Sang Khom in Udon Thani Province is a typical small Thai rural town. It’s not to be confused with Sang Khom in Nong Khai Province – the latter nestles on the banks of the Mekong River with a splash of tourist appeal. Udon Thani’s Sang Khom sits among rice fields and is a rustic cornball kind of place.
I once described Sang Khom as a one horse town. That was unkind. Sang Khom is backwoods, boonie turf with low-key, laid back attitude. It’s also the nearest town to my base when I’m in Thailand and a place I’ve grown to like.
Sang Khom, Udon Thani Province
Sang Khom is 65 kilometres from Udon Thani and lies roughly in the middle of two larger towns, Amphoe Phen and Ban Dung. Nong Khai is about 55 kilometres from the town and Phon Phisai a 30 minute car ride away.
Day-to-day life in Sang Khom, Udon Thani
You’ll not come across many towns in Thailand that haven’t got a 7 -Eleven store. Sang Khom is one. It deserves one, there’s enough people about. The company which operates 7 -Eleven franchises in Thailand may reason a farmer’s sticky rice diet and meagre budget doesn’t accommodate hot dogs, burgers and slurpees. I’ll admit I’ve never seen a rice worker chewing a burrito but convenience stores are geared toward young mothers, teenagers and most adults under 60. There’s plenty of those about in Sang Khom. Just ask Tesco Lotus.
Last year Tesco Lotus opened an express store in Sang Khom. Business is good. The store ticks along nicely and most of the locals seem to view it as a beneficial addition to the town. Market diehards may never see it that way, but for every old-timer there’s a new kid about.
Sang Khom has a market in the centre of town. The market is a daily affair. In the main it sells fruit, vegetable, meat and fish. Nothing too grand, but nonetheless, the market is the hub of Sang Khom day-to-day life. That only changes on Thailand’s two big Buddha days each month when a larger market springs up just down the road. A short walk from Tesco Lotus.
The Buddhist Day market attracts people from all over Sang Khom District. Samlors (a kind of tuk tuk) continuously ferry people to and fro. The market has enough clothing, CD’s, bric-à-brac, crockery and Uri Geller style cutlery to fill a fleet of junk boats. The market is popular and worth a wide-eyed peek for an hour or two.
The town has a good-size post office, hospital, large secondary school, two banks, three temples and four score and more Thai townhouse shops. There’s also an internet café and two pharmacies next to the day market.
Entertainment in Sang Khom, Udon Thani
Entertainment in Sang Khom skates on wafer thin ice. There are no Western or Thai bars. No hotel either. A couple of Thai suki open air restaurants operate in town but mosquito repellent is a must if you eat there. There is however one modest restaurant worth visiting.
Tantanoot (Tan-ta-noot) is a karaoke/restaurant on the outskirts of Sang Khom and the food there is honest enough. Some of it good. The singing maybe not. The food is large-scale Thai and the prices won’t crease let alone dent your budget. The restaurant does have three small bungalows for rent with daily fees around the 400 baht mark.
Most years between Christmas and New Year a travelling fair comes to Sang Khom. Fairground rides (at your own risk), side stall games (air rifle shooting, darts, hoops etc) and lots of food vendors create a mix of fun and colour. There’s also live music and keenly contested traditional Thai Dancing competitions in the afternoon and evening. The fun fair is usually a two-day event.
If you are visiting Sang Khom and have a weakness for western style entertainment then transport is a must. Ban Dung has a handful of good western bars and restaurants. Nong Khai a lot more.
Tha Sadet Indo-China market (pictured above) in Nong Khai is worth exploring as is the city itself. Kamchanod Temple and Forest Reserve in Wang Thong District near Ban Dung, the putative entrance to the underground world of the mythical Phaya Nāga merits eyeball time as well. Phon Phisai has a twice-weekly (Tuesday and Saturday) day market next to the Mekong River and in October the town hosts its annual Nāga Festival. That’s a massive event and attracts thousands of visitors each year. Ban Chiang archaeological site (listed by UNESCO world heritage), is a long-winded 60 kilometres away and will appeal to some. Those apart, there’s little else about.
Sang Khom District does attract the occasional western visitor and I hope this post lays out some good information to help make their stay in the area a little easier and more enjoyable. Just don’t eat the horse.
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© 2014, Martyn. All rights reserved.