Although I’m not living in Thailand anymore, I still have many places and memories in my heart, one of them being Khon Kaen which I first stayed at when I got to Thailand. I’ve put together a small list of things to do, if you’re ever heading that way!
Khon Kaen is also known as the land of dinosaurs or ‘the big four’ of Isan’s major cities in North-East Thailand. It’s a super chilled glimpse of Thailand before you introduce yourself to Bangkok, 4 hours away. Sorry, there are no beaches, but it’s worth the experience! I also ticked another item off my bucket list…
Stay at the Rachawadee Resort Hotel
This beautiful resort is right down the road from Khon Kaen Airport and is a relaxing, peaceful place to stay with affordable rates. The food is really good too but they don’t have a western menu.
Get a traditional massage
…no happy endings here, though. The first thing I needed after a 14 hour long flight was a massage and the perfect spot was around the corner from where I stayed at the Kosa Hotel, right opposite the Pullman Hotel (best hotel in Khon Kaen). Of course, the hotels offer massages but at a price. You can get really affordable massages just about anywhere in Khon Kaen!
Rent a scooter to see the city
You can rent scooters for the day if you are brave enough to drive at about 200 baht per day*. Ask a few rental places and negotiate before you say yes to anything over 400 baht per day for a scooter.
This way of traveling can be less expensive and you have your own time to check Khon Kaen out!
Teaching kids in Thailand has shown me how obsessed they are with dinosaurs and for a good reason. Khon Kaen is known to once have dinosaurs roaming around way back when so they have a pretty cool Dinosaur Museum. They have collected fossils from various areas in Khon Kaen. Any Jurassic Park fans out there?
Eat pizza at Vacca and Local Restaurants
Of course, this Sicilian was craving a pizza and refused to leave Khon Kaen without finding the best pizza restaurants!
If you are looking for delicious, authentic and heart-warming Italian comfort cuisine, I would highly recommend Vacca situated right outside of Khon Kaen Airport. Chef Fabio being the mastermind behind some of the dishes. Definitely a must-have in KK!
For more Italian yumminess, try out Pomodoro in Na Muaeng, city centre of Khon Kaen! They are a bit more affordable than Vacca, and dare I say, even more delicious! The owners are from Italy and they have the most welcoming dog, Paco.
Around the corner, is a Dutch owned restaurant in Na Muaeng Road 25 who makes the most amazing breakfasts! Just when you craving something like a traditional South African ‘Farmhouse Brekkie’ or a ‘Fry-Up’, this restaurant came to the rescue one bleak morning. There are so many foreigners who have been living here for many years, they sit and talk over each-other, and talking to the locals can let you see places that you would’ve probably never seen. Like, Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon Temple, which I mention further down. 🙂
Along Na Muaeng 25 are a few spots where you can drink and eat, and is always more entertaining and lively at night. There is an Australian bar and Blue’s Bar down the road from the Pullman Hotel, which has pretty good food, music, pool tables and a lot of foreigners with their thai ‘friends’. Haha, the things you read…
Visit Chao Por Lak Muang Shrine (city centre)
I visited this temple during the Chinese New Year (Feb/Mar), and it was awesome to experience the Buddhist culture when it comes to New Year traditions. The temple was brightly lit in all colours, the vendors selling many lucky charms and offerings, the colourful incense burning all night…I spent some time just taking it all in. This time of the year they also have an International Movie Festival as an open-air theatre.
Shopping, markets and malls
No matter where you are in Thailand, you can shop anywhere, anytime. There is the common Central Plaza Mall where you can find local and international foods and shops. Opposite the Kosa Hotel, there’s a smaller mall where you can find Starbucks and a really wide selection of active wear.
Here are the various markets in Khon Kaen which are must-sees:
- Walking Street Market – Saturdays 5:30pm-10:30pm
- Midnight Market
- TonTann Green Market
- Pratunam Wholesale Market
Climb to the 9th floor at the famous Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon Temple
I saved my favorite for last…this is one for the bucket list, or how I like to call it ‘eff-it’ list! It’s one of the BEST temples I’ve been to in Thailand!
‘The Great Buddha’s Relics’ or ‘The Nine Story Stupa Located in Wat Nong Waeng,‘ is a Thai royal temple of the old town situated near the Khon Kaen Lake.
I spent a day here, in awe! Climb the stairs to get to the top of the temple and enjoy each level as it gets smaller and smaller. Not for the claustrophobic! It acts as a museum as well, there’s so much history in there and original pieces!
I just happened to be there at the right time, when the royal parade commenced. I got to see one of the prince’s and princess’ of the royal family as they were transported around the temple a few times. The atmosphere was unbelievable and full of happy cheers and well wishes for the year ahead.
The view from the top of the temple (9th floor) is breath-taking and if it’s the only thing you do in Khon Kaen, do it!
For a list of other sights and museums in KK, please click here.
Until next time Khon Kaen, Sawa dee Ka
*Convert to your currency here. Prices are subject to change.