Mahasarakham Travel Guide

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Tonwa Residence and Resort

Tonwa Residence and Resort

Being a college town boasting seven institutions of higher learning, prices are cheap and the restaurants are lively. 

The city is also the provincial capitol for Mahasarakham Province with a fairly new and strikingly beautiful white modern-traditional capitol building on the south side of town. 

The Museum of Northeastern Isaan Culture is on the downtown campus of Mahasarakham University (MSU), the largest of the local HE institutions with a student body of 30,000 plus. MSU's second, Khamriang Campus  (9 kilometers north of town) is not to be missed.  Strikingly modern architecture in rich brick facades characterize the many buildings on campus--contrasting with nearby rice farmers plowing with buffalo, provide a great amateur photographer's delight. 

Several relaxing parks are nearby for a stroll or picnic, one of which is Wang Ma Cha, a few kilometers northeast out of town. 

Tuk-tuks and mortorcycle taxis are plentiful and cheaply-hired.  Frequent and cheap bus service connects with other nearby towns (Khon Kaen, Roi-et)  for great one-day excursions.

The downtown Taksila Hotel provides a four-star experience for a one-star price, including a delicious Wednesday noon buffet and Thai massage services.  A cheaper, yet clean and friendly hotel lies just behind the above hotel, called "New Pattana Hotel."  The nightly rate (550B) includes a bountiful buffet breakfast.   Other inexpensive options are the Vasu Hotel, with its Thai-style cafe, also in the city centre, and Suan Warun, the training hotel at Mahasaraham Rajabhat University just off the Khon Kaen road.  Suan Warun boasts an excellent restaurant and sometimes offers very low prices to ensure a flow of guests for the students.

Shopping options in Mahasarakham remain more limited than in other large Isan towns but have improved in recent years.  The downtown SermThai department store includes a small mall, which has a small Tesco Lotus and the usual Western-oriented fast food outlets such as KFC and Swensons.  Another shopping center, "CenterPoint" is near the canal past the Vasu Hotel.  There is a Big C located 5-6km. north of town on Highway 213.  The fresh food market near the central clock tower provides a fascinating insight into the culture of a central Isan town.

In the past Mahasarakham had the reputation of a regional educational centre with very limited entertainment options.  However, today there are a large number of lively restaurants and bars, mainly on the side of the city near the downtown campuses of MSU and the Rajabhat, and on the roads leading in to the Khamriang campus. Two of the best restaurants are Jaan Nuan near the city centre on the Borabue road, and Si Muang Steakhouse in a nearby soi leading to the Nursing College. Westerners will probably like the western-style menu at "BKK Steak" just northwest of the MSU gym in Kamriang on the main road (sign is in Thai, so just ask).  Fare: fish & chips, steak, burgers, etc.

Best time to visit:  November through January for cool weather.

[Be sure to visit the Photo Gallery for more scenes from Mahasarakham and sites mentioned in this review.]

(May 2006)


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