Thai food, great quality & affordable prices. Serving Isaan food, Vegetarian food, Thai curries, Western breakfasts, Mexican & Italian food. Online ordering & delivery available.
Day and Night Bar ComplexAbout 17 beer bars in this open air, but covered, bar complex.
Nutty ParkL-shaped alley containing a dozen or more small bars popular with tourists and expats. Nutty Park contains what may be the best farang-oriented bar in Udon, the Good Shot Bar. It's clean and well lit, with nice hostesses and two pool tables. Serves Thai and Western food from two nearby restaurants.
phone: +66 98 345 0090address: 299/5 Prajak RdAlso rents bicycles for 100 baht per day. Great location.
Karin HotelSomewhat ageing, but cheap and convenient location.
Kumkaew Udonaddress: 146/1 Srisuk RoadAir-con double with own bathroom and cable TV. Free Wi-Fi.
phone: +66 42 243389address: Phimonrat Mansion 38/9 Moo 5 Robmuang RdRooms with air con, TV and fridge, Wi-Fi in and outside. Thai food & drinks are available (30-200 baht) and laundry on-site. Staff speak little English, but good Japanese. Thai owner has visited Europe extensively.
address: 249/1 Adunyadet RdPopular inexpensive hotel for long and short stay with English speaking management. Discount for long stays. Wi-Fi. Air-conditioned rooms.
SPM HouseDecent cheap rooms in good location. They also have a street side make shift bar outside. They also rent motorbikes for 200 baht per day and bicycles for 60 baht per day.
phone: +66 42 345015address: 35/3 Samphanthamit RdConvenient for bus and train stations, night market, UD Town Shopping Centre and Paolo Memorial Hospital. On the street with foreigner-oriented bars and pubs.
@ Home at Udonphone: +66 42 212 800address: 11/11 Sampanthamit RdThere's a lot to like about this unobtrusive hotel: great price, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, spotlessly clean, great location in the middle of the tourist entertainment zone, good water pressure, off-street parking. The only quibbles are no bedside reading lamp and no illumination for shaving.
address: 549 Phosri Rd250 standard rooms, 3 superior rooms and 2 suites, on a 10 acre area surrounded by garden and beautifully landscaped with swimming pools.
address: 19 / 5 - 6 Samphanthamit RdBar, restaurant, hotel that is and popular with Udon's expats. Bar open 08:30-23:00. Kitchen open 08:30-22:00. Big Christmas dinner every year. Adults, 595 baht; children, 295 baht. Free Wi-Fi.
phone: +66 81 974 3560address: Chiang Haeo, Kumphawapi DistrictHotel, bar, and restaurant at the side of Red Lotus Lake. Managed by very helpful and friendly couple. The lady speaks English. The village of Ban Diam and its temple and tourist market is within walking distance, but you may also borrow bikes if you want to go a bit further. Breakfast is included, as is Wi-Fi.
phone: +66 42 321282address: 549 Prachasanti RdCentral, clean, TV, air-con, Wi-Fi, parking lot. Daily rate and monthly rates are available.
phone: +66 42 224 579address: 99 Tongyai Rd, MakkhaengManaged by the English-speaking Dowdy, a highly competent and helpful lady. Their website is excellent and shows the four types of accommodation available. Suites have kitchen sink, microwave, large refrigerator. Spotlessly clean and welcoming. Advance reservations are recommended due to its popularity.
phone: +66 42 344081address: 338/8 Prajack RdCentral, close to the bus station and Central Plaza. Rooms have 29-inch TVs, air-con, Wi-Fi. Cheerful theme with cartoon characters. Canadian management.
phone: +66 81 8846334address: 113 Baan Nong Huaw MueNine standard rooms in large area surrounded by nice lagoon and beautiful garden.
phone: +66 42 346223-4, +66 42 346513-4address: 14 Moo 1, Udon-Nongbua Lampoo RdOn a 3-hectare area surrounded by garden and beautiful landscape. 115 standard rooms, 3 superior rooms, and 2 suites. Standard rooms are air-con with mini bar, radio, colour TV and Internet access.
Udon Star Palacephone: +66 42 246 808address: 75/3 Watthana NuwongRun by an elderly Frenchman whose presence is fleeting, the ground floor of the hotel is packed with vintage radios, musical instruments, passenger liner memorabilia and other fabulous knick-knacks. Historical photos of Udon abound. Rooms are huge, clean and eccentric. Pool or snooker table, table football, Wi-Fi and breakfast are all free.
phone: +66 42 930474address: 91/9 Nonglek Soi 7Offers 5 spacious accommodations in traditional Thai wooden house style. Simply furnished rooms offer air-con, a seating area and cable TV. En suite baths come with free toiletries and shower facilities. Free Wi-Fi. The hotel is next to a shopping complex.
Centara Hotel & Convention CentreGood rooms, amenities, and location. It is just behind, and connected to the Central Plaza Shopping Centre. The tiny, shallow pool on the fifth floor is surrounded by high walls.
address: 126 Moo 13, Um Chan, A PrachakSet in the countryside outside of Udon Thani, this villa has a swimming pool and offers fully serviced stays with freshly prepared Thai food at no additional cost. Fast and free Wi-Fi. Sleeps 2-6.
Green GeckoA traditionally-styled Thai house, has a swimming pool, and offers fully catered and serviced holidays. Sleeps 2-4.
phone: +66 88 0576875, +66 42 345111, +66 42 344999address: 19/8 Samphanthamit RdBeautiful city location with swimming pool, restaurant, rudimentary gym. Two meeting rooms and private car park. 5 minutes walk to bus and train stations. In the middle of Udon Thani, next to Day & Night, Central Plaza, UD Town Shopping Centre, and Bangkok Hospital. Strong free Wi-Fi. Excellent free buffet breakfast for guests, 06:00-10:00, and non-guests pay 250 baht (Jan 2017).
Rice Paddy VillaLooking directly over the surrounding rice fields, has a swimming pool and sleeps 2-4 guests. Finished in Thai-style with modern conveniences.
phone: +66 42 204444address: 135/135 Moo 14, Bankojan, Makkaeng5 room types. Superior, deluxe, sapphire suite, executive suite and penthouse. Air-con, wi-fi, color TV. Nice restaurant. From 2,000 baht/night
Smarthubphone: +66 42 224485, +66 87 373 2829address: 322/19 Prachaksilpakom RdWork spaces, meeting rooms with audio-visual equipment, Internet, copier, fax, office support staff. Coordinates are approximate.
Wattra Dental Clinicphone: +66 42 343 057address: Sai Uthit RdCompetent, English-speaking dentists who work with up-to-date technologies.
- Nong Khai is a very pleasant riverside town near the border with Laos. The Friendship Bridge is located here and this is the main overland border crossing into Laos on the way to Vientiane. Many travellers pass through Nong Khai on their way in and out of Laos without realising that this a worthy travel destination in its own right.
- Khon Kaen another similar city on the train line heading south. Buses leave frequently and take 1½ hours, trains take longer.
- Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is about one and a half hours away across the Mekong. Express air conditioned buses leave the Udon Central bus station six times daily for Vientiane. Bus fare one way is 80 baht. A visa on arrival for Laos at the Friendship Bridge costs about US$35 for 30 days (two passport photos are required or there is an additional US$1 charge).