This city of two names (also known as Korat) is home to 145 000 individuals, and lies in the north east of Thailand. It is the largest province in Thailand and its people largely make a living out of growing diverse crops such as sugar cane, sesame, rice and fruit. Korat is known for its fine silk, and many a fashionista will be happy spending hours trawling the shops for fine silk bargains. It is also know for Dan Kwain pottery and delicious Korat Rice noodles. Nakhon Ratchasima has breathtaking scenery and lots of history filled with tradition and charming hospitality. The newest world heritage site, Khao Yai is located in this province, and is Thailand's oldest national treasure.
Like most of Thailand, there are three seasons in Korat. The hot season is from February to May, the rainy season starts after the heat and lasts until October and the cold season is from November to February. Cold season temperatures can drop below 15oc so if travelling during this period, warm clothing is recommended.
Travelling to Korat is relatively easy, especially if you choose to travel from Bangkok. The trip from Bangkok to Korat passes through some densely forested hills, and if you are looking out the right window at the right time, you will see the giant Buddha at Wat Theppitak, nestled just above the temple. Korat also has air services. Flights departing from Bangkok at 07.10 and at 16.10 arrive in the city around 50 minutes later. Expect to pay around 555 Baht per leg. Your level of luxury will dictate the cost of a bus ride - for an air conditioned bus from Bangkok expect to pay 120 Baht, and if you are willing to sweat it out expect to pay around 70 Baht. The trip takes around four hours. Air-conditioned busses leave Bangkok for Korat every hour, and non air-conditioned busses leave every 15 minutes so don't be too worried should you miss your chosen bus. The train is also an option with regular departures that leave from ridiculously early to reasonably early.
Once in the city there are a number of transport options available including taxis, motorbike taxis, tuk tuks and songthaews. Samors (cycle rickshaws) are an additional transport option in the city and their very cheap fares make them a popular choice.
Besides being able to find organic western food in the mountains of a world heritage site, and drinking wine grown at altitudes never heard of before, one can also delve into the political and religious history of this region. If you are there at the right time, you will be able to watch the long boat races on the River Mun, during the Phimai Boat Races. These are held in late October or early November, and are in conjunction with the Prasat Hin Phimai Festival and the Loy Krathong festival.
A wide variety of accommodation is also available in the city, and your selection will depend on what you want to experience. Many websites and travel guides suggest a day trip or overnight stay in Korat, so a bed and breakfast or backpacker's hostel may be the ideal solution. There are a number of tour packages also on offer, which make finding accommodation and meals much easier for the not so intrepid traveller. Popular places to sleep include Sansabai House (250 baht per night), Chomsurang Hotel (500 baht per night) and Hermitage Hotel (princes range from 1500 to 6000 baht per night).
Korat is a great place to spend a few days on a holiday to Thailand. The city has some impressive sights and the shopping district is almost as good as in Bangkok. Korat does have a more relaxed feel to it than some of the other Thai cities and it is a perfect place to spend a few days at the beginning or end of you holiday in Thailand.