Famous for its horse drawn carriages and Temples, Nakhon Lampang is the third largest city in northern Thailand but with a population of less than 63,000 it has a similar charm to other small cities not yet tainted by tourism in Thailand’s north. It’s bus station, train station and airport are all located less than 4 km from the city centre, which speaks not only its accessibility but also to the compact size of this charming city.
The short boat ride to Wat Tilok Aram on Phayao Lake was probably the best value and most enjoyable trip I’ve ever done in my 40+ trips to Thailand over 30 years. The boat ride was just the right length, the Temple area quiet enough and interesting enough and the focus on safety very reassuring.
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.