Maha Sarakham Halal Travel Guide
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Maha Sarakham (มหาสารคาม, also spelt Mahasarakham) is a city and province in Isaan.
Introduction to Maha Sarakham
Maha Sarakham means “city of great education” and is aptly named considering it hosts seven institutions of higher learning, among them, Maha Sarakham University, Maha Sarakham Vocational College, and Maha Sarakham Technical College. Hence, it is called the “Takasila of Isaan” (“Takasila” was an Indian Centre of learning in ancient times). Maha Sarakham is the Buddhist Centre of Isaan, as many Buddhist archaeological artefacts are found here, which include a relic of Lord Buddha in Na Dun district. Such evidence leads to the theory that this place once was the location of an ancient kingdom dating back to 1,500 years ago. A pagoda is built on that spot to mark the glory days of Buddhism and to serve as a venue for important Buddhist rites.
Because the city is primarily a college and university town, costs for food and housing are quite low. A large part of the resident population are teachers and staff of the many schools in the city. As expected, the population waxes and wanes in tune with the annual academic calendar cycles of semesters and summer breaks as students flow into and out of the city and its environs. Maha Sarakham University alone boasts nearly 50,000 students, recently surpassing the student population of Khon Kaen, a nearby much larger city with Khon Kaen University.
Maha Sarakham’s central location is a convenient base from which to explore Thailand’s nearby neighbours, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Directly east is Friendship Bridge Two, spanning the Mekong River at Mukdahan, where one can cross a narrow section of Laos and be in Hue, Vietnam by the end of the day. One can also travel south to Sisaket where it is now easy to cross over into Cambodia, relatively close to Siem Reap and the famed Angkor Archaeological Park. Four hours north, at Nong Khai, one can cross the original Friendship Bridge into Laos, from which point it’s just 22 km to the capital city of Vientiane.
Maha Sarakham is also at the very geographic Centre of Isaan, making it a convenient base from which to explore all of Isaan. Most sightseeing destinations in Isaan are no more than a three or four hour bus ride in nearly every direction from the city. This includes the Mekong River communities to the north and east (Nong Khai, Nakhon Phanom, etc.) and the famous ancient Isaan temple ruins to the south and southeast (Nang Rong, Khao Phra Vihan, etc.). Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), three hours to the southwest, is the gateway to Khao Yai National Park which showcases Southeast Asian flora and fauna, where elephants and tigers roam free.