You will often hear people refer to Nakhon Ratchasima – otherwise known as Korat – as the gateway to Issan. Many travelers pass through here to start their journey into the north-east, without paying much attention to the province itself. You will currently not find many backpackers here, but there are a few expats that come here to settle down (usually with their Thai wife or girlfriend).
That being said, there are still a few interesting attractions in Korat, and the city is in the process of being developed. There should be a lot more tourism in the province within the next few years.
Getting to Nakhon Ratchasima
This is the most convenient and cheapest way to get into Nakhon Ratchasima. From Bangkok, head to the main bus terminal in Mo Chit. Go to the second floor and there will be a few different windows to choose from. My recommendation is to go to window 65. This is the most comfortable bus we have traveled on to Korat. They have free wifi, you can charge your phone, and the chair is actually a massage chair!
Whatever one you choose, they are all going to cost 191 Baht and take about 4 hours to get there. Just tell the driver where you would like to get off.
Another option is to take the train. This can be a rather enjoyable journey with some spectacular views. It is best to choose a 2nd class air-conditioned seat, which will take between four and six hours and cost around 350 baht.
If you are really wanting to save some money and experience a more authentic journey, you could opt for a slower 3rd class train with no air con. This is going to take at least six hours and cost just 50 baht.
This province is best explored if you have your own vehicle, so it could be worth renting a car or motorbike for your stay. That way you are free to explore as you like.
In the city center, you can get buses and songthaews to get about, but they can be difficult to know which one to take, so always make sure you ask before you get on.
There are taxis and tuk-tuks available but they are going to be a bit more expensive than other places such as Bangkok. You will find many tuk-tuks outside The Mall (the main shopping center). Bear in mind that not everybody speaks English in Korat, so there may be a bit of a communication barrier.
By Grab taxi
This is another alternative to taking local taxis. You can use the Grab app to say where you want to go and where you want picking up from. It will tell you exactly how much it is going to cost and how far away your driver is.
Things to do in Nakhon Ratchasima
These are the top attractions I suggest you check out:
- Nakhon Ratchasima zoo – It can always be a bit uncertain when visiting zoos in Thailand, but this one was pretty clean and the animals seemed like they were well looked after. You can either walk around, take an inexpensive hop on/hop off bus tour or you can rent your own golf cart to drive around in.
- Save One night market – This is a huge market and the biggest one in Nakhon Ratchasima. You will be able to find almost anything you want here.
- 100 years market – A small food market with a range of delicious meals, along with displays of old antiques.
- Wat Ban Rai (Elephant temple) – This temple gets its nickname because of the giant elephant head attached to the front.
- Khao Yai national park – This area of natural beauty makes for a great weekend getaway from Korat city.
- Phimai historical park – These Khmer temple ruins are a must-see in Nakhon Ratchasima. It is one of the largest in Thailand.
- Flora Park – This can be a nice day out to capture some great photography shots.
Where to go next
After visiting Korat, we suggest heading over to Buriram to the east or up north to Khon Kaen.