All journeys have secret destinations of which
the traveler is unaware – Martin Buber
Khon Kaen is one such destination situated 445 kilometres (270 miles) northeast of Bangkok in the heart of Isaan territory. Although there is an airport here, it may be best to hire a car and travel by road from Bangkok. That way you will be able to absorb all the natural beauty of this rural countryside. Not huge on tourism, but this bustling town does thrive with a large student population attending one of Thailand’s best universities.
The town is also northeast Thailand’s second most important trade and administrative centre after Nakhon Phanom. American troops stationed here during the Vietnam war maintained an important supply route along the Friendship Highway. (Highway 2)
One of the main attractions for tourists is the National Museum, which opened its doors on the 20th December 1972. It houses mainly art and archaeology and is well worth a visit should you be interested in Thailand’s fine culture. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm.
Wat Nong Wang Muang
Wat Nong Wang Muang is a beautiful nine-storey temple situated on the banks of the tranquil Bueng Kaen Kakorn lake. Apart from being a place of worship, you will find ancient Buddha carvings, loads of pottery as well as some human remains here. A sacred Buddha bone is housed on the top floor from where you have a magnificent view of the lake and the city.
Silk Production and Demonstrations in Khon Kaen
The annually Silk Fair festivities are staged during the month of November with various demonstrations lasting for a whole week. This would be an excellent opportunity to purchase some splendid examples of fine Thai Silk while observing the actual production.
For year round silk weaving activities, you could travel to the village of Chonnabot which is approximately 50 kilometres (32 miles) south-west of Khon Kaen. Best to go by car and travel around the village where you will observe the locals working at their looms from their homes. These locals are more than happy to show you around while trying to sell their goods.
Always remember that Thai is the only language spoken in the village so if you should travel with a Thai friend, so much the better. To get to Chonnabot you need to travel south on highway 2 to the village of Ban Phai, then you would turn right in a westerly direction on route 229 for a further short distance until you reach the village of Chonnabot.
Ubonrat Dam near Khon Kaen
Ubonrat Dam is a splendid place for a bit of recreation which you can find located 50 kilometres (32 miles) north-west of Khon Kaen. It is the largest multi-purpose dam in the area stretching some 800 metres long and some 32 meters high. The dam comprises of a picturesque lake filled with some 2,550 million cubic metres of water.
Originally the dam was created to generate electricity for eight neighboring provinces, but now it also serves as a water reservoir, and fishery. On the banks of the reservoir, you can do some swimming as well as take part in various water sports or perhaps even a boat ride.