At Isaan’s centre, KHON KAEN is the wealthiest and most sophisticated city in the northeast, seat of a highly respected university as well as Channel 5 and Channel 11 television studios. There’s a noticeably upbeat feel to the place, underlined by its apparently harmonious combination of traditional Isaan culture – huge markets and hordes of street vendors – with flashy shopping plazas and a world-class hotel. Its location, 188km northeast of Khorat on the Bangkok–Nong Khai rail line and Highway 2, makes it a convenient resting point, even though a startling modern temple and the provincial museum are the only real sights in town. However, the wider province has some impressive prehistoric credentials, which you can get to grips with at Phuwiang’s dinosaur graveyard, within day-tripping distance of the city. Local silk is another draw; available year-round at outlets across the city, it gets special focus during the annual Silk and Phuk Siao Festival (usually Nov 29–Dec 10; check with TAT) when weavers from across the province congregate at the City Hall on Thanon Na Soon Rachakarn to display and sell their fabrics; this is also the chance to witness the moving phuk siao ceremony, a traditional friendship-deepening ritual involving the exchange of symbolic wrist strings. During the rest of the year, the foreigners staying in the city tend to be expat husbands of local women, businesspeople or university teachers rather than tourists, though an increasing number of travellers are stopping here for Lao and Vietnamese visas, now that both nations have consulates in Khon Kaen.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Thailand features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Go it alone: solo travel in Thailand

Thailand is the quintessential backpacker destination. Here you can make the first footprints on secluded sands, dance shoeless under a full moon and swim benea…

15 Feb 2017 • Helen Ochyra insert_drive_file Article
26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Video: a 1 minute guide to Thailand

Video: a 1 minute guide to Thailand

Consistently voted as one of the best places to travel by our readers – most recently as one of the world's friendliest countries and one of the best place…

05 Dec 2016 • Rough Guides Editors videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month