Nong Khai is in the North East Region of Thailand, approximately 626km north of Bangkok, in what’s known as the Isaan Region. Isaan is Thailand’s largest region and is located on the Khorat Plateau. This is where the Mekong River forms the border between Thailand and Laos to the North, and Cambodia to the South.
Visiting Nong Khai
We visited during the wet season, which runs from May through to October. 80% of the rainfall occurs in August and September, so don’t let the rainy season deter you from visiting Nong Khai.
I was in awe of the lush green countryside, especially seeing the fog rolling in through the mountains during the early morning. The scenery around Nong Khai was spectacular.
The temperature can be quite warm and humid, so bring some cool light clothing.
One point worth mentioning is if you plan on visiting any temples (which we certainly did and I would highly recommend), make sure to pack appropriate temple wear.
Think along the lines of modest clothing. Keep your shoulders covered (t-shirts and blouses are fine) and pack a pair of long pants or a long skirt to cover your knees. You’ll also be required to remove footwear before entering a temple.
Wat Pa Phu Kon Temple
One of the first places we visited was Wat Pa Phu Kon Temple. A stunning temple high up a mountain surrounded by lush green landscape, I was in awe of the beauty of the temple.
If possible, I would suggest arriving there fairly early on in the day. After about 10am it can start to get quite busy as all the locals come to pray.
Although the temple is beautiful on the outside, the main attraction at Wat Pa Phu Kon would have to be the 20m-long reclining Buddha. What’s even more amazing is the Buddha is made from Italian Carrara marble.
The temple itself is just exquisite and there are stunning views all around. This is definitely not something you want to miss while visiting Nong Khai.
Mekong River Cruise
Our boat wasn’t a luxury liner but I much prefer an authentic experience over luxury any day.
I was more than happy to have a real taste of local life on a local boat.
Cola the dog, joined our cruise and provided us with good entertainment. Cola also seemed to enjoy cruising the river and taking in the sights as much as we did!
The Mekong River is the longest river in South East Asia. At 4350km, it is the 7th longest in Asia and the 12th longest in the world.
It forms the boundary between Thailand and Laos. Interestingly, parts of the river in the North East completely dry up during the dry season and it is possible to walk across to Laos!
As we visited during the wet season while the river was flowing, this was quite hard to fathom. I had to query my guide several times to ensure I was hearing correctly!
Although the views are picturesque cruising up the river with Thailand to one side and Laos to the other, the scenery also paints a very real picture of a developing country.
Thailand is a country that is striving hard to become more advanced socially and economically.
The river is home to many different species of fish. The most famous is the Mekong Catfish, which you will find on the menu at most local restaurants.
I’m a lover of good fish and I ate this several times in various dishes. I was never disappointed. Here’s a photo of local fishermen fishing for cat fish.
The Thai-Lao friendship bridge is 1170m long and crosses over the Mekong River. It connects Thailand and Laos. It was the first major bridge over the Lower Mekong region. The bridge first opened in 1994.
Australians may be interested to hear that the bridge was funded by the Australian Government at a cost of $42 million dollars (the money was provided as development aid). The result is the bridge has helped Thailand’s economy and increased trade, tourism, investment and cultural exchanges between Australia and Thailand.
We were also treated to a good view of Wat Lam Duan temple, which is famous for its giant golden Buddha statue that sits on the roof.
Wat Ha Tak Suea Temple
The following day we departed for Wat Ha Tak Suea temple, which sits at the top of another mountain.
Part way up the mountain, we were begging the driver to pull over while we grabbed out cameras to take photos of the breathtaking view.
At the top of the mountain there’s a 16m glass sky walk that where you can see stunning views of the Mekong River and the Laotian territory.
Being here was simply beautiful. The clouds and fog all around us (from being so high up the mountain) added to the serene atmosphere of our surroundings.
Being a nature lover, I was continually blown away by the beauty of the Isaan region. Nong Khai in particular captured my heart. Everywhere we went, we saw an abundance of wildlife which is testament to the pristine and undamaged environment.
Nong Khai may not be too well known for being a tourist destination but that’s a good reason to visit. Each place we visited I kept thinking “this is my new favourite place” but then the next place would be even more amazing!
The environment and surroundings will leave you speechless and you’ll probably be inspired to plan your return trip while you’re there.
For more ideas on what to do in Isaan Thailand see:
While in Thailand here are some other places to visit: