Royal Lotus City - commonly known as Ubon - has a population of 200,000 and is one of the 'big four' cities of the Northeast (Isaan). It is an ancient city of beautiful lotuses, a two-coloured river, numerous temples and ancient Khmer ruins. The three-hundred-year-old city has been the centre of many notable events in ancient Thai and Khmer history. In modern times it hosted a large US Air Base used during the Vietnam War. Ubon boasts two universities, which provide a young, energetic feel to the town, and the friendly, Lao-speaking locals go out of their way to welcome foreigners. It is also a major centre for Buddhist learning, with two-dozen temples in the city alone. It became a popular place in the 1960's and 70's for westerners to come and study Buddhism; it still boasts the only temple in Thailand where English is the main language spoken. Although not on the main tourist trail, sleepy Ubon has a host of things to attract visitors; including a self-guided tour of the town's temples, or simply wandering around the ancient town centre which nestles on the banks of the Mae Nam Mun River ("Moon River"). You can also see finely carved candles, buy folk instruments, Buddha Images and exquisitely sewn garments - hand-made from Thai silk and cotton. Many ancient wooden houses have also survived. Ubon is a set-off point for travelling to Southern Laos, with the border crossing point nearby.