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. And even though isan is, geographically speaking, consider the northeastern part of the country, the Thai people don’t refer to it as part of “the north of Thailand”—the term that immediate takes their minds to the northern region.
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.