Nakhon Ratchasima, commonly known as Khorat or Korat, is the largest city in the Isaan region of Thailand. Its proximity to Bangkok makes it a good base for travelers heading further into the territory. It has excellent transport links to the rest of the country and beyond. Highway 2 (Bangkok to Nong Khai) runs through the city, as does the Northeast Railway Line, which splits to the east of the town: one line goes to Nong Khai and the other to Ubon Ratchathani. Some buses go to almost every city in the North, Northeast and East regions.
You can even catch buses to Vientiane in Laos and the Cambodian border at Aranyaprathet. The city has a population of about 165,000 (Nai Muang District, 2011), but the entire urban sprawl of the Nakhon Ratchasima Metropolitan Area (Muang Nakhon Ratchasima) has a population of 450,000. Despite the city’s size, it’s not a popular vacation spot for the average foreign traveler. Instead, visitors are more likely to be local when visiting nearby tourist destinations like Khao Yai. National Park, Phimai and Phanom Rung.
The roots of the modern city date back to the late 17th century, when King Narai of Ayutthaya ordered the city to be built to protect the northeastern border of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya from Laos or Khmer attacks. She was defeated by local heroine Thao Suranaree in 1826. She and her army are credited with liberating the city from King Anouvong’s Laotian forces. These exploits have elevated ‘Yamo’ to almost godlike status on Korat. The town on Ratchadamnoen Rd is the city’s most visited attraction.
What to see?
- The archaeological site at Ban Prasat. Bronze Age artifacts at a 3,000-year-old burial site.
- Dan Kwan (Korat’s main pottery center). Famous for its rough textures and rust-like ceramic glazes.
- Khao Yai National Park. Thailand’s first national park. It has four different provinces with 3,000 species of plants, 200 wild elephants, tigers, gibbons, bears, deer, bats, wild boar and birds. Cottages cost 1,200 baht. Youth camps cost between 10 and 20 baht. Camping fee from 5 baht with your tent. 200 baht for adults and 100 baht for children.
- Thao Suranaree Bravery Light and Sound Performance Building, Municipal area, Chumphon Rd (Turn right onto Chumphon Rd off Hwy 224. This small white building, modeled after a section of the old city wall, is halfway out of Chumphon on the right, just before the junction to Assadang Rd). Tue-Sun 09:00-18:00. A rather odd attraction, this one-room museum/art exhibit documents the history of Thao Suranaree (Yamo) through miniature models. Village and battle scenes are faithfully recreated and stretch along one wall.
- On the opposite side of the room is an impressive wall-mounted high-relief sculpture of a battle scene. Yamo is right in the middle of the action. Some of the city’s oldest surviving photographs are on the walls and columns.
Korat is classified with three tropical seasons hot, rainy and cool (or sometimes dry). But the seasons overlap significantly, with the hot and rainy seasons occurring almost simultaneously, while the cool/dry season is relatively brief. November, December and January are generally very dry and relatively cool, although daytime temperatures often top 30 degrees C. March to June are the four hottest months, but this period can see heavy rains, especially in May. Temperatures drop each month slightly as the area enters the rainy season. August to October are the wettest months, but tropical storms can strike any time between March and October.