:: NONG KHAI

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.

:: Attractions

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.

:: City attraction

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.