259km (161 miles) NE of Bangkok; 150km (93 miles) W of Buriram; 305km (190 miles) S of Udon Thani
Nakhon Ratchasima, popularly known by its older name Khorat, isn’t a wildly interesting city, but it’s close to Bangkok and makes a good base for excursions to beautiful Khao Yai National Park (Khao Yai trips most commonly depart from Bangkok) and the Khmer temple at Phimai. It is a rapidly developing industrial city and is called the "Gateway to Isan" because it is located in the southwest corner of the region and all train lines, bus routes, roads, and communications from Bangkok pass through it. There is little in the way of local public transportation, and it’s a significant distance between key sites, so plan to explore this area by car. There are some comfortable accommodations in Khorat and a few temples and city monuments worth seeing. The city also gives its name to the Khorat Plateau, which occupies most of Isan. The plateau is made of sandstone, which accounts for the region’s lack of fertility, and stands about 200m (656 ft.) above sea level.