Why People Travel to Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

Ubon Ratchathani is a mid-sized Thai city in the Northeastern or Isaan region of Thailand. It is the largest province in terms of land mass. The influx of travelers to Ubon is not always obvious but they are here, none the less.

My first exposure to Ubon Ratchathani was back in 1999. I was sent here while still active duty soldier to participate in joint training with the Royal Thai Army and Air Force. I got the impression I was in a quiet country town filled with working class people. My first time here the stay only lasted about a week. But I did enjoy myself.

Next visit to Ubon was October 2000. I was out of the military and after a year in the states I decided to spend some time in Thailand. I found a job teaching English here and made it my home. That was 9 years ago and I am still living here.

During the past nine years of living here and with contacts from my website and this blog I have heard a wide variety of reasons for ending up in or passing through Ubon Ratchathani. Often times through mutual agreement the couple will set up a new life together and make Ubon their home.

Other couples in love met elsewhere outside of Ubon and come back here to visit. The foreign half of the relationship is brought back to meet and visit the family and community. The new love gets to participate in traditions and ceremonies and gets an introduction and glimpse into rural village life.

There are also couples who chose to live in the homeland of the foreign half of the partnership. They make trips to Ubon to spend time with family and see how the province has changed. It is not uncommon after retirement for these couples to come live here.

Return To Memories

During the 60’s and early 70’s, Ubon Ratchathani provided bases for soldiers and airmen supporting forces in Viet Nam. Though they were in the military they had a unique opportunity to experience Thai culture and lifestyle.

Many of the soldiers and airmen who were from U.S, UK and Australia made lifelong friends here in Ubon Ratchathani. Not all but some, remembering that special chapter in their life, return to catch up with old friends and see the changes that have occured in the 30 years or so since they left.

I have also come in contact with a few that actually came back her to live either year round or for 6 months a year.


There are a number of foreign residents of Ubon Ratchathani, both male and female, who by some means met and fell in love with a local Ubon resident. Through mutual agreement they decide to come set up a new life together here.  The ones I have come in contact with are happy and content with their lives.

Some come here only for visits. The couple met working or traveling outside of the province. They come here so the foreign half of the partnership can meet the family and get a glimpse of rural village life. Usually they will be required to participate in ceremonies and traditions such as the extended family buffet meal.

Another group who come to Ubon due to love are Thai/caucasian couples who decided to live in the western homeland. They travel back home to visit with family, catch up on the latest news and get a dose of Thai culture.

Teach English

I fell into this category originally. I have known and know many expats who come to Ubon specifically to teach at one of the local schools. Some come here by chance, as in it is the place they could find work and were offered a position.

Others chose to come here. They might be tired of life in Bangkok or Chon Buri and want a slower, quieter lifestyle. Also, the cost of living is a lot less in Ubon than in those other areas.

Volunteers or Exchange Students

This is quiet common. Schools out in the rural areas are often quite poor. They look for volunteers to come and teach their students English.

Many of the volunteers will either live at the school or stay with a local family who has volunteered to be their sponsor. It works out for all. The volunteer gets to make a contribution while at the same time getting a unique life experience.

The  school gets a good learning experience for their students and an English tutor for the teaches. The village also gets to see how other people outside of Thailand live and think.

Foreign exchange programs place mostly young people not only in schools as students but also positions to live and work in a rural Thai setting. Most travelers I have met in this category are loving it. One reason is the locals treat them like minor celebrities and they find themselves special guests at many parties and other social gatherings.

Thai Buddhism

I have seen reports that Ubon Ratchathani has the highest density of Thai Buddhist Temples in all of Thailand. That might be the reason so many foreigner come here to explore Buddhism on many levels.

Many come to spend time learning. Wat Pa Nana Chat which ws established to educate non-Thai speaking people who want to study Buddhism or possibly become a monk.

Others come here to explore the many temples with their range of stories and architecture.

Muay Thai

Ubon Ratchathani has several highly reputable Muay Thai training facilities, as well as several more that offer a more personalized one on one training. The former offers dormitories and other amenities where as the latter offers the student to live with the trainer and family.

There are always foreigners here participating in Muay Thai training in one level or another.


Some people travel to Ubon Ratchathani once a year to participate in the Candle Festival celebration and activities. Others come here to observe first hand life in rural Thailand. Still others come here to natural attractions along the Mekhong.

I have met one man who came here to conduct research and another man from Germany who was using Ubon as a pit stop on his way to Laos.

As you can see there are many reseasons the compel people to travel to Ubon Rarchathani, Thailand. What is your reason?


  1. tacomabob says:

    I was stationed at Ubon in the 1970-73 time period with the US Air Force. I loved the city and area, and have always wished I could go back to visit. Due to health issues, that is no longer feasible. I have heard that the air base there has changed tremendously since then, as I would have expected. I worked in the K-9 section, which was based in the off-base bomb dump, and the ride to work every day was always interesting, to see the people along the way, etc. As you can tell from my e-mail address, I have always, and will always, have a warm spot in my heart for Ubon!

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