The Mekong River flows along the horizontal Nong Khai's northern side, separating it from Laos. The provincial city, sitting on the Mekong bank, is only 24 km from Vientiane, the capital of Laos. Once a sleepy border town, the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge transformed it into one of the busiest commercial centers in the region. Yet, it has still retained its peaceful, riverside charms. Outside the city is a wealth of beautiful scenery comprised of lush forests and many, small, interesting towns dotting the banks of Mekong River. Nong Khai is 615 kilometres from Bangkok and has an area of 7,739 square kilometres.
The newly restored Wat Pho Chai in the southwest part of the city houses the highly revered Luang Phor Phra Sai. The solid gold, seated Buddha image with a ruby-studded flame finial is one of 3 images originally moulded in the ancient Laotian Kingdom of Lan Chang. In 1778, King Rama I led the first Thai invasion into Laos and brought the 3 images back with him. As they were crossing the Mekong, the Luang Phor Phra Sai image fell into the river but miraculously resurfaced. The murals within the temple walls recount the event.
The Prap Ho (Conquering Ho) Monument was built to honor those who bravely withstood the Ho Chinese invasions in 1855 and 1877. The symbol of the city's pride, bearing Thai, Laotian, Chinese and English inscriptions, was built in 1886 and is the site of annual celebrations on March 5th.
The Indochina Market off Rim Klong Road (Mekong Riverside Road) is the focal point of the lively, local trade between the Thais and Laotians. Merchandise sold here includes clothing, pots and pans, food products, mortars, and other knick-knacks.
Though it was always a major crossing point for those bound for Vientiane, the opening of the Friendship Bridge in 1994 propelled Nong Khai into a significant commercial border post. Built with Thai, Laotian, and Australian cooperation, it is the first bridge spanning across the Mekong and connecting the two countries, linking Ban Jom Mani, on the western outskirts of the city, with Tha Na Laeng on the opposite bank, some 20 km from Vientiane.
Wat Sri Muang contains many Laotian-style temple buildings and chedis, and is one of many that line the town's main Meechai Road leading west towards Wat Pho Chai. Other minor wats having Laotian-influenced structures and offering great views of the Mekong River consist of Wat Haisoke, Wat Lamduan, Wat Si Sumang, and Wat Si Khun Muang.
The most unusual site in town can be seen at Wat Kak (Indian Temple), or Sala Kaew Ku. Founded in 1978, Wat Kak is basically an open-air theme park containing an eccentric collection of enormous concrete Hindu and Buddhist sculptures. Highlights include the tallest of them all, a 25-m high seven-headed naga (serpent) with a tiny Buddha seated on its coil and Rahu, the god of eclipses.
The Village Weaver shop along Prachak Road is where traditional silk weaving is still carried out. The shop specializes in mudmee, a method of tie-dying common in the northeastern region. The project was initiated to encourage the local girls to stay and work in Nong Khai rather than move to Bangkok.
Located in a particularly lush part of the Mekong River Valley on the westernmost part of the province, Sang Khom 's beautiful and peaceful surroundings are favored by true nature lovers. Closeby is the Than Tip Falls, hidden in the midst of jungle and banana groves, and features numerous pools ideal for a refreshing swim.
Further downstream is Wat Hin Mak Beng , the site of a famous meditation center and popular pilgrimage site. Much of its wealth comes from donations by affluent visitors.
Overlooking the capital of Vientiane on the opposite bank, the town of Sri Chiang Mai has a Roman Catholic cathedral serving a large population of Christian Laotian and Vietnamese refugees. The town is renowned as the world's largest producer of spring roll wrappers.
Monument for the Suppression of the Haw Tribe is in front of the provincial hall. It honors soldiers who died suppressing the Haw rebellion in 1886.
Wat Pho Chai is in Nong Khai town. The temple houses Luang Pho Phra Sai, a beautiful gold Buddha image most sacred in the province.
Phra That Bang Phuan is at Ban Don Mu, 11 kilometres from town on the Nong Khai-Udon Thani road, then a road on the right onto Highway No. 211 to Tha Bo for 10 kilometres. This old pagoda measures 34 metres high and houses the holy relics of Lord Buddha. It underwent major renovation in 1976 because the original fired brick pagoda collapsed. The temple still has the old pagoda, temple boundary markers and an ancient stone inscription. Furthermore, there is an ancient pool from which water was once used in blessing past city lords.
Tha Sadet is the port for crossing the Mekong River to Tha Dua in Laos. There is a market for Indochinese and eastern European products, as well as the province's local goods.
Foreign tourists wishing to visit Laos from Nong Khai must obtain a visa from the Lao Embassy in Bangkok in advance and can use the services of a number of tour operators in Nong Khai.
Chom Mani beach is on the Mekong River. The beach occurs during the dry season in April. It is 2 kilometres from town. The locals and tourists enjoy a day out here.
Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge spans the Mekong from Thailand into Tha Na Laeng in Laos. Visitors can then continue to Vientiane 20 kilometres away.
Sala Kaeo Ku is full of strange statues according to the belief of a defunct sect. It is 3 kilometres from town on the way to Phon Phisai. Luang Pu Lua, an old man who believes all religions should be integrated together, set up the park in 1978 by allegedly using unsilled craftsman to carry out fine details. Sala Kaeo Ku features a large garden of statues depicting Buddhist and Hindu gods, goddesses, saints, devils, and demons, as well as some secular sculptures.
Luang Pho Phra Chao Ong Tu is at Wat Kosi in Ban Nam Mong at the 31-km marker of Highway No. 211, 43 kilometres from Amphoe Muang. This Buddha image is 4 metres high and is made of gold, bronze and silver. It is the work of craftsmen from northern Thailand and Lan Chang. Built by Phra Chaiyachettha of Vientiane in 1562, the image is revered by Thais and Laos.
From Nong Khai town to Tha Bo, visitors can see villagers farm tobacco along the road paralleling the Mekong. Moreover, visitors can see villagers make Kayo (a flour sheet for Vietnamese food) and some villages raising freshwater fish.
Si Chiang Mai
Wat Hin Mak Peng on the bank of the Mekong is at Ban Thai Charoen at the 64-km marker of Highway No. 211, around 75 kilometres from Amphoe Muang. The temple used to be the residence of Luang Pu Thet Thetrangsi, a monk with followers nationwide. Many Buddhists come here to meditate.
Than Thong Waterfall is in Ban Pha Tang at the 74-km marker of Highway No. 211, 11 kilometres before arriving in Sangkhom District Office and 83 kilometres from Amphoe Muang. The waterfall is 30 metres high and falls down to the Mekong. Below is a large pool suitable for swimming. There is water only in the rainy season.
Than Thip Waterfall is at Ban Tat Some in Tambon Ban Muang at the 97-km marker on Highway No. 211, then take a left for 2 kilometres. This three-level waterfall is 30 metre-high, 100 metre-high and 70 metre-high, respectively. It is at its most beautiful in the rainy season.
Phu Thok is a sandstone mountain 200 metres high standing all alone in Ban Kham Khaen in Tambon Na Sabaeng. The monk Phra Achan Chuan Kunchettho established a meditation centre here by constructing wooden stairs from the foot of the mountain winding along the cliff face to the summit. It took more than 5 years to build. Along the way, visitors can see many interesting spots, like the rock formation that is like a tunnel, a cave and the cliff. In addition, they can enjoy the magnificent view from high up. To get to Phu Thok from Nong Khai, take Highway No. 212 past Pho Chai, Pak Khat and Bueng Kan, then take a right onto Highway No. 222 to Si Wilai and to Phu Thok, totaling 185 kilometres.
Phu Wua Wildlife Reserve is 12 kilometres from Phu Thok. It covers an area of over 180 square kilometres near the Mekong and the Thai-Lao border. Places of interest here are Chet Si Waterfall, Chanaen Waterfall, Tham Phra Waterfall, and Tham Fun Waterfall.
To get there from Nong Khai, take Highway No. 212 to Bueng Kan for 135 kilometres and then the road past Ban Chaiyaphon, Phu Sawat, Bung Khla, and Don Chik for 55 kilometres to the reserve office.
Bang Fai Phaya Nak is a natural phenomenon. A fireball is seen rising up from the Mekong River on the night at the end of the Buddhist Lent. The fireball is visible from Phon Phisai and Rattanawapi. This spectacle is watched by a great number of people. A friendship boat race between Thailand and Laos is also staged during this time.
Hotels and accommodation
- 141 Hotel : 141 Mittraphap-Tha Bo-Nong Song Hong Road Amphoe Tha Bo [0 4243 1807,0 4243 1941] : 200-350 baht
- Che Kai Guesthouse : 1160 Soi Samoson Amphoe Muang [0 4246 0968] : 120-150 baht
- Chongkon Guesthouse : 649 Rim Khong Road Amphoe Muang [0 4246 0548 Fax: 0 4241 2229] : 100-250 baht
- Don Mon Resort : Behind Nong Khai Grand Hotel Amphoe Muang : 300-500 baht
- Gold Lucky Resort : Soi Chommani 2 Amphoe Muang [0 4242 3189, 0 4242 3249] : 200-650 baht
- Green House : 218 Mu 12 Nikon Prasit Road Amphoe Tha Bo [0 4243 1766] : 100-200 baht
- Isan Orchid Guest House : 87/9 Kaeo Worawut Amphoe Tha Bo [0 4243 1665] : 700 baht
- K.C. Guesthouse : 1111/2 Kaeo Worawut Road Amphoe Muang [0 1974 8890] : 100-150 baht
- Khum Tai Resort : 219 Tha Bo-Si Chiang Mai Road Amphoe Tha Bo [0 4243 1192] : 9 bungalows
- Kuson Suk : 14 Rim Khong Road, Tambon Phran Phrao Amphoe Si Chiang Mai [0 4245 1152] : 120-150 baht
- Mankhong Apartment : 268/3 Prachak Road Amphoe Muang [0 4246 0756-9 Fax: 0 4246 2393] : 350 baht
- Matmi Guesthouse : 1114/4 Kaeo Worawut Road Amphoe Muang [0 4246 0717] : 130-200 baht
- Mekong Guest House : Liap Maenam Khong Road Amphoe Bueng Kan [0 4249 1341] : 250-350 baht
- Mekong Guesthouse : 519 Rim Khong Road Amphoe Muang [0 4246 0698] : 100-300 baht
- Mekong Resort : 100 Km. 6 Nong Khai -Udon Thai Road Amphoe Muang [0 2442 0901] : 150-300 baht
- Mekong River : 179 Kaeo Worawut Road Amphoe Muang [042411277, 04246 5557 Fax:04346 0263-7] : 400 baht
- Mekong Royal Nong Khai : 222 Phanang Chonlaprathan Road, Tambon Kuan Wan Amphoe Muang [0 4242 0024 Fax: 0 4242 1280 Bangkok Tel: 0 2272 0087-89 Fax: 0 2217 3118] : 1,200-3,000 baht
- Nong Khai Grand Thani : 589 Mu 5, Nong Khai-Phon Phisai Road Amphoe Muang [0 4242 0033, 0 4242 0044 Fax: 0 4241 2026 Bangkok Tel: 0 2237-6809-12] : 900-2,500 baht
- Phanthawi : 1049 Hai Sok Road Amphoe Muang [0 4241 1568-9] : 300-600 baht
- Phanthawi Resort : 210 Chommani Soi 4, Hai Sok Road Amphoe Muang [0 4241 1008, 0 4242 0059] : 400-1,000 baht
- Phong Wichit : 1244/1-2 Banthoeng Chit Road Amphoe Muang [0 4241 1583, 0 4241 1958] : 200-500 baht
- Phun Sap : 843 Michai Road Amphoe Muang [0 4241 1031] : 150 baht
- Amphoe Muang
- Boat : Rim Khong Road, Tel: 0 4241 2512
- Chai Kong : 003 Kaeo Worawut Road, Tambon Nai Muang, Tel: 0 4241 2308 (Thai food)
- Chenchopthit Namtok : 797 Udon Thani-Nong Khai Road, Tel: 0 4242 0858 (Thai food)
- Cho Khun : In the Nong Khai Grand Thani Hotel, Tel: 0 4242 0033, 0 4242 0044
- Chom Mani : In the Mekong Royal Hotel, Tel: 0 4242 0024
- Daeng Naem Nueang : 1062/1-2 Banthoeng Chit Road, Tel: 0 4241 1961, 0 4242 1202 (Vietnamese food)
- Di Di Photchana : 1155/9 Mu 4 Prachak Road, Tel: 0 4241 1548
- Hai Sok : 816 Rim Khong Road, Near Wat Hai Sok, Tel: 0 4241 2211 (Thai food)
- Im Em Photchana : 1255/3 Soi Wat Nak, Banthoengchit Road, Tel: 0 4241 1608
- Khrua Sabannga : 1038/1 Kaeo Worawut Road, Tel: 0 4246 0838 (Thai food)
- Khun Daeng : 406 Rim Khong Road, Tambon Nai Mueang, Tel: 0 4241 1709
- Mekong Sunshine : 367/1 Mu 16 Rim Khong Road, Tel: 0 4246 2112
- New Panya : 215 Rim Khong Road, Tambon Nai Mueang, Tel: 0 4241 1146
- Nong Khai Photchana : 387/6 Banthoengchit Road, Tel: 0 4241 1645 (Thai and Chinese food)
- Pen Pochana : 1164 Prachak Road, Tambon Nai Mueang, Tel: 0 4241 1297 (Suki)
- Phanthawi : In the Phanthawi Hotel, Hai Sok Road, Tel: 0 4241 1568-9
- Ruean Rim Nam : 10 Kaeo Worawut Road, Tel: 0 4246 5212 (Thai and Chinese food)
- Song Fang Khong : Mi Chai Road, Tel: 0 4241 2206 (Thai food)
- Tha Dan : 1993 Tha Sadet, Rim Khong Road, Tel: 0 4241 1541 (Thai, Chinese and European food)
- Thippharot : 1069 Michai Road, Tambon Nai Mueang, Tel: 0 4241 1584 (Thai, Chinese and European food)
- Thung Na Ang : 90 Nong Khai-Phon Phisai, Tel: 0 4246 2053
- Udomrot : 423 Rim Khong Road, Tel: 0 4241 1568 (Thai, Chinese and European food)
How to get there
* By car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi that connects with Highway No. 2 to Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani and Nong Khai. The total distance from Bangkok to Nong Khai is 615 kilometres.
* By bus
Bangkok-Nong Khai buses depart from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 for more information.
* By train
Trains depart from Bangkok's Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Nong Khai every day. Call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20 for more information.
* By plane
Visitors can fly from Bangkok to Udon Thani and continue the trip by bus or rented car to Nong Khai, some 50 kilometres from Udon Thani. Call 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 for more information.