Set on the Khorat Plateau, the large city of Khon Kaen was founded just 200 years ago and is now the region’s centre for transportation, industry, education, finance and government buildings.
Traditionally famous for its exquisite silk products, it’s not a major tourist destination but is useful for breaking sightseeing journeys around Thailand’s many regions as well as neighbouring countries. It’s located in the Isaan region’s central northeastern area and holds the Friendship Highway linking Bangkok with the Thai-Laos border’s FriendshipBridge.
Accommodation costs in the city are significantly cheaper than in the better-known Thai tourist destinations, although the choice of upscale resort-style hotels is smaller. Apartments can be rented for either overnight or longer stays and there’s a good selection of budget guesthouses and inns, along with a new luxury boutique hotel offering stylish rooms at mid-range prices.
Upscale properties are found in the city centre, close by shopping malls, while several resorts on the edge of town give great value for money in pretty surroundings.
Khon Kaen’s modern airport only supports two routes, Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Luxury bus travel is possible from Bangkok’s Mo Chit bus terminal, following Highway 2 for much of the route. Songthaews (shared taxis), tuk-tuks (motorised rickshaws), local buses and taxis are the ground transport options here, but visitors won’t find much English spoken and signage is in Thai only.
Given that the city makes for a good stop-off for exploration of Thailand’s more remote areas, self-drive via car hire and a good map or SatNav is the most practical way to go.
Khon Kaen’s weather patterns divide into three seasons, with winter from November through February, the hot season taking over until late April and the monsoon season lasting until October. April is the hottest month with temperatures of around 37°C, and the monsoon rains cool the days and leave warm nights.