Khon Kaen is a large, mostly agricultural province in the center of Isan, the North Eastern region of Thailand. The provincial capital Khon Kaen town is one of the largest cities in the North East; the town serves as a regional center for this part of Isan. About 10 centuries ago the area was under control of the Khmer empire from Angkor. The Khmer build a number of temples in the area, of which several remain in various states of preservation.
To do & see in Khon Kaen
Khon Kaen province houses a number of historical, cultural and natural attractions worth a visit.
Khon Kaen National Museum
The Khon Kaen National Museum is an excellent place to learn about the various periods in local history. The museum exhibits objects and works of art from several era in the history of the North East from prehistory to recent times, including Dvaravati era boundary stones, prehistoric pottery from Ban Chiang in Udon Thani, Khmer sculptings, Lopburi arts, dinosaur fossils and Buddha statues of several periods and styles. The museum is located on Thanon Lang Sun Ratchakan. Opening hours are daily from 9 am until 4 pm, closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thai National Holidays. Admission is 100 Thai Baht.
Phra That Kham Kaen
The Phra That Kham Kaen is an ancient Laos style chedi which is depicted on Khon Kaen’s provincial seal. The chedi is highly revered by the people of Khon Kaen, since it is believed to enshrine relics of the Buddha. The Phra That Kham Kaen is located on the grounds of the Wat Chetiyaphum temple, North of Khon Kaen town.
Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon
The most eye catching temple of Khon Kaen, the Phra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon consists of 9 storeys of receding size. The 80 meter high stupa, also known as “the 9 storey stupa” enshrines relics of the Buddha. Its interior walls are adorned with murals that show Isan culture, the history of Khon Kaen, as well as depictions of Buddhist stories. The observation deck on the 9th floor provides 360 degree views of Khon Kaen town and Bueng Kaen Nakhon lake.
Phu Wiang National Park & Dinosaur Museum
A heavily forested mountainous area over 300 km2 in size, Phu Wiang National Park is known for its finds of dinosaur fossils and dinosaur steps. Numerous finds of bones of several species of dinosaurs have been made in the park, as well as finds of prehistoric human skeletons and iron tools. Several scenic well sign posted trails through the park with great views of the surrounding area lead to the locations where dinosaurs have been found. Information boards at each of the sites provide info about the excavated finds. The Phu Wiang Dinosaur Museum exhibits geological information about the area, as well as dinosaur fossils and models. Phu Wiang National Park is located in Phu Wiang district about 70 kilometers North West of Khon Kaen town.
Non Mueang ancient town
Non Muaeng ancient town is an archeological site that has been settled since 2,500 years. When the site was excavated, a prehistorical burial site was discovered. Human skeletons accompanied by burial gifts like pottery, seashells and bangles, as well as tools to farm the land were excavated. The area was also inhabited during the Dvaravati era (6th - 11th century). Several Dvaravati sandstone sema stones, boundary stones that mark the sacred area of a temple, have been excavated at the site.
Non Mueang ancient town can be visited daily during daylight hours. The site is located in Chum Phae district about 3 kilometers South of Chum Phae village and Highway 12, some 85 kilometers West of Khon Kaen town.
Getting to Khon Kaen
Khon Kaen is located 450 kilometers North East of Bangkok. You can get there by plane, train or bus.
Khon Kaen airport is located a few kilometers West of town. Thai Airways offers flights to Khon Kaen from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport. Flights take 55 minutes, one way fares start at 2,260 Thai Baht. Air Asia offers several flights daily from Bangkok Don Mueang airport. Fares for the 55 minutes flight start at 860 Thai Baht on way. For more info, check the Air Asia website.
Several trains daily depart from Bangkok Hualamphong station to Khon Kaen. The 450 kilometer trip takes between 8 and 10 hours depending on the type of service. Fares are 77, 179 and 368 Thai Baht for third, second and first class. For more info, check the State Railway of Thailand website.
Ordinary and air conditioned busses from Bangkok’s North Eastern bus terminal Mo Chit II on Kamphaeng Phet 2 road take between 6 to 7 hours to Khon Kaen town. Fares vary between 350 to 580 Baht depending on the type of service.