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Khon Kaen is the Capital City of the Province of this name in Isaan in Thailand.
Historically, Khon Kaen is quite a new town, established a little over two centuries ago during the reign of King Rama I. But prehistorically, this town on the plateau has involved various natural phenomena and cultures.
Thai Airways flies from Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok to Khon Kaen and back again five times a day. Nok Air flies three daily flights from Bangkok Donmueang Airport. Air Asia flies from Don Muang, Bangkok to Khon Kaen and back again two times a day.
Kan Air flies to Khon Kaen from Chiang Mai two times a week, on Tuesday and Thursdays evenings. After refueling, the plane heads right back to Chiang Mai.
Khon Kaen airport is a friendly little thai airport.
Getting from the aiport to the city:
You can take the metered taxi at the airport and pay the 50 baht airport surcharge, or be lucky and start walking and have a friendly local pick you up and take you downtown in the back of his pickup truck.
State Railway of Thailand
Buses to/from Bangkok's Northern (Mo Chit) Bus Terminal depart every 15 minutes from early until late.
For quicker service, avoid the touts at Mo Chit, and ask for Chan Tour. This company provides only VIP buses, which have very large seats and a bathroom.
It's easy to get to Khon Kaen by car. Just follow the four lane Hwy 2.
Numbered songthaews charge 9 baht/person/trip (pay when you get out). Just wave your hand and the songthaew will stop to let you get on; ring the bell and it will stop again to let you get off. There are at least 10 routes plying Khon Kaen. Signs are in Thai only.
Ordinary Bus Station (BKS or Baw Kaw Saw in Thai) is the nexus for all songthaew routes.
2 Central Plaza - Town
3 Big C - Central Plaza - Town
8 KK University - Town - Fairy Plaza
By Tuk Tuk
If you need to take a tuk-tuk the driver will normally quote 40-50 baht for trips within the city.
Taxis (similar to those in Bangkok) are available too.
What to see
Art and Cultural Centre. Located on the compound of Khon Kaen University, the Issan barn-style building interprets local arts and culture. The centre can be accessed via Si Than Gate.
Bueng Kaen Nakhon. A lake occupying an area of 603 rai. By the lake is a monument to Chao Phia Mueang Phaen, founder of Khon Kaen. The shady park around the lake dotted with sculptures always attracts people at leisure.
City Pillar Shrine. The sacred shrine is located in front of Sala Suk Chai, on Thepharak Rd on the compound of the Khon Kaen Municipality Office. A famous monk and former governor of Khon Kaen placed a stone inscription from an ancient site in Amphoe Chum Phae here for a Buddhist rite and set up the city pillar shrine.
Khon Kaen National Museum. Located on Lang Sun Ratchakan Rd, the museum exhibits antiques and precious art pieces from pre-historical to historical periods as well as a skeleton of the New Stone Age man and tools found at Ban Chiang.
Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon or The 9-storey stupa. Located in Wat Nong Waeng, a royal temple on Klang Mueang Rd, the Phra Mahathat houses relics of the Lord Buddha and important Buddhist scriptures. Doors and windows of the 9 storeys of the stupa are beautifully carved, featuring the life and former reincarnations of the Lord Buddha, 16 classes of visible deities in the Brahma’s world, and Buddhist rites. Murals within the stupa feature the history of the town. The top floor, the 9th storey, houses relics of the Lord Buddha. Visitors can view the panorama of the town from there.
Sim Isan (Wat Pa Saeng Arun), Sim Isan – a term for northeastern ordination hall or Ubosot, is situated within Wat Pa Saeng Arun, Tambon Phra Lap, Amphoe Mueang, approximately 3 km from Khon Kaen City Hall on the Khon Kaen–Kalasin route. The Sim Isan’s outstanding features are its typical shape and style and solidity, as well as the beauty of its murals of Mudmi patterns of the region’s famous tie-dyed silk.
Treasure Hall. Established to strengthen local identity and serve as a study centre, the local museum exhibits the history of the city. The exhibits include Khon Kaen town history, historical culture dating back over 5,000 years, and the Khon Kaen lifestyle historically and at present.
What to do
Every night at the City Pillar Shrine, free movies are shown on large screens outside at around 20:00. Most, however, are dubbed in Thai.
Take a day trip (or stay overnight) to Phu Kradung, around halfway between Khon Kaen and Loei. Popular with young Thais, the mountain is a pleasant climb with cliff views and waterfalls (depending on the time of year) on the plateau. Camp or stay in a lodge overnight if you don't want to do it in one day. See Loei for more information.
Isan Explorer. This local tour company has day and overnight trips in and around Khon Kaen. They follow a slow travel approach and include stops at villages, temples, and markets on all tours to allow people to truly experience the local culture.
Dino Water Park. More rides are being built but currently there are around 7 rides, plus a wave pool/beach and lazy river. Good for adults too, the rocket drop is no joke!
Khon Kaen is famous for its silk.
Across the road from the Roma Hotel in downtown, there is a cheap breakfast restaurant. A lady pulls up in a car and unloads her Thai silk wares on the footpath. Prices are excellent, and can be bargained down if you buy in quantity. Initial price for one item was 500 baht; four items were 1,500 baht total.
There is a food market in the centre of the town.
There are various night markets, which also are good places to try out many different kinds of food: a "young and hip" market at Khon Kaen University behind the complex where students sell many of the goods; a popular one on Glang Muang Rd; and one that sometimes doubles as a carnival, at Bueng Kaen Nakhon.