From Si Chiang Mai to Nong Khai - a trip to the Mekong

A temple festival has once again prompted us to plan a trip to the adjoining province of Nong Khai. I had already been to some temple festivals and I must confess that I am not a big fan of these events However, I was looking forward to visiting the beautiful area along the Mekong River between Nong Khai and Si Chiang Mai. My motto for the day was: it's the journey, not the destination.

After one and a half hours drive we reached the temple. Since the party was already under way, we had no time to stop somewhere en route. This we could do on the way back.

Wat Tham Si Mongkhon (a map and the GPS coordinates can be found at the bottom of the page) was situated in the hills near about 14 km away from the Mekong River.

Wat Tham Si Mongkhon


At the temple numerous kiosks had already been set up to provide the hungry visitors of the festival with food and drinks. All this is organized with the cooperation and support of volunteers. The food and drinks are all free. 'Tam Boon' - translated means doing good or making merit and paves the way to a good afterlife.


Wat Tham Si Mongkhon



After the first refreshment, we proceeded to explore a cave, whose entrance was on the temple grounds. We followed a small procession of people wanting to make donations at the big Buddha statue near the entrance to the holy cave.


Wat Tham Si Mongkhon











A few sculptures were situated at the edge of the path that led to the cave entrance. Amongst others, this group of workers from the past;


The procession now gathered for a  group photo. We now had to wait as we were told that only 10 people at a time were allowed into the cave.









So after viewing the sculptures at the cave entrance we returned to the Temple Square, where a group of temple dancers had made ​​themselves ready to impress the visitors with their dance moves.



Four young men and two young womed showed us their skills and gained much praise from the audience.





The dancers were all dressed in traditional costumes.




Small spontaneous donations from the audience provided additional motivation for the dancers.




During the dance monks watched from raised balconies and obviously enjoyed the show,








making sure that the internet community were being kept up to date with the latest temple festival news.

After all this bustle, not only the dancers had become hungry, but also the spectators who now flocked to the newly established food-stations in order to sample from the large and colorful selection of dishes. I must say, I had never seen as great a selection of good tasting Thai dishes at any other temple festival.

Gaeng Nomai - bamboo stew







Pak Ruam - mixed vegetables with pork




Gaeng daeng - red curry





Parb Pla - spicy fish salad with herbs






Gaeng Om - Northeastern Thai herb stew



Larb Moo - spicy salad with pork and herbs







Gaeng Kiao Wan - green curry with chicken

After this very tasty meal we went again to the cave. We quickly found ourselves with some other visitors and the guide at the entrance to the cave.




The first impression hinted that this would be a very tight affair. Would headroom be sufficient to allow us access to the cave?









Slowly it became clear that I was not well suited to complete the walk through the cave well. It's not suitable for claustrophobic people and not for clumsy, large farangs!










But I would not give up too quickly and so I pushed and squeezed a good bit further into the cave entrance,










only to be faced with the sight of others crawling in front of me, and so made the decision: without me!






Finally, the cavers reached the other end of the cave and emerged into the forest again. I had obviously missed nothing, because I was told that you had to squirm through on your belly at one point.

The return journey included a stop in Nong Khai to do some shopping.


We drove past pineapple fields,






beautifully landscaped gardens and pretty houses,




and a very green and lush landscape and vegetation, which does not quite correspond to the typical image of Isan. Finally we reached Wat Hin Mak Peng, the Mekong Forest Temple.



The subsequent pictures should speak for themselves without further description. For more information about the temple there's a photoblog page on the  Udon-News website. 















After visiting the forest temple the journey continued on to Si Chiang Mai, where we stopped again to look across the Mekong River at Vientiane, the Laos capital.


posted on: 04.11.2014 - last update on: 02.07.2016

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Latitude: 17.96250
Longitude: 102.30167

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