Highlights of north Isan

Private journey 10 days

hailands northeastern region Isan is the least changed part of Thailand. It offers a fascinating mix of traditional rural life, mountain sceneries and spectacular temple ruins from the Angkor period. Traveling through Isan is like going back in time. The people of the Isan pursue agrarian lifestyles dictated by the annual cycle of the farming seasons and unchanged by the passage of time. The region’s ancient cultural traditions and customs in music, folk dances, legends and festivals are better preserved here than anywhere else in Thailand. You will visit the national park of Khao Yai and the beautiful old Angkor temple of Phimai. You will stay at home with a charming Thai hostfamily in a quiet Isan countryvillage and take part in authentic daily village life. Experience first hand how life on the quiet Thai countryside still is.

See also our other journey Highlights of east Isan in which you explore the eastern part of Isan with a lovely journey along the Mekong river and the border with Laos. Both journeys are example journeys and can be adapted to your individual requirements. You can also design your own journey through Isaan, for instance by combining parts of these two Isan journeys or by adding destinations yourself. Let us know your wishes and we will send you the possibilities and prices.

Highlights of north IsanDay 1. Khao Yai National Park
Morning pickup from your hotel in Bangkok. You make a sightseeing tour through the national park of Khao Yai. It is a beautiful route. Depending on the season you will see growing trees, wild orchids and rare butterflies. The experience of being in the jungle with its countless noises is unique. The park has an extensive fauna, among which Thailands largest population of elephants (200), many kinds of deer, cats, gibbons, wild bears and birds among which the hornbill. Follow elephant trails along mountain streams and see magnificent waterfalls where you can take a swim. Haew Narok is a spectacular waterfall, particularly in the rainy season. The views from the Khao Khiew mountain are breathtaking. The Haew Suwat waterfall can be admired from the top and the bottom. Here you can swim. In the afternoon drive to the “salt licks”, a place where elephants gather in the evening. Return at the hotel around 19:30hr. Overnight again in Khao Yai.

Highlights of north IsanDay 2. Angkor temple Phanom Rung
On top of an extinct volcano, on the route from Khorat to Angkor Wat in Cambodia lies the impressive Khmer temple complex of Phanom Rung. It is the largest and best restored of all Khmer monuments in Thailand. Phanom Rung, together with the other temple of Phimai, have been the examples for the later built and world famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The whole complex and especially the procession road to the main entrance, the stairs leading up to the complex and the Naga bridges are beautiful and impressive. Just being here and absorb the peace and tranquility is a wonderfully relaxing experience in itself. The complex offers magnificent views over the surrounding area. You stay overnight in a playful hotel near Phanom Rung. REMARK: This visit to Phanom Rung can be combined -or replaced by- Phimai (day 3). In that case you stay overnight with your Thai host family already this evening.

Highlights of north IsanDay 3. Angkor temple Phimai
During the Khmer period, large parts of Thailand were conquered by the Angkor empire. Phimai was directly connected by road with the Angkor capital. Prasat Hin Phimai was built at the beginning of the 12th century, when the Khmer empire had its glory period. The monument is of great historic and esthetic importance, it became the example and prototype for the later built and famous Angkor Wat in Cambodia. A cozy place for lunch is the nearby Saai Ngam banyan tree. Onward to your homestay address in the village Khampom, on route passing the silk village Chonnabot. During dinner, prepared by your family host, you will be warmly welcomed by the local Thai village people. The contact with the local people and their warmth and hospitality will be among the most memorable experiences of your holiday.

Highlights of north IsanDay 4. Village life and paddy fields
Visit on school days the village school. See the ceremonial beginning of a school day with the children singing the national Thai anthem followed by Buddhist prayer. After the ceremony you can enter the classroom. The school children are probably as curious about Western life as you are about Thai life. Your guide will translate everything again. This school visit will be one of your more memorable experiences. Continue with a walk through the village, accompanied by your guide who has a lot of inside information and can tell you anecdotes about village life. After lunch you will go into the rice fields. Depending on the season you can see how rice is sown or harvested. If you want then you can help and do some manual labor yourself. Later this day you will buy the ingredients for your evening meal at the village market. During dinner you can observe the village’s evening activities and talk with the Thai people in a relaxing way. As this will be your last dinner with the host family, probably half the village will want to say goodbye to you. Following Isan tradition you will receive a lot of good wishes and a wrist full of little ropes. Overnight stay again with the host family.

Highlights of north IsanDay 5. Khonkaen – Nongkhai
Onward to Nongkhai, a cozy little city at the banks of the Mekong river. It is the most important border city of the region because of the “Thai-Lao friendship bridge” that connects Thailand with Laos. Explore the lively trading at the harbour market Tha Sadet. Imported goods from Laos are sold daily at the market in Nongkhai. Here you can buy baguettes, french bread, a remainder of the french colonial times. Lunch on a balcony overlooking the Mekong river. In the afternoon visit Wat Sala Kaew Ku, the large by Luang Phu founded statue park with high and sometimes bizarre statues from Buddha and Hindu culture. Of course you will also visit the bridge. This evening you can make a Mekong dinner boatcruise along the coast of Laos (not included). Your guide can arrange this. The sunsets can be very beautiful. After dinner you have time to explore Nongkhai.

Highlights of north IsanDay 6. Nongkhai – Chiang Khan
Travel along a mountainous route to Chiang Khan, another border village at the Mekong river. The beautiful route largely follows the river. Visit the Phu Phra Bat historical park, at the foot of Mount Phu Phan. The park houses 62 archeological sites with prehistoric rock paintings between 2000 and 4000 years old, historic artefacts from Dvaravati and Khmer cultures and a footprint of Buddha can be seen. Nature is beautiful and you can make a pleasant walk. The route to Chiang Khan is wonderful and you will stop a few times to admire the views and make pictures. Arrival in Chiang Khan in the afternoon. Overnight stay in a very cozy hotel in Chiang Khan.

Highlights of north IsanDay 7 – 8. Phu Ruea National Park
After breakfast transfer to the Phu Ruea National Park. The park can be explored by car. If you want then you can also make a light walk on the top plateau and admire the views. It is a light and recreative walk. After that you travel to a picturesque lake Huay Krating, where you can relax in the afternoon and enjoy a picnic lunch, floating on a bamboo rafts (with roof) on the water. Overnight stay in Dan Sai in the Phu Pha Nam Resort. The next morning you travel from Don Sai via a country route to Sukhothai where you stay overnight.

Highlights of north IsanDay 9 – 10. Sukhothai – Bangkok
Founded in the 13th century, Sukhothai was the first capital of Thailand (then Siam), which enjoyed a golden age under King Ramkhamhaeng, credited with creating the Thai alphabet. The superb palaces, temples and monuments of this great city have been lovingly restored in Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-see for all travellers. Ramkhamhaeng National Museum contains an outstanding collection of the arts and crafts of Sukhothai, including statues, Buddha images and old celadon found within the old city. The park is a few square miles, therefore you will explore part of the park by bicycle. Your guide will give you a map of the area so that you can explore this wonderful historic city by yourself. In the afternoon back to Sukhothai. On day 10 you travel back to Bangkok, visiting Lopburi Prang Sam Yot Angkor temple on route where dozens of monkeys will welcome you. Then onwards to Bangkok where this tour ends.

Highlights of North Isan Number of persons Single
Prices per person: 2 3 4 5 + surchg
Comfort Version $ 1209 $ 875 $ 708 $ 608 $ 204
Deluxe Version $ 1301 $ 967 $ 799 $ 699 $ 204

Seasonal surcharges : Not applicable. Prices are valid throughout the whole year.
Child discount : Not applicable.

  • Prices are per person and based on the indicated number of persons.
  • Prices in Thai Baht are leading. Payments can also be made in other currencies such as USD or EUR. In that case, the prices in THB need to be converted at the exchange rate on the day of payment. The mentioned prices in EUR and USD are based on our prices in THB and against an exchange rate of 35 Baht per Euro or 32 Baht per USD.