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Udon Thani, Thailand: Tourist Attractions

Paul first visited Thailand in 1996 and has been retired in Siam since 2007. He has a beautiful and loving Thai wife and can speak Thai.

On a boat in the Sea of Red Lotuses.  From left to right:  wife, son-in-law, and author

On a boat in the Sea of Red Lotuses. From left to right: wife, son-in-law, and author

Udon Thani Area Tourist Attractions

Who says there are no fun things to do in Udon Thani? Since 2012, I have discovered many scenic and cultural attractions in the Udon Thani area of northeastern Thailand. Two of the lesser-known tourist sites are located in the Udon Thani Province within an hour's drive from Udon Thani City—the Sea of Red Lotuses and the Ho Chi Minh historical sites and museum.

In this article, after an introduction to northeastern Thailand and Udon Thani, I will present the location of two interesting but hard to find tourist attractions and how to reach them by vehicle. I will also detail my experiences visiting these tourist sites.

Northeast Thailand

Map of Thailand in relation to Southeast Asia

Map of Thailand in relation to Southeast Asia

Udon Thani and Northeast Thailand

Udon Thani is one of the provinces in the northern part of northeast Thailand or Isaan as popularly known, Isaan comprises almost half of Thailand's land area. It extends from Nakhorn Ratchasima in the south to Nong Khai on the Mekong River separating Laos from Thailand. Isaan is also bordered on the northeast by the Mekong which divides Thailand from Laos to the northeast and east and from Cambodia to the southeast.

Udon Thani Province is bordered by the provinces of Nong Khai to the north, Khon Kaen to the south, Sakhon Nakhon to the east, Kalasin to the southeast, and Loei and Nong Bua Lamphu to the west.

The province of Udon Thani is divided into 20 districts or prefectures. Mueang Udon Thani or the city of Udon is the largest. Districts outside of Udon City with tourist attractions include Kumphawapi to the southeast, Kut Chap to the west, and Nong Han to the east.

Udon Thani Province had a population of almost 1.6 million in 2014 with a little more than 400,000 living in Udon Thani City in 2013. It is served by an international airport. Population facts are taken from Wikipedia.

Udon Thani City in Relation to Districts in Udon Thani Province

udon-thani-thailand-tourist-attractions
On a boat in the Sea of Red Lotuses. My friend is on the left and wife on the right.

On a boat in the Sea of Red Lotuses. My friend is on the left and wife on the right.

The Sea of Red Lotuses

One of the better-kept secret tourist attractions in the Udon Thani area is the Sea of Red Lotuses or Ta Lay Bua Daeng as it is known in Thai. Hidden in the Kumphawapi Reserve in Kumphawapi District, it is not easy to reach unless you are a local or a tour guide.

The Sea of Red Lotuses is situated 45-50 kilometers from the Udon Thani City Ring Road at Lake Nong Han on the banks of Ban Dian.

You can best reach it by car or minivan from Udon Thani City by taking Highway 2 south in the direction of Khon Kaen. At approximately 22-25 kilometers south of the City Ring Road, you will see a sign directing you to the Sea of Red Lotuses. After you see the sign, exit to the left on to Highway 2633, a two-lane road. This road will take you about 25 kilometers to the Sea of Red Lotuses.

Our boat pilot and guide on the lake indicated that the Sea of Red Lotuses covers 22,000 Thai rai or the equivalent of 10,524 acres. Its average depth as measured by a stick from the boat guide is between one and two meters.

When I visited the Sea of Red Lotuses with family and friends on February 8, 2018, it was my second visit to this attraction. My first visit was in January of 2015 with my wife.

The second visit was much better than the first. My wife agreed and pointed out it was because she paid 500 Thai baht (about $16) for a one and a half hour trip for all of us on the lake. On our first trip, my wife and I only paid 300 baht for a 45-minute ride which did not visit all of the red lotuses on the lake.

During our most recent boat ride with friends, we visited all of the areas of the lake where the red lotuses were in bloom. We were on the lake from 9:30 until 11:00 am right before the sun started to shine brightly.

The best time to plan a trip to the Sea of Red Lotuses is during the cool dry season which runs from November through February. I would also advise going to the lake before 11:00 am when the red lotuses are in full bloom.

There is no admission to this public reserve. The only charge is for renting a boat and pilot. After enjoying a boat ride, there is an area onshore which has small Thai restaurants and souvenir shops.

If you depart Udon Thani City between 8:00 and 8:30, you should be back in the city for lunch at noon if you don't eat at the Sea of Red Lotuses. Many of the bigger hotels in Udon Thani City offer half-day tours to the Sea of Red Lotuses.

Route Map from Udon Thani City to the Sea of Red Lotuses

udon-thani-thailand-tourist-attractions

Ho Chi Minh Historical Sites

The Ho Chi Minh historical sites are one of the least known tourist attractions in the Udon Thani area. I first became aware of these historical sites when I saw a big sign on the side of the road going west towards Kut Chap District.

More specifically, the Ho Chi Minh historical sites are located about 12 kilometers west of Udon Thani City on a two-lane highway off of the Ring Road going in the direction of Kut Chap. At a distance of 10 kilometers from the Ring Road, you will see a big sign in English and Vietnamese on the left side of the road next to a temple directing you to make a left turn on to a small lane. After making the turn, you will pass a school on the left and temple on the right before seeing another sign telling you to turn right. After you make a right turn, you will see the entrance to the Ho Chi Minh historical sites.

These historical sites consist of a two-level Ho Chi Minh museum and reconstructed buildings where Ho Chi Minh once lived.

Throughout his entire life, Ho Chi Minh who is the father of modern-day Vietnam led the fight for resistance against first the French and then the Americans. This culminated in the unification of Vietnam and independence.

Living from 1890 until 1969, Ho Chi Minh was trained as a teacher and traveled the world for 30 years before rising to power. During his travel, Ho Chi Minh learned 28 languages, many of which he taught.

In 1927, Ho Chi Minh first arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, and from there traveled to Pichet in the north and then to Udon Thani in Isaan where there was a sizable Vietnamese community.

The Ho Chi Minh Museum opened in 2001 and has many books, photos, letters, and maps related to Ho Chi Minh and Vietnam. Unfortunately, most of the displays are only in Thai and Vietnamese. An English speaking Thai-Vietnamese guide, however, is on duty and will answer most of your questions about Ho Chi Minh. From the guide, I learned that 100,000 Thai-Vietnamese live in Thailand and 60,000 in the Udon Thani area.

After visiting the museum, my wife and I toured the reconstructed buildings where Ho Chi Minh once lived in 1928 and 1929. In the main building, I saw the room where Ho Chi Minh taught English, Thai, and Vietnamese to adults and children. I also viewed the room where he slept and an outer building that served as a kitchen. Next to these buildings were replicas of where Ho Chi Minh raised pigs and chickens and also stored his rice grain.

According to Lonely Planet's publication, Ho Chi Minh used this formerly bamboo jungle area around Nong Hang village as one of his bases to rally Esaan's big Vietnamese communities for resistance against French occupation.

The museum guide, however, noted that Ho Chi Minh hid in this area to avoid French intelligence operatives who were chasing him.

The Ho Chi Minh Museum and reconstructed buildings are open daily 8-4. Admission is free and unless you can read Thai or Vietnamese, you should be able to tour the museum in 30 minutes. It should take no more than 20 minutes one way to travel to the Ho Chi Minh historical sites from the center of Udon Thani City. If you don't have access to a private car or cannot afford a taxi, the cheapest way to travel is by taking the number 14 "songtaeo" which is a converted pickup truck having two rows of seats on both sides of the vehicle. You catch the songtaeo in Udon City and it will drop you off on the road to Kut Chap next to the small road leading to the Ho Chi Minh site.

Ho Chi Minh Museum Outside of Udon Thani City.

Ho Chi Minh Museum Outside of Udon Thani City.

Display Within the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

Display Within the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

Ho Chi Minh Rebuilt Buildings Outside of Udon Thani City

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Paul Richard Kuehn

Comments

Mark Hall from Bangkok on June 04, 2020:

Thank you for your advice Paul.. The red sea lotus lake is certainly on top of my list, I have just joined Udon Map and it looks like a great source of information..

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on June 04, 2020:

I am happy you liked my article, Mark, Since I have never rented a car in Udon, I cannot tell you anything about lekcarrental or the ones at the airport. I hope you enjoy sites around Udon but I wouldn't go to the Sea of Red Lotuses now. People go there only during the cool dry season Dec-February. Check out udonmap for other tourist sites in and around Udon.

Mark Hall from Bangkok on June 04, 2020:

Great article Paul!  Now the lockdown is coming to an end I plan to travel to Udon to engage in some photography there, I will certainly be visiting some of the sites mentioned above..  I have decided I will travel around Udon by car and notice lek car rentals are doing a special deal https://lekcarrentaludonthani.com/ I was wondering if to use this company or the ones t the airport..  they are a lot more money though!

Yours kindly Mark

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on July 12, 2019:

I am very pleased that you liked the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

Museum Visit on July 10, 2019:

It was a fantastic visit to the museum. I highly recommend it.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 22, 2018:

Steve, Thanks for commenting on my article and welcome to Udon Thani. There are car rentals at the small international airport we have here and that would probably be your best bet. I haven't rented a car in Udorn but the price on the rental from ud-carrent looks good. After you exit the airport, turn left and go up to the light which branches to the right at the ring road 216. You are now heading in the direction toward Udon Thani and Nong Khai. After you get to a light after 2 kilometers, turn left on to a two-lane road which is in the direction of Kut Chap. Stay on this road for about 8-10 kilometers until you see a big sign which reads "Ho Chi Minh Historical Site" on the left. Turn into this road which has a school on the left and a temple on the right.

After 400-500 meters, you will see another sign directing you to a small road to the right. You should now be able to see the Ho Chi Minh site. Renting a car is the best way to go. You could also get a taxi or a songtaeo (pick-up truck with seats in back) but this would be inconvenient and also with the taxi probably more expensive than renting your own car. Let me know if you need an Udorn road map. Paul

Steve on August 21, 2018:

Thanks for great article Paul.

I have researched abit and intended to visit the Ho chi minh site sometime during next month, since the site is located quiet far from downtown area with no buses connecting, how do i easiest get there? With a rental car?

I had a peek on a car rental company ud car rent, https://www.ud-carrent.com and they seems to have good deal, any recommendations?

Or should i just rent one at the airport if there is one?

Thanks in advance.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on July 01, 2018:

Aliswell, yes, golf is quite reasonable and plentiful in Thailand. Although I have never played, I do know from my friends that the caddies are young female and quite attractive!

Allen Edwards from Iowa on June 30, 2018:

Thank you Paul, for all the great information on your "little slice of heaven", and your much appreciated offer to "show me around"!

I am feeling some serious positive emotions related to the possibility of returning to Thailand. It didn't hurt that when I searched the Golf availability in the area-- a particularly intense habit of mine..it appears to be in large, and reasonably priced supply.

Thanks again Paul! We former Sailors, do, infact..stick together!

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on June 28, 2018:

Aliswell, the weather in Thailand is dry and a little cooler in January. The standard of living is still fairly cheap here. You can get a landing visa good for one month and public and private transportation is fairly cheap compared to the States. My wife and I would be happy to show you around Udorn.

Allen Edwards from Iowa on June 28, 2018:

I just might take you up on that "invite" Paul! Around about the first week in January, I begin to lose large amounts of sanity as I begin to endure the agony of those (3 to 4) Dark "Iowa Winter Hibernation" months.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on June 27, 2018:

Hi, Aliswell! I am very happy to read that my article brought back memories. You are always welcome back to Thailand and Udon.

Allen Edwards from Iowa on June 27, 2018:

Hi Paul

Great article and "personal memory elixir"!

I watched through the port widow of the "P2-V Neptune"..as the lights of Udon become dimmer and dimmer, finally flickering off.

I was headed East.. back to Pax River NAS..as the P2 lifted off that Udorn AFB runway--Late December 1967.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 17, 2018:

Thank you for your great comment. I really appreciate it!

Dianna Mendez on March 16, 2018:

From your writing, you had a wonderful adventure that will last a lifetime. One day I may get to enjoy this part of our world. Thanks for being our guide and inspiration.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 03, 2018:

I am happy you liked this hub. I plan to write more about northeastern Thailand.

DDE on March 03, 2018:

A beautiful place and with a rich culture too. So interesting and a lot is new to me. Thank you for this hub.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on February 26, 2018:

Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments, Peggy! Yes, visiting these sites was an education for me and my wife.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 26, 2018:

This was very interesting Paul. I never knew that there was such a large lake of blooming lotus plants. It is beautiful. Ho Chi Minh certainly led a simple life judging from those reconstructed buildings that you showed us. Thanks for the education.