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Isan, (pronounced Eesaan) the plateau in the northeast of the kingdom, and covers as much as one third of the country’s total area. Isan is divided into 19 provinces and borders on Laos in the east and Cambodia in the south. North Eastern Thailand may not offer a seaside holiday and beach roads lined with 5-star hotels, but travellers are welcomed with open arms none-the-less. Here, lifestyles, traditions language and customs are distinctly different from the rest of the kingdom.

The region’s colourful festivals, its handicrafts like the distinctive hand-woven silks and cottons, and a number of special trade fairs draw large crowds of visitors, coming from as far away as the capital.

Important archaeological sites are to be found all over the region and some provinces have unmatched natural beauty spots completely unspoiled and untouched by modern progress.

But above all, it is the Isan people, their zest for life and their unsophisticated, down-to-earth friendliness that endears them to visitors, Thai and foreigner alike.

Today, unlike twenty years ago, and no doubt partly due to the government’s “Gateway to Indochina” policy, travel in Isan has become easy and enjoyable. Several daily flights connect Bangkok with all major provinces and an excellent road system links all provincial and district towns throughout the region.