Khon Kaen to Khon Kaen
• Meeting the urban monkeys of Kumphawapi
• Vivid Ban Chiang pottery
• The immense, bizarre sculptures at Sala Kaew Ku
• Clifftop view of the Mekong River from above Sangkhom
• Boat ride through rocky islets in the Mekong River
• Historic wooden shop houses in Chiang Khan
• Walking amidst the bizarrely eroded rocks at Suan Hin Pha Ngam
• Walking through a mountain at Erawan Cave
• The incredible foods for sale in a jungle market
• Seeing silk weaving
This popular tour is a great mix of culture and nature. And, other than our tours to Khao Yai National Park, this is our most outdoor-focused trip. It’s a circular route through Udon Thani, Nong Khai, Loei, and Nong Bualamphu provinces (the northwest of the northeast), with many of the attractions found along the Mekong River. The first day features Ban Chiang, one of Southeast Asia’s most important archaeological sites, and ends on the Mekong River. After seeing the bizarre Sala Kaew Ku sculpture park and other sites in Nong Khai city, we’ll head west along the Mekong before taking in one of the best views of the river in Thailand at Sangkhom. We continue through a gorgeous mountainous region visiting temples, scenic viewpoints, villages, and waterfalls, and take a short boat ride before arriving in the timeless town of Chiang Khan. We then turn south, making several village visits before exploring the incredible rock formations at Suan Hin Pha Ngam, which is similar to China’s famous Kunming Stone Forest. On the final day we see more of the natural rock-filled forest and also a mountaintop cave, jungle market, and silk weaving village before returning to Khon Kaen.
From around November to February, we can adjust the itinerary so you can take a boat ride through the vast spread of pink water lilies in Tale Bua Dang, the “Red Lotus Lake.”
Make the most of your trip with our special add-on activities before, during, or after your tour.
Day 1 – Ban Chiang
On the way north from Khon Kaen we will stop to meet the urban monkeys that live in Kumphawapi’s town center and visit a weaving village then head to Ban Chiang, the site of an enigmatic civilization that began making bronze tools around 2000 BC; long before any other known place in East Asia.The myriad artifacts unearthed here, most famously the iconic burnt ocher swirl pottery, rewrote the history books and today can be seen both inside the excellent Ban Chiang National Museum and in situ at a burial ground excavation site. Mixing the ancient with the modern, we’ll also visit a village where locals make large hand-made pots using the original method with no potter’s wheel and see how sticky rice baskets are woven before heading up to Nong Khai city on the Mekong River.
Overnight in Nong Khai
Day 2 – Nong Khai & Sangkhom
The highlight of your morning tour of low-key Nong Khai is Sala Kaew Ku, a wonderfully bizarre religious center filled with immense and strange concrete sculptures blending Buddhist and Hindu iconography. We’ll also stop by both the popular Tha Sadet Market, filled with bric-a-brac from across Southeast Asia, and a local fresh market, full of local foods you won’t find at home, and see incredible Buddhist murals at some of the city’s most interesting temples. Leaving Nong Khai, we’ll trace the Mekong River to visit a topiary park and spring roll wrapper making village. Near the lovely riverside town of Sangkhom we’ll gaze over the Mekong from Wat Pa Tak Suea, which is perched atop a soaring cliff and has one of the best viewpoints along the river. In the rainy season or beginning of the cool season we’ll also see a lovely waterfall. Relaxing Sangkhom town sits right on the river.
Overnight in Sangkhom
Day 3 – The Mekong River & Chiang Khan
We’ll begin with a visit to lovely Than Thip Waterfall (except deep into the dry season, when there’s no water left) and then take a boat ride on the Mekong River to enjoy great views of the mountain scenery. After visiting an herb market and a very unusual shrine we’ll roll into the historic riverfront town of Chiang Khan, still full of traditional timber shop houses. We’ll also take a look at the locally famous Kaeng Khut Khu rapids on the Mekong.
Overnight in Chiang Khan
Day 4 – Suan Hin Pha Ngam
In the morning we’ll see Phi Kon Nam (a little-known festival that has some similarities to the famous Phi Ta Kon festival) masks, visit a shrine to a local female deity, and enter a large cave sanctuary before having lunch on a raft in a mountain-ringed lake. Then we will finish the day exploring the caves and cliffs of Suan Hin Pha Ngam, a surreal natural stone garden similar to the Kunming Stone Forest in China.
Overnight in Suan Hin Pha Ngam
Day 5 – Nong Bualamphu and Ubonrat
Our final day begins with another look at this gorgeous region and then heads to Tham Erawan cave, where we will walk through the top of a mountain. After lunch we’ll stroll through a jungle market to see the variety of foods (cow placenta, buffalo skin, ant eggs, wasp larvae, etc.) that you won’t find in your supermarket back home and then see silk weaving in a small, simple village. We finish by enjoying the scenery of Ubonrat Lake from next to a giant Buddha statue perched on a tall hill.
If our itinerary doesn’t fit your exact needs and desires, please let us know. With advance notice we can usually modify things.
Prices valid until March 2023.
|Hotel Level||Number of Persons|
|Price per person, two per room (baht)|
All sightseeing and activities as specified in the itinerary with English-speaking local guides, entrance fees, transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, hotel transfers, accommodation, breakfast at deluxe-level accommodation and village homestays, dinner at village homestays, snacks and cold water in the vehicle, accident insurance, taxes, and pre-departure travel consultation.
Price Does Not Include
Transportation to Khon Kaen, meals and drinks other than what is specified above, travel and medical insurance, personal expenses (such as laundry, souvenirs, snacks, etc.), tips/gratuities, visa fees (Thai visas are free or not required for most international visitors.), and any additional expenses incurred due to airline schedule changes, natural disasters, political actions, or other factors beyond our control.
• For tours longer than one day, a non-refundable deposit of 30% is required as soon as possible after making your reservation.
• The full payment is due before the tour begins. This can be done after you arrive in Thailand, as long as you have access to sufficient funds before you depart on your tour.
• International payments are best done by bank transfer, and the cheapest, fastest, and easiest way is with TransferWise. Credit/debit cards can be used through TransferWise or other online wire transfer services. For people inside Thailand, we accept payment via cash (Thai baht, US dollars, British pounds, and euros), ATM transfer, and counter deposit to Siam Commercial Bank.
• If local taxes and/or fuel prices increase significantly, we reserve the right to add comparable surcharges.
This is the accommodation that we normally use for this tour. Of course, if any place is fully booked during your travel dates, we will have to substitute a similar property. If this happens, we will let you know right away.
Day 1 – Nong Khai
Budget: Mut Mee Garden Guesthouse
Deluxe: Mut Mee Garden Guesthouse -or- Pimali*
Homestay: Mut Mee Garden Guesthouse
Day 2 – Sangkhom
Budget: Sangkhom River View
Deluxe: Sangkhom River View
Homestay: Ban Pak Som-Ban Lamphu Pan village homestay
Day 3 – Chiang Khan
Budget: Baan Supichaya
Deluxe: Huean Yai Bab Pa -or- Chiang Khan Hill Resort*
Homestay: Ban Ton La village homestay
Day 4 – Suan Hin Pha Ngam
Budget: Maan Mek Talay Mok Resort
Deluxe: Maan Mek Talay Mok Resort
Homestay: Maan Mek Talay Mok Resort
*These hotels offer very different styles. We let you choose the one that’s right for you.