Chiang Khan is hugely popular with Thai tourists who make the trip from Bangkok every weekend. A bicycle is the perfect way to navigate the narrow streets and many homestays provide them free of charge. Laos is barely a stones throw away and it is possible to enjoy a drink on the banks of the Mekong River while overlooking North East Thailand’s nearest neighbour. There are no bars nor any nightlife to speak of and Chiang Khan is so sleepy that it virtually grounds to a halt at night. Please pardon our lamentation, but we really miss the old Chiang Khan. Virtually overnight, what was once a sleepy little-known riverside town full of traditional timber houses became a trendy destination for Thais, and now tour buses arrive daily. That said, it’s far from ruined and we still think it’s a good place to visit: it’s just no longer great. The photogenic views of the river and the Lao mountains beyond are still there and things remain fairly peaceful in the daytime, before the evening shopping stampede begins.
Traditional timber houses line the streets and riverbank, the latter now converted into quaint guest houses and homestay.
Some interesting walks, particularly the pathway between Ban Paben and Ban Umong where you will see a Buddha footprint, an ageless village and mammoth cave all under the commanding gaze of the majestic mountains. If you need a little added energy, be sure to try the robust local coffee.
Towards the end or just after the rains and winter descends as the rivers will be higher, the terrain will be greener and the air clear and crisp.
There are buses leaving regularly from Loei. Or you can take a local bus from Nong Khai and make the trip in reverse. If you decide to travel to Chiang Khan, follow Route 2013 north and be sure you stop first at the Kaeng Song Khon Waterfall.
Chiang Khan, Loei Province, is 580 kilometres north of Bangkok and 50 kilometres north of Loei city.
Air: Nok Air (nokair.com) flies daily from Bangkok’s Don Muang Airport to Loei. Then take a bus from Loei bus station; Nakhonchai buses connect regularly to Chiang Khan, one hour away.
Bus: Take the bus from Mo Chit Northern Bus Terminal (nine-hour journey).
Train: Take the overnight train from Hua Lamphong station to Nong Khai, then a bus to Chiang Khan.