8 Things to Do in Khon Kaen, Thailand
They say if you haven’t experienced Isaan, you haven’t experienced Thailand. If you are planning a trip, or even just passing through, you will find there are very few “tourist” attractions in this part of the country. While that may be the draw for many, others might have a hard time filling up their itinerary. Prior to moving to Khon Kaen, we did our own research trying to find out what there actually is to do there and came up empty handed. After living there for 3+ months and making our own discoveries, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite activities in Khon Kaen.
1. Khon Kaen Football Game
If you are ever in town during a home game, pay the 100 THB admission and join the locals cheering on the Khon Kaen T-Rexes. Watching the crowd cheer on their home team is entertainment in itself. Food, beer and football…what more do we need to say? Read about our experience here or check the schedule.
2. Horse Races
If you are in town over the weekend, plan to spend your Sunday at the Horse Races. (Almost) every Sunday, the horses start racing around noon. Get there early, grab some food, study your guide and place your bets. Not much of the gambling type? It’s still a blast watching the Thais screaming and shouting as the horses near the finish line. If there is one thing that they take seriously, its their bets. Plan to spend at least a few hours, as there is about 30 minutes in between races. Caveat: It can be a bit uncomfortable when its blazing hot. Its best to go during the cooler months when the weather is nice. Check out our video from the horse races here!
3. Lunch at a prawn farm
You will find many of these around the city, but we went to one just east of the city on Sri Chant Rd. Bring a book and spend your afternoon chilling out in a hut. Order some Tom Yum Goong, BBQ prawns and an ice cold Leo. It doesn’t get much more relaxing than this.
4. Ton Tann Night Market
I’m not sure I would even classify this as a night market. It is a market that happens at night, but it’s a little more upscale than the conventional night market. In addition to the traditional street vendors and food stalls, it has many boutique shops, a large center stage for live performances, numerous ice cream and coffee shops, as well as a bar with a large selection of imported beers. It is very clean and well-manicured with pretty lights and lanterns throughout. Ton Tann night market is a great way to spend your evening with friends or your significant other.
5. Day trip to Ubolrat Dam
Take a day trip about 50 kilos from downtown Khon Kaen to visit the largest dam in the northeast. The river and mountain views are magnificent and well worth the trip. Walk up the gazillion steps to Wat Phra Bat Phu Pan Kham and the white Buddha for more amazing views (and then discover there is also a road you could have taken). Eat some fresh fish for lunch at one of the local eateries. Maybe even play a round of golf at the nearby course.
6. Chill out at Bueng Kaen Nakhon Lake
You will find a few lakes in Khon Kaen, but our pick is Bueng Kaen Nakhon located southeast of the city center. Surrounding the lake, you will find a number of restaurants, bars and coffee shops. The food stalls pop up in the evenings serving up local delicacies, such as kai yang (bbq chicken) and som tam (papaya salad). The length of the lake is approximately 4 kilos and is a great place for riding bikes, jogging and joining free aerobics classes in the evenings. The lake also offers paddle boats for rent. Additionally, it is here you will also find Khon Kaen’s largest and most beautiful temple, which leads us to number 7…
7. Wat Nong Wang
Do you ever feel like “if you’ve seen one Wat, you’ve seen them all”? Well, don’t let that deter you from paying a visit to Wat Nong Wang in Khon Kaen. As you climb the 9 increasingly smaller tiers, stop and admire the beautiful relics and learn about the history and culture of the temple, and Buddhism. The observation deck on the 9th story has magnificent panoramic views of the town, especially Lake Kaen Nakhon. Stop by after dark to see the temple lit up – that is a sight to see in itself!
8. Eat Dinner @ DiDiNES
While this recommendation might be a little biased, you can’t go to Khon Kaen without eating at DiDiNES. Not only do they have the best Western food in town, its a great place to play pool, watch American football and one of the only places in Khon Kaen to drink American IPA. I personally recommend the DiDiNE Burger. It’s delish!
Have you taken a trip to Khon Kaen? How did you like it and what activities made it to the top of your list?
For more on Khon Kaen, check out our review of the Piman Garden Boutique Hotel – our recommended accommodations.
If you are looking for some delicious restaurant buffets in Khon Kaen – we have some suggestions!