Chiang Khan for me is the perfect weekend destination in Isaan, found in the rather scenic Loei Province, which is relatively untouched by western influences and mass tourism. As it is a fair stretch from most major tourist destinations (e.g. 8-9 hours from Bangkok or Chiang Mai). But Chiang Khan’s remote location works to its advantage, as the town still feels relatively hidden on the banks of the Mekong River, and is full of local Thai charm. However, there are also many Lao influences found in Chiang Khan, given its proximity to Laos, and the town is often compared to the old Lao capital of Luang Prabang. And not so different to Luang Prabang, one of the main attractions in Chiang Khan is the morning procession of monks, where their daily alms collection takes place takes place on what is known as Chiang Khan’s walking street, as many temples line this riverside street. This would also be the same setting for pretty much all tourist attractions in Chiang Khan.
The Walking Street (Chai Khong Road)
The main tourist area and attractions in Chiang Khan are found on Chai Khong Road, better known as Walking Street, which runs parallel to the Mekong River, and is just ridiculously close-knit and convenient to navigate. So, along with a number of smaller streets leading to it, is where you will find all the rustic inns and accommodation, many decorated with old teak interiors. And it’s all just very neat and charmful (hotel list here). And while it is called Walking Street, there may be vehicles on this road at times during the day. Between the almsgiving in the morning, and the early evening closure for the night market.
The Morning Monks Offering
Much of the charm in Chiang Khan comes with the morning alms offering (Tak Baht/Bintabaht) when a procession of monks walk the length of Chiang Khan’s walking street (between 06:00 AM and 08:00 AM) where locals and tourists wait with offerings for the surrounding temples. These offerings are typically things like rice, snacks, incense and flowers, and tourists can easily join by buying these simple sets of offerings from small shops and vendors which set-up along the same length of the walking street.
Chiang Khan Night Market
Again, found along the same stretch of walking street, the roads will fully close in the evening (from around 05:00PM) as vendors and shop house shops open their doors to mainly the local tourists staying in Chiang Khan. As it is a relatively busy destination (for Isaan) with domestic tourists, so the shops and interests are more geared towards a local crowd. Lots of street food will also be dotted between, where some of the better found local snacks include “Moo Yor” steamed Pork and Khao Jee grilled sticky rice. Many small shophouse restaurants also open and many connect right through to the riverside promenade which runs parallel to walking street.
The Mekong Riverside Promenade
So a rather well-kept riverside promenade runs parallel to Chiang Khan’s walking street, as well as the Mekhong River, with occasional balconies and viewpoints facing out towards Laos on the opposite side. And, again, it’s just a really relaxed and charming stretch to explore, where, in mornings and evenings, it will be busy with walkers, cyclists and tourists watching over the sunrise/sunsets. In the evening it is also a popular spot for restaurants and it also has an amiable and relaxed bar scene with domestic, local Thai tourists, rather than the usual generic backpacker crowds found in more popular destinations. And it is more of a laid-back local vibe.
Surrounding in Loei Province
Later I will share a full post on Loei, although the province can be tricky to explore without having personal transport (we arrived to Chiang Khan on a road trip). So my favourite spot would have to be Phu Pa Por Mountains, where the scenic landscapes are often compared to similar iconic Asian tourist destinations, like “Thailand’s Kunming” and “Mount Fuji 2”. Similar to Chiang Khan being compared to Luang Prabang. Huai Krathing Reservoir is also worth a mention with its mountainous and scenery, and lake boat cruises which host eating and dinners on the reservoir until 17:30 PM daily.