Nong Khai, Thailand
Nong Khai, Thailand, is a sleepy town in the north-east of the country, near to Vientiane, Laos. For many people, it's just a town to see in the distance as they journey from Thailand across the Thai-Laos friendship bridge into Laos.
But for those that visit, most, I would argue, are happy they took the time. It's very quiet here on most of the streets. I had to get out of the habit of riding my bicycle no-handed!
Accommodation in Nong Khai, Thailand, is of a good standard and good value for money - to see photos and details of where to stay, see Nong Khai Hotels.
It's nice to be in a part of Thailand that isn't set up for tourists so you can just see how a Thai town functions. Life seems normal and 'right' somehow. Perhaps this was emphasized a bit as I arrived here from spending some days in slightly frenetic Vientiane.
Nong Khai also has one of the highest 'temple per person' rates in the country. This surely adds to the tranquility of the place....
There's a peaceful promenade that stretches along the majestic Mekong River, great for lazy walks or cycle rides. A quiet road continues for 3 or 4 kilometers along the river to a temple that lights up beautifully at night. Feast at one of the popular street restaurants set up on the pavement that emerge from nowhere as the sun comes down!
To see a map of the west side of the town with all the hotels and guesthouses, click on Nong Khai Map. To see the east side of the town with lots of temples and the bus station see Map 2. The maps link together so you're not missing any of the town.
I highly recommend hiring a bicycle here - you can get them from a lot of the guesthouses/hotels for about 30 Baht a day. Then it's an easy (albeit hot!) cycle around the town.
If you've just a day here, be sure to visit the awe-inspiring sculpture park, Sala Kaeo Ku, finished in 1978, 5 kilometers to the east of the town center.
Take a sunset river cruise on the broad Mekong (5:30pm, 100 baht - see north part of this map). Visit numerous temples, in particular, Wat Pho Chai with its revered gold Buddha image, Wat Jaan Samakki with its amazing trees and Phrathat Nong Khai, a broken pagoda in the middle of the Mekong river.
When the river's low, (March to May) cool off by heading to the Friendship Bridge to go inner tubing out on to the river with the locals!
Best of all maybe is just to soak up the charm of the place and chat with the friendly locals.
There's also the opportunity to volunteer in Nong Khai. A Thailand orphanage was set up by Friar Mike Shea. To find out more about the work he does to help HIV/AIDS orphan children, visit www.sarnelliorphanage.org (opens in new window) or see the leaflet here. The kids are healthy enough to go to school so volunteering is only possible at holiday periods (about March 15th to May 1st, October 1st to October 21st). Or visit the 'Friends for all Children Foundation' to meet the children between 1:30pm and 3pm (see Map 1 for more details).
The Nong Khai Alternative Center offers yoga and reiki courses, as well as daily sitting meditation.
For a Buddhist meditation retreat, head to Wat Nern Panau (see the bottom part of this map). Accommodation is provided.
I photographed some leaflets I came across while in town that detailed some things to do/see in/around the city.
If you've just 2 weeks in Thailand, perhaps you'll find Nong Khai a little dull when compared to manic Bangkok or the Thai islands. But for many, including myself, dull equates to...peaceful....and that's exactly what this town is!
To see details of transport to, from and within Nong Khai, click HERE.
For more pictures of the town, visit this page.
Return from Nong Khai Thailand to the Homepage
Return from Nong Khai Thailand to Isaan (North-East Thailand).