The Lonely Planet warns travelers that they may find themselves staying longer than expected. Yeah, it’s that kind of town. Most people stop here before or after crossing the border with Laos. Maybe the extended stays are one last enjoyment of Thailand or recovering from Laos. Don’t know. I didn’t have anything to recover from but still found it’s pace, charm, amenities and attractions such that I was in no hurry to jump on the train home.
Sixty one thousand live there but it seems smaller. The center isn’t much of a center. The town extends along the river bank for several kilometers in both directions. Peak vehicle traffic during off season barely qualified as traffic. There was only two roads that one had to wait briefly at peak traffic times for an opening before walking across.
The tourist district isn’t. This is the first Thai town I’ve seen that had a tourist presence but not a clearly defined district. Most of the Farang oriented businesses fall into a box about 1 kilometer long and 300 yards deep. Except for the stretch of river bank just upriver from the day market, such businesses are not found side by side by side.
So what is the appeal? Some combo of slow pace, low prices, plenty to do and see, good guesthouses, good food and a big river that keeps sliding by. The three things that are usually in one’s face in Thailand (“Tuk-tuk!”, “Maaaa-saaage”, beggars) are all low key here. That helps too.
Thailand on the lower bank, Laos on the upper.
The Mekong. You may have heard of it.
Some restaurants have a location on the bank and a floating restaurant. Almost all of the floaters were docked for the low season but cruise the river at mealtime during the high season. These steps lead down from one large, popular restaurant to their dock. The racks are just of a few of the ones I saw where chopsticks were drying. No, they don’t reuse them, they make their own.
The seven concrete posts are river depth gauges. The top of the closest one is about 15′ below the top of the levee.
I think I’ve seen enough temples. Found myself taking photos of small details like rows of alms bowls or an unusual fountain or how the reflection of a red metal roof painted the nearby white pearlescent surfaces pink. None of those photos are ready for prime time. I’m having to learn more about post processing to convert the image into what I remembered seeing.