Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chiang Khan - Most scenic route along the Mekong

The province of Loei in Thailand is hiding some of the most spectacular landscapes of the Kingdom of Thailand and provides an adventurous traveller with some of the most scenic routes along the Mekong River. 

And adventurous we were! Driving along some of the smallest back roads of the province through rural North-East Thailand, also called Isan. 

As always we were on the way to remote temples and unique Buddha images. Coming up from the province of Phitsanulok and crossing the Phu Ruea mountains we made it into the most remote corners of Loei and to the district of Tha Li. 

A very very bad road led us along a small subsidiary river of the Mekong and always along the border between Laos and Thailand until we came to Chiang Khan. I think my driver hated me for those 100+ kilometers we drove on probably the worst road of Thailand shredding his tires into pieces, but it was an awesome experience and highly picturesque. 

The Mekong is coming from the North here after passing through the mountains of Laos and it was our first glimpse of it after we had crossed it in Luang Prabang

The Mekong adjoins the Kingdom of Thailand in the town of Chiang Khan where it already became a huge river with tiny fishing boats sitting in the middle of it. Rocky islands and sandy beaches were visible everywhere along the way. 

Our main reason to come up here was to visit the famous temple Wat Si Khun Muang, which is a mix of Lanna and Lan Xang styles. Lanna being the former Kingdom in the northern region and Lan Xang being the old name of the Lao Kingdom in the North. 

The small village of Chiang Khan is mostly made up of wooden houses. Almost no traffic and very vey few tourists, though there were hotels and restaurants along the river. We did have lunch close to the temple in a very scenic setting of a restaurant overlooking the mighty Mekong. A place we did not want to leave after finishing our lunch!!!

We did drive along the river for a few miles, visiting other temples and enjoying multiple views of the Mekong as well as picturesque valleys and mountains a bit more inland. 

Definitely one of the most remote places we had been to in Thailand, yet on the other hand one of the most natural spots on earth.