Khon Kaen is one of the four Northeastern provinces MICHELIN Guide expanded its coverage into. The city is filled with unique culture and cuisine. Breathtaking attractions and legendary restaurants are waiting to be explored. Isan's commercial centre still has hidden potential. Plans are being made for transforming Khon Kaen into a smart city. Let MICHELIN Guide introduce you to Instaworthy and binge-worthy places. Khon Kaen doesn’t only offer traditional flavourful food, there are also international and contemporary establishments.
Visit Hin Chang Si Viewpoint, Ubol Ratana Dam and enjoy delicious meals at Mekin FarmHin Chang Si Viewpoint is the highlight of Khon Kaen’s natural sights. Situated in Nam Phong National Park, it takes a little over 1 hour to drive from the city. Capture panorama views of Ubol Ratana Dam, Phu Wiang National Park, and the city of Khon Kaen. Hin Chang Si and the neighbouring Ubol Ratana Dam are one of the best places to watch sunrise and sunset. This is, of course, in addition to their breathtaking landscape.
Feeling hungry? Mekin Farm (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2023) isn’t too far away. This organic farm and restaurant serve family recipes of various foods. There are Som Tam, Khanom Chin Nam Ya (Rice noodles with fish curry), steamed or fried whole fish with Jaew Prik (Chili dipping sauce), organic salad with homemade dressing, and coal-fired pizza. Each dish is carefully prepared with ingredients from the farm or local sources. After the satisfying meal, you can stroll through Mekin’s lovely garden and stay the night at its cosy homestay. Feel the fresh air next morning.
Enjoy Khon Kaen Zoo and Som Tam at Kai Yang RabeabKhon Kaen Zoo is home to more than 1,000 lives of over 100 endangered species. You can observe how wildlife such as tiger, giraffe, and hippo live harmoniously. There is a 15-metre-high sky walk you can stroll through and take Instaworthy photos with your loved ones.
The nearby Khao Suan Kwang district houses the legendary grilled chicken joint – Kai Yang Rabeab (Khao Suan Kwang) (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2023). Meat from local breeds in secret marinade is charcoal grilled until it emits irresistible aroma. The pieces are juicy and tender. The texture and seasoning are perfected. Order local menus to spice up your meal. Spicy salad with minced pork, duck, or beef makes it more worthwhile to drive away from Khon Kaen’s city centre.
See Khon Kaen’s famous landmarks and indulge in culinary creativityPhra Mahathat Kaen Nakhon is Khon Kaen city’s most iconic attraction. Located in Wat Nong Waeng, this 9-storey stupa is one of the places you can’t miss. The nearby Bueng Kaen Nakhon is the best place to enjoy sunrise and sunset.
Did you know that Khon Kaen offers more than flavourful traditional food? Kaen (Recommended, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2023) serves contemporary Thai dishes in a casual fine dining setting. Local ingredients are prepared with creative modern techniques. Guests can experience Northeastern wisdom in various appetising dishes. There are 20 different veggies in Isan-style minestrone. The gravy of Nam Phong wagyu steak is infused with Sato (local rice wine). The dish is also accompanied by chilli dipping sauce for a more traditional touch. Local golden apple snails, instead of the usual escargot, are prepared with French technique before serving with pesto made from borage leaves. Gastronomes will definitely be fascinated by these fresh insights into Khon Kaen.
Relish in art and savour Italian tasteAesthetes in the north are familiar with the famous MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum. MAIELIE is the Northeastern counterpart. After its Isan debut a few years ago, the young exhibition venue instantly became the landmark of art lovers. Both domestic and international contemporary art rotates here.
After nourishing your soul, it’s time to feed your stomach. Treat yourself to delicious pasta and crispy wood-fired pizza at Vacca Italian by Fabio (Recommended, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2023). Ask for the signature Vacca Pizza. Its taste is a perfect blend between salami, olives, mushroom, cherry tomatoes, sweet and sour tomato sauce, and mozzarella. Classic Italian dishes are also available. They are as respectable as renown Italian places in Bangkok. The Italian vibe on Isan land proves the diverse food culture of the region.
Appreciate history and enjoy local Isan flavours‘Sim’ is a word for Buddhist temple hall in Northeastern Thai and Lao culture. You can find ancient Sims across Isan. Built by Vietnamese immigrants, Wat Sanuan Wari Phatthanaram’s Sim is from the early day of stucco architecture. Inside, you can find elegant murals, ‘Hoop Tam’, inspired by the heroic tale of Sang Sinxay.
Sate your hunger at the nearby So Jeng (Bib Gourmand, MICHELIN Guide Thailand 2023). The Ban Phai’s legendary shophouse has been serving spicy delights for more than 3 decades. Try all the variations of beef dishes – spicy salad, raw in spices, shank, grilled, sun-dried, soup, clear soup with beef and offal, etc. You can try the steamed pig brain. Don’t worry. It’s already mixed with spices and comes wrapped in banana leaves.
- Wat Sanuan Wari Phatthanaram: Hua Nong Sub-district, Ban Phai District, Khon Kaen
- So Jeng: Chaeng Sanit Road, Nai Mueang Sub-District, Ban Phai District, Khon Kaen
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Illustration image: © Sunantha Maidee/ MICHELIN Guide Thailand