Udon Thani Halal Travel Guide
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Udon Thani is a city in the Isaan region of Thailand. Often referred to as simply Udon or Udorn (อุดร), the city should not be confused with Ubon — Ubon Ratchathani in southeastern Isaan.
Introduction to Udon Thani
Founded in the 1890s by Prince Prajak Silapakom, Udon Thani is the 7th largest city in Thailand.
Udon had a USAF airbase during the Vietnam War that increased its wealth and importance. Surrounded by one of the major agricultural areas of the country, Udon Thani has become a regional hub for agriculture, commercial distribution, shopping and a fledgling tourism industry.
Because of the US presence (the airbase until 1976, a U.S. consulate until 1995, and currently, a Voice of America radio station) many Thais were well-paid and learned English, making them more marketable to foreign labour recruiters. Udon has a large number of its citizens who have worked or are working overseas, particularly in Middle East oil fields. This has contributed both to the wealth of the area and its desirability as an expat destination. More than 5,000 expats from Europe, Australia and North America have settled in the area.
Get into Udon Thani
Fly to Udon Thani
- Udon Thani Airport. Has several 50 min daily flights to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi [BKK]) (Thai Airlines: around 2,500 Thai Baht) or (Don Mueang [DMK]) (Air Asia from 500 Thai Baht and Nok Air from 1,250 Thai Baht if booked well in advance). There are also direct flights to Chiang Mai, Loei and Phuket (Air Asia flies to Phuket with tickets often around 1,000-1,200 Thai Baht, which is comparable to a 2-night bus/train trip via Bangkok).
To get to the city there is a limousine service (actually a minibus) for 80 Thai Baht/person that will drop you and other passengers at the location of your choice. Minibus tickets are available in the booth just to the right as you leave the terminal building. If there are more than two of you, it may be cheaper to call a taxi (Tel. +66 42 323239) or to use Grab ride-hailing service, which (as of January 2019) costs 160 Thai Baht to/from central Udon. Taxis are not permitted to wait for passengers at the airport, but some do it anyway, asking 200-400 Thai Baht for the 4 km journey. Some hotels have pickup services and may take an extra passenger or two if space permits. Some long distance buses to Khon Kaen were seen in the airport, with numerous people boarding them. No local Udon Thani songthaews have been seen near the airport.
If you are travelling on to Nong Khai, there is a bureau straight ahead of you when you get to the arrivals hall which sells minivan tickets to Nong Khai. They have a minibus which meets most flights and for 200 Thai Baht they will load you into a minivan. It takes one hour to reach Nong Khai and if you ask the driver he will take you to your hotel, or drop you off at the Thai side of the Friendship Bridge. You can then proceed into Laos.
By bus to Udon Thani
There are four bus stations in the city:
- City Centre Bus Station, Station 1 (BKS Station). The city’s main bus station is near Central Plaza.
- Bus Station 2 (Northern Bus Station) (On the western outskirts of the city on the road in from Loei towards Nong Khai). Buses to and from northern Thailand such as Loei, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai. A tuk-tuk into the city costs about 100 Thai Baht from there (Dec 2014). Songthaew 7 will take you there as well.
- Bus Station 3 (Just off the ring road, north side of the city). Third-class buses to Nong Khai.
- Nakhonchai Air Bus Terminal Udon Thani (Tahan Road opposite the Army Hospital). First class and VIP day and overnight buses to Bangkok. Nakhonchai Air has a high reputation for quality, and for managing its drivers to drive safely. Buses from Bangkok also stop at Bus Station 1 when arriving in Udon Thani, before terminating at their own terminal. Nakhonchai Air has buses departing to Bangkok at 08:50; 09:40; 19:00; 20:50; 21:25; 22:00; and 22:45. Travel time is about 7-9 hours depending on traffic. Regular, 454 Thai Baht; VIP, 606 Thai Baht.
- Udon-Bangkok. Buses from Bangkok (Mo Chit), an 8-hour journey, arrive at the BKS station in the city centre. BKS buses to Mo Chit depart at 20:00; 20:30; 21:00; and 21:20. Nakhonchai Air also runs buses to Bangkok.
- Udon-Chiang Mai. A VIP seat on a bus (e.g., Chackrapong Tour) costs 666 Thai Baht. (Dec 2014). The overnight journey takes 10.5 hr. This has to be one of Thailand’s worst bus trips as roads en route are small, rural, and winding. Those on the top of double decker buses may get queasy from all the toing-and-froing. Also, as the mid-point is one of Thailand’s more remote areas, your bus may not make the customary 20 min. break mid-way, or any break at all. Chackrapong buses to Udon drop you at the remote Bus Station 2, a reason to avoid it if you can by taking Phetprasert.
- Phetprasert has three buses a day from Chiang Mai to Udon (and onto Nakhon Phanom). They leave Chiang Mai at 14:30, 17:30, and 19:30, arriving in Udon at 02:15, 05:15 and 05:30 respectively. Fare (Apr 2015) is 636 Thai Baht. Phetprasert drops passengers at Central Plaza Shopping Mall, a very good location in the centre (Mar 2015). Buses to Chiang Mai depart the shopping mall at 17:45, 18:45, and 20:45. Buy Phetprasert tickets in the city centre bus station, a 5 minute walk from the shopping mall.}}
- Udon-Khon Kaen. Air conditioned buses and minivans depart from Udon’s Bus Station 1 downtown. There are at least two departures per hour. Duration of the trip is roughly 90 min for the 125 km route. As the old “Non-air conditioned terminal” in downtown Khon Kaen is closed now, the bus will go straight to the Terminal 3 six kilometers south on the city outskirts. The bus will pass through the city center though, and will stop a few times to drop off the people, so it may be wise to watch the map and get off at the location nearest to your hotel, then take a tuk-tuk or Grab there. 80 Thai Baht.
- Udon-Nong Khai. Buses from several companies depart at least once per hour after 08:00 to Nong Khai, 1 hour, non-air conditioned 3rd class) on the Lao border. Buses from Nong Khai may drop you off north of the city. Follow the locals and hop on the waiting #6 songthaew to the bus station or take a tuk-tuk. 50 Thai Baht (Oct 2013).
- Udon-Pattaya. The 407 Bus Company has daily 08:00, 18:30, and 20:55 buses to Pattaya. The morning bus takes about 12 hours as the bus makes many stops. Night buses take about 10 hr. Fare is 636 Thai Baht VIP (Nov 2015). The 407 Company has its office/bus stop near, but not in the city centre bus station. It’s on the corner of the main street out the front of the bus station near the 7-Eleven.
- Udon-Points east. Buses depart around once per hour to Sakon Nakhon (100 Thai Baht, 3 hours, air conditioned, 160 km from Udon Thani, on the way to Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan).
- Udon-Vientiane. There are six express buses a day direct to the Morning Market in Vientiane (80 Thai Baht, 2 hours, air-con 1st class departures at 08:00, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00). Some companies will not sell this trip if you cannot show a visa. These cross-border buses will sometimes carry passengers who have not obtained their Lao visas in advance, but may not wait long enough at the border for a visa on arrival to be applied for and issued. This isn’t a problem when the queues are short, but at busy times passengers who don’t already have their visas may be left behind and have to continue by local bus or tuk-tuk. There is a notorious scam of foreigners charged up to 100 Thai Baht for a 2 min ride, plus 25 Thai Baht for the bridge crossing, plus tuk-tuk or taxi to Vientiane.
Travel by train to Udon Thani
Daily trains go to Nong Khai (45 mins for just a bargain 11 Thai Baht) and over the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River to Laos. Trains are also frequent to Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok. The overnight express sleeper to Bangkok is scheduled to take 9.25 hours, but usually takes longer. Nevertheless, it is still quite comfortable and pleasant, especially when taken in a sleeping berth or compartment. A daytime express train to Bangkok traverses a causeway over the large and scenic artificial lake created by the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam (in Lopburi Province). Connections to the major centres of southern Isaan (Buriram, Surin, Sisaket and Ubon Ratchathani) can be made in Nakhon Ratchasima for those who like to travel by rail.
In all, there are daily daytime trains, and three daily nighttime trains from Bangkok to Udon Thani and vice versa (most of which normally originate or terminate at Nong Khai), and several local trains to other destinations, including Nakhon Ratchasima.
- Train Station. The Udon Thani train station is convenient, near the main tourist area and Central Plaza shopping complex.
Getting around in Udon Thani
Navigation around Udon Thani is made easier by three large roundabouts on the central road, Highway 2: the clock circle, the fountain circle and Prince Prajak Circle. It’s also possible to orient yourself with Central Plaza or Nong Prajak Park. There is a bypass road that goes around the city.
The main bus station, near Central Plaza has a taxi stand. Grab ride-hailing service works in Udon as well, though prices start from 60 Thai Baht even for a shortest ride, and increase pretty quickly afterwards.
By bicycle taxi
Udon Thani has many samlors (three-wheeled bicycle taxis), although as elsewhere, they are slowly succumbing to the pressures of the internal combustion engine.
Tuk-tuks, three-wheeled motorcycles, are readily available in most commercial areas. Negotiate a price for your journey before you get in. Note that in Udon Thani the locally made vehicles (called Skylabs) differ from those in most of Thailand outside Isaan in that their fronts are adapted motorcycles. If you travel to Laos, you will also see such vehicles (called “jumbos”) there. Tuk-tuks prowl the streets on the lookout for tourists. Apart from long journeys the price should be around 30-50 Thai Baht. If you get into the bus station early in the morning and need a guest house they may pretend they can’t speak English, drive you around in a small circle “looking” for guesthouses before dropping you around the corner from the station; however, some may not speak English and are just trying to be helpful. They will then ask for 100 Thai Baht for a 30 Thai Baht journey. There is plenty of accommodation within walking distance of the station.
Udon Thani has a bus-like network of numbered pick up trucks with 2 benches in the back songthaews; cost is 8 or 10 Thai Baht per trip (10 Thai Baht outside the ring road).
- Bicycle Rental. Bicycles are available for rent at the northeast corner of Nong Prajak Park. 20 Thai Baht/hour.
Bicycles can also be rented by the day from Asia Backpackers and SPM House.
By motorbike or car
Motorbike rentals are readily available at many locations in Udon Thani such as Soi Samphanthamit. There are also many shops that accept online bookings such as Udon Rent A Bike.
If you wish to travel with a little more comfort, it is recommended to rent a car, the most well established local car rental in Udon Thani is UD Car Rent. You will also find most major International car hire companies at Udon Thani Airport.
What to see in Udon Thani
- Ban Chiang (About 35 km E of Udon). An archaeological dig that is a UNESCO World Heritage List. Both buses and inter-village songthaews will drop you off at the Ban Chiang turn-off.
- Ban Nakha (15 km Nord of Udon on Rte 2). A village famous for selling hand woven silk and cotton garments. It is somewhat commercialised but a walk back from the road into the village can net some silk and cotton bargains.
- Nong Bua. A park with a lake just to the east of the railway line. It is noted for its Chinese pagodas over the lake and the dragon pole.
- Phu Foi Lom Eco-Park (40 km SW of Udon). Numerous trails and rainy season waterfalls. South of Udon is a large wetlands area/lake called Khumpahawapi. In Oct, traditional dragon boat races are held on the lake. Within Khumpahawapi is a city park with a large troop of monkeys that have been living there for over a hundred years.
- Phu Phrabat National Park (60 km NW of Udon near the Ban Phue). A marvelous ridge line with numerous sandstone edifices several thousand years old. Bronze age cave paintings are also within the park.
- Red Lotus Lake (Talay Bua Daeng, ทะเลบัวแดง), Tambon Chiang Haeo, Kumphawapi District. Take a boat ride through a lake full of red flowers (they are actually red hardy water lilies) at the lake of Nong Han (หนองหาน). The bloom starts in October, but is best viewed from December to February during the morning. Bird watchers may also spot herons and other fowl. Boats and drivers are available for rent by the hour at the side of the lake, 300-500 Thai Baht. A suggested over night stay is the Ma Der Bua Hotel next to the lake. They also have a restaurant and provide a toilet for five Thai Baht.
- Udon Sunshine Orchid Farm. Famous for a variety of orchids, orchid-derived perfumes and plants that “dance to music”. Due to poor public transportation in Udon Thani, the only mean of transportation for tourist to get to these tourist attractions is by Car rentals or Taxi service.
- Daytrip to Nong Khai. Catch a 45 minute train at either 08:34 or 11:42 to Nong Khai for 11 Thai Baht. Either catch train back at 13:03 or catch a mini bus back for 50 Thai Baht. Every 30 min from bus station. If you wish do rent a car and travel a little more comfortable, there many car rentals agencies available in Udon Thani, such as UD Car Rent, Avis, Budget.
- Major Cinema. Watch a film at Major Cinema in Central Plaza. Some movies in Thai and some in English so choose the appropriate showing.
- Nong Prajak Lake Park. Daily, 04:00-20:00. A large recreational area within the city and the primary site for locals to exercise and chill out. Consisting of a large lake/reservoir with several small islands, it features pleasant grassy areas and activities such as nightly aerobics (to Thai pop music) and feeding bread crumbs to the fish. For the more active, it’s also popular for jogging or cycling (bike rentals available). Two paved pathways circle the lake: the inner one for cyclists, the outer one for those on foot. The circumference of the outer one is 3.3 km (2 mi). Most of the jogging path around the lake is ungated, but a portion is locked from 20:00-04:00.
- Your Fitness Udon Thani, 322/19 Prachaksilpakom Road (Between Bangkok Hospital and 7-Eleven, behind the shops). Monday to Friday, 08:00-24:00; Saturday to Sunday, 12:00-24:00. New (Jan 2020) gym in Udon, one of only a few. Centrally located near Central Plaza and the railway station. Coordinates approximate.
On the east-side ring road is the Bo Bei Clothing Market. Within the city itself are numerous 7-Elevens as well as many mini-marts with Western snacks and goods.
- Big C (SE of the city centre on Nittayo Road; SW of the city centre on Rte 210). Daily, 09:00-24:00. Two locations. Hypermart, groceries, housewares, clothing.
- Central Plaza (Formerly Chareonsri), 277/1-3 Prajaksillapakom Road. Monday to Friday, 09:30-21:00. Sa, Su, Hols, 09:00-21:00. Udon Thani’s largest indoor shopping mall, featuring five floors of shopping, including Asia Books, a Robinson’s department store, Tops Supermarket, Sizzler steakhouse, KFC, Pizza Company, Swensen’s Ice Cream, Boots pharmacy, IT products, mobile phones, cineplex.
- Landmark Plaza / TukCom. Shopping complex with SFC Cinema.
- Makro (E of the city centre). Daily, 06:00-22:00. Cheap bulk purchases.
- Night Market (W of the train station, five min walk from the central bus station.). 17:00-22:30. Eat in and takeaway food.
- Tesco Lotus (UD Town; another on the ring road, N side). Supermarket with lower prices than Tops Supermarket at Central Plaza. Several locations. The most central one is in UD Town (hours: 07:00-24:00). The one on the north ring road is a Tesco-Lotus Extra (hours:08:00-23:00).
- Tops market CentralPlaza, 277/3 Prachuksilpakom Road. Western and Thai foodstuffs; salad bar; deli; bakery. Monday to Friday 11:00-21:00; Saturday to Sunday 10:00- 21:00.
- UD Town (Adjacent to the train station). Mall with a food court, Tesco Lotus store, three different Oishi restaurants, McDonald’s, Swensen’s Ice Cream, Pizza Company, WaWee Coffee and numerous retail businesses.
Halal Food in Udon Thani
Please click on Halal Restaurants for a list of Halal restaurants in Udon Thani.
Co-working space in Udon Thani
- Smarthub, 322/19 Prachaksilpakom Road (Near Central Plaza and the train station, between Bangkok Hospital and 7-Eleven, behind the shops). Daily, 09:00-21:00. Work spaces, meeting rooms with audio-visual equipment, Internet, copier, fax, office support staff. Prices are approximate. 60 Thai Baht for 1 hour, 180 Thai Baht per day.
Dental Clinics in in Udon Thani
- Wattra Dental Clinic, Sai Uthit Road (Purple storefront across from 7-Eleven at Bus Station 1 downtown, 100 m from CentralPlaza), M-Sa, 09:00-19:30; Su, 09:00-17:00. Competent, English-speaking dentist(s) who work with up-to-date technologies. 800 Thai Baht to re-cement molar crown.
- Nong Khai is a very pleasant riverside town near the border with Laos. The Friendship Bridge is located here and this is the main overland border crossing into Laos on the way to Vientiane. Many travellers pass through Nong Khai on their way in and out of Laos without realising that this a worthy travel destination in its own right.
- Khon Kaen another similar city on the train line heading south. Buses leave frequently and take 1,5 hours, trains take longer.
- Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is about one and a half hours away across the Mekong. Express air conditioned buses leave the Udon Central bus station six times daily for Vientiane. Bus fare one way is 80 Thai Baht. A visa on arrival for Laos at the Friendship Bridge costs about USD35 for 30 days (two passport photos are required or there is an additional USD1 charge).