The Vietnam War transformed the sleepy provincial city of Udon Thani into a booming support center for a nearby American airbase, and since the withdrawal of American troops in 1976, it has continued to grow as an industrial and commercial center within the region. Located on an elevated plateau, the province is blessed with numerous forested hills and tributaries, but the Phu Pan mountain ranges and the Songkhram River are the province's 2 main natural resources. The province's main attraction is its archeological sites that date back over 5,000 years, particularly the one at Ban Chiang.

Located 564 kilometres from Bangkok, the province is a prime business centre of I-San. It is a world heritage site for the prehistoric culture of Ban Chiang. It covers an area of 11, 730 square kilometers.

:: Attractions

Discovered by accident in 1966, the principal attraction of Ban Chiang is its archeological sites with evidence that indicate Northeastern Thailand may have been one of the world's earliest centers of spear production. Findings include spearheads dating from 3,600 BC and ceramics dating from the period between 3,000 BC and 500 AD. A collection of these artifacts and other ornamental items (bangles, rings) are on display at the Ban Chiang National Museum. Based on these findings, Ban Chiang has been recognized as an UNESCO Heritage Site.

A short distance away are 2 covered excavation sites on the grounds of the Wat Pho Si Nai , featuring graves containing skeletal remains and symbolic burial ceramics pots arranged along the edge of the grave and over the bodies themselves. Other findings at the burial site include jewelry, tools, weapons, and river pebbles.

A depressed Buddha's Footprint, sunken 60-cm into the concrete ground, with a length of 193 m and width of 90 cm, can be seen at Phra Buddha Bat Bua Bok. The temple ground also contains a lotus-shaped chedi , similar to the Phra That Phanom, housing holy Buddhist relics. The early 20 th century pagoda is the focal point of the Phu Phra Bat Historical Park.

The extensive Phu Phra Bat Historical Park , located at the foot of the Phu Pan Mountains, features the exhibition of the evolution of man and geographical changes that took place displayed on sandstones refined naturally over time, producing various shapes and sizes of limestone structures. These serve as interesting evidence of ancient civilizations from many sites.

The Naka Village and Men Village produce woven fabric of cotton, silk, and kit (a traditional design) material at very affordable prices.

The Chinese God and Goddess of Mercy, the Pu-Ya Shrine is highly revered by all those seeking favors to alleviate economical and personal problems. Kept inside the large and attractive lakeside shrine is a lone 99-m golden dragon that is used in performing the annual Thung Sri Muang Fair in December.

After nearly 10 years of cultivation, the Udon Sunshine Orchid Farm features the aromatic flower whose extracts are used in making perfumes. The orchids produce a fragrant smell from morning until two in the afternoon.

The complex of Wat Ban Tat is situated on a densely forested, hilly area surrounded by rice paddies, an ideal setting for meditation. The temple's boundaries are clearly defined by a concrete wall, which prevents encroachment by the abundant wildlife. The monastery is under the strict guidance of a disciple of Phra Acharn Man Phurithatto, a widely respected northeastern Buddhist ecclesiastic.

Locals flock to the midsize Than Ngam Waterfall for an afternoon of relaxation and fun.

The scenic Huay Luang Reservoir is ideal for fishing, rafting and boat cruising.

:: City attraction

Krom Luang Prachaksinlapakhom Monument , built to commemorate the founder of Udon Thani, is located in the centre of the town.

Nong Prachak is located within the province and an islet arranged as a public park with a great variety of trees and flowers centres the lake. It is a popular place for recreation among the townspeople.

Wat Phothi Somphon is located within the province, built at the end of King Rama V era (around the early of 20 th century).

Wat Matchimawat is a temple located within the province, renovated in the reign of King Rama V, and houses a white rock Buddha image.

San Chao Pu -Ya is a Chinese-style shrine located near Nong Bua market within the provincial town. It is a large beautiful Chinese shrine near the pond. The shrine keeps a 99 metre-tall replicated golden dragon, which is used in the annual festival of Thung Si Muang in December.

Udon Saeng Tawan (Sunshine) Orchid Garden is located in Soi Kamol Watthana on Udon Thani-Nong Samrong route (Highway No. 204). The garden produces and puts on sale a new species of Thai scented orchid called "Udon Sunshine". It is the only know vanda-hybrid which is fragrant between the early morning hours and about 2 p.m., and it is the first orchid in the world to be used in the production of perfume.

Wat Ban Tat is located off the centre of the province. Take Highway No. 2 (Udon Thani-Khon Kaen) and make a right at Ban Kong Keng for 9 kilometres. The temple is teeming with trees and small, wild animals. A number of Thais practise meditation at this temple.

Ban Na Kha and Ban Men is situated 16 kilometres from town on Nong Khai route. It is a centre of cotton, silk, and khit silk trading.

Huai Luang Reservoir is located on Udon Thani-Loei Highway. This huge reservoir comes under the care of the Irrigation Department, offers beautiful scenery.