Traveling to Isaan

IsaanWhen it comes to Thailand, it’s very easy to just want to travel to Bangkok and overlook the other areas.  Yet this is a sore mistake.  I recently came across an article about the region Isaan, an underrated part of Thailand that most people skip on the way to Laos.  Most of it is farmland and small towns without any real “attractions”, so it’s often overlooked by tourists.  Yet if you want to see what day-to-day life in Thailand is like away from the crowds, then this is where you want to go.  It’s extremely cheap, averaging on about $25 to $35 a day.  Overall, it should take at least one month, but can be done in two and a half weeks if you press yourself.  Here are six tips for traveling through Isaan:

1. Don’t pre-book: Since the region doesn’t see many tourists, just showing up to guesthouses and bus stops should work just fine.  Unlike Bangkok, you shouldn’t have any issues with fighting for space.

2. Try to have your own transportation: Like Ireland, Iceland or Southern France, Isaan is best explored on your own terms.  To really get out and see what it has to offer, rent your own bike or car.

3. Drivers can be hired and prices shared: If you don’t have your own transportation, then you’ll have to rely on hiring drivers.  It’s expensive, but it’s the only way to get to national parks and ruins, which are far outside the cities.  Yet drivers all charge set prices, allowing you to share costs with friends.

4. Expats can help: Isaan is filled with English teachers, so breaking into the local scene with Couchsurfing is great, and they’ll be more than happy to show you around.

5. National parks are far away, and day tours are hard to organize

6. English isn’t widely spoken: Since there are fewer tourists, the language barrier is going to be bigger.  You’ll be able to get around, but you’ll need to use more hand gestures and pointing.