449km (279 miles) NE of Bangkok; 190km (118 miles) N of Nakhon Ratchasima; 115km (71 miles) S of Udon Thani

Thanks to a prominent university and two major television studios, Khon Kaen is Isan’s most heavily populated and busiest city. Its prime location along Route 2, and connections to Bangkok via rail and a large commercial airport, make this city a common stopover en route to places like Udon Thani and Nong Khai. But don’t write off Khon Kaen as a flyover town; it boasts an upbeat market culture and good mid-range hotels, both of which have contributed to an uptick in tourist numbers in recent years. Another boon to the tourist biz: Laos and Vietnam have established consulates in town, making Khon Kaen a charming pit-stop to acquire visas, and a branch of the well-established Thailand Creative Design Center (TCDC), a bastion for local art and creatives, opened in 2018.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.