Located 40 km west of the provincial capital, the small town of Sri Chiang Mai is best known for being the spring roll capital of Thailand -- wherever you look, spring roll wrappers sit on their bamboo frames, slowly drying in the sun -- and that's just about as exciting as Sri Chiang Mai gets.
Aside from providing ample opportunity to take photos of drying spring roll wrappers, Sri Chiang Mai's rundown but still picturesque riverside promenade offers direct views over to Vientiane's touristy waterfront district. It feels rather strange being the only foreigner in sight when thousands of foreign travellers are munching on croissants in the Vientiane cafes that are nearly visible from Sri Chiang Mai's riverfront.
Before the Friendship Bridge arrived in 1994, the only way to access Laos was via boats from Sri Chiang Mai, which made it something of a low-key backpacker centre. Those days are long gone, and the only accommodation you'll now find is in the form of cheap Thai hotels and roadside resorts catering almost exclusively to Thais. Still, the town is worth a quick breeze through on the way to Sangkhom, which is a much better option for a night or two of laidback Mekong scenery.
How to get there
Heading west from Nong Khai and Tha Bo, riverside Route 211 passes right through Sri Chiang Mai. A few daily buses also stop here (see the main Nong Khai transport page for details).
By David Luekens
Last updated on 23rd March, 2014.