Tha Sadet, or the Indochina Market (daily 8am-6pm), located at the heart of town at riverside, is the main attraction in Nong Khai and it is certainly worth a wander. Also check out Sala Kaew Ku Sculpture Park (about 4km/2 1/2 miles east of town, on Rte. 212), where you’ll find concrete Buddhas, Hindu deities, and other fantastic statues of enormous proportions in an attractive garden setting – all the brainchild of the eccentric Mr. Luang Phu Boonlua Surirat.

He studied with an Indian guru in Vietnam and later taught in Laos, and his mummified body can be viewed on a tour of the main temple building (he also built a similar sculpture garden just across the river near Vientiane, Laos). Entry is 20B, and the site is open daily from 8am to 6pm.

Good day trips from Nong Khai include a day (or overnight) across the border to Vientiane (visas are available at the border), or head out to Phu Phrabat Historical Park, some 70km/43 miles southwest of Nong Khai; the site is a unique grouping of natural sandstone towers that were fashioned into rudimentary cave dwellings.