Udon Thani is located in the north-eastern Isaan region of Thailand. Previously a quiet little town it became an American military base during the Vietnam War and grew rapidly, a large number of retired US servicemen have since settled here. Since the withdrawal of American troops in 1976, it has continued to grow as an industrial and commercial centre.
Although there is little to appeal to travelers in the city, there is the new bridge to Laos from nearby Nong Khai and quite a few interesting temples to see, but most importantly Udon Thani is probably best known for its archaeological wonders, above all the archaeological site at Ban Chiang. Within the city Nong Prajack Park is where the locals hang out. It has a large lake with some small islands, picnic areas and various organised activities such as aerobics for who ever wants to join in.
You can visit the Udon Sunshine Orchid Farm famous for its immense variety of orchids, orchid derived perfumes and famous herbal tea made from the Udon Dancing Plant, so called because of its ability to respond to sounds like music and singing.
Ban Chiang is where the world's first Bronze Age civilization is alleged to have developed more than 5,000 years ago; the archaeological dig is a UNESCO World Heritage site. You can take a local bus or 'songthaew' to the Ban Chiang turn-off where they will drop you and then it is only a short walk to the site.
Phu Phra Bat Historical Park, 42 km northwest of Udon, covers a vast area at the foot of Phu Phan hill and has many interesting places to check out. There are pre-historic cave paintings, Lopburi Bodhisattvas, a Lang Chan Buddha image and a stupa built to shelter a Buddha footprint. Remains of boundary stones and a Buddha's image of Dvaravati style carved out of sandstone can also be seen at the rock shelters of Wat Pho Ta and Wat Luk Khoei inside the park.
Wat Pa Ban Tad is based in a forest monastery south of the city, surrounded by rice paddies. The monastery is perfect for meditation and study due to its solitude and isolation. The monastery is under the strict guidance of a disciple of Phra Acharn Man Phurithatto, a widely respected Buddhist priest.
15 km north of Udon is the village of Ban Nakha, legendary for selling home woven silk and cotton garments. It is geared towards tourists but if you take the path into the village you will be able to haggle and get some better bargains.
Huai Luang Reservoir covers an area of 20,000 rai with the capacity to hold 113 million cubic meters of water and supplies over 86,000 rai of farming land. Huai Luang is a great place for rafting, fishing or a boat cruise.
Pu Foi Lom Eco-Park is located high on a plateau surrounding Udon. There are a number of trails, paths and water falls to discover. This is popular with people interested in hiking and camping.
South of Udon is a large wetlands area with a lake called Khumpawapi where traditional dragon boat races are held every year. In the area is also a park with a large group of monkeys that have lived there for more than a hundred years.