NONG KHAI

Knowledge Notes

  • Nong Khai is located near the Udon & Laos border. It takes approximately one hour from Udon airport to drive to Nong Khai. (Cost of van to Nong Khai from Udon airport: Approximately 700 baht)
  • It is not a typical tourist target compared to other Thailand destinations, which contributes to its unique and authentic Thai charm. However, it has become quite popular with the expats in more recent years.
  • In 2016, Nong Khai was declared the 7th best retirement destination in the world, according to America’s Modern Maturity magazine, for its low-cost and livable conditions, and relaxing nature.
  • It’s quite lovely to stay here during the Christmas/New Year season if you miss the wintry, chillier feel of this season back home.
  • Recommended accommodation: Nong Khai Park & Pool Resort, a lovely family-owned resort surrounded by trees and tropical flowers. Its welcoming and quiet environment will make you feel warm and in a state of relaxation. To increase that, you can relax by the pool or get in-room Thai massages in your own personal villa. The staff are also very helpful and accommodating.

Itinerary

DAY 1

1. Fill up with a Thai or Western-style food at Park and Pool’s breakfast buffet.

2. Arrange for a tuk tuk tour (Tuk tuks are usually available within 5-10 minutes) to take you to two of Nong Khai’s unique attractions:

  • Wat Kaek/Sala Kaew Ku: A Buddhist sculpture park with massive sculptures depicting various Buddhist figures or themes. This park is very unique and you will find yourself in awe of the attention to detail and greatness of these sculptures!

  • Wat Pho Chai: This temple is known for its legendary Buddha image and colorful wall murals. To read more about the legend and history, click here.

3. Visit Tha Sadet Market, also known as the Indochina market, an extensive market selling imported Chinese and Laotian goods. Try some Thai traditional coffee in a paper bag to take with you as you explore.

4. Enjoy Vietnamese food and some Vietnam-style tea at Café Viet along the Mekong (Has A/C, too!).

5. On your way back to the resort, ask to be dropped off at (or simply point to) the Nong Khai railway station. Across the street, on your way back to Park and Pool Resort, you will find an old train car that has been transformed into Nong Khai’s railway public library.

6. Weather permitting, take a dip in the pool before going to enjoy some homestyle Thai cooking at Kruua Kru Nong (The Kitchen of Teacher Nong), a homestyle Thai restaurant along the Mekong. Digest your food with an evening stroll, savoring the sights along the Mekong River.

DAY 2

1. Relax at the pool or pamper yourself with a massage for a day. Walk around the neighborhood and explore, stopping at some fruit stalls to buy some fruit or take pictures of the beautiful flowers that are native to this area.

2. In the afternoon, take a tuk tuk ride from Park &  Pool, to Nagarina restaurant across from Mut Mee guesthouse, which is the meeting point for a sunset cruise to the Thai-Laos Friendship bridge. You can order drinks and snacks on the boat, and chat with other tourists and locals as you listen to local Isaan music and observe the sparkling hues of the sunset reflected on the water.

3. For dinner, walk to a nearby popular Vietnamese restaurant, Daeng Namnueng. This place is almost always crowded and it is suggested to order dessert first (buua loy dessert or durian with sticky rice) because they run out fast! For dinner, order the Vietnames namnuang plate, consisting of DIY spring roll/lettuce wraps which you can fill with Vietnamese sausage, veggies and herbs, vermicelli noodles, along with peanut and chili sauces

DAY 3

1. Arrange for a driver prior to this day, as they will pick you up early (7:30 AM), costing around 3,300 baht to go to two very special destinations:

2. 1st stop: Wat A-hong Siliwas, a small Buddhist temple located in a serene setting with a Mekong River view of the Laos border (known as the “navel, or deepest point, of the Mekong”) and a giant rock garden. This point is also famous for the Naga Fireball festival.

3. Phu Tok (also known as Wat Jetiyakiri): 150 kilometers from Nong Khai, his is one of the most unique destinations in Thailand. It is a completely wooden monastery built on a mountain by Buddhist monks in the mid 20th century, and has been preserved for tourists to climb to the top for breathtaking sights of the countryside of Nong Khai. It may also make your heart race if you are afraid of heights, as the wooden boards creak as you make your way to the top. The location is known as the “stairway to heaven”, and the fearful trek is believed as a way to train mindfulness and overcome fear on the path to spiritual enlightenment. Read more about the history here, and you can find the directions to get you from Nong Khai to Phu Tok.

 

DAY 4

Take a day trip to Vientiane, Laos. It is easy to hop over the Thai-Laos friendship bridge for a day to go explore Laos.

A visa on arrival is 35 US dollars, and an extra 220 baht for the Thai/Laos immigration and customs fee. Once you cross over, there will be many drivers waiting to bargain a deal with you for a day tour. If you’re not as adventurous, then you can arrange from the Thai side for a driver to actually bring you through the visa process on the Thai side and then connect with a Laos driver once into Laos. You can rent a tuk tuk for a day and tell them the stops you wish to take, or have them design the trip for you!

The only other money you’ll be spending is minor admissions fees for the sightseeing sites, and for a taste of Laos food. Get your camera ready! – Here are the typical destinations on a day-trip to Laos:

  • Xiang Kwuuan Buddha Park
  • Prathat Luang (Golden Pagoda)
  • Wat Simuang (Temple of city pillar)
  • Pratuxai (Victory Monument)
  • Hor Prakaew (The Emerald Buddha Museum)

 

If you have more time to spend in Nong Khai:

1. Volunteer and give back to the community with one of these opportunities:

  • The Vocational School for People with Disabilities, a short walk from Park & Pool resort.

2. Be adventurous with your taste-testing skills and try some rare foods at the bustling Sunday walking market beside the Nong Khai railway tracks.

3. Depending on what month you end up in Nong Khai, you might be fortunate to experience one of their unique festivals, such as the Phaya Naga Fireball festival or the rocket festival.

 

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