If you’re the type of tourist who likes to visit places in Thailand that have a touch of authenticity and culture then Chiang Khan on the banks of the Mekong River in Loei Province is as near to Shangri-La as one might find. It’s not a mythical place, but its cute, archaic and curious old-world look, with an almost-can-touch-it riverside view overlooking Laos is a best kept secret with a sniff of earthly paradise about it.
Chiang Khan has a beautiful, scenic setting – its main street, Chai Khong Road, is one long row of teak wood structured guesthouses, cafés and gift shops, but this culture-kissed, teak-coated town’s popularity has already spread from its pioneer hi-so Bangkonian visitors to outward-looking urban Thais and beyond – beyond is a concern.
The riverside town has seen a small hike in visiting western and Asian tourists over the past few years and one must hope the sun never casts a dark shadow over the local postman ferrying a highly polished teak wood go-go pole through its main street – be quick, and the biggest pimple you’ll see in the town today are the ‘I Love Chiang Khan’ t-shirts and coffee mugs – wait too long, and you won’t see the wood through the Japanese, Russian and Cantonese tourists.
Chiang Khan, Loei Province Thailand
Chiang Khan was formerly a river trading post and the waterfront view overlooking Laos is a sight to soothe the sorest eyes. The riverside promenade has a seaside sensation to it and the traffic on the water is low-key and seventh heaven speed.
Many of the guesthouses and home stays are visibly adorable and their wrap of flowers, plants and ornaments have probably cricked many necks. A camera is a must-have-app in Chiang Khan.
Chai Khong Road has a few larger hotels and this one, the Wongsaisiri Srichiangkhan Hotel, like so many others, fuses its dark teak colour with bright flowers to draw camera lenses and customers to it. The hotel has standard rooms for around 900 baht a night – breakfast is extra. To browse or book a hotel in Chiang Khan click on the link here: Chiang Khan hotels.
The main tourist road can become very busy with cars, motorbikes, bicycles and sightseers all bumping heads for their piece of the street. On weekends and during Thai holiday periods (there’s plenty of them) it’s busy with a swarm of grass root and hi-shoot Thais bustling about.
Chiang Khan is thus far untouched by the bawdiness and sleaze which sooner or later hook on to most popular Thai tourist destinations. Bright coloured, wafer thin t-shirts are as off-colour as Chiang Khan gets and the charming town hasn’t yet got a thirst for a Pattaya style quick-fix DIY. Western tourists are few in numbers – backpackers being the larger chunk of them.
The town and its main tourist path has a bit, and in places, a lot of everything – hotels, guesthouses, foot massage shops, cafés, restaurants, coffee shops, souvenir shops and oodles of Thai noodles.
Chiang Khan is great destination if your urge is to relax and breathe new life into your mind and body, or simply covet a bite of Thailand’s home-baked pie. The town also has the benefit of being relatively pigeon-holed by most western tourists – be that by ignorance or choice – and that makes it a wonderful vacation nest.
How to get to Chiang Khan
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© 2014, Martyn. All rights reserved.