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Nong Khai

Nong Khai is a border town on the bank of the Mekong River. This province is a gateway to Vientiane, the capital of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR.), and a friendship bridge links the two countries. It is also the site of the famous Naga Fireballs.

The history of modern Nong Khai dates back over 200 years. Initially however, this riverside area was spotted with small towns and traces of ancient places have been found in temples along the Mekong River. During the reign of King Rama III of the Rattanakosin era, Chao Anuwong, the ruler of Vientiane, staged a rebellion. King Rama III appointed Chao Phraya Ratchathewi to lead an army to attack Vientiane. The army won with the support of forces led by Thao Suwothanma (Bunma), ruler of Yasothon, and Phraya Chiangsa. The king consequently promoted Thao Suwo to be ruler of a large town to be established on the right bank of the Mekong River. The location of Ban Phai was chosen for the town called Nong Khai, which was named after a large pond that lies just to its west. Nong Khai province contains the longest stretch of the Mekong River: 320 km. The area is suitable for agriculture and freshwater fishery. It is also a major tourist destination and the major launching point for journeys into Laos or exploring greater Isan (northeastern Thailand). Nong Khai features temples, traditional culture, a beautiful countryside, and a rural folk lifestyle, the most lively event of which centers on the Bung Fi Phaya Nak, the naga fireballs: an annual event whereby mysterious glowing balls of light rise up out of the river, believed to be sent by the naga king in honor of the lord Buddha.

Nong Khai is a border town on the bank of the Mekong River opposite the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR.). A friendship bridge links the two countries and Nong Khai is a popular stop for travelers headed to Vientiane and greater Laos. Nong Khai has a charming capital city and the province features a number of beautiful natural attractions and a fascinating culture. Mud Mee, a special style of silk that is popular with the Thai royal family, is produced in Nong Khai and the naga fireballs, a mysterious annual event, takes place in the Mekong River not far from town.

Key Tips
  • The naga fireball phenomenon occurs most often on Wan Awk Pansa, the full moon night of the 11th month of the lunar year that signifies the end of Buddhist rain retreat, usually in October.
  • Hotel rooms fill quickly before the Naga Fireballs; book a room in advance!
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