When we think of the most famous cities in Thailand, we always gravitate towards places such as Bangkok, Pattaya and even Chiang. However, did you know that one of the largest and most exciting cities in Thailand is Khon Kaen? The city is located in the northeastern regions of Thailand. It’s important to remember that Khon Kaen is also a province as well as a city so it’s sometimes referred to in a larger sense.
Did you know that Khon Kaen is major hub for transport, commerce and entertainment in the Isaan region of Thailand? In short, there are lots of things to see, do and explore in the city. Although there are not so many Western tourists in the city, that is one of its most charming factors.
About Khon Kaen
Khon Kaen is located in the northeast of Thailand in the Isaan region and has a population of approximately 200,000 to 400,000. This makes it one of Thailand’s largest cities. At 200 years old, Khon Kaen is also one of the fastest-growing cities and areas in Thailand and is generally a relatively new town.
The Metropolis has strong ties with nearby countries of Laos and Vietnam and is a vast export area for Indo-China routes. The city is also home to large educational establishments such as Khon Kaen University.
The City’s History
Although the town is rather new, artifacts and the remnants of massive dinosaurs show the region has been inhabited for eons. One of the region’s main industries is its silk trade and special tie-dye techniques. With lots of National Parks, entertainment areas, a wide range of eateries and even an international airport, the city of Khon Kaen is a very intriguing place for foreign visitors.
What to see and do in Khon Kaen?
As with any major city, there are lots of things to see and do in Khon Kaen. From entertainment and culture to nightlife and nature. Khon Kaen has everything you can imagine. When you are traveling to the city and want to explore some of its more popular attractions, here is a list of recommendations.
Bung (Lake) Kaen Nakhon
If you want to see the best elements of Khon Kaen, Bung Kaen Nakhon lake and park is just the ticket. The lake is set over a massive 603 rai and is located in the southeast of the city. Next to the lake, you will find a nice monument and a shady park area where you can relax.
City Pillar Shrine
If you want to see one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the City Pillar Shrine is an interesting choice. Located on Thepharak Raod, the pillar was placed here by a former monk and city governor as a Buddhist rite.
Khon Kaen National Museum
Khon Kaen National Museum is home to a wide variety of antiques and artworks from stone-age times. The museum offers an interesting insight into the past of the region. It’s open daily from 9am to 4pm and is just 30 THB to enter.
Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon (The 9-story stupa)
The mesmerizing 9-story stupa temple is located at Wat Waengon on Klang Mueang Road and is a royal temple of some reverences. With 9 stunning floors equipped with immense Buddhist sculptures and carvings, this is one of the most beautiful places of worship in the city.
Sim Isan (Wat Pa Saeng Arun)
Another famous temple in the city is Sim Isan (Wat Pa Saeng Arun), which is located just 3km from the city hall. This is one of the most peaceful and dreamy temples in the region.
Treasure Hall Museum
If you want to learn more about the ancient culture of the region that dates back 5,000 years, visit the Treasure Hill Museum. The museum is open daily from 9am to 5pm (not on bank holidays) and is a very educational experience. Then admission to the museum is only 90 THB per person, which is super value.
Shopping in Khon Kaen
Because Khon Kaen is a relatively modern city by all accounts, you can find some top-notch modern shopping options. The city is home to a myriad of shopping centers such as Big-C, Tesco Lotus, Central Plaza, Mackro, Tukcom, Robinsons and many more. Are you are looking for rustic shopping options? We would recommend the night markets that Khon Kaen University and Glang Muang Road.
Khon Kaen Dining and Nightlife
There are lots of dining and nightlife options available in a city the size of Khon Kaen. Are you are looking for top-notch international food options? We would recommend Duan’s Restaurant, Keng Kokoon and the Italian and pizza delights of Pomodoro Italian Restaurant.
Getting Around Khon Kaen
Because the layout of Khon Kaen City is similar to and grid system, finding your way around the city is not difficult. There are 3 main Songthaew routes that continually offer the cheapest mode of transportation in the city. The routes are as follows:
Songthaew 2: Central Plaza-town
Songthaew 3: Big C-Central Plaza-town
Songthaew 8: KK University-town-Fairy Plaza
Are you are looking to explore Khon Kaen by tuk-tuk? The prices for trips within the city usually range between 40 and 50 THB per trip. Taxi prices are usually more than tuk-tuk prices. So make sure you get a taxi with its meter on so you can get the best prices.
Explore the City by Bicycle
You can rent bicycles in the city for 40 to 50 THB per day. But because the streets are quite busy, this is not really a mode of transport we would recommend in the city itself. Circumnavigating the surrounding countryside on a bicycle is a great option.
Khon Kaen might be one of the most isolated city’s in Thailand in terms of its location in the northeast. It’s definitely a modern city that has more than meets the eye. When you are traveling through northern Thailand on your way to Laos or Vietnam, visiting Khon Kaen is an absolute must.
Are you are an avid traveler who wants to get away from Thailand’s major cities to find somewhere off the beaten path? If so, nothing can match Khon Kaen.
Khon Kaen City
Location: Northeastern Thailand in Isaan
GPS Location: 16.434963, 102.825927