Out and about at Rice Paddy Villa
The holiday villa sits between country villages where the way of life is authentically Thai, and has only seen gradual changes over the past decades. These are agricultural communities, rooted in the land where families still tend the smallholdings that were formerly tilled by their ancestors. Whilst some of the crops have changed - perhaps from rice to rubber trees, cassava or even sandalwood - most families still tend the rice paddies and observe the seasonal rituals associated with the cultivation of both jasmine and sticky rice - the staples of the Northeast. Indigenous culture, traditions and folklore, and a focus on living off the land, still prevail today around Rice Paddy Villa.
The villa and its vicinity offer numerous diversions for those wishing to uncover and experience a genuine Thai way of life, or to witness scenes so rare in other regions of the kingdom, where development has proceeded at a dizzying pace. Adding to the attraction of the area, the villagers here remain genuinely friendly and welcoming, and are keen to find out as much about visitors to their homelands as the latter are to experience an alternative way of life.
Below we list just a few examples of things to do and places to see in the area. Do feel free to check at the villa upon arrival what local festivals or happenings may be occurring during your stay - as these are often somewhat impromptu, but always offer a fascinating insight into the region.
Pilot the Skylab
The skylab is a fairly common sight in and around Udon Thani province. North eastern Thailand's modifiied tuk-tuk aimed to maximize transportation space in the cab mounted on this three wheel, motorcycle engine powered rickshaw, permitting farmers to use the contraption to transport goods to market, whilst also allowing it to be used as a people carrier out of season. It drives in a similar fashion to a motorcycle, although cornering takes considerable practice! It affords an authentic and amusing way to explore the Thai countryside as a couple or a family.
Get to the Roots of Rice
The rice paddies all around the Thai villa form the cornerstone of the local village economy. Depending upon the season in which you take your villa holiday, you will see the rice fields at one stage of the rice cycle, and are welcome to assist and to try your hand at ploughing the paddies, planting emerald seedlings, or harvesting and threshing the mature golden rice.
Visit Silk Weavers and Mudmee Cotton Markets
Silk is still woven on old wooden looms in several villages nearby, and a particular appreciation of the skills required to produce these intricate designs is always nurtured when seeing the weaving in action. The popular local mudmee and khit cloths are also produced locally and are specific to the region.
Negotiate a Bustling Wet Market
Amidst the local farming communities you will have the opportunity to visit any number of markets selling fresh produce from the farms dotted across the countryside. These range from peripatetic markets selling a limited amount of fresh fruit, vegetables and meat together with cooked dishes and perhaps items of clothing and local specialties, to the larger established markets. The latter are generally housed under a large roof with no walls, and are illuminated by numerous bare bulbs hanging down over each individual stall. The stall holders here tend to specialize in a particular product or range of produce: one stall will be stacked high with overflowing woven baskets of fresh chillies, coriander, mint, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, lime leaves and fresh green pepper, whilst another will sell freshly grilled chicken and a spicy green papaya salad, and another trays of Thai desserts concocted from coconut, sticky rice, pandanus and crunchy beans. Throughout the year, you will find a vast assortment of seasonal fruit - from papaya, watermelon and banana, to mango and pineapple, and more exotic Thai fruit such as pomegranate, passion fruit, durian, jackfruit, pomelo, langsat, custard apple, guava, sapodilla and more!
On your bike!
Borrow one of our bicycles and take one of our maps of the area to explore on two wheels.
Chop, Wok and Cook
We'll be happy to show you how we cook a number of Thai dishes and Isan favourites. You may want to hone your skills ion a Tom Yam Kung, or to try something equally delicious but more unusual, such as a a fiery herbed catfish, a tasty beef salad or a piquant panaeng curry. And as we have always adapted food from our neighbours throughout our history, we will be equally happy to show you how to make an ambrosial vindaloo!
Float your boat
Prepare to balance yourselves precariously in our long, thin wooden boat and to push out into the listed wetlands nearby. As you roam out further, you will see fishermen at work, skilfully casting their circular nets, hunters seeking enormous snails to grill with some rice whisky, and children picking lotus stems to chop into a spicy salad or fragrant soup. Water buffalo will watch you, bemused, as they wallow in the cooling waters, and a plethora of birds and waterfowl will wing their way past. In the cooler months, the lake comes alive with an unending host of pink lotus flowers swathing the clear waters in a long purple mantle stretching to the horizon.
The characters and places in the area surrounding the Thai holiday villa are replete with opportunities for the keen or amateur photographer. Whether you shoot wildlife or birds, landscapes or portraits, the area is rich with subjects. If you prefer negative photography, we advise you to bring your preferred film with you as supplies in the immediate vicinity are slim. Digital photographers should remember their chargers!
Massage your Ego
Traditional Thai massages may be arranged at the villa; these massages are performed by local practitioners with years of experience. Do specify whether you prefer a gentle or more robust massage so that we can propose a practitioner accordingly.
Cross the Laos Border at the Mekong
The villa lies approximately one and a half hours south of Nong Khai, the Thai border town opposite the Lao capital Vientiane, on the powerful Mekong river. A colonial influence is noticeable in Nong Khai, with elements of French architecture, local baguettes and the presence of a Vietnamese community selling Vietnamese food in the markets. The riverside is home to a sprawling market, and from Nong Khai you can cross the border over the Friendship Bridge into Laos, either for a day trip into Vientiane or as a precursor to more extensive travel in Laos, perhaps to Van Vieng or Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World heritage Site at the confluence of the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers. The former kingdom was known as Lane Xang - or the Kingdom of a Million Elephants.
Cast yourself Back in Time
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ban Chiang is twenty minutes from the property. Home to the Ban Chiang museum, where remains and artefacts from the excavations here are displayed, the town lays claim to being a cradle of civilization and home to a precocious bronze Age. The village also continues its tradition of producing hand made earthenware pottery in the typical Ban Chiang forms in swirling ochre - designs specific to this town alone - as well as wooden products.
Go Back to School
A visit to the village's local primary school gives an interesting insight into local Thai village life, and the contrast with schools overseas is evident. Should you wish to make a donation, the school is always very appreciative of toys, sporting goods or simple English books or educational games.
Learn the basics of Thai boxing (Muay Thai) at Rice Paddy Villa, or hone your skills with a former professional Thai boxer.
For golfers, rounds may be arranged at golf courses near Udon Thani.
Sri Thani, Udon Golf Club, and the Airforce courses each 9 hole courses
with two par 3, five par 4, and two par 5.
The 9 hole Army course at Nong Samrong with five par 3, two par 4 and two par 5.
Additional places of interest in the province are detailed on our Udon Thani province page.
The rice has been harvested and we are looking forward to the New Year.