Why I am Living in Ubon, Thailand

Ubon

I love this photo as it really captures how smashed I was for 3 days straight during Songkran.

Inspired by Dan’s excellent wrap up on why he is living in Bali, I thought I’d jot down some notes on why after 29 months of bouncing around Asia, I have decided to call Ubon Ratchathani my home.

We need to go back 2 months; Myself and my ex-girlfriend of 4 years decided to split ways. The split happened suddenly and I was stuck as to where to go. The Thai Songkran festival was just around the corner so I decided to get the bus down to Ubon and celebrate it here, while I decided where I was going to go next. I had no intentions of staying in Ubon long term, yet I’ve now seriously fallen in love with the place and see a future (at least a year or 2) for myself here.

This isn’t a post to connivence you to check out or move to Ubon. In fact, Ubon city is pretty darn ugly and compared to Bali, there’s very few things to do here. There’s also very little infrastructure for foreigners in Ubon – which for most people is essential – yet for me, this is one of the biggest attractions.

There’s also the language issue. Very few people in the North East of Thailand speak English and unless you speak good Thai, you are limited as to who you can meet and hang out with here. Most expats in Thailand seem to hang out with other expats all the time – which I think for most part is due to communication problems (sadly, very few expats in Thailand speak good Thai). However after 5 years of learning to speak Thai, I am very comfortable hanging out and meeting Thai friends. In fact, I prefer to hang out with locals verses most expats; I get their jokes, and they sometimes get mine :) Being able to communicate in Thai is probably the biggest reason Ubon is best suited for me, yet wouldn’t necessarily be the best location for others.

Why Ubon? Why settle down?

I guess I’m at that stage of my life where I’m ready to settle down and have some routine, and Ubon is great for that. I work in the mornings, I exercise in the afternoons and I socialise with friends during the evenings. I will still continue to travel regularly – yet I now really like having my own base (I absolutely love my own wardrobe hahaha!).

Anyway… that’s enough rambling on… let’s get into some pictures that I hope will paint a bit of a picture of what my life in Ubon is like…

Ubon

This is my bachelor pad. It’s a small studio apartment in the center of town that costs $120 per month. Cheap as chips!

Ubon

My Honda Click – I love this machine and rely on it daily to get myself around town.

Ubon

The swimming pool I visit daily. I often hook up with friends here and we talk for hours.

Ubon

The first gym I actually enjoy visiting. The staff here are amazing and it’s like I’ve got 2 personal trainers who are always teaching me how to lift weights properly. Membership for the pool and gym is only $90 for 3 months.

Ubon

Although Ubon city is ugly, 10 minutes in any direction outside of town and your blessed with beautiful countryside.

Ubon

Although now it’s the rainy season… and I’m often getting caught out in the rain!

Ubon

There are some excellent restaurants in Ubon, and this is a late night fav of mine as it’s open until 5am.

Ubon

There are also a few bamboo floating restaurants that make for a nice change of scenery.

Ubon

Roasted isaan style fish at the bamboo place. This was to die for… hmmmm :)

Ubon

Not all food in Isaan is equal. This guy is selling BBQ toads!

Ubon

I never used to like working in Coffee Shops, yet this coffee shop is different. The owner and all of the staff are like my second family now, and I average 40+ hours per week here.

Ubon

While we are on the subject of food, let me introduce some dishes I have on a regular basis. The first is my high protein breakfast consisting of chicken with garlic and eggs.

Ubon

For lunch I normally dine at Fuji the Japanese restaurant or MK – a Suki style place. Above is the beef salad at Fuji and is delicious!

Ubon

I am currently on the Slow Carb diet (I’ve lost 10kg already and I’m now building muscle – more on that on another post). I get one day off per week where I can eat carbs, and I never miss having this home-made burger.

Ubon

Ubon is blessed to have one of the best Italian restaurants I’ve ever dinned at, and I always come here on my cheat day. Franco, the guy above, is the friendly owner.

Ubon

The smoked salmon and home made bread at Spagos is amazing!

Ubon

And the best thing about living in Ubon…. are my friends. After years of moving around on a regular basis, it feels great to finally start building meaningful long-term relationships with friends.

Ubon

John and Callum – 2 solid friends who enjoy a party!

Ubon

My usual crew. We always have a great time.

Ubon

My girls.

Anyway… I hope this gives you some insight as to why I’m now basing myself here in Ubon :)

  1. vickie

    Nice wrap up. I’ve never been to Isaan, but everyone highly recommends it.
    My Thai is….well…non existant really so I’d have a hard time living there by the sounds of it :(
    Q1: How’s the Ubon net for speed and reliability?
    Q2: What’s the (overland) travel time from BKK?

    AND
    OMG have you really lost 10kg on the 4HB? I’m reading the book now… seems kinda scary…I love my thai curries and noodles SOOO much.
    Do you think it is easier to bypass some of the carb-ier (is that a word?) dishes because you’ve been in Thailand so long?

    Cheers,
    vick

    1. Chris Post author

      The internet speed here is more consistant than in Bangkok, although it’s still Thailand’s speed :)

      Not sure on the overland time – I always fly.

      As for cutting out carbs in Thailand: I eat far less street food now, and mostly dine at the big chain restaurants: MK and Fuji. I do eat Thai food during the evenings… and I’m not to strict on the sauces etc…. I just cut out the rice and noodles.

    2. TR

      Internet speed has always been great for me in Ubon on 3BB. Routinely max out the bandwidth.

      Driving is about 7-9 hours to Ubon depending on how many women and children are with you. :) With 4 people it’s usually cheaper for us to drive and there’s some nice places to stop on the way.

  2. Jon

    Great post and great to see you are enjoying life in Ubon, which I guess is somewhat off the beaten track for many farangs. Good stuff

    1. Chris Post author

      Thanks for commenting Job!

      I’m really enjoying it, and being of the tourist track is defo one of the big attractions for me.

  3. Dan

    Absolutely love the post Chris! David has told me so much about your neck of the woods, I’m looking forward to visiting you sometime in the next year or so to see what all the fuss is about :D

  4. David H

    Awesome post, Chris.

    I agree with pretty much everything you said. I loved the month I spent with you in Isaan earlier this year. My 2 favorite things were the incredible food and the crazy parties.

    I personally can’t see myself living in Isaan for some of the reasons you mentioned above (nothing to do, huge language barrier, …), but I’m definitely looking forward to come back and visit again.

    1. Chris Post author

      I was looking at the picture with Benz and you with a cone on your head the other day lol – Indeed, crazy parties :)

      1. Vee

        Good read mate ! Ive been thinking about Staying in Ubon for a while as im currently living in Bkk. What is the name if the apartments ur staying at ? And what others do u recommend. The slower pace is just what i want. I look forward to maybe having a beer with u mate. Cheers Vee

  5. Neale

    Ubon I have heard good things about that place looks like you have a sweet setup! I have done similar after 12 months of trying to find a place, eventually settling on Chiang Rai.. a “click” though :-)

      1. Neale

        Be great to see you up here!
        Not sure the click will get you up some of the trails though :-)
        I haven’t found a trail yet my wave cant do :-)

  6. Cameron Drever

    Hey mate, this was a really great little insight into life in SE Asia.
    I have a slight obsession with moving over there now! This time next year (Actually, October is my deadline) I intend to have saved up enough cash and move over there and Ubon seems an absolutely perfect place for me. I love weightlifting, eating/cuisine and relaxing countryside – pretty much my only 3 hobbies!
    The only tihngs I am inquisitive about are not knowing a single Thai word – will this prove a massive hindrance in finding work initially?
    I am obviously more than keen to learn (it’s only respectful really) and shall do, but don’t know how much of a hindrance it shall be in …
    Finding work? Are there plenty of jobs available? I would love to work in that quaint wee coffeeshop there or something….anything.
    I’m just incredibly excited about moving over but have never really gone far out my wee Scottish village so know nothing about becoming an expat or anything! Perhaps we could meet up for a pint at some point if you’re still about?
    Cheers

  7. Cameron Drever

    Oh, another thing is I save “I intend to have saved up enough cash” but I actually have no idea how much that should be! How far do you reckon £2,000 would get me until say finding work or just as a backbone? Would that sum go far?
    Cheers

  8. danny

    Hello,

    was thinking of coming to Ubon for a few days and hopefully check out the candle fest and whatever else may be going on ~ i do know a couple really cute girls from there but other than that i wonder if I’ll get bored or if there is enough nightlife to stimulate me ~ would Love to hear if you’d suggest a 3 day or 6 day trip for a guy who lives in Patong and loves a good party ~ also if you could recommend a decent hotel to stay hopefully near some nightlife and at a moderate price ~

    thanks for the nice write up and peace to you.

    danny

    ps. if you have time to have a beer or something, let me know ~

  9. Jim Collister

    Some nice pics. Live down the road from you, near Buntharik. Can’t say I am a big fan of Ubon, but everyone has his place. Jim

  10. Kwan

    Hi Cris,

    I am from Ubon too. did you still live in Ubon ? and how long ? i wonder why dont have anybody open the bar seem like for the most tourist place? can you give me concern? might i will

    Kwan

  11. Kwan

    Hi there again,

    Did you know how many forigen live in Ubon ? can you give me some information ? do you think have tourist enought to make money from them.

    Thanks.

    Kwan

  12. john

    nice site mate im moving to ubon in march .from phang nga next to phuket i know its quieter been there b4 but the people are so much nicer…might be nice to meet you when i move..take care

  13. golthos

    Hey I just moved to Ubon and I am looking for a teaching job for myself and any job for my girlfriend. I also need a good nursery or babysitter for my son. I have 7 years teaching experience in Thailand all in Bangkok. My gf is Thai and has a degree from Ramkamhaeng University and has experience working insurance auditing. Any suggestions would be of great help.

  14. Dennis

    Good on you Chris, sounds like you’ve reached your chosen location, and soaking up the spoils. One of the hardest things in life is making a determined effort to stick your neck out and go and do something entirely different. You’ve obviously taken a good look at what is in front of you, and ear-marked Ubon as ‘home’. Who knows? you might outlast the two years you’ve nominated as your optional stay, and may make Ubon your final frontier. All the best, and enjoyed all the snaps. Dennis, Sydney.

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