It wasn’t that long ago that the eastern outpost of Buriram was seen as the armpit of the nation. It was home to black necromancy, divine kitten-meat sausages and a whole lotta ghost problems. That’s not even counting the time the military government knocked down its monument to democracy.
But Buriram ain’t your daddy’s Buriram anymore. No sir. Today it’s got title-winning Buriram United playing inside the 33,000-seat Chang Arena (we still prefer “Thunder Castle”), a world-class FIA- and FIM-worthy motorsport track hosting major events such as MotoGP. It’s also where a lot is happening in Thailand’s nascent marijuana industry. Not bad for a province of 1.2 million people in the nation’s lower income tier.
A lot of that is due to the godfather of bringing political pork home to his people, Newin Chidchob and his ideologically untethered (that seems a nice way to put it) Bhumjaithai Party.
With all that going on, it’s no surprise that visits to the province have exploded nearly four-fold in a single year, according to Airbnb, which put year-on-year booking increase at 383%. That’s just below Milwaukee, Wisconsin (No. 1) and Bilbao, Spain (No. 2).
What locales did Buriram best?
- Sunbury, Australia? Bested.
- Romania? Beaten like Dacia.
- Xi’an, China? Shan’t compare.
- Eugene, Oregon? As if.
Not even Luxembourg could match the magnetism of Buriram.
Airbnb put it thusly in a report earlier this month:
“The rural province of Buriram is home to some of Thailand’s most treasured Khmer relics. Its best known monument is the incredible Phanom Rung complex which is comparable in grandeur to its much more famous Cambodian neighbor, Angkor Wat. In addition to ancient ruins, the province has also become a sporting hotspot: 2018 saw the inaugural MotoGP motor racing event at the Chang International Circuit which also plays host to the Buriram Marathon each year.”
It did not quantify the number of visits to any of the destinations, just that a whole lot more people were booking places there than in the past.
More great (and less so) moments in Buriram: