Bangkok to Khon Kaen
This tour takes you out of Bangkok and up to Khon Kaen, at the heart of Isan. We begin in the Khao Yai area of Khorat province with markets, handicraft villages, and some natural attractions, including a night safari through UNESCO World Heritage-listed Khao Yai National Park, where there's a good chance of seeing elephants. After seeing the very holy Thao Suranari shrine and the old city walls and moat in Khorat city, we'll explore the incredible Prasat Phimai Khmer ruin, walk through Thailand's largest banyan tree, visit a silk weaving village, and see a historic Isan-style Buddhist temple before finishing in the modern city of Khon Kaen.
Make the most of your trip with our special add-on activities before, during, or after your tour.
Learn about local life.
After leaving Bangkok, departing early to beat the worst of the morning rush hour, we'll sample some exotic flavors in a giant fruit market and also visit the chaotic Pak Chong Morning Market where almost anything goes. We'll see huge Buddha images being made at a stone carving workshop and then explore a small but beautiful cave with a natural skylight and climb up above it to see a giant boulder balanced precariously on the edge of a cliff. Then we'll check out the vivid blue waters of a natural spring, where you can swim if you want. Before the sun goes down we'll head to Khao Yai National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the biggest and best national parks in Thailand, looking for wildlife as we drive. In some months, you can see a mass exodus of around a million wrinkle-lipped bats filling the sky as they fly out of their cave to go eat. Then we'll join the park's night safari where there's a good chance of encountering elephants, plus many other smaller critters including civet, marten, porcupine, and slow loris.
Overnight in Khao Yai
Today we take a scenic drive following the edge of Khao Yai's long mountain range. There are many small farms along this route so we can stop and sample local products (grapes, cashews, dragon fruits, flowers, etc.) as you like. Just before leaving the mountains behind, we'll stop to see various foods collected in the forest (like mushrooms, bamboo, and insects) on sale in a jungle market. Then we'll visit some families who make brooms from bamboo leaves and also handbags using old wrappers from coffee, laundry detergent, and other products – a brilliant exercise in recycling. After winding through a wide swath of rice paddies we'll go to a workshop that forges brass Buddhas and then visit Dan Kwian, which has been producing pottery for hundreds of years. Some original rough, rust colored products are still made, along with a great variety of vibrant modern designs. We'll visit one of the seemingly timeless workshops with its giant wood-fired kilns and hit a few stores to see the finished products before arriving in Nakhon Ratchasima (aka Khorat). Though it's a bustling modern city, the moat and city fortifications are reminders of its long history and for the day's final stop we will join devotees at the very holy Thao Suranari Memorial. It was built in honor of a woman who, according to legend, devised and led a prisoner rebellion against the invading Lao army (One version says that the women seduced the soldiers and then the men launched a surprise attack.) in 1826, thus saving the city. Performers do a local folk dance throughout the day to thank "Grandma Mo" for wishes people think she has answered.
Overnight in Khorat
Built beginning in the late 10th century AD, the impressive and beautifully restored Khmer temple at Phimai, which is centered on a 28-meter (62 feet) tall prang and features many excellent carvings, predates Angkor Wat; and may have even been its inspiration. We'll also take a quick look at what's left of the city gate and see Sai Ngam, Thailand's largest banyan tree, covering an island just outside of town. Then, we'll visit a village to see how silk worms are raised, silk thread is made, and silk fabric is woven. If you want, you can sit at a loom and try it yourself. Then we'll stop to admire a historic little temple building featuring original Isan-style murals, which are now very rare, before arriving in the modern city of Khon Kaen.
If our itinerary doesn't fit your exact needs and desires, please let us know.
With advance notice we can usually modify things.
Visit the Khmer ruins at Phimai.
**For deluxe level, this is the weekday, non-holiday, high-season price. From April to October, the price drops 6,000B. But, in both high and low season, add 1000B per night for weekends. New Year holiday prices will be much higher. The budget-level price is the same year-round.
Prices valid until 30 April 2019
All sightseeing and activities as specified in the itinerary with English-speaking local guides, entrance fees, transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, hotel transfers, accommodation, breakfast at deluxe-level accommodation and village homestays, dinner at village homestays, snacks and cold water in the vehicle, accident insurance, taxes, and pre-departure travel consultation.
Price Does Not Include
Return transportation to Bangkok, meals and drinks other than what is specified above, travel and medical insurance, personal expenses (such as laundry, souvenirs, snacks, etc.), tips/gratuities, visa fees (Thai visas are free or not required for most international visitors.), and any additional expenses incurred due to airline schedule changes, natural disasters, political actions, or other factors beyond our control.
|Hotel Level||Number of Persons|
|Price per person, two per room (baht)|
|Homestay||We hope to add the homestay option in the future.|
This is the accommodation that we normally use for this tour. Of course, if any place is fully booked during your travel dates, we will have to substitute a similar property. If this happens, we will let you know right away.
Visit historic Isan-style temples.
Sabaidee Khao Yai Guesthouse
Hotel des Artists
Sabaidee Khao Yai Guesthouse
Romyen Garden Place
Romyen Garden Place
Isan Explorer is a family-run Khon Kaen, Thailand-based tour company offering tours in Northeastern Thailand, known as Isan (sometimes spelled Isaan, Issan, Isarn, Esan, E-San, Esaan, E-Saan, Esarn, and E-sarn). We offer pre-designed and custom Thailand tours for individuals and groups and cater for travelers on any budget, from luxury to backpacker. We embrace slow travel and all our tours focus on culture and/or nature.
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