The city of Chiang Khan is located along the Mekong River and along the Laos Border, about 200 kilometers west of the city of Udonthani which is about a 3.5 hour drive. Google map link.
Chiang Khan is a lovely little city, mostly visited by Thais with very little foreign tourists. The main attraction in Chiang Khan is a 1.5 kilometer long walking street and night market. The Walking Street parallels the Mekong River and has hundreds of shops, bars, and restaurants. Many of the restaurants are situated to give you a great view of the river.
There is a Temple/school on eastern end of the walking street with fairly large area used by the school as a playground and football pitches during the day and a large parking lot at night for the walking street. A great place to start your walk!
Wat Pa Phu Kon is nestled in the Mountains of Udon Province in the District of Na Yung and approximately 65 kilometers west of Nong Khai. The drive into the Temple area is amazing in itself providing a beautiful drive through the mountains of the area. The Temple does not have a long history, having only been completed construction in 2013.
However the artistry that went into every aspect of the Temple is just amazing. Especially considering the Temple is located high in the mountains. In fact, in order to transport visitors to the temple, 4X4 trucks are needed the last 1.5 kilometers due to the steep slopes of the road. This would make the transportation of construction materials very difficult.
The Temple area is a 2 acre platform holding 5 buildings, all beautifully decorated with Buddhist related statues tastefully scattered about. The largest building houses a beautifully gold detailed 65 foot long white reclining Buddha. And an amazing view of the valley below can be found on the southern end of the platform.
Red Lotus Lake or Tung Bua Daeng in Thai, is just that.. A big lake full of red lotus. The lake is located south of Udonthani in Northeast Thailand (Isaan) .
Taking good photos and videos at places like this, one should think about the time year flowers are blooming and where the sun will be in the sky. I was there on January 2nd and the lotuses were in full bloom and the sky was clear and blue; a great time to go. I arrived at 7:30 in the morning, in the middle of morning magic hour. Perfect!
Getting there: there are a number of piers to contract boats to tour the lake. The pier I was recommended was excellent and will put a link here and below.
The boats: there are two basic styles of boats, small two person boats (300 baht for two people) and group boats (100 baht per person). The small boats are the longtail boats and are not easy getting on and off if you have bad knees ?.
The boat trip: The boat will stop at a handful of places to see the lotuses up close but another thing to watch for is the acrobatic black and white sparrows playing in the lotus flowers.
The winters in Thailand are dry and cool and to grow an extra rice crop the farmers need to find a source of water to start the second crop. Some Thai families make this a fun event by draining a farm pond that may be on their property and having a BBQ.
The draining of the pond turns into a day-long event starting with a picnic lunch, as they watch the water level descend. When the water level is as low as the pumps will allow the entire family jumps into the pond to catch the fish. The catching is mostly by hand but my involve a net on two. The draining I was able to experience the family was able to catch mostly cat fish, a few big frogs and some smaller fish.
The cat fish are cooked on an open fire, throwing the fish into the hot coals. The fish are then eaten with a spicy dipping sauce.
There was also an interesting dish prepared by chopping up cat fish and marinated in freshly caught red ants all crushed by hand. This was allowed to sit then added lime, fish sauce, sugar and ground baked rice (larb)h.
What to do with all those empty beer bottles that accumulate every weekend? They found a very unique way of recycling them in Si, Khun Han District in Si Sa Ket, a small city in Isaan. They have built a wonderful little Buddhist Temple - Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew (Wat Lan Khuad).
The temple is reportedly made of over 1.5 million empty Heineken and Chang beer bottles. The people of the area began collecting bottles began in 1984 and it took two years to build the main temple. The monks of the temple continued to expand the temple buildings, constructing them with more beer bottles and now there are as many as 20 bottle-constructed buildings.
The vast majority of the Isaan area of Thailand is made up of farmland growing mostly rice, rubber trees and cassava with a healthy amount of various fruit orchards. Much of this farmland is managed in smallish plots surrounding small villages. The life in these villages is quite idyllic with crowing roosters waking the villagers up with sunrise, working a full hard day at the managing their crops in their plots and going to sleep soon after the setting sun.
I found the daily movement of small herds of cattle and buffalo fascinating and took the video below. The animals are taken out of small pens next to the village homes in the morning and herded into the fields that are not currently growing crops. The herd owners stay with the animals all day and herded back to their pens in the evening, just before sundown.
Many of the small plots have sheds often made out of free simple materials like palm fronds and small trees made into posts which hold up the roof. These plants can be very picturesque with the greenery of the crop and the rustics sheds.
The Khmer Empire (circa 800 to mid 1400s) was a powerful Khmer Hindu-Buddhist empire in Southeast Asia which at times ruled over most of mainland Southeast Asia and included parts of modern-day Laos, Thailand, and southern Vietnam. Proof of the Klmer Empire vastness is evidenced by the network of Temples left behind. Thailand has restored many of the Ancient Structures to ensure the history of the birth of their great country is not lost to time. Below are examples of just some of these temples.
The temple complex at Prasat Muang Tam is part of the vast expansion of the ancient Khmer Empire, which originated in Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Somewhat overshadowed by Prasat Pha Nom Rung, Prasat Muang Tam is still a very beautiful and awe-inspiring site that should not be missed. The temple at Prasat Muang Tam is over 900 years old. Its name is derived from its position, "Prasat Muang Tam" literally translated means "a sanctuary located in a lower area".
The main temple area is surrounded by large, man-made ponds that are beautifully maintained and filled with flowering lotuses. The park contains some of the best examples of Khmer architecture in the world and underlines that the area was once an important trade route to the Khmer kingdom.
Perched on the rim of an extinct volcano, Prasat Phanom Rung Historic Park is a jewel in the crown of Northeast Thailand. The fact that the park is situated on top of a volcano may be missed by all except the occasional geologist vacationer; however, at 1,320 feet above sea level, no one will fail to miss the park's magnificent views.
The park is part of the ancient Khmer Empire's reach into Thailand. The temple complex contains the largest and best restored Khmer architecture outside of Cambodia. It took seventeen years for the restoration work to be complete, but now the beautiful Hindu temple can be viewed and admired as it was originally intended.
Throughout the site, each bridge to the temple area is adorned with images of the multi-headed mythical snake "naga". The bridge is said to be a link between our earthly realm and heaven. The naga stand guard on the bridge, thus protecting the gods from any unwanted earthly visitors. The Khmer people lived in Thailand almost one thousand years ago; the architecture of the temple area is testimony to their skill and ingenuity.
Nong Khai is on top of the Isaan area and on southern side of the Mekong River. Nong Khai is connected to Laos by near the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge #1, which supports foot, vehicular and train traffic into Laos. Nong Khai is over 600 kms north of Bangkok and 60 km north of Udon Thani. With the location so far north, Nong Khai makes a great destination for the Thai winter, when it has comfortable days and very cool nights. The area in the city along the river has been developed for walking and enjoying the views of the Mekhong River, which are just fantastic. This area often has night time activities of bands, food and fun activities for kids. This area also has a variety of restaurants, many floating on the river.
There are some interesting sights to see in Nong Khai:
On the far east end of the Nong Khai River Walk is the Pratad Lha Nhong Temple.
Towards the middle of the River Walk and just south is the Tha Sadet Market which specializes in products from Indochina and East Europe, including dried food, processed food, and utensils, such as electric appliances, clothes, watches, kitchenware, etc.
Nong Khai Friendship Bridge
Wat Pho Chai
Sala Keoku Park or Buddha Park
Northeastern Thailand (Isaan)
Awesome destinations in Northeastern Thailand. Click here to view a list of Articles about Destinations in Northeastern Thailand.
Bangkok's 9 Royal Temples
Bangkok Must Sees
Exploring Thailand's Nature
Islands of the Thai Gulf
Thailand's Royal Palaces
Thailand and World War 2
Explore Chiang Rai
Explore Chiang Mai