The Lai Reua Fai festival at Nakhon Phanom is spread over the final week of Buddhist Lent in October (varies based on lunar calendar) each year. Bamboo scaffolds are constructed on pontoons and wire frames of elaborate religious designs are fastened to the scaffolds and thousands of candles added to the wire frames which are then lit and the boats slowly floated down the Mekong. The boats are released as thousands of small candles, floated from upstream, reach the launching point on the Nakhon Phanom riverfront. Spectacular!!
There is now just the 1 bus a day between Nong Khai and Nakhon Phanom. The ancient, but well maintained bus, covers the 320 km trip along the Mekong River in around 7 hours. It is air conditioned with good leg room and represents great entertainment at 200 baht for the experience, transportation thrown in.
Nong Khai has a lot to offer including; ease of access from Bangkok or other regional centres, a laid back feel, some great local foods, colourful markets, stunning river views and its easy to find a suitable bicycle to make use of the 8 Km stretch of riverfront bike paths.
Riverside dinning in Chiang Khan can be had for reasonable prices as can accommodation that’s a short walk from the Mekong river.
I just love the temptations offered by the street food of Thailand. For those who would prefer AC or a more comfortable way to eat the same or similar food, there are the countless ‘Food Courts’ that offer great food and very reasonable prices.