Khon Kaen April 16-April 18, 2019
We flew into Khon Kaen about 8:00 PM on Saturday April 13, 2019. We went straight to our hotel, we didn’t even eat dinner, and went to bed. When we woke up we ate breakfast at our hotel, checked out and we left Khon Kaen for a few days. We went to Roi Et and then to Yasothon. We were in Yasothon from April 14-April 16, 2019. When we left Yasothon we headed back to Khon Kaen.
I do wish we could have figured out how to do our trip without back tracking back to Khon Kaen. I think Roi Et is the closest airport to Yasothon and Yasothon was a priority of ours. If we flew into Roi Et we would have had to fly from Chiang Mai to Bangkok, have a layover in Bangkok, then fly to Roi Et. For us it just seemed easier to fly into khon kaen. Drive the 2 1/2 hours to Yasothon, while making a pit stop in Roi Et along the way, then going back to Khon Kaen. And doing Songkran in Roi Et and Yasothon was also priority, therefore we back tracked!
We did take a different route to Khon Kaen from Yasothon, than we did going to Yasothon. We decided that we would drive through Kalasin on the way back to Khon Kaen. This added about an hour to our trip, but we were able to stop and see dinosaur footprints!
There were a lot of great dinosaur discovers in Northeastern Thailand, and boy does the area embrace them! All around Khon Kaen and Kalasin road medians have life sized dinosaur statues. I love how the Thai people get so excited about things that are special to their country. It was fun to be able to experience one of these great discoveries!
The Dinosaur footprints are in the Phu Faek Forest Park. There is an ancient stream bed made of limestone that has dinosaur footprints in it. The forest was pretty remote and we were the only ones there. It was so easy to imagine these ancient creatures roaming around! These particular footprints were discovered in 1996 by two young girls, 10 and 11 years old. The footprints are believed to be 140 million years old and the footprints were made by Siamotyrannus a carnivorous dinosaur.
The kids had fun during this small hike, and they liked seeing the dinosaur footprints, but we were all hot and ready to get in the car and keep going on to Khon Kaen! We passed by some other cool sites, that if it was earlier, and we had more energy we might have stopped at. There was a dinosaur museum that I hear is pretty good, and a few other fun dinosaur things. Even without stopping at those cool places we didn’t get to our hotel (we stayed at the hotel we had stayed in before, in fact we stayed in the same room!) until fairly late and the kids fell asleep again in the car. Just before we made it to the hotel we found a roti guy and we were able to get a few rotis for Chris and I to share!
The next morning we woke up and went to Nam Phong National Park. We just put it in google maps and it took us to the entrance right on the lake. We parked, but looked at our maps some more and found a fun overlook that we could go to. We decided that we would go there instead and off we went again!
The overlook ended up being a really cool hike. Along this ridge there were watch towers set up that we could climb up and enjoy the view. The ridge was overlooking the lake we had just parked at and it was surrounded by small mountains/big hills. We could see wats in the distance and farm lands. We could see smoke from some fields being burnt. It was stunning! We would hike through these cool boulders and come to another look out. There were swings set up so the kids could swing and look out over the ledge. There were huge boulders that made natural canyons for us to walk through. I really enjoyed this hike but it did take some serious excitement from me to make sure the kids had fun since it was so hot! Lillian especially shows her heat.
I think this day/hike was one of the hottest of our whole trip! Everyone was drenched when we got back to the car, and I had never been so grateful for cool air conditioning in the car! The kids did amazing and we rewarded them with an ice cream!
We wanted to keep driving up to the dam that was at the top of this national park, but we checked the time and there wasn’t enough to do that and make it to the bat caves. Bat caves won and off we went! I found the bat caves on my google maps search and thought it sounded great! The kids were just as excited about it as I was, so we knew we needed to make it a priority. It was about an hour away from Khon Kaen, but the kids made it clear we needed to go!
We hadn’t eaten for awhile so on our drive to the bat caves we stopped in a small town and found a nice restaurant with air conditioning even! We sat down to order and there was a family eating a table next to us. They had a few beers in them so they were super chatty and Chris loved talking with them! We were there for about an hour and Chris sat and talked with them the whole time. Ryan loved the food he got there (Garlic Pork) and the conversation was great! We checked the time and realized that if we didn’t hurry we would miss the bats. We paid, said goodbye to our new friends and hurried to Khang Khao Cave to watch the bats fly out.
The drive so pretty. Where Chris lived in the Isaan it was all flat farmlands, and reading about the Isaan I read about the flat farmlands, but we saw so many stunning mountains on this drive! We were driving through these mountains at sunset and it really was amazing! We made it to the bat cave just as the bats were flying out. We all were super impressed and enjoyed this more than we thought we would! Ryan especially loved it.
This particular bat cave was set up for tourists (Thai tourists) and there was a decent crowd enjoying the show. Chris found a guy that looked like he belonged with cave and started talking to him. He asked the guy if you could hike up to the cave and he said you could, but you had to be strong. He told Chris the kids couldn’t make it. He also told Chris that the bats keep flying out until about midnight, (it was 6:30 PM) and that they would return at 5:00 AM, but it was still dark and you couldn’t see them. We stayed until dark and headed back to the hotel.
The next day we woke up and checked out of the hotel. We were headed to Nong Khai, but we wanted to take it slow and enjoy the stops along the way. We decided to take the longer route and drive up along Nam Phong natiaonl park again along the lake. We figured we could stop by at the dam we missed the day before.
Along the way we stopped at a small fishing village and we saw a market of sorts. We wanted to stop and we saw some very enthusiastic people wanting to help us park. We thought sure, why not lets go explore this village! We parked and they led us to these huge rafts over the river that ended up being a restaurant. We didn’t know it, but we parked and by parking we were deciding to stay and eat at this restaurant. We had paid for our spot on this raft and they brought us a food menu. Chris and I weren’t hungry at all, but ended up ordering fish and shrimp and coke coke. The kids really wanted to swim, but the water here didn’t look great. We decided not to let them get in here and there were fits. We got our food, and ate what we could. (It was good!) and then we headed out.
That was our first thing we’d done that the kids just did not like, and honestly we could have done without it too. As we were leaving the village we found a tree house coffee shop and stopped there to get ice cream for the kids. (Super strong hippie vibes going on here. Strange…but cool. There were a lot of bugs!)
We kept on our drive and made it to the dam, which was pretty, and kept going. The drive had is go up and down and around all these mountains. It was so pretty! The roads were steep! We got to the top of one mountain and we saw a giant Buddha Wat at the top. No one was there and we decided to stop and get out and explore.
I’m so glad we stopped! It was raining a little bit, the breeze was cool and it felt amazing outside. We loved exploring this Buddha and it was our first glimpse at how reverent and respectful our children could be in such places! The views from the Buddha were amazing. It was built right along a farm and there were roosters and pigs running around.
After the Buddha we kept on driving and finally made it to Nong Khai.