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Nong Khai

A charming riverfront paradise

I’ve traveled all over Thailand, but my favorite place to go to escape and relax is Nong Khai.

A laid-back city in the North Eastern (Issan) region along the banks of the Mekong River, Nong Khai is often overlooked by travelers who are just passing through on the way to Vientiane, Laos, but skipping over this charming riverfront paradise is a huge mistake.

Nong Khai doesn’t boast elephant parks, islands, or the typical activities that draw throngs of tourists. Instead, this delightful city is nestled along a walkable bike-friendly riverfront brimming with authenticity. The locals are very kind and welcoming, so it's easy to feel at home. The riverfront is the lifeblood of the city and it regularly transforms to host lively night markets and colorful special events.

There’s plenty to peruse in Nong Khai starting with the local food. Mouthwatering Thai Issan and Vietnamese fusion cuisine can be found at local restaurants like Daeng Namnueng and Cà phê Viêt overlooking the Mekong River. Charming cafes serving up gourmet lattes like Baan Tuad dot the streets and markets across the city overflow with delicious local street food.

The Thai- Vietnamese fusion food at Daeng Namnueng is famous across the Kingdom of Thailand.

There's lots to explore nearby as well. In town, you can climb up Wat Lam Duan to look down upon the Mekong from the top of a giant golden temple, or marvel at massive concretes sculptures at Sala Kaew Ku Sculpture Garden. Ready to go on a day trip? Drive out past waterfalls and walk along a glass-bottomed Skywalk at Wat Pha Tak Sua, or ascend the mountain temple of Wat Phu Tok. These elevated experiences are sure to make you weak at the knees.

The glass-bottomed Skywalk at Wat Pha Tak Sua overlooks the Mekong River and neighboring Laos.

At the end of the day, perhaps the best thing to do in Nong Khai is just to relax, walk around, and take in a gorgeous pink sunset beside the lazy Mekong River. It’s an experience sure to bring peace to your heart and a smile to your face.

The Nong Khai region is known for beautiful pink sunsets that reflect on the surface of the Mekong River.

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