" It is nothing there at Chiang Khan" this is one of the sentence to discriminate this small city located beside the bank of Mekong river. On the other hand, there is also one sentence " Chiang Khan is changing" to refer that Chiang Khan is awaiting for you to discover about its changing. Even though, both sentences are from the different group of tourists but I must admit that this city is quite strange in tourists perception. For instance, the tourists who completely passionate in this charming city, they will be extremely happy to wander along Mekong river and have the sight seeing of café, vintage shop. However, these will not be interested by those tourists who do not passionate in Chiang Khan, they will never love to come here. And for those who know that Chiang Khan is changed from previous, they also completely lost their interest too.
For me, this is my fourth time to Chiang Khan. Do I really feel the changing and the answer is Yes, I do. But, there is still a corner that is never changed - it is my objective of coming to Chiang Khan. I do not come to Chiang Khan for take a walk on the walking street, see the wooden house because both of them are just the place to eat and to stay. Hence, it is not the matter for me even though it is some changing.
Chiang Khan of my perception is wide picture of Chiang Khan where I can feel the fog covering the mountain in the winter. Kud Koo islet becomes stony beach in the summer. The greenery field is in the rainy season, Mekong river has flown with many red shade. My Chiang Khan is not the city for people who would like to spend their slow lives or hipster but it is for those who would like to take an adventure with backpack and their favorite motorcycle.
How fun it will be, you should try it by coming to Chiang Khan season (But Mekong river is very red), the appropriate period will be in the middle of July, you can take the trip for 3 days and 2 nights.
It is very easy to get to Chiang Khan from Bangkok, you can just simply take the bus the way to Krung Thep (Bangkok) - Loei - Chiang Khan. The bus is available at bus terminal to North East. The schedule for the bus is available from morning till mid night. I normally use Kor Sor Mor Kor service, the price is THB 464 for bus type P.1 (M. 4 KH.) if you reserve for the ticket through the phone call, the additional charge THB 20 will be added in the total amount of ticket price. But if you pay at counter service, you need to pay for service fee THB 18. You just pay a bit more for the convenience, I think it is worth for. I recommend you to reserve for the ticket on the way go to Chiang Khan but it is no need for the way back because you just simply buy the ticket at the counter without any additional surcharge. If you would like to have a VIP seat, you can pay more for THB 250.
The bus has departed from Mor Chit (Bus Terminal) at 21.30 hrs. Once the bus has arrived in the middle way, the driver has decided to park the bus and let all passengers to relax and straighten their bodies a bit. Then, the bus driver continues driving and reaches Chiang Khan within 08.00 am This is so easy and convenient. For those who do not travel from Bangkok, please try to reach to Loei city anyhow. Then you can continue with mini bus Loei - Chiang Khan, it is available from morning to evening.
I would like to briefly explain about the main road of Chiang Khan, there are 2 main roads of Chiang Khan which are aligned together along Mekong river. The main road (outer line) is called Sri Chiang Khan road and the main road (inner line) where you can find many houses located on. The walking street is called Chai Khong. There are many sub - roads (Soi) between these 2 main roads from Soi 1 t Soi 2 Furthermore, there is also a pavement along the river too.
After getting off from the bus, I walk to the market directly in order to find something to fulfill my stomach, the market is in Soi 9 Sri Chiang Khan road, hence it is called upper Soi 9 but Soi 9 on the Chai Khong side is called lower Soi 9. There is an old theatre called Suwanrama and it is now renovated to be a small shop to sell light food such as egg pan, coffee and bread. Once I arrive at the shop, I get a bit rest and enjoy seeing some photos in the shop, they are the photos of this theatre once it was crowded by Thai and Laotian customers, it was the time before the Thai - Lao border are closed. That made Chiang Khan be quiet. And it is now become popular again.
After fulfilling my stomach, then I am searching for the accommodation but I do not specify the precise location, it will mainly base on the price. I carry my backpack and continue walking along Mekong river and I come across to meet the uncle and auntie who are the owner of the guest house " Huan Mai Sri Chiang Kan", it is next to Sri Khunn Muang temple located on lower Soi 6. I finally got the room at THB 300 (I negotiated the price from THB 400)
There is no person to clean the room regularly once I stay at Huan Mai Sri Chiang Kan. But, there are some rooms available, hence it should be no issue for those who is looking for the accommodation. Anyhow, there are only 3 rooms left for the rooms near Mekong river. The air conditioners, little bath rooms and beds are available in each room. Apart from mentioned, there is no other items in the rooms. For drinking water, you are required to do the self service by taking from the drinking water machine. No one is in the house during the day time. Auntie goes to sell some products at the school since the morning and come back at the house in the evening. It can be said that this place I really suitable for the backpacker who requires only the room for sleeping. For those who would like to chill out with the trip, this place might not be the right answer to support your need. But, if you would like to want to stay at this place, you are able to call for further information Tel: 08-3362-2267, 08-3356-1395
After arranging my stuffs and getting some rest, I start discovering along Chai Khong road in order to how change it is comparing with last 2 years. In late morning, it is so silent.
The many new accommodations are built and some of those are under construction. Back to the time of year 2011, I came here to make review about 10 accommodations but it has been left only half of those for doing the review nowadays. Likewise, the souvenir shops has been disappeared but there are still some shops are newly open. The little pavement has been nicely renovated, there is also the widely balcony to see the beautiful view. The public park is also renovated and it is suitable for getting some rest. For me, I do not feel so excited because everything can change through time.
I do not know whether you have been recommended to try something once you are in Chiang Khan. But, I must eat " Nam Kluk Mae Haew" or Mae Haew's fermented pork, her shop is located in front of Huan Yay Noi (it is previously called Saeng Chan on Chai Khong road between Soi 7 and Soi 8, it is near Sri Khun Muang temple. If I do not come to eat at Mae Haew shop, it means I have not reached to Chiang Khan yet. It is really delicious, it is served with fresh veggie as side dish. I have Nam Kluk while asking Auntie Haew about her daily life and Chiang Khan.
I would like to rent a motorbike to ride to Phu Thok and big Buddha tomorrow. I see the renting motorbike sign at Soi 9, it is opposite Luk Pochana restaurant. Unfortunately, a motorbike is rented and I need to wait till this evening to get the motorbike. Hence, I have decided to rent a bike instead, the cost has been decreased from THB 50 to be THB 30. I will come again in the evening to get the motorbike at THB 250,there are only 2 motorbikes at this shop. It might be a good idea to call and check Tel: 08-0188-4624.
Once I get a bike, I continue cycling to Kud Ku islet. I head to Pak Chom district on the main road number 211 (it is Sri Chiang Khan road) for 3 kms. Before you enter to the entrance of Kud Ku islet, you will need to pass Soi Wat Ta Khag, it is not difficult to find. For those who do not regularly exercise, they might be tired easily.
I have observed the water level of Mekhong river since yesterday and found that it is getting lower than normal. Once I reached to Kud Ku islet, it really reveals the clear answer that it is very drought this year. Even though, I could not see the stony beach but I can still see the big rock obviously. Normally, the stone will be under the water, it rains very less. Hence, it influences on the level of water.
Kud Ku islet is the suitable to travel in winter and summer. If the water level has been decreased, we are able to walk on the stone. At this moment, I can only see the view.
There is a well known products at Kud Ku islet, which is Ma Praew Kaew (crispy sliced young coconut), it is one tampon one product. It is a must to try once you reach here. You may wonder where are the coconut grown up, coconuts are mainly ordered from Petchaboon province. The coconuts are also grown at Chiang Khan but it is quite less.
On the way back, it rains heavily while I continue cycling a bike. Hence, I decided to stop and wait till it stops raining. After raining, the sky becomes bright again. I continue cycling and return a bike and get a motorcycle instead. I have dinner at the restaurant, then I go back to my room. The walking street is so wet and quiet. I actually think it is good that it rained because it is possible to see the beautiful fog at Phu Tok.
I wake up very early with my smiley face because it does not rain. The weather is good. I am hurry to wash my face and ride a motorbike to Phu Tok. It is the same way to Kud Ku islet, you pass Kud Ku for 1 km and you will then see Phu Tok. You turn left for 3 kms, then you will see the mountain, no matter vehicle type they are, they are all parked here.
There is a telecommunication on Phu Pok, the private cars are not allowed to park in this area. The will be only the municipality's car is allowed to transfer tourists, you will be charged THB 25. If you come alone and like to use the service, you will be charged at THB 50 (buy 2 tickets). The price is all right for me. Let's go, it is only 2 kms. then we will reach the top of the mountain.
once I arrive at the top of Phu Tok, the white fog has blocked everything but I am not so surprised because it is still early at 06.00 am, we still have plenty of time to wait for brighter sky. As we expected, the fog becomes thinner in half an hour later and we finally see what we have wished to see, it appears little by little. I am hurry to take the photos
We are able to see panoramic view at Phu Tok, we can see the green field of Chiang Kan district. For another side, we can see Kud Ku islet and Mekong river along the mountain, The fog in winter season is not that thick like foggy sea but I really love this because it makes me so fresh to see the city through the foggy curtain.
I take the photos till the fog disappears at 07.30 am. Then, I call to ask for the car service to pick me up with another group of tourists. There are 8 tourists including me. I am so convenient to take the photos because I do not need to spend any space with anyone. For those who have not ridden a motorbike like me and do not also come here with the private cars. They are able to call tricycle service, the price should be firstly negotiated but the price can be fluctuated according to the number of tourists who come to travel in Chiang Khan, the price starts fromTHB 100+. I highly recommend you to make an appointment with the driver in the evening before the day of traveling. Furthermore, we are able to add the additional direction to Kud Ku islet, Phu Kwai Ngeon apart from Phu Tok.
After getting down from Phu Tok, I continue riding to Loei city, my destination is the rice field along road no. 201. This is the main road from Loei city to Chiang Khan. I thought on the day the I took the bus passing this way, I recalled that the greenery rice field of Ban Na Bon is very beautiful with mountain as the background. The fog has thinly covered on the mountain, hence I am hurry to take the photo before it disappears.
I have many photos already despite it is not 08.00 am yet. I still have plenty of time on the way back to Chiang Khan, I decide to visit Phu Chang temple. How to get to this temple, it is so simple by observing at the edge of street isle. If we look over from the road you will see golden Buddha from this point, this Buddha is located on the top of mountain. Let's go, I come here quite early, the entrance of this temple has not been open yet. But it does not really matter because the purpose of being here is to see the view. This is one of my favorite view of Chiang Khan which I really like.
It is time for breakfast, I choose to have fermented rice flour noodles at Pa Lee Soi 14 Sri Chiang hKan Road, it is beside Mahathad temple. The menu is fermented rice flour noodles with clear soup, this menu will normally add pork entrails but I do not eat entrails hence I have asked to add only pork
After the stomach get full, so it is time to continue riding. I have continued in the same way to Kud Ku islet and Thog mountain again but I ride a bit further for 4 kms . Then, I can see a temple on the small hill before reach to Pha Baen Lek village. To turn my motorbike and it is Phu Noi Samak Kee Tham temple. It is also the view point to see the spectacular view of Mekong river. Once I look back at Kud Ku islet, it is very wide with the background of mountain, that is Lao not Thai.
The Buddist Chapel is being built at the moment and it is expected to finish in the next few years. Let's go to respect Buddha statue.
After getting down from Phu Noi temple, I would like to go to Pha Ban village. This is also one of the community near Khong river. The design of the house is half wood and half cement which can be seen generally in rural area. I have seen many signs indicating home stay village in order to boost up travelling in Chiang Khan.
Furthermore, we have also seen the sign at the intersection, this sign leads us to U- Mung village and Buddha's footprint at Phu Kwai Ngoen. I turn my motorbike with regard to the direction indicating on the sign. Our objective is to pay a respect to Buddha's footprint and enjoy seeing nice view. This religious place has completely built.
As it is well known that there are many cute rabbits on Phu Kwai Ngoen. Nowadays, this place has been well organized by building fence in order to protect rabbits to be crashed by the cars. We are able to feed the rabbits as well.
The view point is also available on Phu Kwai Ngeon, I am able to see U- Mung village from this point. It is surrounded with the greenery field along with the background of the mountain. This is one of the spectacular view of Chiang Khan where I usually visit once I come here.
After spending sometime for a while, it is time for me to go back to Chiang Khan downtown (I have some lunch in the restaurant in front of Chiang Khan municipality on the way to Chiang Khan downtown. Then, I continue riding on road no. 2195 to Tha Li District, it takes about 20 kms to the place where I like the most in Chiang Khan. This place is called Phu Kog Ngiew or Bhu Pra Yai, it also meaningful in term of geography.
I continue riding along Mekong river and pass many villages including Dud Sai pier. I have sometimes seen mountains for both sides. Furthermore, I also see rubber tree farm, rice fields. It is quite drought this year, it has just rained once I come to visit here. Some farmers has not started growing rice yet. In some field, the farmer has just started growing rice. I can still find the suitable corner for taking the photos and also expect that these fields will be completely green in the next 2 months.
I finally reach Tha Dee Meeh village after riding for 20 kms. I see the big sign indicating big Buddha, I turn a motorbike, I have stopped at this point where I can see the flow of Mekong river from Laos to Thailand. This is the place where Huang river has connected with Mekong river. Due to this amazing point, the big Buddha statue has been built in this place, the full name of this big Buddha is Pra Bhudda Nawamintaramongkolleelatawinkrarak, this Buddha statue is built for sacred purpose. The surrounding area is the park and view point.
Once I come this time, it is very cool because Pak Tom municipality has trimmed the trees nicely. It makes me better see the connecting between Huang river and Mekong river .
For those who do not have cars or m motorbike, it is not really a matter. If you would like to visit big Bhuddha, you are able to ask for car service or ask for the tour service at the counter.
After taking a few photos , it is time to ride a motorbike back to Chiang Khan. I have also taken the photos of the river on the way. The color of the water is really red.
I decide to return back a motorbike to the shop prior to the appointed time, I also reserve the bus ticket because I will go back to Bangkok tomorrow evening. The bus terminal is not far from the market. At the moment, it rains heavily. I feel like I could not see Laos country clearly now because of heavy rain.
I wait till it stops raining, then I take a walk on walking street. Today is Thursday evening, it is quite crowded. I look for the food.
My meal of the day is Vietnamese noodle. This is one of the popular dish of Chiang Khan. There is a well known restaurant to sell this menu, it is Mae Ngarm restaurant. It is located on Soi 15, I have ordered special dish (by adding an egg). It is so delicious and becomes my favorite dish.
A long day has been passed, the time at Chiang Khan is not that slow but if you try to wake up at 05.00 am and travel for the whole day, you will surely feel that it is so long day.
I really have no plan for the last day at Chiang Khan At first, I thought that I will check out and leave some luggage at here but I could have a chance to say and leave my thing at the home stay because auntie has gone to work in early morning. Hence, it is only me at home.
But.. if you like to wake up early to give an alm with sticky rice. This is local lifestyle. I would like to show some photos that I took in previous trip.
Today, I go through all area of Chiang Khan from Soi 1 to Soi 20, I come back in the same way to Soi 1 as well as take a short cut to indulge with the atmosphere.
I carry my backpack and hang a key in front of the room, I continue walking to Soi 9. I see a cute café called " En Doo Chiang Khan" I would like to spend sometimes to sip some cold water. This café is also open for the guesthouse. It costs THB 600 / night, shared toilet. I have talked with the owner of this café about the traveling trend of Chiang Khan, Pak Chom district and Sang Kom district (in Nong Kai province). I have made some kidding that if I come to Chiang Khan next time, I will rent his motorbike to Sang Kom district.
It is almost 7 pm, it is the time to go to the bus terminal. Chiang Khan trip has been humbly closed.
According to this trip, I could not guarantee that Chiang Khan is still the nice place for travelling as I mentioned previously that I do not love Chiang Khan because of its wooden house, walking street or modern shops. I love Chiang Khan in my own style, I love the way to ride a motorbike along Mekong river. I love to go to Phu Kwai Ngoen, Phu Chag Noi, Phu Tok, Phu Pra Yai, green rice field. Furthermore, I like to see Chiang Khan in wider corner.
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