There’s the north of Thailand. Then there’s the northeast of Thailand.* The northeast is also known as isan, the term that never applies to the north. The two regions are separate and distinct in terms of food, dialect, culture, and geography. The Thai people don’t think of isan as part of “the north of Thailand.”
This is old news to most people. However, based on what I’ve seen in various publications, it appears quite a few are still confused. So I hope this brief post will be useful to those who write about Thai food and/or Thai restaurants who perhaps didn’t know this before.
* Different organizations employ different divisional schemes. What you see here is based on the one proposed by the Royal Institute and approved by the Thai government in 1977.