Khon Kaen lies in the geographical heart of Thailand's sprawling northeast plateau. Khon Kaen was established in 1783 and is a major regional development center and University City. The provincial capital is 449 kilometers northeast of Bangkok. The province covers an area of 10,886 square kilometers.
Attractions - in the city
Bueng Kaen Nakhon
This popular lakeside recreation center in the southern part of the city is well known for its many foodstalls selling popular Isan fare, particularly som tam (spicy raw papaya salad) and kai yang (charcoalgrilled domestic chicken).
Khon Kaen National Museum
The museum contains a large collection of artifacts, particularly from the Northeast, including those discovered at major archaeological sites such as Ban Chiang, where the world's first Bronze Age civilization was believed to have flourished more than 5,000 years ago.
Attractions - out of the city
Phra That Kham Kaen
This is a 19-metre chedi at Wat Chediyaphum some 30 kilometers northeast of the provincial capital. Legend has it that two revered monks on their way to Nakhon Phanom spent the night at the site of the present temple. They saw there a dead tamarind tree. Upon their return from Nakhon Phanom, they observed the dead tree had miraculously come back to life. They advised local villagers to construct a chedi over the 'Kham Kaen'. The province derives its name from this chedi.
Located some 60 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital, this district is known throughout Thailand for the excellence of its silk, particularly the distinctive tie-anddye mat mi variety. A Thai Silk Exhibition Hall in the grounds of the Khon Kaen Industries and Community Education College displays a permanent exhibition of silks featuring many designs.
Ubol Ratana Dam
Some 50 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, this scenic dam is the largest multi-purpose dam in I-San, generating electricity for eight neighboring provinces. A reservoir-side restaurant and opportunities for boat trips make the dam a popular weekend destination.
Phu Kao-Phu Phan Kham National Park
The 320 square-kilometer area covers part of Ubol Ratana district and extends into the neighboring province of Udon Thani. Deciduous and evergreen forests offer ample trekking opportunities. The park may be reached by following the route from Khon Kaen to Ubol Ratana Dam.
Pha Nok Khao
This impressive outcropping of strangely shaped rocks is 125 kilometers west of the provincial capital along Highway 201in a mountainous area extending into Loei province. The Nam Pong River and Loei's Phu Kradung, a scenic national park, can be seen from this vantagepoint.
Phu Wiang Park
This area, some 60 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, along Route 2038, contains a number of important archaeological sites with evidence of I-San's earliest inhabitants seen from prehistoric rock painting. Fossil remains of a herbivorous dinosaur may be seen at park headquarters at Hua Phu Chon Reservoir.
This ancient Chum Phae site, 85 kilometers from the provincial capital, is believed to have been inhabited from prehistoric times until the 10th century AD. Human skeletons and 3,000-year-old bronze tools have been discovered in the area.
Wat Udom Khongkha Khiri Khet
This extensive hillside forest temple, 67 kilometers from the provincial capital on Highway 2149, is ideal for meditation. The temple belonged to Luang Pu Phang, a revered I-San Buddhist ecclesiastic, and is noteworthy for a gold-roofed shrine with lavishly decorated doors, and a forest pool containing wild crocodiles belonging to the former abbot.
Ku Puai Noi
This Khmer complex, 76 kilometers from the provincial capital in Puai Noi district, is the largest Khmer complex in Khon Kaen. Three brick pagodas, a literate palace and beautifully carved doors are of particular interest.
Dok Khun Siang Khaen Flower Festival - April 13-15
This festival coincides with Songkran, the traditional Thai New Year, and is staged at Bung Kaen Nakhon. Featuring colorful floral processions, major festival activities include religious rites and merit making, and I-San folk music, dancing and entertainment.
Silk Festival - November 29-December 10
Staged annually at the provincial stadium, this promotes silk weaving and silk worm culture. Phook Sieo, an I-San tradition promoting close friendship between people of similar ages is also celebrated during this occasion.