When traveling through northern Thailand to Vientiane in Laos many travelers will pass through the town of Nong Khai. Most travelers go straight to the border and miss out on this delightful and traditional town situated on the southern bank of the Mekong River.
Nong Khai often overlooked
Nong Khai is the most northern town in the Isan region of Thailand. Isan is often over looked by travelers. Due to the fact it doesn’t have the beaches or mountains associated with other parts of the country. However this entire region is rich in culture and tradition.
The town has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The pedestrianized promenade is filled with locals riding bicycles and relaxing on the banks of the Mekong River. You will see yoga and dance classes in the evening. With locals and foreign tourists eating and drinking in the many restaurants and bars along the river front.
One of the most beautiful aspects of this town is it’s people. Isan people are known for their friendliness, kindness and understanding. It is hard to walk more than a few meters without being greeted with a warm smile and a kind hello. This is a different pace to what you will find in the tourist centers of Thailand and you will rarely be asked to buy something.
Along the river front you will find the local food market and accommodation starting at just 200 THB a night. The town is easy to negotiate with most places being accessible on foot or on bicycles that can be rented for as little as 40 THB a day.
In the center of town close to the bus station is a bustling market filled with fine foods and low priced clothing. This is the perfect place to experience real Thai culture and pick up some bargains, much cheaper than you will find in Bangkok or other parts of Thailand.
Nong Khai has many interesting highlights
One of the true highlights of Nonk Khai is Sala Kaew Ku. Located 6 km from the center of town. This sculpture park offers some beautiful and bizarre sculptures. The influence of the sculptures are both Buddhist and Hindu with many animal human hybrids and giant “Naga” sculptures. Some as tall as 20 meters. Sala Kaew Ku can be easily reached by Tuk Tuk for 100 THB.
Nong Khai is perfectly situated. Vientiane in Laos can be reached in less than 90 minutes (including the border crossing). The Thai city of Udon Thani is only 40 minutes away with daily flights to and from Bangkok for as little as 750 THB. To reach Noh Kai from Udon Thani airport. Simply take a mini van from the limousine counter. The mini van will take you to your hotel for 250 THB.
As far as border towns go, this is one of the most peaceful and interesting in South East Asia. With no aggressive touts and fear of scams. This is a place to relax and soak up the unique Isan culture.