Nong Khai

Nong Khai is a border town on the bank of the Mekong River opposite the Lao People.

Nong Khai is a border town on the bank of the Mekong River. This province is a gateway to Vientiane, the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR.), and a friendship bridge links the two countries. It is also the site of the famous Naga Fireballs.


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ISAN is the northeastern region of Thailand. It is located on the Korat Plateau, bordered by the Mekong River (along the border with Laos) to the north and east, by Cambodia to the southeast and the Prachinburi mountains south of Nakhon Ratchasima. To the west it is separated from Northern and Central Thailand by the Phetchabun mountain range.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, northeastern Thailand has been officially known as Isan, a term adopted from Sanskrit Ishan, meaning in a “north east direction.” The term "Isan" was derived from Isanapura, the capital of the Chenla kingdom. The Lao-speaking population of the region, who comprise the majority, distinguish themselves not only from the Lao of Laos but also from the central Thai by calling themselves Khon Isan or Thai Isan. The Khmer-speaking minority and Kuy (Suai), who live in the south of Isan, speak dialects and follow customs more similar to those of Cambodia than either the Thai people or the Lao people. Agriculture is the main economic activity. Production lags behind the rest of the country due to the socio-economic conditions and the exceptionally hot, dry climate. Isan remains Thailand's poorest region.

The main language is Isan, which is a dialect of the Lao language. Currently written with the Thai alphabet (instead of the slightly different Lao alphabet), Isan belongs to the Chiang Seng and Lao–Phutai language groups, which along with Thai are members of the Tai languages of the Tai–Kadai language family. Thai is also spoken by almost everyone. Khmer, the language of Cambodia, is widely spoken in areas along the Cambodian border: Buriram, Surin, and Sisaket. The people are aware of their Lao ethnic origin, but Isan has been incorporated into the modern Thai state. Several Thai prime ministers have come from the region. Prominent aspects of Isan culture of include Mor Lam, an indigenous type of folk music, Muay Thai boxing, cock fighting, and celebratory processions. Isan food, in which Sticky Rice (Khao niew) and chiles are prominent, is distinct from Thai cuisine. Sticky rice is a staple of Thai Northeastern cuisine, and it accompanies most meals.



ISAN MAP : Nong Khai @ Thailand Loei Nong Khai Nakhon Phanom Udon Thani Sakon Nakhon Nong Bua Lam Phu Khon Kaen Chaiyaphum Kalasin Mukdahan Maha Sarakham Yasothon Amnat Charoen Nakhon Ratchasima Roi Et Buriram Surin Sri Sa Ket Ubon Ratchathani Bueng Kan

Nong Khai



Nong Khai is a border town on the bank of the Mekong River. This province is a gateway to Vientiane, the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR.), and a friendship bridge links the two countries. It is also the site of the famous Naga Fireballs.

The history of modern Nong Khai dates back over 200 years. Initially however, this riverside area was spotted with small towns and traces of ancient places have been found in temples along the Mekong River. During the reign of King Rama III of the Rattanakosin era, Chao Anuwong, the ruler of Vientiane, staged a rebellion. King Rama III appointed Chao Phraya Ratchathewi to lead an army to attack Vientiane. The army won with the support of forces led by Thao Suwothanma (Bunma), ruler of Yasothon, and Phraya Chiangsa. The king consequently promoted Thao Suwo to be ruler of a large town to be established on the right bank of the Mekong River. The location of Ban Phai was chosen for the town called Nong Khai, which was named after a large pond that lies just to its west. Nong Khai province contains the longest stretch of the Mekong River: 320 km. The area is suitable for agriculture and freshwater fishery. It is also a major tourist destination and the major launching point for journeys into Laos or exploring greater Isan (northeastern Thailand). Nong Khai features temples, traditional culture, a beautiful countryside, and a rural folk lifestyle, the most lively event of which centers on the Bung Fi Phaya Nak, the naga fireballs: an annual event whereby mysterious glowing balls of light rise up out of the river, believed to be sent by the naga king in honor of the lord Buddha.

Nong Khai is a border town on the bank of the Mekong River opposite the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR.). A friendship bridge links the two countries and Nong Khai is a popular stop for travelers headed to Vientiane and greater Laos. Nong Khai has a charming capital city and the province features a number of beautiful natural attractions and a fascinating culture. Mud Mee, a special style of silk that is popular with the Thai royal family, is produced in Nong Khai and the naga fireballs, a mysterious annual event, takes place in the Mekong River not far from town.

The naga fireball phenomenon occurs most often on Wan Awk Pansa, the full moon night of the 11th month of the lunar year that signifies the end of Buddhist rain retreat, usually in October.
Hotel rooms fill quickly before the Naga Fireballs; book a room in advance!



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Options in Nong Khai, Thailand
As a major northern hub for travel around northeastern Thailand and neighboring Laos, Nong Khai can be reached via private car, bus, train, or airplane. There are numerous ways of getting across the border to and from Laos, including bus and train. In Nong Khai town there are standard forms of local transport available for visitors: i.e. songtaew, motorbike taxi, and tuk tuk for local and regional transportation.


Getting to and from Nong Khai

By Train:
The State Railway of Thailand has daily train service from Bangkok to Nong Khai that takes around 10 ? hours. For further information, contact the travel service unit, Tel. 1690, 0 2220 4334, 0 2220 4444, or visit

You can also now travel between Bangkok and Vientiane by train, as a new rail link opened in March 2009 that crosses the Friendship Bridge connecting Nong Khai to a new international rail terminal at Tha Naleng, about 13km from central Vientiane.

By Car:
From Bangkok, drive along Highway No.1(Phahonyothin Road), past Saraburi and switch to Highway No.2 (Mittraphap Road) passing through Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, and Udon Thani to Nong Khai, a total distance of 615 km and a 9-10 hour drive.

By Bus:
The Transport Company Limited has a regular service of ordinary and air-conditioned busses from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit 2/Chatuchak) to Nong Khai every day. For further information, contact the Mo Chit 2 Bus Terminal, Tel. 0 2936 2852-66, or visit the website

In addition, there are private bus services that also connect Bangkok to Nong Khai: 407 Phatthana, Tel. 0 2992 3475-8, 0 4241 1261; Chan Tour Limited, Tel. 0 2618 7418, 0 4241 2195; Barami Tour, Tel. 0 2537 8249, 0 4246 0345; and Cherdchai Tour, Tel. 0 2936 0253, 0 4246 1067.

From the Nong Khai Bus Terminal, there is a bus service from Nong Khai to Loei, passing through Amphoe Tha Bo, Amphoe Si Chiang Mai and Amphoe Sangkhom in Nong Khai, and Amphoe Chiang Khan in Loei. The route runs along the Mekong River and there are guesthouses available for visitors who wish to stop along the way.

From Vientiane to Nong Khai, one can take a short bus across the border and the friendship bridge. The bus station to Nong Khai is near the Thai embassy in the east of Vientiane, opposite the Morning market on Mahosot Road. You must show your passport and visitors of many nations may enter Thailand without a visa on a visa waiver. Check with the Thai embassy if you are uncertain if you qualify.

The bus to Nong Khai services the Nong Khai Bus Station. Those who wish to go to the train station should get a tuk tuk immediately after clearing the Thai immigration checkpoint.

For busses from Nong Khai to Vientiane, visitors from outside of ASEAN nations can apply for visas at the border. From the Thai Border at Nong Khai it is 22km to Vientiane. For trips in either direction, the Friendship Bridge closes at 10pm.

By Air:
Although there are no regular commercial flights to Nong Khai, AirAsia, Nok Air, and Thai Airways all have daily service to Udon Thani, a 51 km bus ride away from Nong Khai that takes about one hour.

Alternately, one can fly internationally into Vientiane Airport on Laos Airlines or on Thai Airways from Chiang Mai and take a short trip to the border crossing and onto Nong Khai.


Getting Around Nong Khai
As in most rural Thai provinces there are typically songtaews that follow established routes around the provincial capital and between towns within the province. Songtaews, motorbike taxis, and a form of tuk tuk, called a “skylab” are usually available for private charter as well. Visitors can also use car rental services operated by many tour companies in town.


As a principally rural and agricultural area, Nong Khai has limited activities other than appreciating its beautiful geography and fascinating culture. Those who enjoy the outdoors, however, have a number of activities they can participate in, such as fishing and trekking.

As one of the premier tourist destinations in Thailand, Nong Khai has a variety of attractions, ensuring that visitors with any interest will find something to keep them entertained on their Nong Khai holiday. The following are some of the most popular attractions in Nong Khai:

Art, Culture & Heritage

Thai – Lao Friendship Bridge
Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge is the first international bridge spanning the Mekong. The bridge was built jointly by the governments of Australia, Thailand and Laos. It was opened in April 8, 1994.

Prap Ho Monument
Located in front of the old city hall. The cremated bones of those who lost their lives in the suppression of the Ho in 1886 have been contained inside the monument which was built by an order of Luang Prachaksinlapakhom, the suppression commander, to honour the good deeds of those who sacrificed their own lives for the nation. There are inscriptions in Chinese, English, Laotian and Thai on all four directions of the monument. A worshipping ceremony and a fair to celebrate the monument are held every year on 5 March.

Luang Pho Phra Chao Ong Tue
Housed in Wat Si Chomphu Ong Tue, Ban Nam Mong. This large Buddha image was cast from bronze by the royal artisans of the northern city and Lan Chang. Having graceful features, the 4 metre-high image is sitting cross-legged in the attitude of subduing Mara with a lap width of 3.29 m. It is a holy image which has gained much respect from the peoples on both of the banks of the Mekong River. According to a stone inscription, this image was built in 1562 by the royal command of Phra Chaiyachettha, King of Nakhon Wiang. The metals used included gold, brass, and silver, weighing a total of one Tue (an ancient scale of Isan) and it took seven years and seven months to finish the cast. The province has a fair to pay homage to Luangpho Phrachao Ong Tue every year on the full moon day in the fourth lunar month.

To get there : From the town of Nong Khai, take Highway 2 to Udon Thani and switch to Highway 211 (Nong Khai – Tha Bo). At Km 31, follow a road sign on the left to the temple for around 1 km.

Sala Kaeo Ku or Wat Khaek
Located 3 km. from the town of Nong Khai on the right side of the route to Phon Phisai. Presently, it is under the care of the Nong Khai Buddhist Association. This place which looks like an open museum of religious statues was created with an inspiration of Luangpu Bunluea Surirat who built it around 1978, out of his own belief that the teachings of all regions could be mixed together. Therefore, there are Buddha images in different attitudes, Hindu gods, Christian religious icons, as well as character figures from the Ramayana epic and folk legends. It is open daily during 07.00 - 17.00 hrs. Admission fee is 10 Baht per person.

Phrathat Bang Phuan
Phrathat 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 is 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.

Phrathat Nong Khai
Phrathat Nong Khai collapsed into the Mekong in 1847. Over the years the pagoda drifted to the centre of the river where it is seen today.


Places of Worship

Wat Pho Chai
A royal temple, located on Pho Chai Road in the Mueang Nong Khai Municipality. Luangpho Phra Sai, a sacred Buddha image of the town which is respected by the people of Nong Khai, is housed here. This Buddha image sitting cross-legged, which was cast from bright yellow gold in the posture of subduing Mara, has graceful features. According to legend, three daughters of the King of Lan Chang had three Buddha images cast and named each to associate with their names: Phra Soem, Phra Suk, and Phra Sai to the eldest, middle, and youngest siblings, respectively. Originally, the three images were housed in Vientiane. In the reign of King Rama III, they were invited to Nong Khai by boat. On the way to Nong Khai, Phra Suk was drowned by a storm. Phra Soem and Phra Sai were invited to house in Nong Khai. Later on, in the reign of King Rama IV, Phra Soem was taken to Bangkok. Phra Sai is still housed at Wat Pho Chai in Nong Khai. Every year on the full moon day in the seventh lunar month, the people of Nong Khai always hold a rocket merit-making fair or Bun Bang Fai to worship Phra Sai at Wat Pho Chai.

Wat Hin Mak Peng
Located at Ban Thai Charoen, Tambon Phra Phutthabat. The temple compound is spacious, clean and shady with various species of plants amidst tranquility. Its area on one side borders the Mekong River where a scenic view can be seen. Originally, this place was a Dharma practice place of Luangpu Thet Thetrangsi, a famous meditation master of Isan, who initiated it as a Dharma practice centre for Buddhist monks, nuns and pilgrims. After his death, a Chedi was built to enshrine his remains. Inside the temple, there is a statue of Luangpu Thet on display with the eight requisites (the three robes, the bowl, a razor, a needle, the girdle and a water-strainer) and his biography.

To get there : Wat Hin Mak Peng is 75 km. from town. Take Highway 211 (Nong Khai – Si Chiang Mai) and switch to Highway 2186. The temple is on your right.


Nature & Wildlife

Namtok Than Thong
Namtok Than Thong is in Ban Pha Tang at Km. 74 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.

Namtok Than Thip
Namtok Than Thip is at Ban Tat Som in Tambon Ban Muang at Km. 97 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.

Hat Chom Mani
Hat Chom Mani is a sandy beach on the Mekong River, 2 kilometres from town. The beach occurs during the dry season in April. The locals and tourists enjoy a day out here.

Phu Thok
Phu Thok means an isolated mountain in Isan dialect. Located in Ban Na Kham Khaen, Tambon Na Sabaeng, this sandstone range stands out and can be seen from a distance. It consists of two hills: Phu Thok Yai and Phu Thok Noi. Previously, this area was dense woods with many wild animals. Because of its tranquility, Phra Achan Chuan Kunlachettho, a meditation master, initially established a meditation place here for Buddhists to practise the Buddha’s teachings.Phu Thok Noi is where Wat Chetiya Khiri Wihan (Wat Phu Thok) is situated. This temple is the starting point of a walk up to the top of Phu Thok, via a wooden bridge winding around the steep mountain. The bridge was built with faith from monks, novices and villagers. The construction began in 1969 and took five years to complete. This bridge is compared to a path of virtue that leads a righteous man to leave a world and enter into emancipation by their own efforts and determination. Phu Thok is still a meditation practice centre and a place for the community’s religious affairs. Visitors shall be calm in manner and pay respect to the place. The bridge’s stairs to the mountain top are divided into seven sections.The first and second sections leading to the third section wind around the mountain which is covered by a dense dark forest with boulders and rocky grounds. At the end of the third section, a left turn is a very steep shortcut through the channel-like rock formation straight to the fifth section, but a right turn provides a path up to the fourth section.The fourth section climbs around the mountain and overlooks small hills dotting the ground below called “Dong Chomphu” whose area to the west borders Phu Langka which is a rain forest in Amphoe Seka. Here, it is a residence for nuns. The section is around 400 m in circumference and is provided with rest areas here and there along the path.The fifth section has pavilions and monk’s residences. There are several caves along the route to the sixth section. Many spacious rest areas are available on the sixth section, including cliffs, such as Pha Thep Nimit, Pha Hua Chang, Pha Thep Sathit, etc. To the north, visitors can see a natural stone bridge to Phra Wihan (hall) where the Lord Buddha’s relics are enshrined. Here, a mountainous line of Phu Thok Yai can be seen clearly. Most visitors often end their walk here. Since a further move to the seventh section goes along the winding bridge which clings to an edge of the high steep cliff, for around 400 m before reaching the shady forested hilltop destination. To visitors, this may seem horrifying and too dangerous.To get there Phu Thok is around 185 km. from the town of Nong Khai. Take Highway 212, past Pho Chai, Pak Khat and Bueng Kan districts. Then, turn left to take Highway 222 and head for Si Wilai district. From Si Wilai, take a left turn and go on for another 30 km., past Ban Na Sing, Ban Sai Ngam, to Ban Na Kham Khaen and Phu Thok.

Phu Wua Wildlife Reserve
Phu Wua Wildlife Sanctuary is located in Ban Don Chik; 3 km from Bung Khla district and take a right turn for a further trip of around 6 km. It has an area of around 186 sq. km. or 116,562 rai, covering some part of Bueng Kan, Bung Khla, Seka and Bueng Khong Long districts, and nearly bordering Laos. This sanctuary is around 150-300 m above sea level. Types of forest here are mostly Deciduous Dipterocarp Forest, Dry Evergreen Forest and Moist Evergreen Forest. Some parts of the area are sandstone mountain ridges, rocky grounds and grass fields.

Places of Interest

Namtok Tham Fun is located in Ban Phu Sawat, Tambon Nong Doen. Drive on Highway 212, and 7 km. before reaching Bung Khla district, turn right to go on for around 4 km. The waterfall is encompassed by a timber forest with a scenic view of the northern Phu Wua. A walking trail passes a rocky ground to the cascade which is seen along the long narrow channel on the sandstone cliff. There is water only in the rainy season.

Namtok Chet Si is located in Ban Don Siat, Tambon Ban Tong, Amphoe Seka. This very beautiful waterfall, especially during the rainy season, originates from a stream of Huai Ka-am and flows along a high sandstone cliff to spread over a long line. The falling water that hits the rocks below causes a spray of water which gives rainbow colours when seen in sunlight. So came the name “Namtok Chet Si,” which means a waterfall of seven colours.

To get there Drive on Highway 212, and 12 km. before reaching Bung Khla district, turn right at Ban Chai Phon. Head for the waterfall, past Ban Phu Ngoen and Ban Don Siat, for 28 km. Or from Phu Thok, take the route via Ban Na Tong and Ban Don Siat, totalling 14 km.

Namtok Phu Tham Phra is located in Ban Tham Phra, Tambon Sok Kam, Amphoe Seka. It is around 34 km. from Seka district. Like other waterfalls at Phu Wua, it has water only in the rainy season. A monastic residence or Samnak Song here is tranquil and shady. Walking down to the rocky ground at the back, visitors will find a valley with a deep bottom of around 200 sq. m. where a waterfall flows down the valley. The waterfall is on a cliff of around 100 m wide and 50 m high. Visitors can play in the pool.

To get there It is rather a difficult trip. From Bung Khla district, drive on Highway 212 for 24 km. to Ban Tha Dok Kham. Turn right to take a dirt road to Huai Bang Bat and go further by boat to the waterfall.

Namtok Chanaen is located in Ban Phu Ngoen, Amphoe Seka. Originally, it was called “Namtok Tat Sanaen.” “Tat” literally means a place where water flows. “Sanaen” refers to “summit” or “excellence.” This waterfall has its origin from Lam Huai Sanaen. It is 100 m wide and has two tiers with an interval of 300 m. This is a large and beautiful waterfall which has water only in the rainy season. The path to the waterfall passes Khua Hin or a natural stone bridge of around 100 m long, where a phenomenon of water disappearing under the bridge can be witnessed. A walk up to the second tier passes along a stream dotted with boulders. Following the stream on its left bank, visitors will find a broad ground by a large pool. There is another small waterfall called Namtok Bueng Chorakhe, rushing down to the pool.

To get there Use the same route to Namtok Chet Si. Take the Ban Chai Phon – Ban Phu Ngoen route for 13 km. Follow a small road off the route for another 5 km. Go further for the final distance on a bumpy narrow dirt road accessible by only motorcycle.


Suburban Living

Krayo Pastry-making Village
Located on the route from Nong Song Hong to Amphoe Tha Bo. Here, bamboo trays are seen with Krayo pastry being sun-dried along the roadsides. Krayo pastry is used for Vietnamese food such as Popia (spring rolls) and Naem Nueang (wrap of pork and vegetables with spicy sauce). Krayo pastry is an export product as well.

Tobacco-making Village
Tobacco-making Village is along the route from Amphoe Mueang to Amphoe Tha Bo on Highway 211. The villagers grow tobacco plantations along the area parallel to the Mekong River. Here, there are picturesque views of nature.

Tha Sadet Market
Tha Sadet is the port for local people crossing the Mekong River to Tha Duea in Laos. There is a market for Indo-Chinese and eastern European products, as well as the provinces local goods.


Recreational & Entertainment

Freshwater Fishery
Located in Tambon Kong Nang on the Tha Bo – Si Chiang Mai route. The villagers here have freshwater fishery as a profession. Freshwater species of fish raised in their farms are Pla Taphian, Pla Nai, Pla Nuan Chan, Pla Yisok Thet, Pla Klet Ngoen, Pla Hua To, Pla Duk Thet, etc. Their produce is delivered for sale in Bangkok, the North and Isan regions.




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