Chiang Khan, in the upper north-east of Thailand, is a quiet town along the banks of the Mekong River. In ancient times it used to be an important town on the trade route between Thailand and Laos. It never really got that many tourists passing through as it is quite isolated. Which is probably why over the last few years it has become a popular tourist destination. It is the kind of place that you go to get away from it all and to experience rural Thai life. But, don’t tell anyone!
There are basically only two main roads in Chiang Khanwhich run parallel to each other. Connecting them at regular intervals are smaller lanes. The road of more interest is Chai Khong that runs along the Mekong River. This is where you will find the more photogenic old wooden houses and shops. This is also where you will find many guesthouses. The best way to explore the town is by bicycle. My guesthouse was renting them out for only 50 Baht for the whole day.
We were visiting the town during the week and so it was very quiet. I can imagine that it gets very busy at the weekends and during the high season. The weather was very pleasant and I think that the cool temperatures in the winter will make it popular with Thais. One of the main activities that you can join is the morning alms round. Our guesthouse arranged small baskets of sticky rice to offer to the monks as they passed us early in the morning at about 6 a.m. Giving sticky rice is similar to the tradition at Luang Prabang in Laos but not as many monks here.
The highlights for me were the views along the banks of the Mekong. The river here is not very wide compared to other places so you can easily see across to Laos. The mountains in the distance in this photo are in Laos. There is a path that runs along the river and I had a wonderful time cycling along this and watching the sun gradually go down. East of the town are the Kaeng Khut Khu rapids. The shiny rocks here are supposed to be very beautiful but the water was too high for us to see anything.
The early evening is another great time to explore the quiet lanes as it is a lot cooler. In addition, Chai Khong Road is turned into a walking street after 5 p.m. A number of local people set up stalls outside their houses during the evening selling handicraft and other souvenirs. This picture shows Heon Luang Prabang Restaurant where we ate during the evening. From their garden we got some great views as the sun set in the distance. I had a relaxing time in Chiang Khan and would love to go back and spend more time there.
Map of Chiang Khan in Loei Province, Northeastern Thailand: