Sitting quietly beside the Mekong River in northern Isaan by the border with Laos, Nong Khai is too often the kind of place that tourists visit but rarely see. Connected to Bangkok by direct train and bus services, little Nong Khai is the main overland crossing between Thailand and Laos via the Friendship Bridge which spans the Mekong less than 40 kms from the Laotian capital Vientiane.
For those that make the effort to stay around a little longer, Nong Khai is a lazy river town that makes a great spot to relax in, particularly when coming through from the roughness of Laos. The Mekong River here is intriguing given the border activity on each side. When the water mark drops outside of the rainy season from May to October the Mighty Mekong reveals a little beach known locally as Jomanee close to the Friendship Bridge that becomes popular among Nong Khai residents, with a handful of foreigners thrown in for good measure. Hawkers have joined the fun here so usually snacks are readily available.
Hardly a major destination, Nong Khai still offers a decent choice for backpackers and the well heeled alike. There is also a decent selection or restaurants serving typical Isaan dishes…more
Do it by road or rail from Bangkok in about eight hours. Otherwise fly to nearby Udon Thani to reach Nong Khai by air with direct services from both Chiang Mai and the Thai capital…more
Nong Khai guide – over the Mekong from Laos
Nong Khai is a town that takes its boxing seriously. Visitors that wish to learn from master Arjarn Lart should head to the Muay Thai Boxing Stadium close to the Grand Hotel for more information on fights, training sessions and long-term courses on offer here.
The city is home to a hotch-potch assortment of guest houses, hotels, bars and restaurants meaning, no matter what your taste or budget, there is usually something here for everyone. The city is easily accessible from Bangkok with direct buses and trains plus flights via Udon Thani.
For the most intriguing of Nong Khai’s attractions head to Sala Kaew Ku just outside the town on the main highway. This wacky outdoor Buddhist theme park is littered with a collection of fascinating sculptures and shrines constructed by Luang Pa Bunleua Sulilat, a Laotian exile. For an insight into the philosophies of the former Vientiane resident, visit the Wheel of Life, a work at which visitors begin their journey in the womb followed by an array of other eccentric statures that mark the various stages of a human life.