Ubon Ratchathani

Ubon Ratchathani (อุบลราชธานี) is a city in Isaan, Thailand. Often referred to as simply Ubon (อุบล), it should not be confused with "Udon" to the north. Ubon lies 582 km from Bangkok and has Thailand's 13th largest city population.


Candle sculpture in Thung Si Muang Park

Ubon was founded on the northern bank of the Mun River by a group of Lao princes fleeing Vientiane in the late 1700s. They applied for King Taksin's protection, duly granted in 1779 along with the city's new name, meaning "Royal City of the Lotus". Modern-day Ubon was a U.S. air base during the Vietnam War and grew rapidly at the time, but little has happened since then. The town of Warin Chamrap, on the south bank of the river, is effectively a suburb of Ubon these days.

The sleepy Ubon office of the Tourist Authority of Thailand (264/1 Khuan Thani Rd) is worth a visit to pick up useful English maps of the town and nearby provinces. Basic English spoken. Open daily 08:30-16:30.

Get in

By plane

Ubon Ratchathani International Airport (IATA: UBP) serves only flights to Bangkok most of the year. Thai Airways has two daily non-stop flights between Bangkok (BKK) and Ubon and return. Nok Air has three daily non-stop flights between Bangkok Don Mueang Airport (DMK) and Ubon and return. Air Asia has two daily non-stop flights between Bangkok (DMK) and Ubon and return year-round. Air Asia operates 3 weekly flights between Phuket and Ubon from Oct-Mar and between Chiang Mai and Ubon from Nov- Mar. Flight time is 50 minutes in an Airbus A320 or Boeing 737 aircraft.

The airport is at the northern edge of the city almost within walking distance, but accommodation is scattered around Ubon, so better not to consider walking. Much better to go to one of the two limousine (taxi) counters in the airport arrivals hall and purchase for only 100 baht a taxi coupon that will take you to almost any point in the city. Limousine (taxi) rates in Ubon are extremely cheap by Western standards and lower than those in Bangkok. Set prices have been established to most destinations in and around Ubon. A taxi from Ubon to Chong Mek costs 1,000 baht for the 90 km one way trip and a taxi from Ubon to Mukdahan costs 2,000-2,500 baht (depending on the vehicle type) to travel a one-way distance of 192 km. The driver does not charge for the return trip as in some Western countries. There are no taxi meters and the fare must normally be purchased from one of the two taxi counters at the airport arrivals desk.

If you prefer not to take a fixed price taxi, you can always walk the 200 m beyond the general airport parking area to haggle with the waiting tuk-tuk drivers, but chances are that your trip will end up costing you more.

By bus

Buses to Bangkok take 10 hours (due to stops) and arrive near Mo Chit BTS station. The Nakhonchai Air private bus company also has frequent, well-maintained buses that travel the route and also leave from the Ubon bus terminal, but arrive at their own private terminal in Bangkok, near the main Mo Chit terminal.

Ubon is less than 100 km from the Lao border at Chong Mek / Pakse. A regular bus service now operates direct from Ubon bus station (near the "Big C" shopping complex) to Pakse in Laos, and caters for travellers who wish to obtain a Lao visa on arrival (it waits for all passengers to complete immigration and visa formalities before continuing to Pakse). The fare is 200 baht.

By train

Daily trains connect with Bangkok and stop at all the southern Isaan provincial capitals (Si Saket, Surin, Buriram, and Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat)). The station is to the south of the city on the opposite side of the Mun River in Warin Chamrap. Buses 2 and 6 connect to the centre.

One option is to catch the overnight night express train from Ubon (Warin Chamrap station) to Bangkok. Train departs at 18:30 and arrives Bangkok at 05:30. Travel first class in a two berth private sleeper compartment with fresh starched sheets and pillows for a little over 2,000 baht per couple. Travel is also available in 2nd class sleeper seats and 3rd class seats at a lower cost.

Get around

A bus/songthaew network with 13 fixed routes operates around the city. Most routes are numbered and colour-coded; pick up a map at the Ubon TAT office.

Alternatively, there are plenty of tuk-tuks puttering and samlors pedaling around. As always, agree on a fare before you get in, and expect to pay 20-40 baht depending on distance and your haggling skills.

If you're feeling a little more adventurous, try renting a motorbike or a car to get you to one of the many national parks in the province. Jay-Jay Car and Motorcycle Hire provide good, clean vehicles at competitive prices.


Chedi of Wat Nong Bua
  • A bright yellow elaborately carved candle sculpture, completed in 2000, standing 22 m tall and dedicated to the king, showcases Isaan art styles and has become the symbol of the city. The candle is placed on a junk, with a garuda eagle at the bow and a naga serpent around it.
  • A statue of Phra Phatumvoraratsuriyawang commemorates the tersely-named founder of the town.
  • A Monument of Merit, erected by former World War II POWs to commemorate the kindness of the people of Ubon.




Buddhist meditation





Go next

Routes through Ubon Ratchathani

Bangkok Si Saket  W  E  END

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