Nov
27
2009

Ubon Ratchathani / Thailand

Ubon Ratchathani has been a well established community for hundreds of years. Relatively unknown to the most tourists, the province boasts a number of natural wonders, cultural and historical attractions, national parks, silk producing shops, etc.

The province is renowned for its strong Buddhist tradition, particularly the practice of forest-dwelling monks and the ancient Buddhist temples, which can still be seen throughout the province today.

A gateway to Laos, Ubon Ratchathani is bordered to the east by the Mekong River and Laos, to the south by Cambodia, to the west by Yasothon and Sisaket Provinces and to the north by Amnat Charoen Province. The provincial capital is approximately 630 kilometers northeast of Bangkok.

The province is unique in its folk culture, which is expressed in the indigenous cuisine, handicrafts, such as silk and cotton products, basketry, and bronze-ware, and traditional events such as the Candle festival held every July. There are natural beauties and historical sites including the 4,000 years old rock formation, prehistoric rock paintings, national parks, waterfalls, and the two-colored river, etc.

The Past

Since the 10th century, Ubon Ratchathani, or simply Ubon, was part of the Khmer Empire until the Kingdom of Ayutthaya conquered it. Towards the end of the 18th century, Laotians immigrated to the northern banks of the Mun River and founded the provincial capital. The Laotian influence is evident in the architectural structure of some of the city’s religious buildings. This incident was told in the provincial seal which features a pond with a lotus flower and leaves in a circular frame. It symbolizes the ancient community of the people who fled the massacre of King Siriboonsarn of Vientiane and came to settle in Nong Bua Lam Phu Province in 1779 during the reign of King Thonburi. This community was established as a province with the name Ubon Ratchathani Srivanalai in 1792 during the reign of King Rama I, the first king of the Chakri Dynasty.

During the reign of King Rama V, Ubon Ratchathani was annexed to Lao Kao town. Later in 1899, the area was under the supervision of Northeastern Monthon, with Ubon Ratchathani serving as an administrative hub. In 1900, the name was changed to Monthon I-San. When the Monthon system was abolished, the city has become Ubon Ratchathani province. During the Vietnam War, Ubon encountered expansive growth due to its proximity to an American air base.

The Present

Today, the province is the largest and one of the most important provinces in northeastern Thailand. Due to the large number of fascinating temples dotting the city, Ubon is a place of pilgrimage at the beginning of Buddhist Lent. Aside from the numerous attractions, festivals and holidays are celebrated with a unique Ubon flair.

Located in the Korat Basin about 68 meters (227 feet) above sea level, most of Ubon Ratchathani is a plateau sloping to the east to meet the Maekhong River, a border between Thailand and the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic. Other major rivers in the area are the Chee River, Moon River, Lum Saybok River, Lum Domeyai River and Lum Domenoi River. There are some high mountain ranges in the south such as Bantad Range and Phanom Dongrak Range which border Ubon Ratchathani and the Lao Peoples Democratic Republic and the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The most important natural resource in Ubon Ratchathani is its forests, such as Teng-Rung forests, Red forests and mixed forests. In the province, there are 50 national preserved forests, 3 national parks, 2 botanical gardens, 1 wild life preservation area and 1 botanical park.

There are highways and rail roads connecting different districts in Ubon Ratchathani with other provinces and there is one international airport located in Muang District.

People of Ubon Ratchathani are engaged in activities related to agriculture and livestock raising. They are religious and still abide by tradition and culture. Locals usually dwell in groups of houses, speak their own dialects and practice their traditionally handed down cultures.

The province covers 15,517 square kilometers and is divided into the following districts: Muang, Warin Chamrap, Det Udom, Buntharik, Na Chaluai, Nam Yuen, Phibun Mangsahan, Khong Chiam, Si Muang Mai, Trakan Phuet Phon, Khemarat, Mung Sam Sip, Khueang Nai, Kut Khaopun, Tan Sum, Pho Sai, Samrong, Sirindhorn, Don Mot Daeng, Thung Si Udom, Na Yia, Na Tan, Lao Suea Kok, Sawang Wirawong and Nam Khun.

Source: TAT

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