While reports of Phuket and Pattaya being ghost towns are a bit overstated, there is no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the once vibrant destinations into more restrained locations. The allure of these once popular spots has dimmed over the past 12 months due to both a lack of activity and a rising cost of living.
The story in Khon Kaen is completely different. Less than an hour away from Bangkok by plane, the city is one of a few in Thailand not to be disrupted by COVID-19. Brian, the Sales and Marketing Manager at 8Villas, reports that restaurants and nightlife spots have remained open with a positive vibe surrounding the region.
What many people may not realize about Khon Kaen is that it is no longer some rural backwater. The city has flourished in recent years. It is now an interesting mix of the traditional Thai culture that locals and foreigners love combined with the modern conveniences living in an urban area provides.
It has become so trendy that the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) even launched a Cool Isan campaign designed to highlight just how hip this part of the Kingdom has become.
At the center of Khon Kaen is the Pullman Hotel, a place where you can relax, enjoy a traditional Thai massage, dine in one of the upscale restaurants or hang out around the pool. And from there, you’re in close proximity to just about anything you could possibly want. There are hi-so eateries that wouldn’t be out of place in Bangkok.
You can walk down other streets and hear live music playing as people laugh the evening away. Turn down a different corner and you’ll find cafes and coffee shops where skilled baristas craft their drinks.
Perhaps one of the most unique things about Khon Kaen is the abundance of parks, green spaces and recreational areas. There is Bueng Kaen Nakhon, a large lake surrounded by a park that features a walking/jogging track, temples and several dining options. Then there is Bueng Thung Sang, another large park and lake that is also the site of Thailand’s largest annual flower festival.
Khon Kaen even has an international-standard, championship golf course. Singha Park Khonkaen Golf Club is relatively new but has become popular with almost all of those who play it. And this is simply the tip of the iceberg when it comes activates in the city.
“The tide is turning and, with Khon Kaen being the capital of Isan, which is the home to a third of Thailand’s population, the city is fast becoming an alternative destination to invest or to live in,” Brian explains.