I've read some good reports on the Submukda Grand Hotel in Mukdahan but also some not so good ones. Any suggestions re a hotel or guesthouse (with AC, WiFi etc) near the river and/or middle of town?
With the flooding I've decided to fly from Bangkok (Nov 25th) for 2 nights in Ubon Ratchathani and onto Khon Chiam for 2 nights before busing it to Mukdahan for 2 nights and on to Nakhon Thanom and That Thanom - flying back to BKK from Udon Thani.
Any general tips or recommendations re hotels, transport between locations would be great.
I'm hoping that by late November the flooding will be better or at least the situation clearer.
Thanks in advance
Your itinerary reminds me alot of the way I traveled the region a couple years ago. Definately go to Muk and That Phanom I had a blast at both places. I stayed in SC Residence when I was in Muk and the place was great for the money. Very friendly staff who will giggle like crazy when you walk in but are quite friendly.
MADMAC could probably give you some solid advice on places to go while your there.
Khong Chiam is a lovely, quiet, interesting spot.
You may want to consider continuing along the river to Nong Khai , and even beyond if you can to Sangkhom and Chiang Khan. Very easy to get back to Udon from any of these places. Beautiful country between Nong Khai and Chiang Khan. I'd recommend any and all of these places over Udon. You can get to the airport in Udon directly from Nong Khai. In my humble opinion, this would be a far better choice than staying in Udon unless your flight is at the crack of dawn.
Thank you think87 and Tilapia
I was in Nong Khai for 2 days in March 2011 and loved it - hence wanting to have a look at similar, smaller places along the Mekong. Last trip also included Udon Thani - during the cold spell (clock tower showed 18 degrees at 1430 hrs ....)
At the moment I'm thinking ....
Fly BKK to Ubon Ratchathani - 2 nights Ubon
Ubon Ratchathani to Khon Chiam by local bus - 2 nights Khon Chiam
Khon Chiam to Ubon to Mukdahan by local bus - Mukdahan for 2 nights (early start)
Mukdahan to That Phanom by local bus - 2 OR 3 nights in That Phanom
That Phanom to Nakon Phhanom by local bus - 1 OR 2 nights
That Phanom to Udon Thani by local bus - 1 night
Fly Udon Thani to BKK
If the Nakon Phanom to Udon Thani bus services are reliable enough I could catch an early bus and late afternoon flight out instead of staying over.
Chiang Khan was also on my 'want to see list' but might have to wait for the next trip.
Thanks again for the replies - very helpful.
That sounds good, too. Not much time on the buses, more time in the towns. I'm envious!
Just for the record, Chiang Khan is now a major destination on the young Thai tourist trail and is quickly filling up with homestays by the dozens ... mostly for Thais. There are very few English signs for these places.
The inexpensive, quaint, old riverside guest houses are still there, but not necessarily inexpensive anymore. Chiang Khan Guest House is one of the hold-outs (B250 last time I was there), but the landlords who own the lovely old building are considering turfing out the current business owner (Pim ... and her pets) and going upscale like the rest have. They may have done so already.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing (though for Pim and people like me it is). Many of the old wooden shops that line the riverfront are being renovated, and rather nicely I might add. Some get so crowded that the owners are pitching tents on the rooftops of some places. They aren't all guest houses or homestays, either. Some have become very nice restaurants and shops, as well. The integrity of the old structures has been maintained.
Having visited about 10 times since 1992, I can attest that if it weren't for the influx of money into the town, quite a few of these beautiful old buildings would have fallen into the river by now. The first time I visited, many of the buildings were decrepit, but still functional and attractive, several were seedy brothels and Chinese hotels (actually, most were both). Many of the houses were on massive stilts that went down to the river, and people tossed their trash out of their windows, confident that the river would rise eventually and carry the rubbish away. Even up until around 2008 the esplanade (Chai Khong) was empty and silent in the evenings, and almost pitch black. The decrepit buildings were beginning to fall apart as they sat empty. It's not like that anymore.
The place has never been on the westerners' tourist trail, even after the opening of the Friendship Bridge, and has only seen a trickle over the years so it was never a place that was going to be able to maintain itself for much longer. Not with western tourist money, anyway. But with and without the changes, it was and still is one of the most charming places in the country.
Now thanks to TAT grants and lots of advertising, Chiang Khan is finally on the map. Thai tourists stream there by the hundreds, mostly on weekends and holidays. I think that many are condo-raised hi-so kids who don't know much about their own country, but who are anxious to find out about it. They have time, money, and their own transport ... this wasn't the case 20 years ago. They stand around gai yang and khao neow bing vendors snapping photos as if they've never seen such things before. It's kind of fun to watch ... sort of like westerners visiting pioneer villages or the like. They're generally friendly, polite and courteous weekenders, and love to chat with their very good English. It has become a great place to meet Thai university students and learn a thing or two about Thai food, Thai customs, Thai people, etc.
I'm only saying all of this because CK is only going to become more and more popular as time goes on. Visit as soon as you can, and stay a while. It will be worth it.
We have a pretty wide range of hotels in Mukdahan. Submukda is good value for the money and has a pretty good location. Hua Nam is the favorite with the backpacker set. Cheap, a little funky. There are several high end hotels as well. Then there are two hotels that have opened recently along the river. If you could narrow your price range, I can help you make a more informed decision.
Once you get here, come look me up. I live on Soi Sasiwong, half up theIndochina market along the river. House number 30.
Thanks MADMAC - very kind offer and much appreciated
I'm not much into night life or funk these days (in my mid 50's) but something close to the river and not far from a night market or eating options in the 500 to 1,000 baht range would be great. Probably just 2 nights.
Are there places that rent bicycles?
Thanks again MADMAC and also Tilapia for his very enticing and detailed description of Chiang Khan.
Submukda is probably the place you are interested in, although if you would like I can check the two new places that have just opened up on the river. They are probably in your price range. You can rent a bicycle or a motor scooter at Good Muk cafe. It's right where the ferry crossing to Laos is. Easy walking distance from any of those three hotels I mentioned. I would recommend a scooter rather than a bicycle, as the sites most interesting to most visitors here are the catholic church of the seven martyrs, Wat That Phanom (perhaps a seperate trip as you continue on your journey) and Phu Pra Thoep national park. But you can decide once you arrive which way you'd rather go on that one. You can also email me at email@example.com to make it easier to track me down.
Thanks again MADMAC - I've sent an email to your yahoo account (hope it doesn't find it's way to you junk folder)
Looks like I can book (Agoda) Mukdahan Grand Hotel (78 Songnangsatid Road) for around 900 baht per night or River City Hotel (28 Mukdahan-dontan Road) for around 700 baht - both look to be a few of hundred metres from Submukda Grand Hotel.
Would appreciate your suggestions though as to local reputations of both places or - does Submukda Grand Hotel have the edge with location. Would I need to book ahead?