It is late Friday afternoon and we are driving into Nong Khai, after a relatively uneventful day on the road from Nakhon Phanom. Apart from a speeding ticket and taking the wrong road at the border that nearly had us in Laos, it would have been completely uneventful.
Back at the Mekong again
After a day driving across the flat Isaan farming country, we\’re back at the Mekong River in the north west.
Nong Khai is also a major border crossing point between Thailand and Vientiane in Laos with the Friendship bridge located near the city joining the two countries. There are many large trucks arriving and departing Thailand in a seemingly endless convoy.
We had been concerned about the availability of accommodation so we had booked ahead at a large majestic hotel on the banks of the river but the reality is disappointing.
Driving up to the hotel it looks impressive but inside the property is rundown and with only a handful of guests, it’s almost eerie.
The food however is however, surprisingly good and after dinner we’re having an early night.
It\’s a great little city to explore
After a week of hot sunny weather, Saturday morning is pleasantly cool and overcast. We drive into the city to collect a parcel from the very efficient Thai Post Office and proceed to wander along the riverbank and enjoy this picturesque little city on the river bank.
Another town another market
The day turns a dull grey and a light misty rain sets in. About the same time, we discover the nearby Sadet Market which fortunately is under cover.
This is quite a large market and typical of Thai border market with shops selling all manner of merchandise from across Indochina.
The rain eases off so we set out the find a new hotel for the night. We enquire at about 10 inner city hotels with no luck as the long weekend means accommodation is scarce.
Relaxing at the Ploy Inn
We strike gold at the Ploy Inn Hotel who have one room left.
This hotel is very new, the room is spotless and the price very reasonable. It is about 100 metres from the riverside and adjacent to the Market.
We return to our original hotel, collect our bags, check out and by lunchtime we are settling into our new hotel.
Delicious food from across Indochina
Nong Khai is famous for its diverse mix of foods from across Indochina and we choose a large Vietnamese restaurant to eat lunch.
Although the restaurant is popular, the service is excellent and the Vietnamese and Isaan dishes we choose are delicious.
After lunch the rain has stopped.
We walk along the riverside enjoying the scenery and the people including many visitors from Laos. A group of Laos Monks are enjoying their day in Thailand as are many Thai tourists from across the country. Selfie heaven.
Time for a foot massage. One of the joys of travelling around Thailand is the incredibly skilled people who give foot massages (which is actually reflexology) and can be really therapeutic. My foot massage in Nong Khai is no exception and I am spending a relaxing afternoon at the hotel afterwards.
A wet Saturday evening market
We go for a stroll along the waterfront in the late afternoon.
A night market has been set up with many traders and large crowds are gathering to select from the range of local souvenirs, clothing, electrical goods, spices and food on sale.
We decide to have dinner at one of the restaurants overlooking the Mekong just as the rain returns.
This time the rain is more persistent and before long, stall holders are packing up their wares and customers are looking for shelter from the constant drizzle.
This time we have chosen an Isaan restaurant and we enjoy the freshness of the river fish dishes and the salads accompanying them.
Sunday morning is warm and sunny and after an excellent hotel breakfast, reluctantly we drive out of Nong Khai. Today we are heading west through Loei then across the mountains to the province of Phetchabun.
Nong Khai is a great place to enjoy the hospitality and scenery of rural Thailand.