Udon Thani History

Like much of Thailand’s ancient history, there are few surviving records to tell us just how the region developed.

There are though tantalizing clues at Ban Chiang Archaeological Site, just 47km from Udon Thani, which dates to 1,500BC when humans in SE Asia first settled in villages, took up agriculture and began the production of metal tools showing that this was one of the first cradles of civilization and agriculture for the SE Asia region. The site, now a UNESCO world heritage site, is also famous for the find of the attractive red painted pottery which are now synonymous with the region and reproduced for tourist across the region.

Whilst always being a bustling markets for agricultural goods, Udon Thani as a city first was developed as a military base, known as Ban Mak-kaeng, when it was settled by Prince Prachak to crack down on minority uprising in the then north eastern state of Lao Puan.Major General Prince Prajak Sillpakhom was a son born to King Rama IV by mother Sangwan in 1856. As a royal commissionor during the reign of King Rama V, he was entitled Govermor of the Northen Province where he had roled from 1894. Ban Mak-kaeng has evolved from a rural city eventually into what is known as the present-day Udon Thani. A statue know sits at the center of the town to celebrate his role as Udon Thani's founder.

Udon Thani's second economic boost came in the 1960s when the US built the Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base as a joint-force military base during the Vietnam War.

Lockheed F-104 Starfighters at Udorn Thani air base in Thailand during the Vietnam War

The Mel Gibson film Air America refers to Udon and includes shots from the Udon military base. Udon Thani was also the largest base in the region for CIA's anti-communism campaign.Udon Thani also became the site of a Voice of America relay station alleged to have been a CIA black ops site which has led to numerous legendary stories of spies, espionage and double dealings from that period.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at these things, it is now hard to imagine Udon Thani as a fulcrum of international spying.

Instead Udon Thani is now a booming second city of Thailand that retains the beautiful, traditional rice fields around the city but has added a commercial center as it becomes the gateway for trade to Laos, Northern Vietnam and Southern China. With plans for the Kunming–Singapore Railway to pass next to Udon Thani, it is likely that this once small, agricultural town that began with a bronze age settlement 3,500 years ago will continue its development into a major metropolis and trading center for the entire region.

Modern Shopping Outlets

Udon Thani town still retains much of its ’Old Thailand’ feel though it now has shopping malls of size and quality as any modern city. You may not find top luxury brands here but variety, quality and price are certainly on display from electronics, to beauty to fashion.

Along side three Tesco-Lotus, two Big C malls, a Makro, are three large shopping malls the largest of which is CentralPlaza Udon Thaniwhich hosts Udon Thani's largest movie theatre cinema Major Cineplex. Typically in Thailand all English films are shown in English with Thai subtitles so there is no need to miss out on that ‘must watch film.’

Udon's Central Plaza at Christmas time

Landmark Plaza, which is mainly dedicated to IT, has the second largest cineplex in Udon Thani, SF Cinema City. The third Mall is IT Plaza and also hosts a cineplex.

The other modern shopping mall UD TOWN opened in winter 2009. In a park-like setting on an area of 38,000 m² / 24 rai, UD TOWN is Thailand's largest open air shopping center and hosts many restaurants and cafes, including Japanese buffet and upmarket Italian, alongside shops and open market stalls.

UD Town

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