Chiang Khong is often overlooked by visitors, with travelers only going there en route to traveling from Thailand to Laos via the Luang Prabang boat services, or vice-versa. Admittedly, the town may be smaller and feature less attractions, compared to other parts of the country. Nonetheless, it has its own charms, which patient travelers can discover for themselves if they spend some time there.
1. Visit a Hmong village and waterfall
Both the village and waterfall are called Huay Tung, after a stream within the vicinity. Residents within the community are part of the Khamu hill tribe.
Simply follow the river, near the bridge and the church. You can bike up to a certain point on your journey, however, at some point, you will need to trek to get to your destination. Note that the path to the small waterfalls can be a bit rough, so make sure you wear proper hiking shoes when going there, and some climbing will be required to get the bigger waterfalls, which are about 15 meters (49 feet) in height. Reaching the top is worth it, not just because you will get to see two small waterfalls, you will also get a good view of the surrounding area. Make sure to bring drinking water, while hiking, in case you get thirsty.
Huay Tung Village and Waterfalls
Access: The road leading to the village and the waterfalls can be seen near the end of Soi 2, which is about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) away from Chiang Khong
2. Give alms to the monks by the Waterfront promenade
In the early mornings, on the weekends, between November and February, tourists may see monks walking to or from the temples or lining up the along the Waterfront promenade, to collect alms. You can choose to give some to them, or simply observe the solemn event from along the streets.
3. Visit Buddhist temples
Despite the small size of the city, it is dotted by a handful of Buddhist temples, such as Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Narang, and Wat Luang. Wat Phra Kaew is the oldest Buddhist temple in Chiang Khong. Many of the festivals of Chiang Khong are held here and visitors can find an emerald statue in the sermon hall. Just a hundred meters away from Wat Phra Kaew is Wat Narang, where visitors can find a statue depicting a disciple of Buddha, among bushes.
Wat Luang is a beautiful temple, most known for its ornate design and slightly resembles the temples of Chiang Mai. Entering this temple is free. Other temples in the town are Wat Sri don Chai, Wat Som Som, Wat Hat Krai, Wat Hou Weing, and Wat Tung Duk.
Wat Phra Kaew
Access: Wiang, Chiang Khong District, Chiang Rai
Access: Chiang Khong District, Chiang Rai
Address: Rural Rd Chiang Rai 4026, Thoet Thai, Mae Fa Luang District, Chiang Rai
4. Visit the fourth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge
The fourth Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge was completed in December 2013 and connects Thailand’s Chiang Khong to Laos’ Huay Xai. You can use this bridge to cross into the Laos.
Do note that it is not allowed to bicycle across the bridge.
Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge
Address: Chiang Khong, Thailand
5. Swim in the Mekong River
Sunset Beach, a small beach in Chiang Khong, allows bathers to swim in the Mekong River. If you do not want to take a dip in the river, you can simply stroll along the riverbank as a way to unwind, especially if you have just sat through a bus or boat ride for several hours. Incidentally, those who want to see the Mekong from a height can climb up to the Huai Mann viewpoint. The viewpoint is on top of a steep hill, so only those who are physically fit, are encouraged to go here.
Aside from a view of Mekong River, you will also be able to see the Hmong village of Kiu Khan from the viewpoint. You may also get a glimpse of Laos from this area.
History lovers may be interested to note that along the Mekong River is the Chinese Nationalist cemetery, where soldiers who refused to surrender to Mao Zedong, were buried.
Huay Mann Viewpoint
Address: The viewpoint can be accessed north of Route 1129
6. Try the Khao Soi Pa Orn
Chiang Kong has its own variation of kôw soy, a noodle soup. Instead of adding curry, their recipe, instead, uses a clear and spicy broth, with minced pork.
Finding this establishment can be challenging, especially since there is no signage to mark its location. Watch out for the highway distance marker, as the eatery is beside it.
Khao Soi Pa Orn
Address: Soi 6, Th Sai Klang, Chiang Khong, Thailand
Opening hours: 8 am – 4 pm
7. Try local food at the Baan Pheun Rim Khong
Don’t let its looks prevent you from putting a foot in Baan Pheun Rim Khong. It may look a bit run-down, but the food here is really tasty. Most of the dishes served here are fish-based, such as the “plaa khao phad chaa”, which is fish, stir-fried with a variety of herbs and spices.
Baan Pheun Rim Khong
Address: Ban Hat Khrai, Chiang Khong, Thailand
Access: Baan Pheun Rim Khong is about 1 km (.6 miles) south of Chiang Khong, on the way to Ban Hat Khrai
9. Check out the wares sold at the Walking Street Market
The Walking Street Market runs every Wednesday and Saturday from November to May. Souvenirs and handicrafts can be purchased here, at a cheap price. Local dishes are also served, here.
Address: Chiang Khong, Thailand
9. People watch
Chiang Khong harkens to a time of simple living, so visitors can simply enjoy experiencing a relaxed lifestyle firsthand, by visiting a café and watching the people, most of whom are Hmong traders or villagers, go about their tasks for the day.
Alternatively, you can simply rent a bike and ride around town, to explore the different parts of Chiang Khong.
Laid-back leisure time
It’s true that unlike other places in Thailand, Chiang Khong doesn’t offer a lot in terms of tourist attractions and activities. However, the town’s charm lies in the community itself. Its laid-back atmosphere draws in visitors, inviting them to live that way, for even just one day.
Unlike other places, where it is advised to avoid the peak season, it is better to come here between November and May, as several activities are held within these months, for the tourists.
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