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Travel Thailand, Ubon Ratchathani

Ubon Ratchathani, literally called the Royal City of Lotus is the largest of the southern or lower Isan provinces with an area of 15,819 square kilometres and a population of 1.6 million. It has a 100 km is shared with Cambodia.

The Mun and Chi rivers join 10 km west of the provincial town and flow east to the Mekong that marks the border with Laos.

The border checkpoint, however, is at chung Mek some distance from the river which sweeps east in to Laos towards Pakse. Settled by people of mainly Lao extraction in the late 18th century, the provincial town is a bustling commercial centre linked by road, rail and air.

It is 575 km from Bangkok by rail and 629 km by road. Yasothon is 100 km to the north-west while Si Sa Ket, its neighboring province, is 80 km to the west. Pakse, the southern Lao town, is a one-hour drive by car and ferry from the border town Chong Mek situated on Highway 217, 80 km east of Ubon.

Ubon figures as the final or start of a lower Isan tour. Sometimes called the Emerald Triangle, a reference to its forests and borders with Laos and Cambodia, it is best known for its candle wax sculptures that are paraded through the city in late July.

Ubons' airport, the highways and rail system also means it is now figured as a gateway to southern Laos, using either the ferry crossings on the Mekong River or the land route via Chong Mek to Pakse.

Ubon Ratchathani Attractions:
Wat Suputtanaram Woraviharn, on Somdej Road, was the home of the Dharmayuthi sect in the mid-19th centruy. The architecture of the main chapel is a mix of Thai, European and Khmer styles. In front of chapel is a huge wooden bell.

Wat Si Ubon Rattanaram (Wat Si Tong) on Uparat Road was built in 1855. The ordination hall, an imitation of the Mrble Temple in Bangkok, houses a topaz Chiang Saen Buddhan image. This image was brought to Thailand form Vientiane at the same time as the Emerald Buddha, which was later enshrined at Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.

Wat Maha Wanaram on Sapphasit Road is the principal temple of Ubon. Built in 1807, it houses the Phra Chao Yai Indra Plang, a Buddha image in the attitude of subduing Mara.  

Wat Chaeng on Sapphasit Road was built in 18888. There are some striking wood-carvings in front of the main chapel including a mythical half-elephant half-horse creature as well as a depiction of Erawan, the three-headed elephant of Indra.

Wat Thung Si Muang on Luang Road was constructed in the reign of King Rama III (1824-51). The temple is a mix of early Rattanakosin and Lao architecture. Along with the representation of a Buddha footprint in one of the buildings, there is a scripture hall built on stilts in the middle of apond. The chapel's interior is covered with 150-year-old murals.

Phra That Chedi Si Maha Pho in Wat Nong Bua on the road to Nakhon Phanom was build to commermorate the 25th century of Buddhism. The chedi, a close replica of the Mahabodi chedi in Bodhgaya, India, contains relics of the lord Buddha.

Wat Nong Pa Pong, 10 km past the railway station in Warin Chamrap district, is a classical forest wat, noted for its traditional discipline and a balance between work and meditaion. It attracts foreigners who wish to study meditation. Some have been ordained as monks and one became the abbot of the affiliated Wat Pa Nanachat Bung Wai. There is a museum here and a chedi where the ashes of the wat's founder Ajan Chaa are interned. The wat has several branches in Ubon and one in Sussex, England.

Wat Pa Nanchat Bung Wai, also in Warin Chamrap district, is a branch of Wat Nong Pa Pong. Most of the monks here are Americans, Europeans or Japanese. English is the main language spoken. Men who wish to stay more than three nights at the temple are required to shave their heads. The temple is opposite Beung Wai village on the road to Si Sa Kat.

Ubon Ratchathani National Museum on Khuen Khan Road was formerly a palace of King Rama VI. The museum's collection ranges from ancient bronze tools and Ban Chiang-style pottery to fine examples of Southeast Asian art produced since the Dvaravati period. There is also an exhibition of Ubon crafts and culture. Many of the exhibits have English sub-titles.

Ban Pa-ao, 21 km from Ubon, is a handicraft village noted for its cloth-weaving, bronze ware and silverware. A crafts centre has daily demonstrations and wide selection of goods for sale. Kaeng Saphu is a beautiful set of rapids on the Mun, 75 km east of Ubon, as the river approaches the Mekong. The best time to visit the area is between January and May.

Festival
Candle festival is held in Ubon in late July. The festial coincides with Khao Phansa, The beginning of Buddhist Lent. Gaint elaborately carved candles are carried around town in colourful processions during the five-day festival. There are competitions for the most magnificent float, as well  as beauty contests, music and games.

Songkran Festival
at Kaeng Saphu has the traditional Nong Songkran (Miss Songkran) beauty contest, cultural shows and a fun fair.A wide range of local crafts and souvenirs are on sale while the traditional water-throwing dominates the festival.

 
 


 

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