Jun 18, 2020
A First-Timer in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand
Location : Chiang Khan (district), Loei (province), Thailand
Chiang Khan History
Chiang Khan was only founded in the latter part of the 19th century when Lao people crossed the Mekong to flee from the French who were colonizing Laos. The Vietnamese and Chinese soon followed. The town became a trading hub due to its river location. People crossed the river into Chiang Khan to trade. This was the heyday of Chiang Khan. It enjoyed a bigger population and the main drag even had 3 cinemas (now, there are none and you have to go to Loei for the movies).Cultures, languages and tradition fused into what is now referred to as the Isaan - northeastern Thailand culture. When the communists took over Laos in 1975, the border was closed and Chiang Khan languished as an economic hub and rescinded into obscurity for decades. It only found resurgence at the start of the millennium. Its popularity increased in the last 2 years when it was the backdrop of a popular tv drama series. Now, local Thais visit during the weekends and spend a usual 2 nights. Chiang Khan is still unknown to most foreign travelers - it almost feels like a local secret.
Chill Pill Hostel
The cheapest I could find in Agoda was Chill Pill Hostel. I corresponded on Messenger with the owner - about transport, ETA, etc. She was responsive with good English. It was another good omen. Meeting her was lovely. She was friendly, helpful, down-to-earth, and accommodating. I would highly recommend this place.
The place just opened-up when the pandemic lockdown struck, so they had to close almost after opening. They've only opened the last 3 days and wifi wasn't even re-installed yet (now, it is). It's a comfortable place that is clean and well-maintained by the hands-on owner. A big room is partitioned into dividers that serve as individual rooms/beds. Budget room is B200 for an on-the-floor futon bed. That's what I got. Fruits and biscuits are free. There is a working/chill-out area on the ground floor. The ceiling is high - maybe 25 feet.
The Barter Deal
Luckily, after proposing an advertising package with the owner, she agreed to a barter deal that secured my stay for 7 days at a deep discount - which gave me financial leverage to stay longer. With 7 days to move around, I was in no rush to leave the Chiang Khan. This gave me ample time to roam around town and write about its charm and secrets.
Traditional Timber Shophouses
Wooden houses made from teak wood are the tradition in Chiang Khan. However, with increasing tourism by local Thais, most wooden hotels/houses especially along the promenade and walking street have stained and lacquered their wooden paneling for that manicured look and consistent ambience.
Chiang Khan is not to be outdone with its culinary offerings. The main staple are Isaan dishes. Because Isaan is a melting pot amongst the Vietnamese, Lao, and Chinese, the culinary culture is a unique fusion. Some dishes are uniquely Chiang Khan - like grilled river shrimps skewered on a bamboo stick, or the ta-phu-nam-chao, a breakfast tradition where you choose the meat and vegetables on a noodle soup. Even traditional Thai food like Pad Thai have that Isaan flavor to it.
Chiang Khan reminds me of what Pai (Mae Hong Son) was like before tourism altered its way of life. With its laid-back lifestyle, the placid Mekong River, popular bicycle commute about town, its surrounding lush greenery, Chiang Khan is a throw-back into a time when the world was more innocent and trusting. Yes, nobody locks their bicycles in Chiang Khan. This says a lot about the place and its people.
Already, my first few days in Chiang Khan already validated my move here by way of abundance (the hostel deal), the vibrant energy and the possibility of exploration. It's good to be back in my elements.
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
Leave a comment?
Chiang Khan Travel Information / Tips
About Chiang Khan
This single statement tells you a lot Chiang Khan: NOBODY LOCKS THEIR BICYCLES!!! Yes, it is a very safe place. Many foreigners don't even know this place exists, but it is popular to local Thai tourists (and Koreans, I was told). The main draw of Chiang Khan is the kilometer-long walking street and the promenade along the scenic Mekong River. The street is lined-up with hotels, boutiques, vendors, restaurants, cafes and souvenir shops. The promenade is particularly charming to stroll about in time for the sunset.
Direct Bus from Nong Khai to Chiang Khan along the Mekong River
Before, there was no direct travel route. You either:
- take a bus to Udon Thani, another bus to Loei, and another bus to Chiang Khan
- or take the slow, dilapidated, and uncomfortable green bus along the winding Mekong route, get off at Pak Chom, take another bus towards Loei but get off at Ban That (village), and then take another bus to Chiang Khan. No wonder people don't go to Chiang Khan from Nong Khai!
As of June 18, 2020 (the trip I took), when things were beginning to normalize from the COVID pandemic, there seems to be a few changes.
- the 3 trips/day by the green bus (7:30am, 11:00am and 3:00pm) have been reduced to 1 trip at 12 noon
- BEST, the bus goes all the way to Chiang Khan. You don't have to get off at Pak Chom.
- Trip Details from the Nong Khai bus terminal
departure time: 12 noon (only one trip)
duration: 5 hours
Nong Khai (left 12 noon)
Tha Bo (arrived 12:55 pm)
Si Chiang Mai (arrived 1:25 pm)
Sangkhom (arrived 2:35 pm)
Pak Chom (arrived 4:05 pm)
Chiang Khan (arrived 5:05 pm)
Chiang Khan Attractions
- Walking Steet - animated street line with shops, hotels, restos, bars, cafe and buskers
- Promenade - planked walkway extending for kilometers with the Mekong River on one side and fancy hotels and restaurants on the other side
- Phu Thok view point - 7.5 kilometers from the town center towards the mountain, it reaches 480 meters and offers stunning view of the sunrise and mountain tops piercing through the low-lying clouds
- Kaeng Khut Khu - 5.5kms downstream on the Mekong from town center, the manicured park has life-like statues of masked characters celebrated during their Phi Ta Khon Ghost Festival. It also has a 2-storie statue of the Jueng Khueng Dangdaeng, a Laos giant hunter who, as legend would have it, became part of the rocks sprinkled on the Mekong between Laos and Thailand
Chiang Khan to Loei by BusAt the Loei Bus Terminal (see map), there are numerous daily trips to Loei (en route to Nakhon Ratchasima): 6:30 am, xxxx am, . xxx hours, B38.
Chiang Khan Blogs by TheLoneRider
- Alms-Round (Sai Bat) with the Buddhist Monks of Chiang Khan Jun 21, 2020
- The Rapids of Kaeng Khut Khu, Chiang Khan Jun 20, 2020
- Ascending Phu Thok Hill Viewpoint Jun 20, 2020
- Chiang Khan Promenade by the Mekong River Jun 19, 2020
- Rummaging Through the Walking Street of Chiang Khan, Loei Jun 19, 2020
- A First-Timer in Chiang Khan, Loei, Thailand Jun 18, 2020
- Nong Khai - Chiang Khan Roadtrip June 18, 2020
Travel Tips for Thailand
How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days
- Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
b) flight booking to Thailand
c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
d) filled-in tourist visa form
e) 2 passport pictures
f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
g) passport with at least 6 months validity
- After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
- NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.
60-Day Thai Tourist Visa
NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.
- bring the following to the Immigration Office:
a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
b) Baht 1900
c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
- submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
- when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
- when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
- when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.
Book Train Tickets in Thailand Online by Train36.com
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
»» next Traveling story: Rummaging Through the Walking Street of Chiang Khan, Loei
»» back to Traveling
»» back to Homepage
1970 | 1981 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | ALL BLOGS