now one of the busiest commercial centers in the northeast, this once sleepy border town continues to grow, benefitting from lively border trade with laos. the construction, in 1994, of the Friendship Bridge, the first bridge to span the Mekong river between thailand and laos, was a factor in an increase in trade between the two countries. nevertheless, the town center retains much of its original charm, and nong Khai’s main attraction for travelers is still its peaceful riverside character
Nong Khai Nong Khai’s streets and sois are lined with traditional wooden shop-houses. Its most vibrant neighborhood is around the Sadet riverboat pier, with its market and adjacent restaurants overlooking the Mekong River. An influx of prosperity in the town is made obvious by the burgeoning number of restaurants as well as modern shopping centers and banking facilities
Off Rimkhong Rd, Tha Sadet. Open daily.
This market remains the focus of lively, local trade carried out between Thailand and Laos. Reciprocal visa arrangements allow merchants from either country to visit Vientiane or Nong Khai for up to three days. Merchandise that can be bought at the market includes clothing, pots and pans, foodstuffs, pestles and mortars, fishing nets, and tables woven from bamboo
Prap Ho Monument
Janjopthit Rd. The Prap Ho Monument, a sym bol of municipal pride, was built to honor those who held off Ho Chinese invasions in 1855 and 1877. Built in 1886, and bearing Thai, Lao, Chinese, and English inscriptions, it is the site of annual celebrations on March 5. Prajak Road Along Prajak Road, visitors can pay a call at the Village Weaver shop, where traditional silk weaving is carried out. The factory/shop specializes in mut mee, the name given to a method of tie-dying used in the Northeast. It was established as part of a program to encourage local girls to stay and work in Nong Khai, rather than moving to larger urban centers such as Bangkok. There is also a market on Prajak Road, to the rear of the bus station. E Wat Si Muang Off Meechai Rd. Open daily. The temple buildings and chedi of Wat Si Muang are Lao in style. The wat has an ornate shrine at the main entrance, cluttered with Buddhist merit offerings. Wat Si Muang is one of many such temples that line the main Meechai Road leading west toward Wat Pho Chai. E
Wat Pho Chai
Pho Chai Rd. Open daily. The somewhat gaudy Wat Pho Chai lies in the southwest of the city, adjacent to a street market of the same name. Its main chapel sports imposing naga balustrades and a pair of roaring lions at the top of the entrance stairs, protecting the highly revered Luang Pho Phra Sai Buddha image housed inside. This solid gold Buddha with a ruby-studded, flame finial was originally molded in the ancient Lao kingdom of Lan Xang. It later resided in Vientiane (see pp298–9). In 1778 it was taken by Prince Chakri, later Rama I (1782–1809), following the first Thai invasion of Laos. As he attempted to ferry it across the Mekong, it fell into the river and, according to legend, miraculously resurfaced. After it had been rescued it was placed in Wat Pho Chai. Murals in the temple give a pict