The Happy Buddha Bar in Ban Dung
The turn of phrase ‘Home is where you lay your hat’ is valid at the Happy Buddha Bar & Restaurant in Ban Dung because it’s ‘home from home’ for many ex-pats living in the town and its surrounding rice clad and rubber affluent districts. It’s also somewhere I choose to lay my hat when I canter into Udon Thani’s hidden treasure, Ban Dung.
The Happy Buddha Bar (mysteriously spelt Budda) is a modern-looking air-con bar with an up-to-the-minute/homey interior design, and a place I rate as one of the best bars outside of Udon Thani’s major city.
Udon Thani Bars – The Happy Buddha Bar & Restaurant in Ban Dung
The bar is the fruitful and flourishing work of Peter Fitzgerald and the Galway born self-taught restaurateur (pictured above with his Thai wife Miapon) has travelled far from the fields of Athenry to Ban Dung by way of Bali.
Peter spent six years on the sun-kissed Indonesian island fine-tuning Irish ballads and spicy salads in the tourism bar and bistro business. Peter’s shift to rural Thailand has benefited the sleepy town by adding another quality watering hole to Ban Dung’s impressive list of western bars.
A bar with a good ex-pat customer base is usually a reliable safeguard that the gin mill is a two-dollar bill, value-for-money type of place. The Happy Buddha Bar stands tall on that one with its food and drinks popularly priced and its regulars well-fed and watered. Peter’s Irish wit and bonhomie are an out-and-out added extra.
Food Glorious Food
Most profitable bars in Thailand owe their success to customer satisfaction and food glorious food. The Happy Buddha Bar packs the former and stacks high the latter. Here are a few of the dishes served at Peter’s bar and restaurant.
- All Day Irish Breakfast – 180 baht
- New Zealand Steak and chips with vegetables – 250 baht
- Pizza and chips – 100 baht
- Fish and chips with salad – 160 baht
- Pie and mashed potatoes – 150 baht
- Garlic chicken and chips – 150 baht
Peter’s menu has a takeaway option and also includes Udon Thani’s famous Papa Farang’s Indian curries.
All vegetables and salad are bought fresh from the Ban Dung market each day, and Peter himself makes the burgers, pizzas and bread.
The bar has a modern look with a splash of Ireland thrown upon its walls – the mix is a marry of the up-to-date and old school – a shuffle that’s easy on the eyes and Xute (excessively cute).
A free to play, full-size pool table is available for use upstairs, and satellite TV is on hand for all the prominent sports action. The bar sells a decent range of beers and spirits as well as soft drinks, tea and coffee.
The outside seating is pleasantly decked out, but the view from it will hardly peel your socks off – the bar is in a side street, and Ban Dung is the kind of typical Thai rural town that’d make a paint can pray its lid was well beaten down and not about to be wasted. The bar does, however, pepper the street with a touch of style and brightness.
The Happy Buddha Bar & Restaurant is a place I strongly recommend to anyone visiting Ban Dung District and host Peter guarantees you a very warm and jovial welcome.
How to get there
The Happy Buddha Bar & Restaurant – Information and map
Click on the map to enlarge.
Ban Dung town is about 80 kilometres northeast of Udon Thani city and highway Route 2096 and Route 2022 lead into opposite ends of the town. Buses to Ban Dung operate from Udon Thani Central Bus Station and a journey by car via Route 2096 would take about 90 minutes travelling within speed limits.
Update – The Happy Buddha Bar has now closed.
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