Traveling in the Northeastern Thailand (Isaan)
led by Kasma Loha-unchit
If you are interested in traveling with Kasma to the NE in November/December 2014, contact Kasma.
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Kasma's trip to northeastern Thailand (Isan or Isaan)is truly an opportunity to get off-the-beaten track and see this unique and colorful region.
The Northeast, or Isaan, is Thailand's largest region and is often called the country's heartland. The landscape is quite different from the lush mountainous North, much of it lying on rocky plateaus. The relatively low rainfall and the lean soil on the plateaus combine to make Isaan the poorest region in the country, and the least touristed, but it is here that traditions have remained pretty much intact and little-influenced by modernization.
Although there are a few large cities, a majority of the population still live in small traditional villages in a largely agrarian society. During break times from farming, the women in many of these villages weave some of the most beautiful silk and cotton textiles for use in special ceremonies centered around their beliefs and traditional celebrations. A diversity of ehtnic peoples, each with their distinctive styles of weaving, make Isaan a mecca for textile lovers. There's no doubt Thailand's silk road runs through here and the textile trade has become an important supplementary source of income for these villagers. You can learn about some of the places in Isaan where these fabrics come from on our blog at A Treasure of Northeastern Thailand: Weaving Villages.
On the rocky plateaus, archaeologists have discovered remnants of ancient civilizations dating as far back as 5000 years (including the world's first bronze culture) and fossilized remains of prehistoric animals, including many kinds of dinosaurs, mammoths and sable-tooth tigers. Bizarre, weathered rock formations and prehistoric rock paintings abound in several locations now preserved as national historical parks. Also found scattered all over the Northeast are an impressive collection Angkor-era (10th to 13th century) Khmer ruins, built of stone with intricately carved lintels of deities and celestial beings.
Also in the Northeast is Thailand's first national park and one of the most important wildlife refuges in Southeast Asia – the country's last remaining habitat for endangered Asian elephants. The region also boasts one of Southeast Asia's most sacred pilgrimage sites for Buddhists, with relics of the Buddha enshrined in a gold-topped Laos-style chedi. In addition to the foregoing highlights, the specially designed Northeast trip will take you to several Maekong River border towns with their ethnic diversity and scenic views of neighboring Laos. (See our article on Buddha Images in Northeastern Thailand.)
In short, if you love beautiful hand-woven textiles, have an interest in historic and prehistoric sites and, of course, love Thai food, this trip will offer you a wonderful off-the-beaten-path vacation.
Learn more about the trip
- Trip D Itinerary
- Trip Details
- Blog entry on A Treasure of Northeastern Thailand: Weaving Villages.
- Isahn Impressions (blog entry)
- Kasma's NE Trip Photos:
- Onsite NE Photos
- Kasma's Photos of 2011 NE Trip, part 1 (opens in new window)
- Kasma's Photos of 2011 NE Trip, part 2 (opens in new window)
- Kasma's Photos of 2011 NE Trip, part 3 (opens in new window)
- 2009 NE Trip Photos, part 1, offsite (opens in new window)
- 2009 NE Trip Photos, part 2, offsite (opens in new window)
Note: Food is an important part of the trip and participants must love spicy Thai food – at least 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. We cannot accept anyone who has special dietary needs – including food allergies, strong food preferences or not eating a specific food be it animal (pork, chicken, fish, shellfish), vegetable (such as onions or peanuts) or grain (wheat, for example). To see some of the delicious dishes we may encounter on this trip, check out Kasma's Trip Food Photos.
If you think you might be interested in this trip, Contact Kasma.