Also known as the “Royal Lotus City” for its beautiful lotuses, Ubon Ratchathani is one of Thailand’s most underrated cities. Visitors usually use it as a base from which to explore the surrounding area, but those who decide to stay will find a pleasant surprise.
One of the things that makes Ubon Ratchathani unique is that Buddhism has thrived here for centuries. A famous line from its provincial poem declares: “The people believed in Dharma”. It should come as no surprise, then, that temples abound here and that Ubon Ratchathani is home to one of the most fascinating Buddhist festivals every year.
Wat Ban Na Meuang
If you’re going to visit just one temple in Ubon Ratchathani (and trust us, there are many for you to visit), make it Wat Ban Na Muang. Also known as Wat Sa Prasan Suk, this temple stands out from the rest for its unique location: an actual boat surrounded by an actual pond. And don’t think this was just done for the art: the water is meant to represent our desires and the boat our need to stay above them.
Ubon Ratchathani National Museum
Set in the city’s former city hall, this national museum promises to deliver with its fascinating and comprehensive exhibitions. You’ll start off your visit with an exhibit on the geography and geology of the Isaan plateau and wander through the museum learning about local history until the 18th century along the way. The museum ends with three rooms showcasing local textiles, crafts and music.
Baan Pa Ao Brass and Silk Village
For a slice of traditional Thai arts and crafts, head a little outside of town. Soon, you’ll arrive at Baan Pa Ao Brass and Silk Village. Here, locals have been crafting splendid brass and silk products for over five generations. At the Community Silk Centre, you’ll be able to observe the masters at work and learn about the delicate process of silk-making. You can later head into the narrow lanes of the villages and peer into some of the family-owned shops to purchase a unique souvenir.
Thung Si Muang Park
Once a rice field used to sustain the people of Ubon Ratchathani, Thung Si Muang was converted to a public park at the turn of the 20th century. It features a statue of the city’s founder, Chao Kham Phong and a massive image of Garuda (a half-bird and half-man figure of Hindu mythology and one of Thailand’s symbols). Thung Si Muang Park is the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing afternoon and watch the sunset on the horizon.
Hae Thian (Candles Festival)
Asanha Bucha is a Theravad Buddhist festival that takes place on the eighth lunar month (usually July) in celebration of Buddha’s first sermon after his enlightenment. In Ubon Ratchathani, this festival is stretched out for two days in a glorious celebration that involves a parade of floats featuring detailed wax sculptures crafted by local artists.