The Northeast of Thailand, commonly referred to as I-san (pronounce as E-San), is made up of nineteen provinces : Amnat Charoen, Buri Ram, Chaiyaphum, Kalasin, Khon Kaen, Loei, Maha Sarakham, Mukdahan, Nakhon Ratchasima ( Khorat), Nakhon Phanom, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Nong Khai, Roi Et, Sakon Nakhon, Si Sa Ket, Surin, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani and Yasothon. The word I-san denote vastness, which is appropriate considering that the Northeast covers a total area of more than 170,000 sq.kms., or roughly one- third of the entire country. It boders with Laos and Cambodia. I-san is noted for being the center of age-old civilization and customs dating back to pre-historic time and to the period when the Khmer people held sway in the region. Relics and monuments still stand, attesting to the splendors and majesty of the ancient era. The Phra That Phanom in Nakhon Phanom, the Prasat Hin Khao Phanom Rung in Burl Ram and the Prasat Hin Phimai in Khorat are some of the most important and interesting structures in the area.
The Ban Chiang village in U-don Thani, where remains of prehistoric skeletons and tools have been discovered,serves as a most concrete evidence of a Bronze age civilization 5,000 to 7,000 years ago. The Northeast's ancient traditions and customs are still reflected in fairs and festivals found nowhere else in the country. These include the colorful Bun Bang Fai (rocket festival), the Candle Procession and the Wax Castle Festival.
Folk performances of the region are both delightful and symbolic, including the Pong Lang, Khaen, Soeng Kratip, Rabam Fat Khao, for example.Because the majority of the land is sandy which rapidly absorbs water, no less than eight dams have been constructed to regulate water flow. The high level of salinity of the soil in certain areas is such that salt can be extracted for commercial purposes.The major river of I-san is the Mun comparable in importance to the Chao Phraya of the Central Plain and the Tapi of the South.Probably the most well-known local products of the Northeast are the world-famous Matmee silk manufactured in most provinces, wickerware, earthenware and edible items such as sausages, MU Yong and Mu Phaen (processed pork in thin ribbons or slices).
I-san is easily accessible with four major highways connecting it with other regions. Inter-provincial transportation net- are also among the best and most convenient.
Air-conditioned and non-airconditioned buses leave the northeastern bus terminal at Talat Mo Chit, Phahonyothin Road, Bangkok Tel: 2725299, 2720295
Bangkok railway station at Hua Lamphong, Rama 1V Road is the center for trains to northest provinces Tel: 2237010, 2237020. The northeastern provinces that can he reached by train are Nakhon Ratchasima, Buri Ram, Surin, Si Saket, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, Nong Khai and Udon Ratchathani.
Don Muang Domestic Airport is the center for flights to Northeast. The northeastern provinces that can be reached by plane are Nakhon Ratchasima, Sakon Nakhon, Khon Kaen. Udon Thani and Udon Ratchathani.