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A Long Weekend in Three Provinces in Upper Northeast Thailand

The Northeast, an area which is referred as Pak Isan, covers an area of more than 170,000 square kilometres and is made up of nineteen provinces. It has Thailand’s highest population destiny, spreading over a plateau, bounded on the north and east by the Mekong River which separates Thailand from Laos, on the south by the Dong Rak mountains which form the frontier with Cambodia, and on the west by the mountains through the valley of the Pasak River (Mae Nam Pasak), which flows to the south. The rivers in this area flow towards the Mekong, the principal tributary being the Mun River (Mae Nam Mun) which rises above Phimai and goes in a southeasterly direction to pass through the principal center of Ubon Ratchathani. The word Isan likely derives from Ishara, a manifestation of the God Shiva. The rich artistic heritage of Isan is gaining better recognition both nationally and internally as recent studies shed more light on the complex religious and cultural influences which have shaped its evolution.

Nong Khai, formerly a rather somnolent town before the Covid-19 started in February 2020, is a booming commercial center and the major transit point for trade with Laos. Its central streets are far too narrow for the heavy volume of traffic that passes through them, yet it remains a pleasant town. There are many interesting temples in Nong Khai and in the surrounding area. The most pleasant place for a stroll is in the old town. A visit to interesting sites in Nong Khai will be arranged.

Bueng Kan is a new province (March 2011), located about 135 km to the east of Nong Khai downstream towards Nakhon Phanom along road 212. The river itself is rarely in sight on this route, but the scenery is very pleasant. In Bueng Kan, a road runs south to Ban Si Wilai and the huge sandstone outcrop of Phu Thok, which is honeycombed with small caves. A visit to the huge sandstone outcrop which look like whales in Phu Singh National Park will be arranged. The view across the plain from the upper levels is excellent. Beyond Bueng Kan, the river and road round the hilly northeast tip of Thailand before heading south through remote country. The Mekong can only be glimpsed at occasionally until you reach Nakhon Phanom, 313 km from Nong Khai, a clean and prosperous town which affords the finest view of the river in northern Isan, framed against the giant hills of the Lao mountains opposite.

Nakhon Phanom lies on the bank of the Mekong River opposite the Laotian town of Muang Ta Kaeks. It is home of Phra That Phanom, the most sacred and ancient religious monument of the northeast that is venerated by both Thais and Laotians along the Mekong. Nakhon Phanom is a pleasant modern town that has the best hotels along this stretch of the Mekong. It provides a suitable base from which you can explore the northeast corner of Thailand. Nakhon Phanom has been an important commercial city trading with the ports on the Vietnamese coast to the east and Cambodia to the south, at least since the 16th century. Some old temples built along the riverbank have very interesting mural painting and Lao-style Buddha images.




Khun Euayporn Kerdchouay, Senior Consultant of The Siam Society


The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Friday, 29 January: Bangkok – Udon Thani – Nong Khai – Bueng Kan
Please check in (individually) at Nok Air counter, Bangkok Don Mueang Airport (terminal 2)
05:55 Depart Bangkok Don Mueang Airport by Nok Air flight DD9200 for Udon Thani Airport.
07:00 Arrive at Udon Thani and proceed to Charoen Hotel for breakfast.
09:00 Depart Udon Thani for Nong Khai province by bus.
Enroute: Visit Wat Phra That Bang Phuan, the 16th century temple built by King Setthathirat of Lan Xang between 1559-1562, when he extended his capital at Vientiane across the Mekong. The main Lao-style chedi, 34 m. high, that collapsed during heavy rain in 1970, but was rebuilt in 1977. Several ruins are scattered about the temple enclosure.
Visit Wat Si Chompu Ong Tue (Wat Nam Mong). This temple houses a beautiful and greatly severed bronze image of the Buddha, Phra Chao Ong Tue, cast in 1562.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant in Nong Khai.
After lunch, proceed to Bueng Kan province.
Enroute: Visit Wat Pho Chai and sites of interest in Nong Khai.
Afternoon: Arrive in Bueng Kan and visit Nong Kut Ting, a large freshwater lake and marsh (22,000 rai) which is a home to a vast variety of flora and fauna. The best time to visit the wetlands is during the morning hours or late afternoon when the sun is not too strong. It is a major birdwatching site, especially in the cool season when the wetlands are visited by many migratory species.
Evening: Check in at The One Hotel in Bueng Kan. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 2: Saturday, 30 January: Bueng Kan – Nakhon Phanom
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel.
08:00 Proceed to Nakhon Phanom province.
Enroute: Take a truck to visit the huge sandstone outcrops which look like whales (Hin Sam Wan) and the wooded slopes at Phu Singh National Park which are dotted with strangely eroded sandstone formations.
Visit the huge sandstone outcrop of Phu Thok, which is honeycombed with small caves and is used as a retreat by monks of Wat Phu Thok. The views across the plain from the upper levels are excellent.
Picnic lunch.
Afternoon: Visit Wat Phrathat Tha U-Then in Tha U-Then district.
Later -afternoon: Check in at the River Hotel in Nakhon Phanom.
Evening: Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 3: Sunday, 31 January: Nakhon Phanom – Bangkok
Morning: Breakfast at the hotel.
All day: Visit museums, temples, historical sites in Nakhon Phanom province.
Noon: Lunch at a local restaurant.
Late – afternoon: Proceed to Nakhon Phanom Airport.
16:50 Depart Nakhon Phanom by Air Asia flight FD3397 for Bangkok Don Mueang Airport.
18:00 Arrive at Bangkok Donmueang Airport.
The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary.


Note – To comply with the measures recommended by the government due to the COVID-19 pandemic protect yourself and others around you by knowing the facts and taking appropriate precautions. The Society kindly ask our participants to follow the safety and precaution measures that have been declared by the government and health organisations.
– Air tickets will be limited, so kindly make the payment as soon as you make a reservation.

The contribution of THB 19,000 (THB 20,000 for non-members), single room surcharge THB 1,300. will cover airfares, local transportations, accommodation for 2 nights (two persons per room), meals, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. In addition, basic travel insurance is included. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. Please pay by cash or cheque payable to “The Siam Society”. Alternatively, you can transfer the money to The Siam Society travel account at TMB Bank, Asoke Branch, saving account no. 053-2-18000-7. Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.

For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert at Tel. 02-661-6470-3 ext. 504 or Khun Supanut Tel. 02-661-6470-3 ext. 506, Fax 02-258-3491 or email: The Society office is open from 9am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

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