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Khon Kaen

Travel Guide

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Khon Kaen is a city of contrasts. Having been the big winner in the Isaan region's economic boom of recent years, this is a big, fast-paced city with lots going on. In fact, it is Thailand's fourth largest, and yet it still manages to retain at least something of a small-town feel.

The place may be buzzing, but western tourists are still by no means common currency — this is the northeast, after all, which means you can expect plenty of inquisitive smiles and friendly conversation. This is particularly the case if you go for a wander by the Bueng Khaen Nakhon lake (recommended) where the happy-go-lucky crowd it attracts — both young and old — are always up for a chat.

Traffic on the roads can be sluggish, and there are even the exact same taxis and tuk-tuks here as in Bangkok, but a wide songthaew service means getting around is on the whole both cheap and easy. One guide book goes so far as to suggest you'll need the elephants trudging the streets (with the mahouts selling the obligatory food) to remind you that you are in Thailand — and while that may be stretching the truth, there are certainly times when it is easy to forget you are in the northeast.

Particularly for seafood, Khon Kaen is paradise for foodies. Take a stroll through one of the fresh street markets in late afternoon, and you will be struck by the abundance of produce — squid, shrimps, clams, whole fish and a massive range of meats and vegetables, the displays glistening as the blinding sun sets across the city and vendors dowse down their stock with icy cold water to keep it fresh.

So too at the main night market, underwear and denim jeans sit alongside stacks of eggs and bags of fresh chillies. This is a city straddling tradition and modernity — it may now have two large shopping centres, complete with Tesco, McDonalds and KFC, but old-style Isaan foods are still here too and, certainly in the countryside, agriculture still looms large.

Accommodation choices are plentiful, and overall Khon Kaen makes for a very pleasant stopover en route to or from elsewhere in the north or northeast.

Orientation
All major Thai banks are represented in Khon Kaen and you'll have no trouble finding international access ATMs and money-exchange facilities.

Many hotels and guest houses offer free WiFi to guests, while internet cafés are also dotted around town — the biggest and best is the mighty S-Force, near the corner of Na Muang and Ruen Chit roads, which has reliable access for 17B per hour.

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Text and/or map last updated on 30th October, 2013.

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Khon Kaen - Bangkok, Morchit ฿419 6h – 6h 45m
  •   Bus Express XL 11:50, 12:00, 22:30, 22:35, 23:00, 23:30
  •   Bus VIP 32 19:55
  •   Bus Express XL 06:45, 18:15, 19:45, 20:00, 20:55
  •   Bus VIP 32 21:15
Khon Kaen - Chiang Mai ฿535 – ฿925 9h 10m – 9h 15m
  •   Bus Express XL 05:20, 07:00, 12:15, 17:15, 18:00, 19:00, 19:15, 20:15, 22:15
  •   Bus VIP24 24 19:00
  •   Bus Express XL 05:00, 07:00, 08:30, 16:00, 18:00, 19:00, 20:00
  •   Bus VIP24 24 19:00
Khon Kaen, Chum Phae - Chiang Mai ฿555 8h 5m
  •   Bus Express XL 13:15, 18:30, 20:30, 21:30
Khon Kaen - Lampang ฿536 10h 45m
  •   Bus Express XL 12:15, 17:15, 19:15, 20:15, 22:15
  •   Bus Express XL 10:00, 17:25, 20:20, 21:20
Khon Kaen, Chum Phae - Lampang ฿469 9h 15m
  •   Bus Express XL 13:15, 18:30, 20:30, 21:30
  •   Bus Express XL 10:00, 17:25, 20:20
Khon Kaen - Mukdahan ฿259 4h 5m
  •   Bus Express XL 02:55, 04:25
Khon Kaen, Chum Phae - Mukdahan ฿322 5h 10m
  •   Bus Express XL 01:40, 03:10
Khon Kaen - Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thung Song ฿1,066 – ฿1,393 17h 50m
  •   Bus VIP 32 14:30
  •   Bus VIP24 24 14:30
  •   Bus VIP 32 12:00
  •   Bus VIP24 24 12:00
Khon Kaen - Phattalung, Phatthalung ฿1,135 – ฿1,485 19h 10m
  •   Bus VIP 32 14:30
  •   Bus VIP24 24 14:30
  •   Bus VIP 32 10:30
  •   Bus VIP24 24 10:30
Khon Kaen - Phrae, Den Chai ฿457 9h 30m
  •   Bus Express XL 12:15, 17:15, 19:15, 20:15, 22:15
  •   Bus Express XL 11:20, 18:45, 21:40, 22:45
Khon Kaen, Chum Phae - Phrae, Den Chai ฿394 8h
  •   Bus Express XL 13:15, 18:30, 20:30, 21:30
  •   Bus Express XL 11:20, 18:45, 21:40
Khon Kaen - Songkhla, Dannok ฿1,259 – ฿1,650 21h 30m
  •   Bus VIP 32 14:30
  •   Bus VIP24 24 14:30
  •   Bus VIP 32 08:00
  •   Bus VIP24 24 08:00
Khon Kaen - Songkhla, Hat Yai ฿1,213 – ฿1,589 20h 40m
  •   Bus VIP 32 14:30
  •   Bus VIP24 24 14:30
  •   Bus VIP 32 09:30
  •   Bus VIP24 24 09:30
Khon Kaen - Sukhothai ฿379 5h 45m
  •   Bus Express XL 19:30, 20:45
  •   Bus Express XL 20:10, 21:40
Khon Kaen - Sukhothai, Ban Dan Lan Hoi ฿379 6h 5m
  •   Bus Express XL 19:30, 20:45
Khon Kaen, Chum Phae - Sukhothai ฿316 4h 30m
  •   Bus Express XL 20:45, 22:00
  •   Bus Express XL 20:10, 21:40
Khon Kaen, Chum Phae - Sukhothai, Ban Dan Lan Hoi ฿316 4h 55m
  •   Bus Express XL 20:45, 22:00
Khon Kaen - Tak ฿440 6h 45m
  •   Bus Express XL 19:30, 20:45
  •   Bus Express XL 18:55, 20:25
Khon Kaen - Tak, Mae Sot ฿534 8h 10m
  •   Bus Express XL 19:30, 20:45
  •   Bus Express XL 17:00, 18:30
Khon Kaen, Chum Phae - Tak ฿377 5h 35m
  •   Bus Express XL 20:45, 22:00
  •   Bus Express XL 18:55, 20:25
Khon Kaen, Chum Phae - Tak, Mae Sot ฿467 7h
  •   Bus Express XL 20:45, 22:00
  •   Bus Express XL 17:00, 18:30
Khon Kaen - Ubon Ratchathani ฿293 4h 30m
  •   Bus Express XL 02:35, 05:35, 05:45, 20:00
  •   Bus Express XL 07:30, 12:45, 14:45, 15:45, 17:45
Khon Kaen - Ubon Ratchathani, Khueang Nai ฿293 4h 5m
  •   Bus Express XL 02:35, 05:35, 20:00
Khon Kaen, Chum Phae - Ubon Ratchathani ฿356 5h 35m
  •   Bus Express XL 01:30, 04:20, 18:45
  •   Bus Express XL 07:30, 12:45, 14:45, 15:45
Khon Kaen - Uttaradit ฿415 8h 25m
  •   Bus Express XL 12:15, 17:15, 19:15, 20:15
  •   Bus Express XL 12:10, 19:40, 22:30

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