During the Vietnam War Udon Thani changed from a sleepy provincial capital into a booming support center for a nearby American airbase. Since the withdrawal of the GIs in 1976, Udon has retained a little of that past vibrancy, together with some rather nondescript streets, lined with Westernstyle coffee shops, nightclubs, and massage parlors. It has continued to grow as an industrial and commercial center within the region. The most attractive part of town is Nong Prachak Park, where there are some open-air rest aurants. The town makes a good base for travelers wanting to visit nearby Ban Chiang.