Photo: Almost Maldivian at Ao Noi, Ko Kut.

Thailand forum

North East Thailand Questions

Posted by heleni on 25/6/2013 at 02:55

I'm retracing my footsteps of 21 years ago when I went to Nan (via Phrae ) and then on to Nong Khai . I originally went to Nan to see the Sao Din canyon but think I actually saw Phae Muang Phi ... but it was amazing. I originally went for 3 days but stayed for 3 weeks.
1. I'm coming up from Sukhothai ... is Lampang a nice diversion for a few days before I head to Nan? It looks interesting with some Burmese temples and bike riding. From there I would go to Nan (probably via Phrae by the look of the map)
2. Do I have to do Phae Muang Phi from Phrae? Last time I was in Phrae I remember lots of billiard halls and brothels and not much else! I could come back from Nan and stay a day and night just to do this.
3. Has anyone seen the Sao Din 'canyon'?
4. How can I best do the trip from Nan (or Phrae) to Nong Khai. I don't mind breaking the trip up. 4 hours in a bus is good for me now! Last time I remember 11 hours in a bus, spending the night somewhere and then another bus journey the next morning. I did think of going via Loie & Chiang Khan but I decided it would be so long that I would rather venture west again from Nong Khai if I had the energy. (I don't want to cross into Laos either). If there is anything else fascinating en route it would be great to know!
5. The malaria question. The Thailand malaria map is so vague. Just a red line around all the borders! I'm going to be spending about 3 weeks in Nan & Nong Khai. I saw on the Mut Mee website they mention they haven't had malaria in Nong Khai for 20 years or so but what do people who have travelled there recently feel?
Many thanks.

#1 heleni has been a member since 3/5/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 21

Posted by captainbkk on 25/6/2013 at 05:46

you postd same-same on [url=mailto:LP/TT.@1.maybe-but]LP/TT
@1.maybe-but[/url] more as 1-2 days seems overdone to me.
@2.noone forces you to do anything in Th. BTW-I really liked Phrae, did not see what you mentioned but did enjoy a very well preserved old town with walled enclosure, many old-style teak houses and a lovely nite-market.
@4.there is 1 daily overnite bus Chiang Rai-Udon, which by default has to pass Payao, which has ample connections with both Nan and Phrae. NO direct bus wahtsoever runs on to NK from the north.
@5. ask MEDICALS.
BUT the common Thai advice is to NOT take medicines, but rather take precautions, and be alert for any signals and then seek help. In areas that are really, really at risk Thailand has a very effective and know what to do treatment service-for free. Chnaces that tourists-even those considering themselves as highly adventurous (which they aint, of course) catch it are remote to nil (I've worked for travel insurance and saw all the claims)-less as 1% vs. those hit in traffic accidents, for which any pill might be much more useful. DENGUE is far more prevalent i rainy season and has no medicine-neither treating nor before.

#2 captainbkk has been a member since 16/2/2012. Posts: 472

Posted by amnicoll on 25/6/2013 at 06:36

Hi helen, I probally missed you as I was up that way around that time. Not really able to recommend one way or the other lampang.From lampang you might get a bus direct to Nan but can not be certain

Just so you know there is a direct bus that goes twice a day direct from Sukothai to Phrae (I do not remember the place being full of brothels or indeed billiard halls and certianly did not come across any when I was there a couple of years ago) i liked the town especially wandering round the old part

not sure there is an easy way from Nan to Nong Khai but going via Pitsanalouk, Loie and round is a nice trip but just do in stages or possible quicker via Khon kaen but to be honest might depend on which bus you jump on in Phrae.

if you are talking about the towns then Malaria risk is low but if you are overnighting in the border areas (North and east of Nan) might be worth taking precautions

#3 amnicoll has been a member since 10/1/2005. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 686

Posted by Tilapia on 25/6/2013 at 06:49

There are also a handful of buses (3, I think) that begin in Uttaradit and finish in Udon Thani . You can get onto this bus in Phitsanulok (if you wanted to spend time there and/or in Sukhothai) and hop off in Loei. Best to get on where it starts because the bus is almost always full and people have to stand quite often. When you stand you miss some great scenery, especially when going through Dan Sai.

From Loei there are lots of buses and songthaews up to Chiang Khan.

From Loei you can also get one of the infrequent (green) buses that go north to Pak Chom and then along the Mekong to Nong Khai . Long trip, though.

But if you're going to go west from Nong Khai along the Mekong you'd be better off staying on the bus and going straight to Udon Thani and then north to Nong Khai.

#4 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
 Where has Tilapia been? 

Posted by heleni on 25/6/2013 at 10:47

Thank you all and sorry Captainbkk for cross posting but I did wait overnight for replies on other site.
I read elsewhere that Lampang was a nice place to lose oneself and I tend to overstay in places anyway.
Phrae is getting alot of favourable reports. I obviously didn't do it justice when I was there last time as we only stayed one night and one morning ... I think just to see the rock formations. We weren't looking for billiard halls & brothels .... just that a tuk-tuk driver showed us the town and every door opened on to one of the two! Even our hotel had a casino/ billiard room on the top floor. (At least it wasn't the other). That was in 1992. Phrae was very friendly but hardly anyone spoke English! Time of the riots so it must have been May.

Seems the transport options haven't changed much in all those years. When I get there I'll just make it up as I go. I have a feeling that my last trip from Nan to Nong Khai was on a rickety little bus and went through small villages rather than the larger towns. It was suppposed to be the scenic route but after the first hour it was all more of the same.

The places you have to work a bit to get to usually turn out to be rewarding. May it be like that this time!
Thanks again for all the info!

#5 heleni has been a member since 3/5/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 21

Posted by Tilapia on 25/6/2013 at 11:09

Some things have changed since 1992.

Chiang Khan has made it onto the Thai tourist trail and is packed on weekends and Thai holidays. The stilted riverhouses are long gone and the riverbank has been cemented over in many places.

There is no longer public transport between Chiang Khan and Pak Chom.

The waterfront of Nong Khai, along Rim Khong where the ferry pier is, is unrecognizable. It's completely changed. Not bad, though.

Little to no river traffic these days.

Still, it's a fantastic area. Buoy Bungalow in Sangkhom remains an excellent old-school standard.

#6 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
 Where has Tilapia been? 

Posted by heleni on 25/6/2013 at 11:29

Tilapia mercifully I can't recall everything in detail! So long as the Buddha Park is still there and the rock paintings I'll be happy. I know Julian and his wife are still there in Mut Mee. The rest will be like a new discovery.
You have given me lots of places to look into. How do you get to the places withou public transport? How do the locals get around?
The only place I know that remains stuck in a glorious time-warp is Georgetown in Penang. Just as it was when I was 15 except there is a bridge over from the mainland.

#7 heleni has been a member since 3/5/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 21

Posted by Tilapia on 25/6/2013 at 11:45

Hi heleni,

Buddha Park (or Wat Khaek or Wat Sala Kaew Ku, etc.) is still there and better than it was in '92. The gardens have filled in nicely.

I really, really wish I liked Mut Mee, but ... I think there are better places to stay. Nong Khai has grown quite a lot, but it's still a great town to spend time in.

There is public transport along the river. Just not along the 45 km stretch between Pak Chom and Chiang Khan. This is unfortunate as that particular part of the river is beautiful.

I think it's a great area to see on two wheels. I have ridden my bicycle along the entire Mekong and the area between NK and Chiang Khan is, in my opinion, the best part. Public transport is available but it's not frequent. Would you consider renting a scooter? There are lots and lots of excellent little spots off of the main road that are worth investigating. You can't get to these places easily without your own transport.

#8 Tilapia has been a member since 21/4/2006. Location: Canada. Posts: 1,499
 Where has Tilapia been? 

Posted by heleni on 25/6/2013 at 12:06

I'm great on a bicycle but I'd cause an accident on a scooter or motorbike. I'm a terrified pillion rider too.
I did drive a 4WD around the golden triangle years ago but I wouldn't have the nerve now. Do the tuk-tuks gonly go short distances? In Sri Lanka they were always longing for the 4 - 6 hour trips!

#9 heleni has been a member since 3/5/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 21

Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.