Ubon Ratchathani / Thailand


Ubon Ratchathani

Ubon Ratchathani is one of the 'big four' cities on the Khorat Plateau (Isan). It borders to Champasak in Laos and Preah Vihear in Cambodia. Like almost all modern places in Isan, it is of a young age - founded in the late 18th century, it's not older than 230 years. Nevertheless, there are places around in the province of Ubon Ratchathani who have historical records who date back to prehistorical times. The city's name means 'royal lotus city'.

Nightly Ubon
'Ubon Ratchathani at Night' by Asienreisender

Ubon Ratchathani is a pretty big city. Officially there are below 90,000 people living, but to me it seems much bigger. Here we see some foodstalls along one of the main roads. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2010

Ubon, as it is often simply called, lies at the banks of the Mun River, who is the largest river inside Isan. The Mun joins the Mekong River at Khong Chiam, 84km east of Ubon center and a few kilometers north of Pakse. The rivers joining point is called Maenam Song Si (mother river two colours), for the Mun River's relatively blue or green waters blend into the Mekong River's brown water.

The main town lies north of the Mun River, but there is also a part of the city south of it, Warin Chamrap. Here is also the final railway station of the northeastern railway which splits in Khorat and leads via Surin and Si Saket to here. The railway line to here was completed in 1930. The railway station is about 12km away from the city center.

The province is also part of the Emerald Triangle, the three countries triangle where Thailand, Laos and Cambodia touch. The 'emerald' refers to the evergreen tropical rainforests in the wider areas, who include the easter part of the Dangrek Mountains. However, the green is nowadays in heavy retreat, as everywhere else.

Thung Si Mueang Park
'Thung Si Mueang Park in Ubon Ratchathani' by Asienreisender

A pompous pillar and a golden, royal barge with a garuda in Ubon's central park. Image by Asienreisender, 1/2010

There are several national parks in the province. Mountainous areas with bizarre rock and cliff formations comparable to those in Mukdahan Province or Phu Phrabat Historical Park in Udon Thani Province. There are hundreds of prehistorical cave paintings in these mountains who date back some 3,000 to 4,000 years, roughly.

Inmiddle of the city, as it is usually so in Thai cities, lies a large, green lung - Thung Si Mueang, a public park with facilities for physical excercises and some sculptures. One of them is a memorial for the people of Ubon Ratchathani, who supported prisoners of war in the Second World War, who were brought here in great number by the Japanese. Here lies also the city's national museum, a smaller building, which served as city hall in former times.

As in other places in Isan, in preparation for the American Vietnam War, the USA built an airport in Ubon Ratchathani to attack the neighbouring countries Laos and Vietnam. The airport was later given to the Thai airforce, who is still using it. Part of the airport is also a commercial airport nowadays.