This laid-back town has a charm all of its own and is the most popular tourist destination in the North East. This is partly because Nong Khai nestles on the banks of the Mekong River with Laos clearly in view on the opposite bank, so is a popular setting off point for 'visa runners' and other tourists going onwards to Vientiane, just 25km away over the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. But Nong Khai is also a well-loved tourist spot in its own right. Indeed, many travellers arrive in Nong Khai intending it as an overnight stop but end up staying there for days, weeks and even longer. With its riverside scenery, an abundance of affordable accommodation, and a diverse mix of Asian and western food, many find it an ideal place to while away a few days.
If you’re going to be crossing to or from Laos here it really is worth a stop, unless you are just pushed for time.
Most places in the central area are within walking distance. You can stroll along the riverside (Rimkhong Road), visit the Sadej Market, the picturesque Friendship Bridge and some picturesque riverside scenery. Wat Pho Chai is a really beautiful temple to visit. There’s a wonderful assortment of restaurants, cafes, bakeries, etc. serving Thai, Isaan, Chinese, Vietnamese and western food. You can also find a few sleepy western style bars for some relaxing sundowners. Out of town, there are waterfalls, caves, forest temples and an awesome sculpture park well worth a visit; as well as rolling mountains, vast fields of tobacco, with papaya and water lilies stretching down to the river's edge.
Nong Khai city, capital of Nong Khai province and is Isaan's most northerly town. Culturally, Nong Khai and Laos share similar cuisines, dialects and religious beliefs. In the late 1970's, at the end of the Vietnam War, many Laotians and Vietnamese fled to Nong Khai, hence the superb variety of cuisine available.