Khon Kaen-the Doorway to Isaan by Juan Farrell
Most Thailand travelers have heard of Bangkok, Pattaya, and Phuket, but few venture to the northeast and head for the area know as Isaan. This is in the northeast and comprised of Khon Kaen, Korat, Udorn Thani and others.
This is primarily a rural area with many rice farms. It is also the home of many expatriates who have settled down with their Thai lady and have made this their new home.
I was in Korat twice during exercise Cobra Gold and only got to see this city briefly. Working 12 – 16 hour day didn’t allow much time for sightseeing. But, I did notice that the cost of living was a lot less than the bigger tourist cities and the people were a heck of a lot friendlier.
I visited Khon Kaen for the first time in 2007 to visit a lady that I met online. I immediately fell in love with the lady and also with the city of Khon Kaen.
Khon Kaen is only a 55 minute flight from Bangkok departing from the old international airport – Don Muang. The airport in Khon Kaen is very small and only has two departure gates.
The city is a pleasant mix of old and new. We would go out for lunch or dinner and sit in small bungalows along the lake or one of the rivers and dine in pure bliss. Three or four plates of excellent food, a couple of beers and some water and the bill would be about $10 – $15.
On the flip side, there is also KFC, Pizza Company and other fast food places. Western influence at its worst.
Shopping again is a mix of old and new. You can visit the food market or the night market or head to the Fairy mall or the electronics mall. From cheap T-shirts to current movies on DVD to bootleg software, Khon Kaen has it all.
I stayed at a small hotel called Cactus Resort. It was in the city but not in the heart. It would take us about 5 minutes to go to the mall or out to dinner. The price of the room was about $16 per night. The room was a decent size with cable TV, free Internet, hot and cold running water with a shower, and big bed and refrigerator. Of course, the room was air conditioned.
The staff was pleasant and helped me set up my computer to access the Internet using their IP address. The maid even saw that I was drinking more than my allotted 2 free bottles of water and increased my free water to four bottles.
The hotel didn’t have a restaurant, but there was one right next door. This was not problem for me as my girl would cook my breakfast at her apartment and bring it to me and pick me up some food for lunch. We would then go out every night for dinner and drinks.
Khon Kaen is a very relaxed and inexpensive place to live. I plan to retire there and will be looking to get a house on my next visit.
Next time you plan a visit to Thailand, take a side trip to the northeast and experience all that Isaan has to offer.