Stopover in Korat / Nakhon Ratchasima

Stopover in Korat / Nakhon Ratchasima

Who is traveling in Thailand’s north, will have to decide north of Bangkok at the latest in Ayutthaya, whether the journey should continue north to Chiang Mai or northeast. The northeast is mainly characterized by the less fertile Isan plateau, which suffers from drought during the dry season and often from floods during the rainy season.

The Northeast Railway branches off from the North Railway behind Ayutthaya and splits again at Korat. One track continues east to Ubon Ratchathani, the second line continues north to the border with Laos at Nong Khai on the Mekong. Strictly speaking, this line ends even after crossing the Mekong – bridge in the Laotian station Ban Thanaleng about 15km outside the capital of Laos, Vientiane.

Thailand: Steam locomotive at Nakhon Ratchasima station
Steam locomotive at Nakhon Ratchasima station

The road connections are similar: The Thai main road 1 leads further north to Chiang Rai to the „Golden Triangle“, the main road 2 branches off at Saraburi to the east and crosses the Isan plateau further northeast to the Friendship Bridge at Nong Khai.

Thailand local map: Overview Khorat Plateau and Nakhon Ratchasima
The north of Thailand

However, the Isan region is less attractive. Highway 2 was built almost entirely by the U.S. Army from 1959, which maintained its military bases and air bases in this area, from which the war against Vietnam and Laos was waged. Refugees from these countries and Cambodia settled here. In the cities „leisure – oases“ were created for the Vietnam – warriors. These still provide party life and entertainment, but otherwise offer few attractions.

Khorat – Nakhon Ratchasima

The city of Nakhon Ratchasima is located in the south of the Northeast region of Thailand, about 260km from Bangkok. The name is said to mean something like „royal border„, which is attributed to its location on the western edge of the former Khmer – Empire of Angkor. By locals it is called Korat (pronounced mostly rather „Kolat„) for short. It is the largest city in the region, with about 136,000 inhabitants also one of the largest cities in Thailand. Khorat is not that attractive today. Bars and restaurants characterize life in the city. Alcohol flows abundantly in the bars, and music can be heard, sometimes excessively loud, until deep into the night.

Historical facts from the old town of Korat

The most important landmark of Korat is the Thao Suranaree monument. These wife of the then vice-governor is said to have stopped advancing troops from Laos in 1826 with a staged drinking bout until her own reinforcements could be summoned to defend the city. The woman thus became a national heroine and has been revered in the region ever since. Flowers and offerings constantly adorn the monument erected in 1934 in honor of Khunying Mo (Thao Suranaree) on the western edge of the old city center of Nakhon Ratchasima, which is said to contain the ashes of the heroine.

Korat Thao Surannaree Monument
In Nakhon Ratchasima

The boundaries of the more or less rectangular old town of Korat are still partly recognizable by the wide moats, which today provide some refreshment in the air with fountains, as well as the historic city gate Pratu Chumphon and three other city gate – replicas.

The Korat region is known for its silk production. With a little effort, traditional craft villages of silk weaving and also ceramics production can be visited in the surrounding area.

Khorat is also the name giver of the „Korat – cats“. These are considered in Thailand as a special lucky charm.

Dancing and singing at the festival in honor of Thao Surannaree in Korat
Festival in honor of Thao Surannaree
Korat: Pratu Chuphon  town gate
Pratu Chuphon City gate
Nightlife in Khorat
Nightlife in Khorat

If you want to get to know Thai pop music, you can look for songs by the Korat-based pop band Sek Loso, and thus also rhythmically capture the authentic mood for a trip through modern cities in Thailand.

For travelers in search of tourist highlights, Nakhon Ratchasima is especially significant as a transfer point for buses to Phimai with its historic park.

Huge shopping centers are not really worth mentioning. I was somehow impressed by Terminal 21 on the way to Khorat Bus Terminal 2 (this does not automatically mean something positive…). Fully air-conditioned over several floors, the interior designers tried to create European flair with an Eiffel Tower replica and metro stations for Paris or red double-decker buses,watch tower with Big Ben and Sherlock Holmes dolls a lá London. If you want to rinse your butt in the heat: The free toilets are high-tech facilities with touchpad control, where the usual Asian wet wash after business can be triggered by pressing a button with individually selectable water jet, without having to get up.

Arrival and departure in Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat)

The adventurous way to Nakhon Ratchasima is by train. From Bangkok Hua Lamphong the trains go to Nong Khai and Ubon Ratchathani via Korat. Until Ayutthaya it is also possible to use the trains of the Northern Railway and change trains there at the latest.

Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat) station is located about 2km west of the old town center. If you prefer shorter distances, you should ask the train staff whether the train also stops at Thanon Chira station. This is just 300 meters from the city center.

Information board about the China - Bangkok - Railway under construction in Nakhon Ratchasima
Soon more modern on the rail? The China – Bangkok – Railway passes Korat

Alternatively, bus connections to Korat can be found from various locations in Thailand.

There are two bus terminals in the city. Terminal 1 is hidden a bit west of the old town, but it is also not that important. Because most buses both to Phimai (about every half hour) and to distant places leave from the newer big bus – Terminal 2 on the side of the National Road 2 in direction Udon Thani, north of the huge shopping temple Terminal 21 (or diagonally right opposite the BigC shopping market). The Phimai buses also stop several times in the city, e.g. on Mittraphap Road – asking around may help. From Terminal 2 there are also buses e.g. to Bangkok, Nong Khai or Chiang Mai, e.g. also at night as „Sleeper – Bus“.

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Accommodation in Khorat / Nakhon Ratchasima – Hostels and Hotels

Kun Hostel* is located northeast of the city center on Suranari Road. Simple air-conditioned rooms, a terrace and a garden ensure a relaxing stay. A bar and a restaurant are available in the house. The whole house is a non-smoking establishment.

Urban Bamboo Hostel* offers colorful and original air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms. Free bicycles are available for rent. A Thai breakfast is provided for your start of the day. Bar and restaurant offer other food and drinks. Thao Surannaree – statue is only about 500m away.

Located about 1km from the city center, Fortune Hotel Korat* offers spacious air-conditioned rooms with en suite shower rooms and tea/coffee facilities. A restaurant and outdoor pool complement the facilities. An American breakfast is on offer every morning. Garden furniture is provided.

At the modern Beverley Hills Hotel*, the quirky exterior design with glass fronts and overhanging nested floors is impressive in itself. Air-conditioned rooms have en suite bathrooms with whirlpool tubs, tea and coffeemaking equipment, and blue-ray players. The hotel has an outdoor pool, a hammam and sauna area, a fitness center. Family rooms are also available. In the morning the hotel offers breakfast a lá carte. Packed lunches, snack and drink vending machines keep guests full around the clock. It’s about 2km to the city center.

Centre Point Hotel Terminal 21 *****

The top hotel in Korat is Centre Point Terminal 21 Hotel* about 1.5km from the city center. Quite different room categories and sizes can be chosen. An outdoor pool and a restaurant belong to the hotel. Coffee is available around the clock from a coffee maker in the lobby. A fitness center allows for individual exercise. The facility is handicapped and wheelchair accessible.

The weather in Nakhon Ratchasima

The small overview on the right shows the current weather in Khorat/ Nakhon Ratchasima and the weather forecast for the next three days.

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