Korat/Nakhon Ratchasima – A Genuine Taste of Isaan in 2023

Nakhon Ratchasima, commonly known as Korat, is the gateway to the northeastern provinces of Thailand. This is a modern city established during the 17th century. During that time, the King of Ayutthaya wanted to protect the Ayutthaya Kingdom’s northeastern region from attacks.

It was for this reason that he ordered the construction of this city to protect its Kingdom. The city grew quite well and offers tourists a blend of everything and a taste of Isaan.

When you reach Korat, you can feel there is a sense of Chinese influence. As you know, many Chinese migrated to South East Asia during the internal struggles in China decades ago. If you go to Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and even Indonesia, you will always see a strong Chinese heritage in these countries.

Here in Korat, it is similar although comparatively less obvious. Sometimes you can see people here sing some Chinese songs at karaoke in the local restaurants! Also, there are many jewelry shops, a trade that the Chinese like.

If you have been to Chiang Mai, you will notice the ancient city structure there. In Korat, they have something similar but only very little is left. What is still prominent is probably the ancient city gates only, and that is about all.

One interesting experience when I was there was seeing an incredible number of birds near some of these gates in the evening. They just come together happily and their chirping was deafening!

How To Get To Nakhon Ratchasima

Getting there is easy. There are frequent buses from Bangkok. I am going to recommend taking a bus as it is the most direct and convenient way to Korat. For the bus ride, the journey takes about 3.5 hours. I took the opportunity to look at the scenery along the way, and I must say I enjoyed the comfortable ride.

This is what you can do. Find your way to Mo Chit Bus Terminal in Bangkok. If you are coming from the airport, the taxi to Mo Chit Bus Terminal will cost you about 400 baht via the expressway — included in the price I quoted are the expressway toll charges of about 70 baht.

It is well worth the money. You do not want to carry your belongings around trying other less efficient means of transportation to Mo Chit Bus Terminal. Yes, you may save some money, but you will waste lots of time, and go through lots of hassle.

When you are at Mo Chit, head straight to the 3rd floor, and you will find many counters selling tickets to Nakhon Ratchasima. It will cost you about 220 baht for a comfortable, air-conditioned bus.

Don’t worry if you are in a rush and have not eaten because there are a few 7 Eleven shops in the bus terminal where you can buy food and drinks. This is the beauty of Thailand. You will never go hungry and thirsty anywhere, anytime.

The bus ride is a straightforward one. Enjoy it. When you reach Korat, a tuk-tuk to your hotel will cost you around 70-100 baht. That is often the quote you will get. There is no need for you to bargain for anything less than 70 baht, you won’t get it.

Hotel At Korat

I recommend The Rich Hotel. The price is reasonable and it is very convenient, somewhat centrally located in the heart of the city. When you walk out of the hotel, it is only walking distance away from major roads in the city. It is also within walking distance to Suranareemarket, an amazing fresh market where you can buy whole foods for really good prices.

Tuk-tuk or motorbike taxi to Nakhon Ratchasima Bus Terminal 2 is only about 2 minutes.

Getting Around Nakhon Ratchasima

nakhon ratchasima
Tuk Tuk’s waiting for customer

Transportation in Nakhon Ratchasima: If you like to comprehensively cover Korat in the most time-efficient manner, consider going around the city by some mode of transportation. It could be getting a tuk-tuk and booking him for the day, but that will cost you some money.

I am going to suggest renting a motorbike for getting around. It is value for money. A day rental is about 250 baht. Go to Suranaree Road and you will find several shops eager to serve you.

Wear your helmet and you must bring your driving license along with you as traffic police are quite active in Korat. They may stop you and ask for your driving license. But not to worry, they are usually tourist-friendly.

One thing you must do is to keep the shop’s contact number with you at all times. Just in case you run into trouble with the police, you can always get them to call the motorbike Transportation in Nakhon Ratchasima shop owner.

The traffic is fine. Just be careful when you drive. One thing travelers like to do is to try to sightsee while driving. Yes, everything looks interesting in a new place. However, you need to put your attention on the traffic while you drive. Safety first. You really do not want to get into an accident in a foreign land, that will ruin your entire trip.

Some people just don’t like the idea of getting around with a motorbike. Alternatively, go on a bicycle, or even on foot. The streets are well kept and clean.

Cars for rent are also available for those who prefer this mode of transport.

Shopping At Korat

Let me get this straight. Korat is not Bangkok. If you are looking for super huge shopping complexes in Korat, this is not a place for you. However, there is a reasonably big shopping center here — The Mall and also Terminal 21. There is also another smaller one right in the heart of the city called Klang Plaza.

You will find other smaller shops and stalls around the city area which you can explore. Walk around and relax. Enjoy the atmosphere.

Eating At Korat

eating at korat
Shrimp Pad Thai

Where to eat at Nakhon Ratchasima? You do not have to worry about this one. Cheap and nice local food is everywhere. For breakfast, I urge you to try a fantastically delicious porridge (for only 30 baht with egg) at Jomsurangyart Road. If you are looking for some local dishes for dinner, just wander along this road and you will not be disappointed.

If you like a nice cup of coffee, you can check out a place called Nen Nen Coffee situated at Suranaree Road.

For lunch, you must somehow find your way to this special shop serving local Isaan food. Local Thai Food in this boutique restaurant is splendid. It’s beautifully decorated with a nice interior design. The food is just fantastic. The owner is most friendly.

For supper at night, you try to go to Jomsurangyart Road and you will find one or two stalls selling hot milk, Ovaltine, and some other drinks, served with steamed bread. This steam bread is a specialty that you must not miss. It comes with a special locally made sauce for you to dip in your bread. Delicious!

Massage At Korat

Thailand is famous for its traditional Thai massage which is quite good for health. In the city of Korat, it is probably hard to find a real, pure massage shop for this purpose.

In the city, the price quoted is around 260-350 baht for one course. Although they say one course is about 2 hours, it may turn out to be just over an hour. Don’t get too worked out about it if it happens to you. You don’t want small issues like this to spoil your trip.

If you are looking for real pure Traditional Thai massage for health, you need to go further away from the city. The price will drop significantly and you will get your real Traditional massages.

If you’re interested in learning more about Thailand’s more adult massage parlors check out our link here for a more in-depth look.

My Feelings On Korat

massage at korat

Nakhon Ratchasima/Korat is a nice place to visit. Quite a few locals here speak and understand some English. That makes it convenient for travelers.

The place is quiet and clean, things are reasonably priced, and people are friendly. One of the highlights for me is the food. I find the food in Korat is nice and delicious. I could be biased because I love local Thai food.

January is a good time to visit this city as the weather is not too hot, and it is cooling at night and in the morning. If you have extra time, consider going to Phimai from here. Phimai is well-known for its Phimai Historical Park and Khmer temples. They are very well preserved. In fact, some say the best-preserved ones in Thailand are found in Phimai. It is similar to Angkor Wat but on a much smaller scale.

Unlike Chiang Mai or Bangkok, you will not find droves of tourists in Korat. I find this is good as it gives an opportunity for the place to offer you local flavors and attractions. Overall, things are complete and balanced here.

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