Welcome to Khon Kaen, Thailand!
Located in the northeastern part of Thailand, Khon Kaen will generally miss people’s radar when traveling to the country. This relatively small city doesn’t have the flair of Bangkok or the beaches of Phuket, but the city is becoming more and more recognized as a city to visit.
Khon Kaen is also an important city. Although officially established only two centuries ago, there’s evidence that people inhabited the region long before it was established during the reign of King Rama I. Long before that, dinosaurs roamed the area as various archeological digs have been found. As a result, the cultures, traditions, and historic sites have contributed to shaping the people of Thailand and the Thai identity. A worldwide local knows that sometimes smaller cities are the ones worth seeing, and Khon Kaen is one of those. This insider’s guide will help you uncover the hidden gems, of Khon Kaen.
Worldwide Local Tip: Much like other cities in Thailand, visitors will have a lot of options when it comes to public transportation. Songthaew charges about 9 baht (approximately $0.30 USD) per person and are pretty convenient plus you’ll be among locals using the service as well. Tuk-Tuk is also a fun option but will cost a little more, be sure to negotiate a price before you take off.
Visit the Jurassic Age
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Khon Kaen, and the one place where you’ll likely start your journey, is Wat Nong Wang. This gorgeous temple is located in the south part of the city and is a massive nine-floor structure, making it pretty hard to miss as you’ll see it from pretty far away. The temple is operated and worshipped by Buddhist monks, and it is free for visitors to check out. The mosaics and colorful paintings depict mostly animals and even a few ancient Khon Kaen dinosaurs.
Worldwide Local Tip: Make sure you head to the top of the building to get a great 360-degree view of the city. Each floor has a point where you can look out but the top floor provides an amazing view unlike any other. Make sure to bring your camera.
Enjoy Khon Kaen Lake
Located nearby the temple is the beautiful Khon Kaen Lake. A favorite place among locals and visitors, this is arguably the most beautiful and picturesque place in Khon Kaen. Grab some food from a nearby market or stall and spend some time by the water having a picnic. It’s a great low-key way to spend an afternoon and it’s not too far from other nearby attractions, like the Wat That temple.
Worldwide Local Tip: There are places nearby to rent a bike or paddleboat, so you can cruise by (or on) the water. Get some exercise and spend the day taking in the beautiful sites around Khon Kaen Lake. The lush green space makes it feel like you’re away from the city while actually still being pretty close by.
Meet a Pangolin at a National Park
The area around Khon Kaen is very green and spacious, and if you’re the outdoorsy type, then you might want to visit Phu Pha Man National Park. This beautiful park is in a deeply forested area and has so much natural beauty, with its towering limestone cliffs and thundering waterfalls. There is also plenty of wildlife including pangolins, wild boars, and deer. Bring some good hiking shoes and a camera!
Worldwide Local Tip: For the very adventurous, try a little spelunking. There are large caves around the park with massive chambers and even paintings on the cave walls. Some caves are only accessible by car. Tours of the caves are also available.
Enjoy Your Visit!
Khon Kaen might not be the first place travelers associate with Thailand, but the truth is Khon Kaen is important to Thai culture, and a worldwide local knows that these places off-the-beaten-path are often the most important.