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The capital of an arid sugar-cane and rice-growing province, 137km north of Khon Kaen, UDON THANI was given an economic boost during the Vietnam War with the siting of a huge American military base nearby, and despite the American withdrawal in 1976, the town has maintained its rapid industrial and commercial development. Seen as charmless but economically important for many years, Udon has now started to attract more casual visitors, with the city’s new entertainment plaza and the relaxing Nong Prajak park providing the main focus for a couple of lazy days in the city. By night the area known as UD Town springs into life, with tourists and locals thronging the pedestrianized streets to eat, chatter and watch local dance troupes. Apart from these places, and the excavated Bronze Age settlement of Ban Chiang, 50km to the east, there aren’t many tourist attractions in the area.

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