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Nong Khai (หนองคาย) is a city in Isaan. The city lies on the west bank of the Mekong River, only 20 km from Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

Introduction to Nong Khai

Known as the Naga City (Nagas being the giant serpent guardians said to inhabit the Mekong River – see below) and famed for its lovely position on the Mekong, Nong Khai is a bustling Thai town and the gateway to Laos and Vientiane. It has many beautiful features which attract a considerable number of Thai and foreign visitors every year, including Sala Keaw Khu the almost surreal sculpture park; the enormously revered Luang Por Phra Sai Buddha Image which has a remarkable history; the truly extraordinary Phu Phra Bat Historical Park (though in Udon Province it is easily reached from Nong Khai); and the Thai-Lao Indochina Market called Tha Sadet Market which occupies many streets in the centre of town. A large part of the centre of town, including the river bank, has been made pedestrian-only. The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, opened in Apr 1994, was the first bridge across the lower Mekong, and only the second on the full course of the Mekong.

Nong Khai is an exemplar of Isaan culture, which dominates northeast Thailand and which has an identity distinct from the culture of the centre, north, and south of Thailand. Famed for its warmth, kindness and friendliness, the culture has evolved from its Thai and Lao roots. Today, the distinctive Isaan culture is a source of pride to those born into it. Most locals speak both Thai and the local dialect called Isaan, which is closely related to both the Thai and Lao languages. Many locals also speak a bit of English, some Vietnamese, and some Chinese.

Nong Khai played a central role in the Yunnanese (Chinese) Hor Rebellions of the 1880s. Later it was under French rule until 1932, and some examples of French architecture remain. During the Vietnam War, it became home to many Lao, Vietnamese, and Chinese immigrants who have added their own culture and entrepreneurial skills, to the great benefit of the town.

Nong Khai is filled with literally hundreds of images of the Naga, the Mekong giant serpent. Two huge five-headed Nagas adorn the main gate to the city. One lurks in the city’s main fountain, most of the street lights are adorned with them, they appear as guardians to every temple and shrine, and a six-storey seven-headed Naga towers over the Sculpture Park as its principal guardian (see photo). At the end of October every year the Naga Fireballs appear in Phon Phisai and beyond and are mystical pink points of light which arise from the river after sunset on the full moon which is the last day of Buddhist Lent, Okk Paan Saa. These points of light, for which there is no adequate scientific explanation, are said to be the breath of the Naga welcoming the Lord Buddha back to the Earth.

Get in

By plane

The nearest airport (on the Thai side) is in Udon Thani, 56 km distant. There are minibuses that meet almost every flight landing at Udon. They will take you straight to Nong Khai. On landing at Udon Thani and entering the arrivals hall, there is a counter straight ahead of you where you can buy a minivan ticket. The price is 200 Thai Baht. The journey to Nong Khai takes about 1 hour.

Thai Airways operates flights between Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) and Udon Thani. Thai Smile, AirAsia and Nok Air operate a service between Bangkok (Don Mueang) and Udon Thani. Flight time from Bangkok is approximately one hour.

Travel by train to Nong Khai

Nong Khai is the terminus of the northeastern railway line from Bangkok  via Khon Kaen and Udon Thani. The trip takes 10-12 hours and a first class sleeper ticket from Bangkok  to Nong Khai or vice versa is currently about 1,200 Thai Baht. A second class sleeper ticket (not bad for the price) is 748 Thai Baht. Sleepers often sell out at peak times so you may need to book in advance.

Shuttle services now operate onward from Nong Khai to Tha Nalaeng, Laos (near Vientiane) four times a day, consistent with the arrivals and departures of the Bangkok trains. You can buy tickets only at the Nong Khai station, and you need to pass through immigration as well. (If coming in on Train 69 from Bangkok , there’s a 90 minute window to do this.) Once the formalities are done, the trip itself across the Friendship Bridge takes only 15 minutes. Visa on arrival is available on the Lao side.

By bus

There are departures to Udon Thani at least once per hour from the BKS station on Prajak Road. The hour-long ride costs 20 Thai Baht in 3rd class (non-air-con). 40 Thai Baht in 2nd class (air-con).

  • Nong Khai bus stationMini buses leave from here to Udon Thani, 50 Thai Baht. 50 Thai Baht/day, 200/per week.

There are several departures daily from Bangkok  (~9 hours), Khon Kaen (110 Thai Baht, class 2, with a stop at Udon Thani) and across the border direct from Vientiane (55 Thai Baht, 17,000 kip, two hours) via the Friendship Bridge.

From Udon Thani you can get to Nong Khai via air-conditioned mini-van at 50 Thai Baht per person, stopping first at Friendship Bridge and then in Nong Khai bus station. These mini-vans can be taken in Udon Thani at the plaza separating the Central Plaza mall and bus station 1. Tickets are sold in booth right there.

A 1st class bus service connects Nong Khai directly with Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK).

Get around

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The only mode of public transport in the city is tuk-tuk. Although the price has gone up recently due to the increased cost of fuel, they remain inexpensive at 20-30 Thai Baht/person to anywhere around the city centre.

Some tuk-tuk drivers will ask for much more than 20-30 Thai Baht/person, but you can generally bargain with them to reach a lower price. When bargaining, smile and be patient and polite (or just walk down the street until you see a roaming tuk-tuk, which will probably be cheaper. This tactic—walking a short distance—is sometimes the only way to get a reasonable price when arriving at the Friendship Bridge from Laos).

A trip to or from the Friendship Bridge can cost over 70 Thai Baht for tourists if only one passenger is on board, although the normal price is 40-50 Thai Baht.

A good way to discover Nong Khai and its surroundings is by motorbike or bicycle. Some guest houses and several rental places around town offer bicycles (50 Thai Baht/day) and motorbikes (200 Thai Baht/day). Lower prices can usually be negotiated for longer rentals. Try the rental stand outside the Mut Mee Guesthouse or at Limmaneemotor on Meechai Road. Go for the one on Meechai Road first. Their motorbikes are a lot better and the people there are very nice. You’ll need a copy of your passport to rent one. Very cheap for long-term rental (Honda Dream 125 semi-auto 1,500 Thai Baht per month, Honda Scoopy about 2,000 Thai Baht per month).

  • Bicycle Rental (outside Mut Mee Guesthouse). Rents Chinese-style no-gears bicycles with front basket, ideal for exploring Nong Khai’s flat streets. Friendly Noi has been renting out bicycles for 20 years plus now. 50 Thai Baht/day, 200/per week.

What to see and do

  • Luang Por Phra SaiThe Buddha image at Wat Po Chai is especially interesting. It is one of three Buddha images cast for the three daughters of King Setthathirath of Laos. The daughters were called Serm, Suk and Sai, and so the images are known as Phra Serm, Phra Suk and Phra Sai. Following wars between Thailand and Laos in 1827-28 to put down the aspirations of Chao Anouvong of Laos, the three images were taken from Vientiane by the Mekong River by the victorious Thais for eventual transportation to Bangkok . During a storm Phra Suk fell into the river, never to be recovered. Phra Serm was successfully removed to Bangkok , but on each attempt to transport Phra Sai to the Thai capital, some problem occurred and the image was left in Nong Khai, supposedly awaiting the re-emergence of Phra Suk from the Mekong. This valuable bronze and gold Buddha image is displayed on 13 April every year at Songkran.
  • Mekong FireballsThe unexplained appearance of the famous Mekong Fireballs takes place on the last night of Buddhist Lent. They are visible from several points along the river bank but the most famous place to view them is Phon Phisai, 40 km east of Nong Khai. These mysterious pink, glowing balls arise silently from the river after dusk, and are visible on this night only. Also known as the Naga Fireballs (after the Mekong River Naga), they appear for only a few seconds before disappearing as mysteriously as they appeared. There are many theories as to the cause of these fireballs. Many locals believe it is better not to know and would rather enjoy the festivities instead. Sceptical Westerners visiting the event report they are more akin to fireworks emanating from the Laos riverbank, but generally keep their theories to themselves.
  • Nong Khai Freshwater Aquarium (On the Khon Kaen University campus, about 7km out of Nong Khai). Tu-Su, 09:00-16:30Famous for its giant catfish and displays various ocean-dwelling species as well as freshwater species. A good place to visit and relax, with a picnic garden area and a few drink stalls also available. On weekends the aquarium puts on scuba diving shows. Admission, 100 Thai Baht..
  • Phra Taat Klangnam (Sunken Chedi). A large Lao-style chedi that was submerged in the Mekong in the 18th century. The chedi eventually fell over into the river in 1847 and is marked by a number of flags in the middle of the Mekong, which can be seen in the dry season when the water level drops. It is also known as the Holy Reliquary in the Middle of the River, and was supposedly built to conserve Buddha’s right foot. A replica of the chedi, called Phra That Klang Nam, was built in 2006 and sits on the banks of the Mekong nearby.

Historical Park, Son in Law’s Temple
  • Phu Phra Bat Historical ParkOne of the most famous and beautiful attractions in Thailand. This historical park dates back more than 3,000 years and contains large and mysterious rock formations. Transport to Phu Phra Bat is available in the form of motorbike, car, or bus and can take a day to travel and experience it. It is also possible to stay overnight at Phu Phra Bat Historical Park, and this is highly recommended.
    • Phu Phra Bat was opened to the public in 1989 and is maintained by the Fine Arts Department of Thailand. Phu Phra Bat is known to be a very spiritual and peaceful environment and is a must-see for tourists, whether it be a day-trip or an overnight stay.
    • The tale of Nang Usa is a famous piece of Thai folklore relating directly to the park. It is the legend of a young girl, sought after for her beauty, who is forced to live with an old hermit for her protection. She is wooed by the young and handsome Tao Barot, but their relationship is cursed. A fascinating aspect of the legend is that it alludes to the rivalry between the Hindu and Buddhist cultures that once lived side-by-side in this region.
  • Sala Kaew Khu (Sala Keoku or Wat Khaek) (6 km E of Nong Khai on Hwy 212 (there is signage on the road indicating the direction to Sala Kaew Khu, spelled in many different ways on different signs). It’s on the side of the road going towards Nong Khai (you’ll need to make a U-turn if coming from Nong Khai). Once you turn off the highway (onto Salakaewkoo Road), the site itself is about 1-1.5 km on the left). One sight that cannot be missed. This utterly bizarre park of massive sculptures (some over 20 m tall) is the handiwork of the mystic, Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat, who bought the land in 1978 when he was kicked out of his native Laos. A similar park of his earlier work remains near Vientiane. Synthesizing Buddhism and Hindu ideologies, Buddhas, many-armed goddesses, naga snakes and all sorts of human-animal hybrids dominate the scenery. Admission, 20 Thai Baht for Thais and foreigners..
    • There is no direct public transport. The site can be reached by riding a bike or even walking. You can also arrange a return journey by tuk-tuk (around 100 Thai Baht including the cost of the driver waiting one hour) or hire a motorbike at Limmanee Motor in Nong Khai. Tour agencies can arrange private tours in an air conditioned vehicle starting from 100 Thai Baht per person. They offer free maps explaining the individual statues of the Wheel of Life, which are invaluable when walking around.
    • Noteworthy is the Wheel of Life, depicting the artist’s view of the cycle of life. You enter via a womb-shaped tunnel and walk the circle past statues depicting the stages of life.
    • Luang Pu’s mummified remains are enshrined on the third floor of the Sala Kaew Khu pavilion itself.
    • The park is particularly imposing during the peak of the rainy season in August, when the sunlight is soft and changeable, vegetation is verdant and acacia trees are in full bloom with yellow fragrant flowers.
    • The top of the tallest structure of Sulilat’s earlier park on the Lao side of Mekong (known as Buddha Park) can be seen jutting above the trees if you walk along the Mekong past Wat That and look carefully over the Lao side of the river.}}
  • Wat Phu Tok (Temple of the Table Mountain) (About 4 hr from Nong Khai, near Bung Kan). Daily, 06:30-17:00. Closed 10-16 AprIt’s a rocky outcrop jutting from the Mekong floodplain. It can be ascended by steps and ladders built by Ajarn Juan, a celebrated monk and visionary who was famed throughout Thailand. There are seven levels of wooden steps, ladders, roots and rocks on the mountain which represent the seven levels of spiritual enlightenment in Buddhist philosophy. Inside caves and sitting on cliffs, you will find many meditation huts that are used by monks from all over northeastern Thailand. Wat Phu Tok is a quiet mountain and a place of peace and respect where many climb to the summit to practice meditation. Ajarn Juan was killed in a plane crash on a trip to visit Her Majesty the Queen and his elaborate mausoleum is at this site also.

View of Wat Phu Tok from the front

What to do

Nong Khai is a charming city to wander around on foot or on a rented bicycle and meet the friendly and helpful locals. It’s also a good place from which soak up the Isaan culture of the neighbouring towns, which can easily be reached by bus from the main BKS (“Bor-kor-sor”) bus station in the city centre, on Prajak Road.

If you expect the usual tourist traps of Bangkok and Phuket, you will be disappointed. There are no supper clubs, go-go bars, or mega-malls. This is a place to chill by the Mekong River watching passenger and cargo boats scuttle between Thailand and Laos, or to finish that paperback that has been sitting in your luggage for weeks. You may also consider stocking up on travel necessities before trudging on to Laos. Many who have planned only an overnight stay have ended up staying for weeks.

During the months Jan-May when the Mekong River level is at its lowest, the Jomanee (“Joe-mar-nee”) ‘beach’ appears near the Friendship Bridge, 2 km west of town. Food and drink vendors readily provide mats, shade and music for the hundreds of locals and tourists who patronise their stalls. An excellent spot to watch the sunset.

  • Thai BoxingFor those interested in muay Thai boxing lessons on a long-term basis, go to the boxing stadium beside the Grand Hotel and speak to ex-Thai boxing national champion Ajarn Lart, a friendly local who speaks just enough English. This is the real deal, so do not expect an air-conditioned gym with cushy floor mats surrounded by ceiling-high mirrors.
  • VS Fishing Park157/1 Moo 5 Tambon Hadkam, . They have a restaurant there also. Fishing competitions held on the first Sunday of each month. All fish have to be returned to the pond after being caught. 20 kg carp have been caught here. 80 Thai Baht for the day to fish. 100 Thai Baht for a day’s rental of rod, reel, hooks, etc. 20 Thai Baht for bag of sticky rice for bait.
  • Daytrip to Udon ThaniCatch 50 minute train to Udon Thani at 1.03pm for just 11 Thai Baht. No trains back in afternoon or evening but can return by mini bus from central bus station near Central Plaza. Last bus back as late 10pm. The large Central Plaza shopping complex is near the Udon Thani train station. Has lots of shops, places to eat and multiplex cinema with English movies.

Festivals

There are a variety of events and festivals that are celebrated and take place in and around Nong Khai throughout the year. They include various Rocket FestivalsSongkran, the Anou Savari Festival, the Candle Festival, the Rowing Festival, the mysterious Maekong Fireballs, the Chinese Festival, and Loi Krathong. In chronological order:

  • Anou Savari FestivalEvery year, the Anou Savari Festival occurs 5-15 Mar, spanning just over one week. Unique to Nong Khai, it is the city’s biggest street fair and is held in celebration of the defeat of the Hau rebellions between 1884 and 1886. Street music enlivens the festival while games of Ta Kraw are also played. In 2014 the festival was held from 5-15 Mar.
  • SongkranThe Thai New Year takes place on 13 Apr, spilling over to a few days prior and after this date, from 12-15 Apr. Thais celebrate by participating in Songkran, also known as the water festival. Water is splashed on others as symbolism of a blessing, and traditionally it was the day that Buddha images were cleaned. Songkran always turns into a large water fight and is one of the most popular festivals of the year.

Liftoff
  • Rocket FestivalsThe rocket festivals of Nong Khai normally occur in May, the sixth lunar month, in June, and sometimes July (also known as Bun BângFai). Every year at these times, large rockets are fired into the sky and the crowds gather to watch the event as well as enjoy the music, stalls, and vibrant atmosphere of the festival. Visakha Puja day, the day that Buddha was born, the day of his enlightenment, and the day of his death, marks the beginning of one of the biggest rocket festivals and a parade takes place in celebration. The festival is a lot of fun and traditionally it is held to encourage the clouds to part and water the crops, as well as a way to worship Phaya Thaen, the god of rain. Rockets are usually fired about 10 km from Wat Pho Chai, but a temple festival is normally held at Wat Pho Chai itself. In 2014 Visakha Puja day will be on Tuesday, 13 May, and the festival goes on for about a week
  • Candle FestivalThe annual Candle Festival is a beautiful street parade which takes place on the day before the beginning of Buddhist Lent. Huge candles are built in the grounds of Wat Chayaporn on the days prior to the festival. On the day of the festival they are paraded on floats through the streets, accompanied by dancing girls, boys in their traditional Siamese costumes and middle aged devotees in their white robes. In 2014, the candle festival takes place on Friday, 11 Jul.
  • Rowing Festivals4-8 Oct 1014Rowing festivals take place in Sep-Oct and involve longboats with crews of up to fifty five rowers each. During the first few weeks of Buddhist Lent, Paan Saa, the rowers begin their practice for the race. The race is a spectacular display of athletic talent and the festivities that surround the event are a must-see for any visitor to Nong Khai.
  • Okk Paan SaaThe most important festival in Nong Khai is at the end of Buddhist Lent. This is when the Mekong Fireballs appear. During this period there are dragon boat races, a big festival in Nong Khai, and at Phon Phisai where the Mekong fireballs are visible. The date for 2020 is on and around 8 Oct.
  • Chinese Dragon FestivalDuring late-Oct and early-Nov, the people of Nong Khai hold their version of the Chinese Dragon Festival and it lasts for ten days. It’s a fantastic event to attend and involves amazing displays of acrobatics, dancing Chinese lions, dancing dragons, parades, firecrackers, and Chinese opera.
  • Loi Krathong6 Nov 2014The Loi Krathong Festival is known as the second most important festival of the year and occurs between the middle of the 11th lunar moon to the middle of the 12th lunar moon, which is flood season, making the waters high and ideal for this festival. In 2014 Loi Krathong is on Thursday, 6 Nov. Krathong are small, floating shrines or lanterns normally made out of bamboo leaves and decorated with flowers, incense, and candles. The floating of the Krathong represents the gratitude of the Thais to the gods for the rain, as well as a blessing and good luck for the year. Loi Krathong involves a krathong parade, krathong-design contests, and Noppamas which are beauty pageants.

Volunteering

  • Openmind ProjectsA locally-based volunteer organisation which provides an excellent initial 3 day training to all volunteers and provides placements ranging from teaching English in local schools to more distant placements in southern Thailand, Cambodia, and Nepal, and in eco-projects in Thailand and Laos. 11,965 Thai Baht admin fee; 1-2 weeks in Thailand, 10,343 Thai Baht.

Visa Run

Getting a Thai Visa in nearby Vientiane

  • From Nong Khai Bus Station go to border/Friendship Bridge by tuk-tuk.
  • Fill out your Thai Departure Card (stapled in passport) and exit Thailand.
  • Take the bridge shuttle bus (tickets 15 Thai Baht at ticket stand) to the Lao side.
  • Get Lao entry application at Window 2. Fill this in and include one passport photo.
  • USD35 for Lao entry visa [USD available for sale just around corner. Much better rate than the 1,500 Thai Baht charged if you pay in Thai Thai Baht. Only USD50 notes available but change will be given in USD. Use it next time you go or spend it in Lao.
  • Give [completed form, one passport photo, and passport] at Window 1
  • Wait at Window 3 (just around corner) for passport. Your name will be called/passport photo waved around
  • You can buy Lao currency (Lao kip) at the same window as the USD. The rate has been 254 kip = 1 Thai Baht for a long time now. You can easily use Thai Baht or US dollars in Lao so you don’t need to change money. Lao currency is very difficult to change back into Thai Baht or dollars, so if you do buy kip, don’t buy too much.
  • Proceed past the ‘entry fee’ kiosks. You will rarely be asked for the 20 Thai Baht entry fee
  • Negotiate for an air-con taxi (better than tuk-tuk) which will take you to the Thai Embassy, wait for you, and take you to a hotel of your choice for 150 Thai Baht per person for 2 people. (Tuk-tuks want 200 Thai Baht just to take you to the embassy)
  • Thai Embassy open for visa applications from 08:00-12:00
  • Return next Working Day (Thai Embassy Closed Weekends and Thai Holidays) between 13:00-15:00 to collect your passport with completed visa (e.g., 60-day tourist visa). The same taxi driver will pick you up at your hotel the next day at 12:30 if you agree on this with him. Same price.
  • Arrive at the Friendship bridge (Lao side) by taxi
  • There is a duty free shop across the road
  • Fill in your Lao departure card (stapled to your passport) and exit Lao
  • Take the bridge shuttle bus (tickets 4,000 Lao kip or 15 Thai Baht at ticket stand) to the Thai side
  • Get a Thai arrival card at the kiosk and fill it in (at least the arrival half)
  • Go to the immigration kiosk and get stamped into Thailand. Your new Thai visa has just been activated. Check the stamp has the correct duration, just in case (depends on what type of visa you’ve got, e.g., 60-days)
  • Get a tuk-tuk to Nong Khai bus station (50 Thai Baht per person for 2 people)

Buy

South of town on the Udon Thani Road is a Tesco-Lotus, a full-fledged Western-style supermarket with satellite shopping arcade and a cinema (nearly always Thai or Western movies dubbed into Thai). Nearby on Sunday afternoons/evenings is the Sunday Market, which sells all kinds of things.

There are plenty of banks with ATMs, in particular along Prajak Road, and on Meechai Road which runs parallel and to the north of Prajak Road. Some ATMs limit withdrawals to 3,000 Thai Baht/day, although the ones inside Tesco-Lotus near the cashiers allow withdrawals up to 25,000 Thai Baht. The only bank branch open on Saturdays is at the Tesco-Lotus. If you stand in front of the main entrance pass the building on the right side and enter near the bookshop.

  • Hornbill Bookshop (On the soi leading to Mut Mee Guesthouse). Good collection of fiction, non-fiction, guide books, maps and a growing collection of international titles. The owner has an extensive knowledge of her books and about Thailand in general.
  • Sunday MarketThere is a large Sunday market beside the railway station every Sunday afternoon and evening. Plenty of cooked/uncooked food as well as endless clothes stalls.
  • Tha Sadet Market (In town, near the Mekong). Also known as the Indochina market. Largely covered and winding along more than seven streets, it has much of the feeling of a Middle Eastern bazaar. An extraordinary range of items from Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, China, and even Russia can be found here. It is a daytime market, selling clothes, fabrics, electronics, optical equipment, ornaments, knickknacks, massage aids, traditional furniture and oddities. Porntip Exchange, towards the end of the market, is a good place to change currency.
  • Tesco-LotusBig supermarket, part of Asawann shopping complex.
  • Walking Street – Saturday evening festivalEvery Saturday from 17:00 on there is a street festival on the promenade along the Mekong River in the centre of town. There are many food stalls, dance displays and stalls raising money for good causes and charities. Lots of interesting items for sale.

Eat

  • The majority of locals eat out at the dozens of restaurants and bars along the Rimkhong (the riverside road) at the east side of town. Food here is cheaper and often better than in the town centre. English is not always spoken, but increasingly Nong Khai restaurants have menus in more than one language.
  • There are also many Thai food vendors along Prajak Road who sell excellent cheap food.
  • Both of these areas are aimed principally at evening customers, so many eateries don’t open until after dark. However, there are a number of Thai (and European) establishments in and around Tha Sadet Market that are open during the day.
  • Other markets, including the Chayapone Market (between Meechai Road and Kaeworawut Road, near the Thai Lao Riverside Hotel), the Wednesday evening market (near the Nongkhai Grand Hotel), the morning market (near the bus station), and the other market near the sunken chedi at the east side of town, also have cooked/uncooked food.
  • Arm Bar and Restaurant (On the promenade about midway down, next door to the big sunset terrace restaurant). 09:00 till lateReally good Thai and European food, with sausage and bacon for breakfast. Well-worth a visit. Lovely Thai lady owner speaks good English.
  • Daeng Naem Nueang (On the Mekong on Rim Kong Road). Widely acclaimed Vietnamese restaurant known all over Thailand (one royal princess is a habitue). The staff are friendly, but not all proficient in English. They offer pre-packed take-away packages of naem neuang (a delicious Vietnamese dish) for 300+ Thai Baht if you want to eat elsewhere (lasts for ~3 days in the fridge).
  • Dee Dee and Thai ThaiPrajak Road (Main street). Two Chinese-style diners right next to one another serving good Thai and Chinese food. They are open later than most other restaurants. “Thai Thai” is open later, but “Dee Dee” generally has the better food.
  • Food Court (Opposite hospital, behind 7-Eleven). Small food court, selling cheap Thai food, open in the day time only, typically closed by 16:00. Popular for lunch with staff working at the hospital across the road. 40 Thai Baht.
  • German Bakery (Corner of Meechai and Haisok). Has very good bread.
  • Im Im Dim Sum (Downtown Nong Khai, Soi Sook Pracha near the PP Sport Centre). Serving dim sum, noodle, fried snacks, coffee, and tea.
  • Nagarina (On the river in front of Mut Mee Guest House and Wat Hai Sok), . A large riverboat that makes a cruise along the Mekong River in the evening to see the sunset, usually departing at 17:00. The Nagarina docks beside a floating Thai restaurant, the Nagarina Restaurant, serving fish dishes which can be ordered in advance to be served on board.
  • Ruan Thai Coffee & BreakfastRimkhong RoadRun by a very pleasant young Thai woman who does her best to speak English. The prices are a little high, but the food is excellent and the restaurant itself is also quite nice.
  • Vegetarian Restaurant (On the soi just E of the post office). Breakfast and lunch till about 15:00-16:00Not many mock meats. About 25 Thai Baht (buffet) or 35 Thai Baht (menu) per meal.
  • Yota Vegetarian RestaurantKaeworawut Road (A few minutes W of Mutmee Guesthouse). Most dishes here have mock meat, usually very convincing. Breakfast and lunch, sometimes dinner (if there’s a special occasion). About 25 Thai Baht per meal.

Drink

  • Anchor BarPopular bar for expats. Great music and decent pool table.
  • Bamboo BarAnother small bar visited by expats. A couple of other small bars are nearby also.
  • Manchester Arms13:00-lateEnglish owned, gay-friendly bar offering alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Free Wi-Fi and live sport on TV as well as great views across the Mekong to Laos and stunning sunsets almost daily.
  • May Enjoy BarOriginally the Funky Money Bar but renamed by the new owners. Small bar, popular with expats and tourists. There are now 16 similar bars along this short stretch of road.
  • Noi and Brendan’s BarPopular drinking spot with pool table beside the river at the start of Walking Street. Has a good picture food menu too with both Thai and Western meals.
  • Nong’s PlaceNong used to have a bar near the riverside but has relocated inland. Popular bar with tourists and expats.
  • ThaiGun Aeng BarRim Kong Road (On the Mekong E of Thasade Market). Relaxing environment with a great view of the Mekong. It has a free pool table, friendly staff, quality drinks, fun music, Western-style toilets. This is a great bar to visit. Highly recommended!
  • Warm Up (On Rimkhong Road (riverside) W of Thasadej market, and also accessible from the promenade). The most popular bar with young locals.

Where to stay in Nong Khai

  • E-San Guesthouse538 soi Srikunmuang (200 mts. behind Sabaidee guesthouse), . Check-out: flexibleQuiet with a veranda around the rooms. Fan & shared bathroom for 250 THB Free coffee in the morning, Free hot water for tea during the day. The bicycles are also for free. THB 250.
  • Grand Paradise HotelAging upmarket hotel that could do with a face lift (2014). Has a swimming pool that non-guests can use for 120 Thai Baht. 1,000 Thai Baht.
  • Meeting PlaceGuesthouse with about 7 rooms in old wooden building with shared toilets and showers. One of the few remaining cheap places to stay in town. Has nice courtyard garden with tables and chairs and a couple of hammocks. Friendly owners. 200 Thai Baht.
  • Mekong Guesthouse519 Rimkhong Road (20 m from the Tha Sadet Market), . 15 comfortable Thai-style rooms with single and double beds. Another two rooms with private balconies overlooking the river. Have dorm rooms for 150 Thai Baht. Has in-house restaurant. 500-1,000 Thai Baht.
  • Mut Mee Guesthouse1111/4 Kaeworawut Road (On the riverbank, behind Nong Khai Hospital), , fax+66 42 412182Long-established and understandably popular. In a tree-filled garden overlooking the river. It has both simple and higher quality rooms surrounded by hammocks and a variety of seating. It has a boat called the Nagarina which cruises on the river at sunset. Mut Mee owns the Gaia Bar which floats on the Mekong river below. Bicycles for rent. Yoga & meditation classes are available. Large range of good food and drinks available for all even if you are not staying here. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes offered. Free Wi-Fi. Good bookshop with a very wide selection of English language books. Good open-air massage service. Free maps of Nong Khai available with much information of what to do and see in the area and help planning trips. 200-1,650 Thai Baht.
  • Nong Khai Resort (Opposite train station). A nice resort with Balinese gardens and swimming pool. Pool can be used by non guests for 60 Thai Baht, plus 20 Thai Baht for towel.
  • Rimkhong Guesthouse815/1-3 Rimkhong Road (A few blocks downriver from Mut Mee, about 100 paces beyond the Nong Khai Pier building), . Rebuilt guesthouse, much more upmarket than before 2012. The wonderful courtyard garden full of tables and benches and charming bric-a-brac is now mostly gone replaced by concrete but a little still remains. Lots of area information posted around the courtyard. Rooms include air-con but no optional fan, good quality Wi-Fi. 700+ Thai Baht.
  • Royal MekongFancy hotel slightly outside town. Now in need of renovation. But has a decent swimming pool that non-guests can use for 90 Thai Baht.
  • Sawasdee Guesthouse402 Meechai Road (5 min from the bus station on foot), . An old, colonial style building on a good location offering single rooms with a fan for 180 Thai Baht and double rooms with air-con a few hundred Thai Baht more. The rooms are good and clean, guesthouse has nice communal area and free Wi-Fi. Friendly and helpful owner who can give you lots of tips for getting around. 180-450 Thai Baht.
  • VANA Wellness Resort, . Quiet boutique resort, situated in large green plains. There is a large pool, accessible directly from many rooms’ balconies. Wonderful service, with English-speaking staff. $40 – $200.

Go next

Relax in one of the villages along the Mekong to the west (from near to far): Tha Bo, Si Chiang Mai (famous for spring roll wrappers), Sangkhom and Chiang Khan (popular with Thai tourists) in neighbouring Loei Province.

  • Jom Jang — a village on the banks of the Mekong river, approximately 18 km east of the city
  • Vientiane — the capital of Laos, is just across the Mekong; most visitors can get visas on arrival at the border
  • Udon Thani — large Thai city with airport, one hour away by bus or 45 minutes by train for only 11 Thai Baht.
  • Bueng Kan – Newest province of Thailand, split from Nong Khai in 2011

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Northeast Thailand

Sakon Nakhon Nightlife & Travel Guide

Sakon Nakhon (สกลนคร) is a town in the Isaan region of Thailand. Phra That Choeng Chum Understand Sakon Nakhon is 647 km from Bangkok. It has an area of 9,605 km², mostly in the Phu Phan mountains. It has many forest temple meditation retreats. Sakon Nakhon is a Buddhist town with five Buddhist stupas. Its […]

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Sakon Nakhon Nightlife & Travel Guide

Sakon Nakhon (สกลนคร) is a town in the Isaan region of Thailand.

Introduction to Sakon Nakhon

Sakon Nakhon is 647 km from Bangkok. It has an area of 9,605 km², mostly in the Phu Phan mountains. It has many forest temple meditation retreats.

Sakon Nakhon is a Buddhist town with five Buddhist stupas. Its history dates back three thousand years. Legend says that Nongharn town, now Sakon Nakhon, was built in 11th century when the Khmer ruled this region. When the Khmer lost their power, the town was under the rules of Lanxang or Laotian Kingdom. It was renamed “Muang Chiang Mai Nongharn”. When the town joined Siam, it was renamed again as “Sakon Thavapi”. In 1830, during the reign of King Rama III, it was renamed “Sakon Nakhon”.

Language spoken in Sakon Nakhon

A mix of Thai and Lao is spoken in Sakon Nakhon. Central Thai is perfectly acceptable. There are few expats living in the city and few foreign visitors, but don’t expect English to be widely spoken or to see English translations beyond road signs. Locals will do their best to help you with whatever English they know, but it’s advisable to dive headfirst into learning the dialect and start mixing with the locals.

Visit our Hotel Partners in Sakon Nakhon

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

How to get into to Sakon Nakhon

By car

From Bangkok, take Hwy 2 to Saraburi and turn right onto Hwy 2, via Nakhon Ratchasima, Ban Phai of Khon Kaen Province to Ban Tha Phra. Get onto Hwy 23 via Maha Sarakham and Kalasin, then use Hwy 213 to Sakon Nakhon. (7-9 hr respecting speed limits)

By bus

The Transport Co. Thailand and private bus companies operate daily service from Bangkok to Sakon Nakhon. Buses leave the Northeast Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2) daily.

By train

The State Railway of Thailand operates daily train services from Bangkok to Udon Thani, where visitors can catch a bus to Sakon Nakhon, 159 km away (3-4 hours, 100 Thai Baht, air-con. Buses going to Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan may stop in Sakon Nakhon). The night train from Bangkok usually departs at 20:00, and is supposed to reach Udon Thani around 06:00 but 09:00 is more likely. Around 1,000 Thai Baht for a soft bed in a 2-bed first-class cabin with air-con.)

Fly to Sakon Nakhon

Nok Air flies from Bangkok to Sakon Nakhon (900-2,500 Thai Baht one-way; 15 kg checked in luggage included).

Air Asia flies from Bangkok to Sakon Nakhon (200-1,300 Thai Baht one-way since 2014; checked in luggage is a low-cost extra).

Cheap Flights to Sakon Nakhon

Origin Departure at Return at Find tickets
Bangkok 23.07.2021 25.07.2021 Tickets from 2 022

Get around Sakon Nakhon

You can get around by bus, samlor, and motored tricycle that are available in the city. Fare is negotiated.

There is no rental company catering for tourists, but you can arrange in almost any motorcycle shop, or any guesthouse, a daily rental for around 100-200 Thai Baht, or monthly for 1,500-2,000 Thai Baht.

What to see in Sakon Nakhon

  • Phra That Choeng Chum (พระธาตุเชิงชุม). It is built to cover footprints of four Buddhas, namely Phra Kakusantha, Phra Konakom, Phra Kassapa, and Phra Kodom or Phra Sri Ariyametrei (The present Lord Buddha). Next to Phra That is the chapel that houses Luang Por Ong Saen, a sacred Buddha statue of the province. It is featured on the reverse of the ten satang coin.
  • Nong Han (หนองหาร). With a depth of three to eight metres, the lake supports agriculture, livestock farming, and a fishery. There are more than 20 islets in the lake such as Ko Don Sawan, the biggest islet where a deserted temple and ancient Buddha images are found.
  • Somdej Phra Srinagarindra Park (สวนสมเด็จพระศรีนครินทร์). The park’s compound includes an ancient pond, called Sra Pangthong. The park includes beautiful flowers and trees, jungle, water park, rock garden, exercise area, and a 69-m-high fountain.
  • The 60th anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen Park (สวนเทิดพระเกียรติ ๖๐ พรรษา มหาราชินี). The park includes a botanical garden, pavilion, fountain, viewpoint, and bird sanctuary.
  • Freshwater Fish Aquarium (สถานแสดงพันธุ์ปลาน้ำจืด), Sai Sawang Road. The Freshwater Fishery Station aquarium features different species of freshwater fish native to Isan.
  • Sakon Nakhon Cultural Centre (ศูนย์วัฒนธรรมจังหวัดสกลนคร). The centre features tools, belongings, history, and documents of different ethnic groups.
  • Phra That Dum (พระธาตุดุม). The lone stupa is built with laterite in the same period as Phra That Narai Jeng Veng, but the stupa is smaller and without a base. The lintel featuring God Vishnu in reclining position is placed on the northern arch. There are carvings depicting gods riding different animals over the Rahu.
  • Archan Man Purithattha Thera Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์บริขารอาจารย์มั่น ภูริทัตตเถระ). The museum houses a bronze statue of Archan Man Purithatto and the glass case that houses his ashes that turned into crystal. The display, including his tools, is placed on a marble altar and his life history is shown nearby.
  • Sapan Khom or Sapan Hin (สะพานขอม หรือสะพานหิน). It is considered as an ancient bridge to link Sakon Nakhon and the countryside as this area once was swamp. The present bridge is made from laterite, replacing the old one that was removed for road construction.
  • Phra That Narai Cheng Weng (ปราสาทพระธาตุนารายณ์เจงเวง). The lone stupa is built from sandstone on a laterite base and carved beautifully. Its lintel features Lord Krisna killing a lion in Bapuan Khmer art. The art appearing on this stupa is quite similar to many other Khmer ruins found in Isan.
  • Phu Phan Rajanivet Palace (พระตำหนักภูพานราชนิเวศน์). The palace is the royal residence of the king, queen, and royal family during their missions in northeast Thailand.
  • Phu Phan National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูพาน). The park features limestone mountains and different forest such as deciduous dipterocarp forest, jungle rain forest, or mixed deciduous forest. Wildlife found in the park include langur, civet, and slow loris.

Historical attractions

  • Phra That Phu Pek (พระธาตุภูเพ็ก). this ancient Khmer Ruin was built from sandstone, standing on a laterite base.
  • Tham Seri Thai (ถ้ำเสรีไทย). During WWII, Seri Thai used this cave for arms and food storage as it is well camouflaged by lush vegetation.

Natural attractions

  • Phu Phan Mountain Range (เทือกเขาภูพาน). The range is quite well known, but remote, at the border of Sakon Nakhon and Kalasin.
  • Namtok Kham Hom and Kong Ping Ngu (น้ำตกคำหอม และ โค้งปิ้งงู). The entrance to Namtok Kham Hom winds like a grilled snake, or Kong Ping Ngu in Thai.
  • Pha Nang Mern and Lan Sao E (ผานางเมิน และลานสาวเอ้). It is quite a nice place for camping and for watching the sunset view. Below the cliff, there is a track leading to Lan Sao E, literally, “the place for the lady to show beautiful attire”.
  • Pha Savoey (ผาเสวย). In Kalasin, the cliff heading south is the place where the king once visited and ate lunch.
  • Namtok Huay Yai (น้ำตกห้วยใหญ่). The falls are 12 km from park headquarters. It cascades via several steps amid dense jungle.
  • Namtok Preecha Sooksan (น้ำตกปรีชาสุขสันต์). The 12-m-wide falls cascade down the mountain.
  • Stone Arch (Thang Pi Pan) (สะพานหินธรรมชาติ [ทางผีผ่าน]). The stone arch, 1.5 m wide and 8 m long, bridges two groups of rocks together creating a shelter underneath it.
  • Phu Thai ethnic group at Ban None Hom (ชาวภูไท บ้านโนนหอม). have immigrated from the left side of Mekong River to settle down here over a century ago.
  • Cliff carving at Phu Pha Yon (ภาพรอยสลักผาสามพันปีที่ภูผายล). Phu Pha Yon, the mountain in the compound of meditation centre houses cliff carvings featuring lifestyles of the local people in the pre-historical period.
  • Phra That Phu Pek (พระธาตุภูเพ็ก). Phra That Phu Pek is believed to have been built in the 11th century to serve as a Hindu temple. It was adapted to serve Buddhism later.
  • Wat Tham Kham or Phu Kham (วัดถ้ำขาม หรือ ภูขาม). The temple once was a meditation place of Archan Fan Archaro. The temple also houses ashes of Phra Archan Tet Tetrangsi, now a pilgrimage site.
  • Archan Fan Archaro Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์อาจารย์ฝั้น อาจาโร). The museum, in the shape of a pagoda and three folds of lotus, houses a life-size statue of Archan Fan in a sitting posture with a stick in his hand. The other exhibits include ashes in glass box and tools, as well as his history.
  • Wat Kham Pramong (วัดคำประมง). This temple served as a meditation place for Phra Kru Santi Worayan (Luang Pu Sim Buddharo).
  • Nam Oun Dam (เขื่อนน้ำอูน). The clay dam, managed by the Royal Irrigation Department, is built to preserve water from the Nam Oun, a tributary of the Songkram River which originates in the Phu Phan Range.
  • Prasart Ban Panna (ปราสาทบ้านพันนา). The Khmer ruin has a lone stupa with a rectangular laterite base and baray around. It is believed to have been built in the same period as Phra That Phu Pek.
  • Phra That Sri Mongkol (พระธาตุศรีมงคล). The rectangular pagoda is decorated in modern design and stucco. Its base contains decorations in terracotta featuring history of Lord Buddha. The modern design is a renovation of the old pagoda which had only a laterite core.
  • Tham Phra Buddha Saiyard (Tham Phra Thong or Phu Pha Thong) (ถ้ำพระพุทธไสยาสน์ [ถ้ำพระทอง หรือภูผาทอง]). The cave is at Tambon Kor Kiew, 9 km from Amphoe Warich Phume.
  • Phu Ang Sor (ภูอ่างศอ). The mountain is in Tambon Kham Bor, 18 km from Amphoe Warich Phume.
  • Wat Tham Apai Damrong Tham or Wat Tham Phuang and the Museum of Archan Wan Uttamo (วัดถ้ำอภัยดำรงธรรม หรือวัดถ้ำพวง และพิพิธภัณฑ์อาจารย์วัน อุตตโม). The temple has a four-gabled marble pavilion with a double roof. Its ground floor features paintings of the history of the famous monk Archan Wan.
  • Phu Pha Lek National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูผาเหล็ก). The park encloses part of the Phu Phan Range with Phu Ang Sor as its highest peak. Most areas are covered with deciduous dipterocarp forest, mixed dipterocarp forest, dry evergreen forest, various kinds of bamboo and herbs. Wild hogs, barking deer, mouse deer and various birds are found. Attractions in the park include:
    • Pha Suriyan (ผาสุริยันต์). The towering cliff on the top of Phu Pha Lek offers nice view point and sun rise view.
    • Pha Dong Kor (ผาดงก่อ). The cliff is on the peak of Phu Pha Lek, part of Phu Phan range. It is special with a huge rock at the cliff edge.
    • Pha Nam Joke (ผาน้ำโจ้ก). This high cliff on the peak of Phu Pha Lek offers views of Huay Huad Reservoir and a panorama of Udon Thani and Khon Kaen.
    • Pha Pak Wan Pre-historical Painting (ภาพเขียนก่อนประวัติศาสตร์ผาผักหวาน). The 3,600-year-old painting is on a big rock at Ban Phu Takham. It features women standing in line and holding each other’s shoulders.
    • Lan U-sa Sawan (ลานอุษาสวรรค์). The plateau, covering 2.5 km² in area, is on top of Phu Pha Lek. It comprises forest, mountain, rock and grassland, and looks like a man-made garden.
    • Dinosaur graveyard (สุสานไดโนเสาร์). Many fossils have been found in the middle of the Phu Pha Lek Mountain and at the forested edge of Phu Phan. Fossils of plant and petrified wood have also been found.
    • Hor Song Dao (หอส่องดาว). The observatory is at 700 m elevation on Phu Pha Lek’s peak. With a full panoramic view, it is a good place to observe the stars and meteor showers.
    • Nam Phung Dam (เขื่อนน้ำพุง). The first rockfill dam in northeast Thailand is 1,720 m (5,640 ft) long and 40 m (130 ft) high. The dam generates electricity for Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom.
    • Thai So Cultural Centre (ศูนย์วัฒนธรรมไทยโส้). The centre features tools of Thai So, an ethnic group that migrated from the left side of the Mekong River.
  • Phu Pha Yon National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูผายล). It features plateau and sandstone mountain, blanketed by deciduous dipterocarp forest, dry evergreen forest, hill evergreen forest. The trees found in the park include thingar, Lagerstroemia calyculata Kurz, Irvingia malayana. Wildlife found includes barking deer, sambar deer, Asiatic wild dog. Attractions in the park include:
    • Huay Huad Reservoir (อ่างเก็บน้ำห้วยหวด). It was created by the irrigation dam at the initiative of the king. There is a strangely shaped rock, by the pavilion on the right side of the reservoir.
    • Namtok Kham Sang (น้ำตกคำน้ำสร้าง). With a height of 25 m (82 ft), these are the highest falls in the park. The falls are 1.8 km from park headquarters.
    • Phu Pha Yon (ภูผายล). The mountain has beautiful scenery. Its cliff houses carvings which can be dated back to over 3,000 years ago.
    • Pha Paya Tao Ngoy (ผาพญาเต่างอย). There is a rock in “ngoy tortoise” shape which is going towards Phung Stream. Locals believe that the tortoise represents fertile land and named the village Ban Tao Ngoy.
    • Lan Dusita (ลานดุสิตา). The vast rock plain turns colourful in late rainy season when various tiny flowers are in full bloom.
  • Wax Castle Procession. Held during the 12th-15th days of the waxing moon in October to mark the end of Buddhist Lent. On the night of 13th day, people join to decorate wax castles at Ming Muang Field. On the 14th day, wax castles from different temples will join the procession, roaming the municipality to Wat Phra That Cherngchum Woravihara. Isan people believe that the wax will welcome Lord Buddha who comes back from heaven to help all creatures on earth. Communities from around the Sakon Nakhon province spend a considerable amount of time and money constructing large model Buddhist temples out of wax. It draws quite a large number of Thai tourists, and a few expats as well, but is still relatively unknown to foreign tourists. As Buddhist Lent is determined by the lunar calendar, it is held in October, but not on the same day each year.

What to Do in Sakon Nakhon

  • Huai Huat Reservoir (30 km south of Sakon Nakhon on Rte 2339). The reservoir is a part of Huai Huat National Park, a consequence of Huai Huat Dam construction. Fronting the reservoir are a royal hall, a flower garden, and a natural arrangement of various forms of rocks.
  • Nam Phung Dam (45 km west of Sakon Nakhon on Rte 22 to Udon Thani, then 8 km south on Phang Khon-Waritchaphum Road). Huge dam provides a sanctuary for numerous teals. A trip to Mae Un Waterfall and a fishing trip are some examples of various activities at the dam.
  • Nam Un Dam (At Kut Bak). A multipurpose dam. 172 m long and 40 m high, it dams up a huge lake with a surface area of about 6,000 acres.
  • Nong Han Lake (หนองหาร). A 32-km² lake in Sakon Nakhon is a popular place of relaxation. Its offshore isles, particularly the Don Sawan, are both beautiful and restful and can be easily reached by hired boats. However, if you are considering swimming here, read Sakon Nakhon#Stay safe first.
  • Phu Phan National Park (25 km on Sakon Nakhon-Kalasin Rte 213). The park is scattered with limestone mountains, groves, and savannahs with several natural attractions such as Tat Ton Waterfall and Kham Hom Waterfall. Foreigners pay 10 times what the Thais pay to enter.
  • Songkran Festival. Songkran is Thailand’s traditional New Years from the 13-15 Apr annually. Do not think Songkran is just for the big cities as seemingly the entire town comes out to play for several days of water throwing madness. It is about the best fun you can have in Sakon. Most of the action takes place from the temple Wat Phra That Choeng Chum and several blocks to the northwest. Phang Khon is also an excellent place to be especially around Ban Nong Bua which is directly at Nam Oum Dam.
  • Ruam Nam Jai Tha iSakon Fair and Red Cross Fair (งานรวมน้ำใจไทสกลและงานกาชาด) – Held at the beginning of each year by the city hall, the fair comprises floats showing cultures and tradition of different ethnic groups in the province such as Phu Thai, So, Yor, Saek, Ka Lerng, Kula, Vietnamese, and Chinese. The float parade starts from Ming Muang Field at 14:00 and travels via Sukkasem Road to city hall. The other entertainments include a folk culture contest, a traditional dinner, and stage performances.
  • So Ram Luk Festival (งานเทศกาลโส้รำลึก) – The festival to commemorate the So ethnic group is held annually on the 4th waxing moon of March at Amphoe Kusumal. Traditional rites conducted by a number of So people start in late morning.
  • Boon Mahachart Festival and Boon Bangfai or Rocket Festival, Amphoe Phang Kone (งานบุญมหาชาติและบุญบั้งไฟ อำเภอพังโคน) – The festivals are held annually in the first week of May. Its activities include the local rocket contest, Mahachart Preying, Phang Kone Cuisine Festival, and the local rocket parade.
  • Boat race (งานประเพณีแข่งเรือ) – Held at the same time as the wax castle procession, the ancient boat race takes place at Phang Thong Pond or Tha Nang Arb, Ban Tha Wat.

Go Shopping in Sakon Nakhon

Local products

  • Ban Charn Arts and Crafts Centre (ศูนย์ศิลปาชีพบ้านจาร) – At Ban Charn, Tambon Mueng, Amphoe Ban Muang, the centre is a production base and training hub for weaving silk and local textiles, as well as blacksmithing and wood carving.
  • Ban Pan Mor (บ้านปั้นหม้อ) – The pottery village Ban Chiang Krua is in Tambon Chiang Krua, Amphoe Muang, 15 km from Sakon Nakhon city via Hwy 22. The farmers here receive additional earnings through the pottery business.
  • Wha Yai and Ban Don Daeng Weaving Village (หมู่บ้านทอผ้าบ้านวาใหญ่ บ้านดอนแดง) – In Amphoe Arkat Amnuay, the villages are well known for woven cotton, silk dyed in Khit-style. All textiles are dyed with natural dyes.
  • Big C Shopping Centre (corner of Khu Mueang Road and Jai Pah Suk Road). Daily 09:00-22:00. General shopping. There’s a food court, a MK Restaurant and a decent sushi stand.
  • Kut Na Kham Arts and Crafts Centre (at Ban Kut Na Kham, Charoen Sin, 112 km from Sakon Nakhon). Where pottery, fabrics, and wood carvings are made by hand to unique designs.
  • Makro (1 km west of centre on Rte 22 to Udon Thani). Cheap bulk purchases.
  • Robinson (east from the centre). Groceries and assorted goods, with much higher pricing than Big C or Lotus but Tops Supermarket carries many imported food items mainly from Europe, the US and Japan.
  • Tedsaban Market (corner of Pracha Rat Road and Khu Mueang Road). Primarily a vegetable market, but you can also buy some cheap clothes (especially at night when the market expands to the opposite side of the street) and other odds-and-ends. It’s also a great place to pick up a quick Thai meal in a plastic bag.
  • Tesco Lotus (west, just out of the centre, on Rte 22 to Udon Thani). Superstore.

Restaurants in Sakon Nakhon

  • Baijak Coffee & Steak House (behind the PTT petrol station just outside of town on the highway to Udon Thani). 11:00-21:00. Excellent little steak house. English menus.
  • Ban Fa Prong Coffee & Bakery (from Big C supermarket, follow Rop Mueang St east for 900 m; the restaurant is on the right before the corner with Charoen Mueang). 07:00-21:00. Delicious range of Thai, Isaan, French, and international cuisine with menu in English. Air-con, English spoken, nice set of international desserts. 50-200 Thai Baht.
  • Dog Meat (Ban Tha Rae, north of Nong Han Lake on the road to Nakhon Phanom). Dog meat is sold to those meat-eaters desperate to taste sour and spicy dog-bone soup, peppery dog meat salad, or dark spicy smoked dog sausage. Gourmets say the meat, boiled or fried, is particularly succulent and tastes like deer. Dog oil is said claimed to be a useful ointment for scratches or burned skin. The thought of eating dog horrifies most Thais, and the promotion of canine cuisine is not something the Tourism Authority of Thailand is keen to support. In villages throughout Sakon Nakhon dog meat is still consumed.
  • Green Corner (Rat Phatthana Road, opposite the city’s main bus terminal). A modern bakery and restaurant. Sells Thai and Western meals. Popular with expats and foreigners also because it’s one of the few restaurants that has an English language menu and air-con.
  • Pon Yang Kham (15 km southeast of Sakon Nakhon on Rte 223 between the military camp and Non Hom town). A butchery specialising in the production and distribution of high quality beef from charolais and limousin French cattle breeds. Supplies high-end restaurants in Bangkok. Also has an affordable restaurant at noon. 50-300 Thai Baht.
  • Rajaphat University Restaurant (on Rte 22 to Udon Thani, after crossing Rte 223). 30-200 Thai Baht.
  • Sakon Nakhon Farmers Market (AKA bypass market) (southwest of Sakhon Nakhon at intersection of Rte 213 (to Kalasin) and Rte 223 to Mukdahan (AKA bypass intersection)). Daily 16:00-19:00. Fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, meat, fish, takeaway food, and an amazing range of insects, frogs, birds, snakes, larvae, worms.
  • Sakhon Steak and Sandwich House (ITU Road, at entrance to the PLR Apartments). 08:00-23:00. Tesco Lotus (road to Udon Thani). Supermarket with food court. 20-100 Thai Baht.

Get out for a Drink in Sakon Nakhon

  • Golden Pond (Tor Phatthana Road). A popular discothèque.
  • Patchachin (corner Prem Prida Road and Mankhalai Road). Thai pub and restaurant. Very popular with younger affluent Thais. No English language menus.
  • Soi Jet, Suk Kasem Soi 7 (in a small alley off Suk Kasem Road). Hard to find but serves good quality Thai food. It is another pub popular with younger, affluent Thais looking for a more relaxed night out. Thai-language menu only.
  • Welcome Bar (Tor Phatthana Road). The local expat bar.

Where to stay in Sakon Nakhon

Hotels Sakon Nakhon: Popularity

Hotel Stars Discount Price before and discount Select dates
Hop Inn Sakon Nakhon ★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
At Sakon Hotel ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Chokdee Place View Isaan Hotel Deals
Honghub sakon ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
MT Place View Isaan Hotel Deals
U Style Hotel View Isaan Hotel Deals
NH Elegant Hotel View Isaan Hotel Deals
NK Residence Sakon Nakhon ★★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
บ้านเสงี่ยม-มณี Baan Sa ngiam-Manee View Isaan Hotel Deals
JC Hotel View Isaan Hotel Deals
Dara Maison Boutique Hotel View Isaan Hotel Deals
HUG Sakonnakhon View Isaan Hotel Deals
Livable Hotel View Isaan Hotel Deals
PC Palace Hotel View Isaan Hotel Deals
แป๊ะปลาเผาภูพาน รีสอร์ท View Isaan Hotel Deals
Chokdee Place ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Tamarind Resort ★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Baan Esan Country House ★★★ View Isaan Hotel Deals
Imperial Sakon Hotel View Isaan Hotel Deals
Baan Phra Chan View Isaan Hotel Deals
  • AP Place Hotel, 525 Ratbamrung Road.
  • Baan Esan Country House, 166 Dong Pattana Soi 1 (Sakonnakhon-Udon Rte 22 close to Rajaphat University), Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Cute traditional northeastern-style guesthouse five minutes from Sakon Nakhon airport, with a beautiful garden and landscaping. Jasmin and fragrant flowers, orchids, spa, sauna, and hot tub spa. Wi-Fi, satellite TV. English spoken. Inclusive breakfast, with latte and cappuccini, very flexible owners who often arrange delicious home made meals, arrange takeaway deliveries in the guesthouse, arrange transport from/to the airport. Offers motorbike rental. Daily, 500-2,000 Thai Baht; monthly, 3,500-6,000 Thai Baht.
  • Dusit Hotel, 1784 Yuwa Phatthana.
  • Imperial Sakon Hotel, 1892 Sukkasem Road.
  • M.J. The Majestic Hotel, 399 Khu Muang Road.
  • N.H. Elegant Hotel, 1636/32 Rop Mueang Road.
  • PLR Apartments, ITU Road (Near football stadium). Check-in: 10:00, check-out: 12:00. All rooms are fully furnished. 26 inch LCD TV, water heater, cable TV, 24 hour security, laundry service. 300 Thai Baht per day; 3,000 Thai Baht per month.

What to see and do in Sakon Nakhon

Visitors to Sakon Nakhon are in for a treat. This region abounds in natural splendor and spectacle, and time spent here immerses you in the Buddhist traditions of the nation and can even take you back in time a few million years.

Thai culture places great emphasis on respecting your elders, so we will visit our ancestors first. In the area between Sakon Nakhon and the bordering province of Kalasin, the Phu Pan mountain range houses full-skeleton fossils of sauropods from approximately 120 million years ago. The fossil record here also includes some plant and petrified wood samples, and the larger fossils can be seen in large-scale open pit excavations. Satisfy your inner archeologist with a visit to the digs.

We have to turn a lot of calendar pages to get to the next stop, chronologically speaking. Phu Pha Yon Mountain sits in the midst of a meditation center 40 km outside the city. The mountainside holds one of the best examples of prehistoric representative art. Local tribes carved depictions of people, animals, and agriculture into the side of the mountain more than 3000 years ago. Surrounded by natural beauty in peaceful surroundings, this mountain is well worth the short trip from Sakon Nakhon city.

Seasoned travelers will often tell you that the best places in any locale are the places that the locals frequent. The residents of Sakon Nakhon tend to take their leisure along the shores of Nong Han Lake. The lake covers more than 120 square kilometers and is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the kingdom. The shoreline has largely been converted into a massive public park for the city, and a number of small islets dot the lake. Hire a boat to visit the largest of these, Ko Don Sawan, to see ancient Buddha images in a deserted temple. The untamed greenery of the island makes it a popular nesting ground for several species of birds.

It can be a lot of fun to join local festivals while on vacation, even if you don’t understand what you’re celebrating! Thailand’s traditional New Year’s celebration is in April each year, and is called Songkran. The festival traditionally marks the beginning of the rainy season. While Songkran can be an excuse for rowdy behavior in more southerly cities of Thailand, in the northeast it is a more civil event. People pour water on one another to cool off and to share a laugh. Most businesses will close during Songkran days, so expect larger crowds, but the more, the merrier.

Should you be in the region in October, there is the annual Wax Castle Parade. Competing teams spend countless hours building replicas of popular temples and structures, and then form a parade to show off their handiwork.

When its souvenir time, take a trip to Ban Charn Arts and Crafts, or Wha Yai and Ban Don Daeng. Ban Charn Arts & Crafts Center is a training and distribution center for the local crafts of woodcarving, silk production, and blacksmithing. Wha Yai and Ban Don Daeng are renowned for local silk products and textiles. Take home a memory or two!

Eat, drink and sleep in Sakon Nakhon

Apart from the hardcore survivalist types, most tourists enjoy a good meal after a day of touring waterfalls and temples. And of course, you have to eat a good breakfast, or you’ll have no energy for the next day’s activities. Don’t worry about anything. You definitely don’t have to go hungry in Sakon Nakhon.

First things first: yes, they eat dog in Sakon Nakhon. Among Thailand’s seventy-six provinces, Sakon Nakhon has the largest reputation for the preparation and consumption of dog meat. You shouldn’t be alarmed by this at all. You’re visiting a very different culture, and this is their custom. Further, you won’t be served dog unless you order it. If you’re curious and adventurous, the local fresh market is rumored to be the place to pick up your serving.

For other types of meals, you have many choices. Of course the Thai food will be fresh and flavorful, just like in every province of the kingdom.

Recommendations for Thai restaurants in Sakon Nakhon

Mit Auppatam

Thai oriented menu, but also with Western options. This is a good choice for breakfasts, as they serve a really decent omelet. Lunch and dinner also available, but bring an interpreter.

Phra Cha Chuen

Thai food only, but served in a more casual setting. Great meals, unpretentious, nice atmosphere.

Green Corner

If you’re after a more westernized menu, this is your spot. Of course good Thai and Isaan-style options are on the menu, but you’ll also find a selection of pizzas, Italian food, and a nice bakery.

Sakon Nakhon Sandwich and Steak House

Western and Turkish menu with good prices. Located at the entrance to the PLR Apartments, on ITU Street. Run by Hakkan with his lovely wife.

Nightlife in Sakon Nakhon

Many of us have the habit of looking for a pub or nightclub sometime after dinner is done. While Sakon Nakhon is not known as a party town, don’t give up all hope. There’s always a place to find an open bar stool, a live band, and a cold drink. In Sakon Nakhon, you can try the karaoke bar inside the MJ Hotel. But if you prefer to listen instead of sing, you still have options. Toon Army Bar offers a live band and a friendly atmosphere. A more dance-oriented vibe is at the Golden Pond Disco just around the corner from Toon Army Bar, but you’re likely to find it rather crowded with local students. Welcome Bar is on the same street as Golden Pond, and is targeted slightly more to the western visitor. If you like live rock, specially Thai Rock, why not head to the Tawan Daeng with excellent singers. Finally, check out Mak Mi Sigh Tan country music bar for more live band enjoyment.

Stay safe in Sakon Nakhon

Swimming in Nong Han is risky because of parasitic liver flukes.

Go next

North to Bueng Kan, east to Nakhon Phanom, southeast to Mukdahan, southwest to Kalasin, or west to Udon Thani.

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Northeast Thailand

Udon Thani Expat & Tourist Guide

Wolfgang Holzem

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Udon Thani (อุดรธานี, also Udorn Thanee) is a city in the Isaan region of Thailand. Often referred to as simply Udon or Udorn (อุดร), the city should not be confused with Ubon — Ubon Ratchathani in southeastern Isaan.

Introduction to Udon Thani

Founded in the 1890s by Prince Prajak Silapakom, Udon Thani is the 7th largest city in Thailand.

Udon had a USAF airbase during the Vietnam War that increased its wealth and importance. Surrounded by one of the major agricultural areas of the country, Udon Thani has become a regional hub for agriculture, commercial distribution, shopping and a fledgling tourism industry.

Udon Thani F.C

Udon Thani F.C

Because of the US presence (the airbase until 1976, a U.S. consulate until 1995, and currently, a Voice of America radio station in Amphur Ban Dung) many Thais were well-paid and learned English, making them more marketable to foreign labour recruiters.

Udon has a large number of its expats who have worked or are working overseas, particularly in Middle East oil fields. This has contributed both to the wealth of the area and its desirability as an expat destination.

More than 5,000 expats from Europe, Australia and North America have settled in the area.

Visit our Hotel Partners in Udon Thani

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Travel to Udon Thani

By plane

  • Udon Thani AirportHas several 50 min daily flights to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi [BKK]) (Thai Airlines: around 2,500 Thai Baht) or (Don Mueang [DMK]) (Air Asia from 500 Thai Baht and Nok Air from 1,250 Thai Baht if booked well in advance). There are also direct flights to Chiang MaiLoei and Phuket (Air Asia flies to Phuket with tickets often around 1,000-1,200 Thai Baht, which is comparable to a 2-night bus/train trip via Bangkok).

To get to the city there is a limousine service (actually a minibus) for 80 Thai Baht/person that will drop you and other passengers at the location of your choice. Minibus tickets are available in the booth just to the right as you leave the terminal building. If there are more than two of you, it may be cheaper to call a taxi (Tel. +66 42 323239) or to use Grab ride-hailing service, which (as of January 2019) costs 160 Thai Baht to/from central Udon. Taxis are not permitted to wait for passengers at the airport, but some do it anyway, asking 200-400 Thai Baht for the 4 km journey. Some hotels have pickup services and may take an extra passenger or two if space permits. Some long distance buses to Khon Kaen were seen in the airport, with numerous people boarding them. No local Udon Thani songthaews have been seen near the airport.

Udon Thani Wallpaper

Udon Thani Wallpaper

If you are travelling on to Nong Khai, there is a bureau straight ahead of you when you get to the arrivals hall which sells minivan tickets to Nong Khai. They have a minibus which meets most flights and for 200 Thai Baht they will load you into a minivan. It takes one hour to reach Nong Khai and if you ask the driver he will take you to your hotel, or drop you off at the Thai side of the Friendship Bridge. You can then proceed into Laos.

Cheap Flights to Udon Thani

OriginDeparture atReturn atFind tickets
Bangkok03.05.202105.05.2021Tickets from 622
Utapao26.04.202130.04.2021Tickets from 1 794
Chiang Mai21.04.202122.04.2021Tickets from 3 057
Chiang Rai24.07.202127.07.2021Tickets from 3 706
Phuket18.04.202123.04.2021Tickets from 3 924
Chumphon16.04.202117.04.2021Tickets from 5 506
Kyiv01.06.202106.06.2021Tickets from 29 118

By bus

There are four bus stations in the city:

  • City Centre Bus Station, Station 1 (BKS Station). The city’s main bus station is near Central Plaza.
  • Bus Station 2 (Northern Bus Station) (On the western outskirts of the city on the road in from Loei  towards Nong Khai). Buses to and from northern Thailand such as Loei , Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai. A tuk-tuk into the city costs about 100 Thai Baht from there (Dec 2014). Songthaew 7 will take you there as well.
  • Bus Station 3 (Just off the ring road, north side of the city). Third-class buses to Nong Khai.
  • Nakhonchai Air Bus Terminal Udon Thani (Tahan Road opposite the Army Hospital). First class and VIP day and overnight buses to Bangkok. Nakhonchai Air has a high reputation for quality, and for managing its drivers to drive safely. Buses from Bangkok also stop at Bus Station 1 when arriving in Udon Thani, before terminating at their own terminal. Nakhonchai Air has buses departing to Bangkok at 08:50; 09:40; 19:00; 20:50; 21:25; 22:00; and 22:45. Travel time is about 7-9 hours depending on traffic. Regular, 454 Thai Baht; VIP, 606 Thai Baht.
  • Udon-BangkokBuses from Bangkok (Mo Chit), an 8-hour journey, arrive at the BKS station in the city centre. BKS buses to Mo Chit depart at 20:00; 20:30; 21:00; and 21:20. Nakhonchai Air also runs buses to Bangkok.
  • Udon-Chiang MaiA VIP seat on a bus (e.g., Chackrapong Tour) costs 666 Thai Baht. (Dec 2014). The overnight journey takes 10.5 hr. This has to be one of Thailand’s worst bus trips as roads en route are small, rural, and winding. Those on the top of double decker buses may get queasy from all the toing-and-froing. Also, as the mid-point is one of Thailand’s more remote areas, your bus may not make the customary 20 min. break mid-way, or any break at all. Chackrapong buses to Udon drop you at the remote Bus Station 2, a reason to avoid it if you can by taking Phetprasert.
    • Phetprasert has three buses a day from Chiang Mai to Udon (and onto Nakhon Phanom). They leave Chiang Mai at 14:30, 17:30, and 19:30, arriving in Udon at 02:15, 05:15 and 05:30 respectively. Fare (Apr 2015) is 636 Thai Baht. Phetprasert drops passengers at Central Plaza Shopping Mall, a very good location in the centre (Mar 2015). Buses to Chiang Mai depart the shopping mall at 17:45, 18:45, and 20:45. Buy Phetprasert tickets in the city centre bus station, a 5 minute walk from the shopping mall.}}
  • Udon-Khon KaenAir conditioned buses and minivans depart from Udon’s Bus Station 1 downtown. There are at least two departures per hour. Duration of the trip is roughly 90 min for the 125 km route. As the old “Non-air conditioned terminal” in downtown Khon Kaen is closed now, the bus will go straight to the Terminal 3 six kilometers south on the city outskirts. The bus will pass through the city center though, and will stop a few times to drop off the people, so it may be wise to watch the map and get off at the location nearest to your hotel, then take a tuk-tuk or Grab there. 80 Thai Baht.
  • Udon-Nong KhaiBuses from several companies depart at least once per hour after 08:00 to Nong Khai, 1 hour, non-air conditioned 3rd class) on the Lao border. Buses from Nong Khai may drop you off north of the city. Follow the locals and hop on the waiting #6 songthaew to the bus station or take a tuk-tuk. 50 Thai Baht (Oct 2013).
  • Udon-PattayaThe 407 Bus Company has daily 08:00, 18:30, and 20:55 buses to Pattaya. The morning bus takes about 12 hours as the bus makes many stops. Night buses take about 10 hr. Fare is 636 Thai Baht VIP (Nov 2015). The 407 Company has its office/bus stop near, but not in the city centre bus station. It’s on the corner of the main street out the front of the bus station near the 7-Eleven.
  • Udon-Points eastBuses depart around once per hour to Sakon Nakhon (100 Thai Baht, 3 hours, air conditioned, 160 km from Udon Thani, on the way to Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan).
  • Udon-VientianeThere are six express buses a day direct to the Morning Market in Vientiane (80 Thai Baht, 2 hours, air-con 1st class departures at 08:00, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00, 16:00, 18:00). Some companies will not sell this trip if you cannot show a visa. These cross-border buses will sometimes carry passengers who have not obtained their Lao visas in advance, but may not wait long enough at the border for a visa on arrival to be applied for and issued. This isn’t a problem when the queues are short, but at busy times passengers who don’t already have their visas may be left behind and have to continue by local bus or tuk-tuk. There is a notorious scam of foreigners charged up to 100 Thai Baht for a 2 min ride, plus 25 Thai Baht for the bridge crossing, plus tuk-tuk or taxi to Vientiane.

By train

Daily trains go to Nong Khai (45 mins for just a bargain 11 Thai Baht) and over the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River to Laos. Trains are also frequent to Nakhon Ratchasima and Bangkok. The overnight express sleeper to Bangkok is scheduled to take 9.25 hours, but usually takes longer. Nevertheless, it is still quite comfortable and pleasant, especially when taken in a sleeping berth or compartment. A daytime express train to Bangkok traverses a causeway over the large and scenic artificial lake created by the Pa Sak Jolasid Dam (in Lopburi Province). Connections to the major centres of southern Isaan (Buriram, Surin, Sisaket and Ubon Ratchathani) can be made in Nakhon Ratchasima for those who like to travel by rail.

In all, there are daily daytime trains, and three daily nighttime trains from Bangkok to Udon Thani and vice versa (most of which normally originate or terminate at Nong Khai), and several local trains to other destinations, including Nakhon Ratchasima.

  • Train StationThe Udon Thani train station is convenient, near the main tourist area and Central Plaza shopping complex.

Getting around in Udon Thani

Navigation around Udon Thani is made easier by three large roundabouts on the central road, Hwy 2: the clock circle, the fountain circle and Prince Prajak Circle. It’s also possible to orient yourself with Central Plaza or Nong Prajak Park. There is a bypass road that goes around the city.

Udon Thani Wallpaper

Udon Thani Wallpaper

By taxi

The main bus station, near Central Plaza has a taxi stand. Grab ride-hailing service works in Udon as well, though prices start from 60 Thai Baht even for a shortest ride, and increase pretty quickly afterwards.

By bicycle taxi

Udon Thani has many samlors (three-wheeled bicycle taxis), although as elsewhere, they are slowly succumbing to the pressures of the internal combustion engine.

By tuk-tuk

Tuk-tuks, three-wheeled motorcycles, are readily available in most commercial areas. Negotiate a price for your journey before you get in. Note that in Udon Thani the locally made vehicles (called Skylabs) differ from those in most of Thailand outside Isaan in that their fronts are adapted motorcycles. If you travel to Laos, you will also see such vehicles (called “jumbos”) there. Tuk-tuks prowl the streets on the lookout for tourists. Apart from long journeys the price should be around 30-50 Thai Baht. If you get into the bus station early in the morning and need a guest house they may pretend they can’t speak English, drive you around in a small circle “looking” for guesthouses before dropping you around the corner from the station; however, some may not speak English and are just trying to be helpful. They will then ask for 100 Thai Baht for a 30 Thai Baht journey. There is plenty of accommodation within walking distance of the station.

Udon Thani Wallpaper

Udon Thani Wallpaper

By songthaew

Udon Thani has a bus-like network of numbered pick up trucks with 2 benches in the back songthaews; cost is 8 or 10 Thai Baht per trip (10 Thai Baht outside the ring road).

By bicycle

  • Bicycle RentalBicycles are available for rent at the northeast corner of Nong Prajak Park. 20 Thai Baht/hour.

Bicycles can also be rented by the day from Asia Backpackers and SPM House.

By motorbike or car

Motorbike rentals are readily available at many locations in Udon Thani such as Soi samphanthamit. There are also many shops that accept online bookings such as Udon Rent A Bike and www.motorbikerentaludonthani.com.

If you wish to travel with a little more comfort, it is recommended to rent a car, the most well established local car rental in Udon Thani is UD Car Rent. You will also find most manjor International car hire companies at Udon Thani Airport.

Sightseeing Tips to Udon Thani

Excavations at Ban Chiang
  • Ban Chiang (About 35 km E of Udon). An archaeological dig that is a UNESCO World Heritage List. Both buses and inter-village songthaews will drop you off at the Ban Chiang turn-off.
  • Ban Nakha (15 km N of Udon on Rte 2). A village famous for selling hand woven silk and cotton garments. It is somewhat commercialised but a walk back from the road into the village can net some silk and cotton bargains.
  • Nong BuaA park with a lake just to the east of the railway line. It is noted for its Chinese pagodas over the lake and the dragon pole.
  • Phu Foi Lom Eco-Park (40 km SW of Udon). Numerous trails and rainy season waterfalls. South of Udon is a large wetlands area/lake called Khumpahawapi. In Oct, traditional dragon boat races are held on the lake. Within Khumpahawapi is a city park with a large troop of monkeys that have been living there for over a hundred years.
  • Phu Phrabat National Park (60 km NW of Udon near the Ban Phue). A marvelous ridge line with numerous sandstone edifices several thousand years old. Bronze age cave paintings are also within the park.
  • Red Lotus Lake (Talay Bua Daeng, ทะเลบัวแดง), Tambon Chiang Haeo, Kumphawapi District, . Take a boat ride through a lake full of red flowers (they are actually red hardy water lilies) at the lake of Nong Han (หนองหาน). The bloom starts in October, but is best viewed from December to February during the morning. Bird watchers may also spot herons and other fowl. Boats and drivers are available for rent by the hour at the side of the lake, 300-500 Thai Baht. A suggested over night stay is the Ma Der Bua Hotel next to the lake. They also have a restaurant and provide a toilet for five Thai Baht.
  • Udon Sunshine Orchid FarmFamous for a variety of orchids, orchid-derived perfumes and plants that “dance to music”.Due to poor public transportation in Udon Thani, the only mean of transportation for tourist to get to these tourist attractions is by Car rentals or Taxi service.
Udon Thani Wallpaper

Udon Thani Wallpaper

What to do in Udon Thani

  • Daytrip to Nong KhaiCatch a 45 minute train at either 08:34 or 11:42 to Nong Khai for 11 Thai Baht. Either catch train back at 13:03 or catch a mini bus back for 50 Thai Baht. Every 30 min from bus station. If you wish do rent a car and travel a little more comfortable, there many car rentals agencies available in Udon Thani, such as UD Car Rent, Avis, Budget.
  • Major CinemaWatch a film at Major Cinema in Central Plaza. Some movies in Thai and some in English so choose the appropriate showing.
  • Nong Prajak Lake ParkDaily, 04:00-20:00A large recreational area within the city and the primary site for locals to exercise and chill out. Consisting of a large lake/reservoir with several small islands, it features pleasant grassy areas and activities such as nightly aerobics (to Thai pop music) and feeding bread crumbs to the fish. For the more active, it’s also popular for jogging or cycling (bike rentals available). Two paved pathways circle the lake: the inner one for cyclists, the outer one for those on foot. The circumference of the outer one is 3.3 km (2 mi). Most of the jogging path around the lake is ungated, but a portion is locked from 20:00-04:00.
  • Your Fitness Udon Thani322/19 Prachaksilpakom Road (Between Bangkok Hospital and 7-Eleven, behind the shops), . Monday to Friday, 08:00-24:00; Saturday to Sunday, 12:00-24:00New (Jan 2020) gym in Udon, one of only a few. Centrally located near Central Plaza and the railway station.
  • Visit a Thai League 2 Football match of Udon Thani FC at the Institute Of Physical Education Udon Thani Stadium.

Go shopping in Udon Thani

On the east-side ring road is the Bo Bei Clothing Market. Within the city itself are numerous 7-Elevens as well as many mini-marts with Western snacks and goods.

  • Big C (SE of the city centre on Nittayo Road; SW of the city centre on Rte 210). Daily, 09:00-24:00Two locations. Hypermart, groceries, housewares, clothing.
  • Central Plaza (Formerly Chareonsri), 277/1-3 Prajaksillapakom Road, . Monday to Friday, 09:30-21:00. Sa, Su, Hols, 09:00-21:00Udon Thani’s largest indoor shopping mall, featuring five floors of shopping, including Asia Books, a Robinson’s department store, Tops Supermarket, Sizzler steakhouse, KFC, Pizza Company, Swensen’s Ice Cream, Boots pharmacy, IT products, mobile phones, cineplex.
  • Landmark Plaza / TukComShopping complex with SFC Cinema.
  • Makro (E of the city centre). Daily, 06:00-22:00Cheap bulk purchases.
  • Night Market (W of the train station, five min walk from the central bus station.). 17:00-22:30Eat in and takeaway food.
  • Tesco Lotus (UD Town; another on the ring road, N side). Supermarket with lower prices than Tops Supermarket at Central Plaza. Several locations. The most central one is in UD Town (hours: 07:00-24:00). The one on the north ring road is a Tesco-Lotus Extra (hours:08:00-23:00).
  • Tops market CentralPlaza277/3 Prachuksilpakom Road, . Western and Thai foodstuffs; salad bar; deli; bakery. Monday to Friday 11:00-21:00; Saturday to Sunday 10:00- 21:00.
  • UD Town (Adjacent to the train station). Mall with a food court, Tesco Lotus store, three different Oishi restaurants, McDonald’s, Swensen’s Ice Cream, Pizza Company, WaWee Coffee and numerous retail businesses.

Eating Tips for Udon Thani

Street vendors abound throughout the city. Satay, noodle soup (beef, pork, chicken and duck are common), pad Thai, som tam, grilled chicken, meat on a stick, various sweets and rice dishes are available at nearly all times. Udon Thani has a large range of buffet restaurants including Korean-style cook it yourself BBQ in a raised dish over a charcoal burner in the centre of your table.

  • Bongkotch Restaurant (ร้านอาหารบงกช) (At the top of Soi Suphanthanit). Popular Thai restaurant with good food and low prices. 40+ Thai Baht.
  • Fuzzy Ken’s298/15 Sayoutis Road (Opposite 7-Eleven on Sayoutis Road; 1 min walk from central bus station 1 or Central Plaza; 10 min from railway station), . M-Sa, 08:00-late. Closed SuA wonderful hybrid: a restaurant serving Thai and Western food, a used bookshop, and a shop selling hard-to-find Western foodstuffs (Bovril, Marmite, Heinz beans, Vegemite, meat pies). A Brit, Ken is a terrific source of local info. Serves beer and wine. Good website. Free Wi-Fi. Huge breakfast, 145 Thai Baht (Aug 2017).
  • The Good Corner Restaurant and BarNutty Park, Prachak Road (Just around the corner from the “bar street”; across from UD Residence), . Daily, 08:00-23:00; kitchen closes 22:00Owned by a Danish lady, serves breakfast, pizza and Thai food. Great quality and decent prices.
  • Maeyaa (ร้านอาหารแม่หยา), 79-81 Rachapasadu Road (ถ.ราชพัสดุ) (Just S of Phosi Road and W of Amphoe Road, about 3 km from city centre). Terrific family restaurant, an Udon institution. Three floors, crowded with Thais at mealtimes. Extensive photo menu and have an English menu available. Thai and Western food, but best to stick with the Thai. Also known for their extensive ice cream selection including banana splits. Air conditioned.
  • Diary Restaurant (Diary), 128/17 Ban Lao Road., Soi 6 Udon Dutsadi, Udon Thani 41000 (Opposite Gomen City Estates), . 10:00-21:00 Tuesday to SundayInternational and Thai food, great quality & affordable prices. Serving Isaan food, Vegetarian food, Thai curries, Western breakfasts, Mexican & Italian food. Online ordering & delivery available.

Nightlife in Udon Thani

Udon Thani has a variety of karaoke bars, beer bars and Western bars. “Farang bars” tend to be concentrated in the area between Central Plaza and the railway station. Bars close sharply at midnight as the police are strict. Police set up roadblocks at the hour to look for drunk drivers. If you are driving a motorbike and over the limit it will cost you a night in a very uncomfortable Thai jail, most of the next day, and 3,000 Thai Baht. It was also reported that a drunk farang got court drunk and the fine was 10,000 Baht and they gladly drove him down to the nearest ATM

  • Day and Night Bar Complex (Next to the Pannerai Hotel). Noon till midnightAbout seventeen beer bars in this open air, but covered, bar complex.
  • Nutty ParkL-shaped alley containing a dozen or more small bars popular with tourists and expats. Nutty Park contains what may be the best farang-oriented bar in Udon, the Good Shot Bar. It’s clean and well lit, with nice hostesses and two pool tables. Serves Thai and Western food from two nearby restaurants.
  • Tawan Daeng next to 7/11 at Soin Sampan is a Thai Calabrao style Isaan night club with live music and plenty of drinks.
  • Fun Bar –Best farang-oriented beer bar on Soi Sampan, operated by Bill and his Thai wife.

Where to stay in Udon Thani

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget less than 500 Thai Baht
Mid-range 500-1,500 Thai Baht
Splurge over 1,500 Thai Baht

Hotels Udon Thani City: Popularity

HotelStarsDiscountPrice before and discountSelect dates
Centara Hotel & Convention Centre Udon Thani★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Hop Inn Udonthani★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
De Princess Hotel Udonthani★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Thanburi Hotel★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Takanta Place★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
At Home at Udon★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Siamgrand Hotel★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Delio Boutique HotelView Isaan Hotel Deals
The Pannarai Hotel★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Charoen Hotel★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
The Siri Place★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Nuntiya Terrace★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Kitlada Hotel Udonthani★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Prajaktra Design Hotel★★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
The One Residence★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Paradise Hotel UdonthaniView Isaan Hotel Deals
Goodhome@Udonthani★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
President Hotel Udonthani★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
Prajaktra City HostelView Isaan Hotel Deals
The Lion King Hotel Udonthani★★★View Isaan Hotel Deals
There are many hotels in town. Prices vary, and as with most things, you get what you pay for. Rates range from 200 to 2,000 Thai Baht or more per night. Apartment rentals from 1,800 Thai Baht/month. Private pool villas can be rented for catered stays of two nights or more.

Cope in Udon Than

Co-working space in Udon Thani

  • Smarthub322/19 Prachaksilpakom Road (Near Central Plaza and the train station, between Bangkok Hospital and 7-Eleven, behind the shops), . Daily, 09:00-21:00Work spaces, meeting rooms with audio-visual equipment, Internet, copier, fax, office support staff. Coordinates are approximate. 60 Thai Baht for 1 hour, 180 Thai Baht per day.

Dental Clinics in Udon Thani

  • Wattra Dental ClinicSai Uthit Road (Purple storefront across from 7-Eleven at Bus Station 1 downtown, 100 m from CentralPlaza), . M-Sa, 09:00-19:30; Su, 09:00-17:00Competent, English-speaking dentist(s) who work with up-to-date technologies. 800 Thai Baht to re-cement molar crown.

Where to go next after Udon Thani

  • Ban Dung City, Udon Thani Province
  • Nong Khai is a very pleasant riverside town near the border with Laos. The Friendship Bridge is located here and this is the main overland border crossing into Laos on the way to Vientiane. Many travellers pass through Nong Khai on their way in and out of Laos without realising that this a worthy travel destination in its own right.
  • Khon Kaen another similar city on the train line heading south. Buses leave frequently and take 1,5 hours, trains take longer.
  • Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is about one and a half hours away across the Mekong. Express air conditioned buses leave the Udon Central bus station six times daily for Vientiane. Bus fare one way is 80 Thai Baht. A visa on arrival for Laos at the Friendship Bridge costs about USD35 for 30 days (two passport photos are required or there is an additional USD1 charge).

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Loei | Covid-19 Travel Restrictions | Lockdown | Coronavirus Outbreak

Loei (เลย) is a city in the Isaan region of Thailand. Contents 1 Understand 2 Get in 2.1 By car 2.2 By bus 2.2.1 From Bangkok 2.3 From Phitsanulok 2.3.1 Within Isaan 2.4 By train 2.5 By plane 3 Get around 4 See 5 Do 5.1 Festivals 6 Buy 7 Eat 8 Drink 9 Where […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Loei (เลย) is a city in the Isaan region of Thailand.

Understand

Loei is a city surrounded by undulating mountain ranges whose fog-shrouded summits are abundant with flora. The well-known mountains are Phu Kradung, Phu Luang, and Phu Ruea. Its temperature is comfortably cool, with beautiful geographical surroundings, as well as unique cultures and traditions. In the cool season it can get decidedly chilly, one of the few parts of Thailand that ever gets down to 0 degrees Celsius.

Loei is 520 km from Bangkok, covering an area of 11,424 square kilometres. The city’s population is roughly 23,000. It is a boundary (with Laos) province in the upper northeastern part of Thailand, on the bank of the Mekong River along the Phetchabun mountain range.

In the past, it was a small community in a prosperous empire during the same period as the Thai Kingdom of Ayutthaya. Later, the Lan Chang Empire became weaker, therefore, the community moved to be with Ayutthaya. During the reign of King Rama V of the Rattanakosin period, the community was upgraded to become Loei Province.

Stay with our Hotel Partners in Loei City

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Get in

By car

From Bangkok, take Hwy 1 or Phahonyothin Road, passing Saraburi. Turn onto Hwy 21, passing Phetchabun. Then, take Hwy 203, passing Lom Sak, Lom Kao into Loei Province at Dan Sai, Phu Ruea to Loei. It takes approximately 7-8 hours. Alternately, from Saraburi, take Hwy 2, passing Nakhon Ratchasima to Khon Kaen, for a distance of 536 km and turn left onto Hwy 12, passing Chum Phae and take Hwy 201 to Loei Province through Phu Kradueng, and Wang Saphung, a distance of 540 km.

By bus

From Bangkok

The Transport Co., Ltd. provides daily buses between Bangkok–Loei, both normal and air conditioned. The trip takes approximately 10 hours. For further information, contact the Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2), Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Tel. +66 2 9362841-8, +66 2 9362852-66. There are private bus companies such as Air Mueang Loei Co., Ltd.’s Bangkok office at Tel. +66 2 9360142 or Loei Office at Tel. +66 42 832042; Chumpae Tour Ltd., Bangkok office at Tel. +66 2 9363842 or Loei office at Tel. +66 42 832285; Phet Prasoet Co., Ltd.’s Bangkok office at Tel. +66 2 9363230, Phu Ruea office at Tel. +66 42 899386, Dan Sai office at Tel. +66 42 891908.

From Phitsanulok

Many buses are available from Phitsanulok, which is a particularly convenient starting point for exploring the area west of Loei (Dan Sai, etc.).

There are two bus terminals in Phitsanulok. No.1 which is very accessible by foot and no.2 which is like 5 km away from the city on the highway 12 on Indochina junctions. 50 Thai Baht to get there on a songtheaw. Both terminals have the exact same time for the busses going to loei. So just stick to terminal no.1. Time schedule for busses to loei are 9:30 and 12:00. Arrive earlier so you can catch the early bus, otherwise it’s all booked pretty fast.

Price as of 2017, goes for 207 Thai Baht.

Within Isaan

There are regular buses to Loei from Khon Kaen (buses every 30 min) and Udon Thani (100 Thai Baht). Buses depart from bus station 2, somewhat inconveniently outside the main town.

By train

There is no railway station in Loei. However, visitors can take a train from Bangkok Railway Station (Hualamphong) to Udon Thani or Phitsanulok, and take a bus to Loei.

By plane

There are 2-3 flights weekly from Bangkok on Nok Air, one of Thailand’s domestic discount airlines to Loei Airport (LOE). Service has changed from time to time. If it is not available, the next-nearest airport with commercial flights is Udon Thani with flights to/from Bangkok , Chiang Mai, and Phuket using Thai Airways, Nok Air, and Air Asia (Thailand). As noted above, there are frequent buses from Udon Thani to Loei.

Cheap Flights to Loei

OriginDeparture atReturn atFind tickets
Bangkok07.05.202110.05.2021Tickets from 1 339
Khon Kaen22.04.202123.04.2021Tickets from 4 093
Chiang Mai10.06.202112.06.2021Tickets from 4 127

Get around

Songthaews can be used to reach the town from the bus station (10 Thai Baht). Tuk-tuks are also available to and around town. Local buses and/or songthaews serve some of the noteworthy sights mentioned below.

See

Most interesting tourist attractions are sufficiently far away they require public transport or a motorbike to reach them.

  • Chaopho Kut Pong Shrine and the City Pillar Shrine (ศาลเจ้าพ่อกุดป่องและศาลหลักเมือง)The city pillar was made of the golden shower wood elaborately carved into a lotus shape at its top and gilded with gold leaf on black lacquer. Its height is 139 centimetres (55 in).
  • Chaloem Phra Kiat Public Park, Pa Loeng Yai (สวนสาธารณะเฉลิมพระเกียรติฯ ป่าเลิงใหญ่) A public park on the Loei River. There is a decorative garden with flowers and decorative plants.
  • Office of the Loei Tourism Coordination Centre (อาคารที่ทำการศูนย์ประสานงานการท่องเที่ยวจังหวัดเลย) Previously the city hall and Mueang Loei District office. The Loei Provincial Council of Culture collected the king’s chair at this place. The Fine Arts Department has registered it as a national monument for preservation.
  • Wat Tham Pha Pu or Phiang Din cave (วัดถ้ำผาปู่ หรือ ถ้ำเพียงดิน), Houses the remains of Luangpu Khamdi Paphaso, who discovered this place. The temple is a grand cave within a stone mountain. There are Buddha images enshrined in the cave, as well as stalagmites and stalactites.
  • Phu Pha Lom Forest Park (วนอุทยานภูผาล้อม) Steep limestone mountains with various pointed summits similar to a wall surrounding the virgin forest in the middle. There are various kinds of plants, herbs, sightseeing points, and caves as well as, Bo Nam Sap or Nam Phut, which is a sacred seepage pond.
  • Si Khun Mueang temple (วัดศรีคุณเมือง) This temple is a collection venue of Lanna and Lan Chang arts. The ubosot’s roof is in many layers reflecting Lanna-style. There are also many objects of art such as a carved Buddha image gilded with gold leaf on black lacquer in the forgiving posture of the Lan Chang style.
  • Phu Khwai Ngoen Buddha’s footprint (พระพุทธบาทภูควายเงิน) The Buddha’s footprint is 120 centimetres long and 65 centimetres wide, enshrined on a whetstone and was registered as a national ancient monument in 1935.
  • Phu Khok Ngio Buddha statue (พระใหญ่ภูคกงิ้ว) A walking Buddha image in the blessing posture, cast of fibre and golden resin combined. It was cast by the Second Army Area Command and the people as a form of merit making for the king and queen.
  • Thai Dam Cultural Village (หมู่บ้านวัฒนธรรมไทยดำ) Thai Dam people migrated from Chiang Khwang Town, Laos in 1905 to settle at Ban Na Pa Nat. At present, the Thai Dam culture is still preserved.
  • Crown Princess’s Sirindhorn Art Centre (ศูนย์ศิลป์สิรินธร) A venue displaying paintings of students who have gained popularity at both national and international levels. Moreover, it is a source of knowledge on arts and culture, including both permanent and rotating exhibition halls, and an arts training building.
  • Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary (เขตรักษาพันธุ์สัตว์ป่าภูหลวง) Phu Luang means ‘large mountain’ or the ‘mountain of the king’. On the east of Phu Luang, dinosaur footprints on the rock, aged more than 120 million years, were discovered. The most distinguished ones on Phu Luang are Pinus merkusii and Kesiya pine forests, savanna on plains, mounds, and stone terraces.
  • Pha Ya cave (ถ้ำผายา) is inside Wat Tham Pha Ya at Ban Mai Santi Tham, Tambon Na Dok Kham. Inside the cave is a flock of millions of insect-eating bats.
  • Suan Hin Pha Ngam or Thailand’s Kunming (สวนหินผางาม หรือ คุนหมิงเมืองไทย) A limestone garden aged around 230-280 million years, occurring from the aggregation of beach deposits. Then, an uplift of the earth’s crust, together with millions of years of natural rot have made this mountain strangely beautiful, similar to the stone garden in Kunming, Yunnan, China.
  • Mahoran Cave (ถ้ำมโหฬาร) A large cave whose entrance enshrines a Buddha image in subduing Mara posture. The area within the cave is quite large consisting of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as, caves in smaller sizes. A Buddha’s footprint was also found on the wall of the cave.
  • Phothisat Cave (ถ้ำโพธิสัตว์) or Thailand’s Guilin is within the compound of Wat Tham Phothisat. It is a complex cave.
  • Piang Din Waterfall (น้ำตกเพียงดิน) is 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) beyond Suan Hin Pha Ngam. The waterfall is at the end of the asphalt road.
  • Phrathat Si Song Rak (พระธาตุศรีสองรัก) Its architecture is in the Lan Chang style. Phrathat, a stupa containing the Buddha’s relics, is 19.19 metres high and 10.89 metres wide with a square base of 12 redented corners. Moreover, within the compound of the temple is enshrined a Buddha image canopied by a seven-headed Naga in the Tibetan-style.
  • Neramit Wipatsana temple (วัดเนรมิตวิปัสสนา) Both the ubosot and chedi are constructed of laterite. A replica of Phra Phutthachinnarat is enshrined as the main image.
  • Phi Ta Khon Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์บ้านผีตาโขน) An educational attraction for those interested in the Bun Luang and Phi Ta Khon Festivals. There is an ubosot reflecting the skills of local craftsmen as well as a replica of Phrathat Si Song Rak.
  • Pho Chai Na Phueng temple (วัดโพธิ์ชัยนาพึง) Enshrined within the abbot’s cell is the Prachao Ong Saen Buddha image, an ancient image of the town for many generations. On the outside of the ubosot are paintings which were created in 1916.
  • The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (สะพานมิตรภาพน้ำเหืองไทย-ลาว) A bridge crossing the Hueang River connecting Thailand and Laos.
  • Cotton Blossom Festival. Every year, in early-February.
  • Phitakon (ผีตาโขน, Phi Ta Kon, Phi Ta Khon) (Dan Sai is about 2 hours W of Loei. It can be reached by bus). The best worst-publicised festival in Thailand. Every year in Dan Sai (ด่านซ้าย) the Phi Ta Kon festival is held. Revellers make traditional masks, which they wear in a parade down the main street of Dan Sai. Traditionally, the masks were made to frighten evil spirits away, the wearer dons the mask and drags bells behind them with the intention of clearing the surrounding area of evil spirits (generally while drinking large amounts of home brewed spirits of a different kind). Afterward, the parade begins and thousands of people head through the streets for what becomes a chaotic fertility festival, many participants in the parade carry phallic water guns and comically over-sized wooden penises with them.
  • Phu Kradueng National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูกระดึง), Moo 1, Ban Si Than, Si Than Sub-district, Phu Kradung District (Hwy 2019 leads to the park) , ✉ phukradueng_np@dnp.go.th. A sandstone mountain park with a wide plain summit, whose shape is similar to a leaf of the elephant ear or a heart. Sites in the park: Nok Aen cliff: A small stone terrace with pine trees standing at the cliff’s edge. It is a beautiful sunrise spot overlooking the scenery of the grass field and mountain range; Lom Sak cliff: A wide stone terrace with a large pine tree near an overhanging cliff. It is a place where the sunset can be the most clearly viewed; Tat Hong waterfall: When falling from the cliff to the basin, it creates a loud and resonant sound of water. Therefore, it is called “Namtok Tat Hong”. (updated Jun 2016)
  • Phu Ruea National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูเรือ), Nong Bou Sub-district, Phu Rua District (The park is 48 km from Loei. Take Hwy 203 to Phu Ruea Sub-District then turn right and go about 4 km to park HQ) , ✉ phurua1@hotmail.com. Its special feature is an overhanging cliff in the shape of a junk’s prow. It is considered the coldest national park of the country. Interesting sites: Decho Viewpoint: sunrise view spot; Lon Noi cliff: From this spot, Phu Luang, Phu Pha Sat, Phu Khrang and a sea of complex mountain ranges can be seen; Sapthong or Kulap cliff: A steep cliff with seepage full of water throughout the year where there is plenty of golden yellow lichen; Huai Phai waterfall: This waterfall is drops from a steep cliff with an approximate height of 30 metres; Phu Ruea peak: The highest spot in the national park at 1,365 m. Within its compound is a stone terrace and grass field mixed with pine forest including Pinus merkusii which is naturally grown and Kesiya pine which is planted. (updated Jun 2016)
  • Phu Suan Sai National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูสวนทราย), Saeng Pha Sub-district, Na Haeo District (From Loei, take Hwy 2003, 2031, and 2113 to Na Haeo District and then about 4 km further to Ban Mueng Prea. Turn left on Hwy 1268 and turn right at its last junction at the km0 kilometre post. From km0 it is just a few meters to park HQ). Dry evergreen forests mixed with deciduous trees. Along the high area are hill evergreen forests which are also a natural boundary between Thailand and Laos. Interesting sites: Khing waterfall: The waterfall has many rock tiers. At this spot, the government has constructed a royal residence for Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn who visited on 12 February 1991; Chang Tok waterfall: 500 m higher than Namtok Khing which is also along the Phrae River. It is steeper than the lower one; Wang Tat waterfall: 1.5 kilometres above Namtok Chang Tok on the Phrae River; Tat Hueang or Thai-Lao waterfall is on the Hueang River, consisting of three tiers with a height of approximately 50 metres. There is water throughout the year; Pha Khao waterfall: On the Heuang River, the border between Thailand and Laos.; Four direction rock: On its south side are four rocks rising up in the middle of the tropical evergreen forest. The locals go to pay respect at this place once every three years, thus it is called “Song Pi Ham, Sam Pi Khrop”; Kuai Lo rock: A sandstone whose shape is similar to a mushroom bud rising in the middle of the tropical evergreen forest; Hill 1408 Viewpoint: The highest viewpoint and centre of the national park; Hill 1255 Viewpoint: The scenery of Ban Huai Nam Phak below as well as Phu Soi Dao and Phu Wiang in Laos. (updated Jun 2016)

Do

  • Climb Phu Kradung (camp at the top if you wish).
  • Phu Rua National Park.
  • Visit the rock formations at Phu Luang.
  • Take in the views of the Mekong at Chiang Khan, Pak Chom, or Tha Li.
  • Mountain Hike, 24/16 Charoenrat Road. Kutpong district. Loei City. Postcode 42000. Thailand. (Visit TAT Tourism Authority of Thailand (Loei Office) or Mountain Hike office on Charoenrat Road, behind Bangkok Bank building) , ✉ mountain.hike@outlook.com. Mountain hiking or cave tour, with standard or tailored packages, in Mt. Phuluang Wildlife Sanctuary, Phuruea National Park and Mt. Fuji San. (updated Feb 2019)

Festivals

Dok Fai Ban Makham Wan Mueang Loei Red Cross Fair (งานกาชาดดอกฝ้ายบาน มะขามหวานเมืองเลย) held in front of Loei City Hall 1–9 February every year. Parades from various districts, as well as cultural performances are highlights of the fair.

Thai–Lao Songkran Festival (งานประเพณีสงกรานต์ไทย-ลาว) held in Tha Li District 12–15 April of every year. Large numbers of Lao participate in the festival.

Bun Bang Fai Lan Festival (งานประเพณีบุญบั้งไฟล้าน) held within the compound of Wat Erawan Phatthanaram, Erawan District on the full moon of the 6th lunar month or during May of every year. It is Loei’s biggest festival.

Phrathat Si Song Rak Fair (งานนมัสการพระธาตุศรีสองรัก) an annual event organised on the full moon of the 6th lunar month, around the end of April until early-May to celebrate Phrathat Si Song Rak, a significant place of worship of the town.

Bun Luang Festival and Phi Ta Khon (งานประเพณีบุญหลวง และการละเล่นผีตาโขน) held annually in Dan Sai District on Saturday–Sunday after the full moon day of the 6th lunar month, and after paying respect to Phrathat Si Song Rak. Phi Ta Khon is a local activity of Dan Sai and Na Haeo Districts, relating to the belief and faith in Buddhism and the spirit of ancestors. Phi Ta Khon parades are organised in the Bun Luang Festival, an annual local merit-making ceremony. On the first day, the Phra Upakhut procession proceeds from the Man River to Wat Phon Chai and on the next day, it enters the town, while the Phi Ta Khon participants throw their costumes and accoutrements into the Man River. After that, a series of all 13 chapters of the Great Birth Sermon will be read.

Chiang Khan’s End of Buddhist Lent Festival (งานประเพณีออกพรรษาอำเภอเชียงคาน) organised in front of Chiang Khan District Office on the full moon day of the 11th lunar month every year. There is the Prasat Phueng procession, long-boat races, Ruea Kap races, illuminated boat contest, Tak Bat Devo, and various local cultural shows and entertainment in the festival.

Sea of Fog and Beautiful Flower Blossom on Phu Ruea (Winter Flowers Fair, Phu Ruea District) (เทศกาลหมอก ดอกไม้งาม บานสะพรั่งภูเรือ) is held on the grounds in front of Phu Ruea District Office during the New Year’s Festival, around 31 December–3 January every year. Activities in the festival include a temperate plant fair, floral float parade, temperate flowers and decorative plants contests, Mae Khaning evening party, dances in the winter breeze.

Buy

There are various kinds of local products of Loei such as sweet tamarind, kunchiang (Chinese pork sausage), mu phaen (dried pork slices), glacéd coconut, souvenirs related to the Phi Ta Khon Festival, quilts, silk and cotton fabric. For local fabrics, visit Ban Kang Pla, which offers Loei fabric, a product unique to the province. For rattan furniture and utensils, visit Ban Na Kraseng, Tha Li District.

Eat

There are any number of restaurants within the city, which is easy to walk around. Many ethnic Chinese provide a good variety, and all are reasonably priced.

  • 17.4936989393101.7243006731 Loei’s American Burger (Junction of Khirirat Road and Khirirat Soi 3). Daily, 11:00-20:30. Good Western and Thai food by Doug and his Thai wife. (updated Sep 2015)

Drink

Where to stay in Loei

  • Phuluang Hotel, 55 Charoenrat Road (About 1-2km from the bus station on the edge of town). Shower water is hot, but not much pressure. In the hotel restaurant fried rice with a large bottle of beer for 135 Thai Baht in the evening, and a Western breakfast for 90 Thai Baht. Has free Wi-Fi and the Internet computer is 40 Thai Baht per hour. There are plenty of restaurants nearby. Little English spoken, depending who is on the counter, but you can muddle through easily enough. Tuk-tuk from the bus station is 40 Thai Baht. 350-900 Thai Baht.
  • Sugar Guest House (Pronounced su-gar, not shu-gar), 4/1 Wisutitep Road, Soi 2. Run by friendly, English-speaking Pat. The rooms are plush by backpacker standards and very good value for money. Breakfast and bike hire services available. 180-380 Thai Baht.
  • Country HouseKhokngam, 203 Moo 1. Khokngam Village, Dansai. 42120. Thailand. (From Loei Airport or Loei City Center, using highway route no 201 onward to the nor th and turn right into a highway route no 2013 21 enroute to Phuruea District and continue to Khokngam village for 15 km. The house is on the main road no) , ✉ countryhouse.khokngam@outlook.com. Homestay in a nice contryside for rent, short or long term. Ideally good for long stay vacations in Loei or retirement guests who want to have a simple and a slow life in Loei. 1,500 THB per day. (updated Feb 2019)

Go next

  • Chiang Khan – Thirty minutes from Loei bus station if you time it right via the overnight bus from Bangkok’s Mo Chit bus station, or 60-90 mins by songthaew. The guesthouses of Chiang Khan look across the Mekong at Laos. The wooden town, replete with wats, is backed by a mountain topped by a Thai navy lookout surrounded by tamarind trees. A teak plantation on another mountain shades the home of forest monks caring for a temple in a cave. The cafe in the main street sells coffee made with milk from a dairy hidden in the hills. Nearby cotton is teased and netted into quilts. On a beach of coloured pebbles, children run into the river where they float around in tubes from old tyres. It’s a place to stay and watch the river world go by.
  • Phitsanulok – gateway to Sukhothai, Chiang Mai and the rest of northern Thailand.

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