Perched high above the southern
bank, residents of Nong Khai have a panoramic view of the
Mekong River and Laos on the opposite shore. Opened 1994,
the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge shifted the focus to Nong Khai
and its potential as a gateway for overland trips to Laos.
Trade too shifted from markets in the town centre to the
near the bridge, justoutside of town.
Vientiane, the capital
of Laos, is just 25 km away. Nong Khai is 615 km from
and 56 km from Udon where there is an airport. Nong Khai is
at the end of Highway 2 and the northern rail line of Isan.
Ferries still ply the Mekong, although the bridge has taken
over as the main conduit for trade and travel. The province
is narrow and long with a 300 km border with Laos and the
Mekong River in the north while it is just 50 km at its widest
Nongkhai Attractions: Luang Pho Phra Sai
the main Buddha image of the province, is enshrined at
Wat Pho Chai. It is believed to have been cast in the Lan
Chang period. Every year on the fullmoon day of the seventh
lunar month (June), the Bang Fai Festival is held to pay homage.
Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge The
first bridge across the Khong River linking Nong Khai with
Tha Na Laeng in Laos, 20 kilometers from Vientiane. The bridge
measures 1.2 kms. long. Foreigners wishing to visit Laos are
required to have a passport and visa and travel with an authorized
agency only. Traveling on one's own is not allowed in Laos.
Prap Ho Monument in front
of the city hall was erected in 1876 to commemorate the suppression
of a rebellion by Ho Chinese tribesmen.
It contains the remains
of officials who lost their life in the conflict.
Phra That Bang Phuan, built
in the reign of King Chaichetha of Satchanalai (mid 16th century),
is an Indian-style pagoda. A large collection of Buddha relics
is enshrined there. A ceremony is held in January every year.
Phra Chao Ong Tu at Wat Nam
Mong in Tha Bo district is one of the most important Buddha
images in Nong Khai. It is believed to have been built by
King Chai Chetha in 1562.
Than Thong Waterfall in
Sangkhom district, 83 km from Nong Khai, affords an excellent
view of the Mekong River from a nearby hill. Further down
the road just outside Sangkhom is Than Thip Waterfall, a narrow
beautiful cascade comprised of three levels.
Phu Thok is a huge rock
outcrop rising abruptly from a plain in Bung Kan district.
A winding network of wooden staircases and walkways leads
to the top, where there is a magnificent view of the surrounding
area. Near the top is Wat Chetiya Khiri Viharn, a meditation
temple. The climb involves stretches of walkway that cling
to sheer cliffs, making it unsuitable for elderly visitors.
Wat Hin Mak Peng in Si
Chiang Mai district is another well-known centre for meditation.
The grounds of the sanctuary are tended to by Buddhist nuns
who live in small chalet-like houses along the river bank.
One of Nong Khai's most popular
attractions is Sala Kaew Ku or Wat Khaek. The grounds
of this unusual temple are filled with strange statues depiction
scenes and characters from Buddhist and Hindo lore. In an
exhibition hall there are pictures of the founder of the temple,
Luang Pho Bunleua, and a large collection of wooden and bronze
images of Hindu and other deities. The temple is 5 km east
of town on the Nong Khai-Phone Phisai highway.