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Nong Khai on the Mekong River
Distance: 45KM from Nakara Villa through picturesque country roads. Journey time between 40-60 minutes
Nong Khai is a sleepy, picturesque boarder town sitting on the banks of Mekong River which is more than worth spending a day discovering. The town started becoming more prominent after the building of theThai-Laos friendship bridgeas well as the increasing interest in the legend of theNaga Fire Ballswhich appear on or around the night beforeWan Ok Phansa. It has retained its old world, sleep charm with several overlapping architectural styles and influences but now merged with quaint coffee shops, restaurants, markets and temples.
A day in Nong Khai can include visiting several locations as well time just spent wandering around the streets and shops. Popular stop offs though include:
Tha Sadet Market
This covered market sits on the banks of the Mekong River and provides an interesting mix of both Laos, Vietnamese and Thai products. A hodge podge of things both practical and entirely unnecessary as well cafes covering everything from traditional Thai to specialist Vietnamese.
A few minutes outside of the city center lies this impressive Buddha statue garden. Take your time exploring the stone representations of both Buddhist and Hindu deities some of which tower 25m over you . Bring a camera as this garden is overflowing with amazing photo-ops. A 'must see' when in Nong Khai.
The Nong Khai Freshwater Aquarium is located on the Khon Kaen University campus, about 4km out of Nong Khai. It is famous for it's giant catfish and displays of various ocean-dwelling species as well as freshwater species. Asurprising find in such a remote area and a popular day for the kids:
Okk Paan Saa, (literally Out of Lent) is accompanied by a large festival which lasts from the 24th to the 28th of October 2015, just before till just after the full moon and accumulates in the magical appearing of the mysterious Naga Fire Balls. The week contains street festivals, lanterns, special food as well as a dragon boat racing.
Just across the border from Nong Khai is Vientiane, capital of Laos. Compared to the hectic, bustling capitals in other Southeast Asian countries, Vientiane's relaxing atmosphere makes it feel like the small town it is. After you've done the round of temples, the best thing to do here has always been to wander down to the riverside, relax with a cold Beerlao, the Lao national beer, and watch the sun set on the Mekong.