Updated 26 Mar 2017:
Good View restaurant has been added as a recommendation under Eating/Drinking.
Updated 27 Feb 2017:
Well this update is mostly bad news in that the Sports Bar and Kiwidad’s Cafe are now closed and Eat Me moved on some time ago. I have therefore removed these entries from this post, which makes it a pretty threadbare reference point. I had more choice in massage too but several have closed and there is only one I can recommend, which is excellent for either Thai or oil.
On a related matter I have just published an extensive blog post on the businesses of Si Bun Ruang, our home town 25 km from Nong Bua – a world first Why not have a read and see what shopping looks like in everyday Thailand HERE.
I am going to treat my new home in Si Bung Ruang, in the North East of Thailand, in the same way as I did our time in Chiang Rai and Mai and share with you places of interest we come across in our travels. Some of these will be reports on more scenic or unusual locations and others will just be places we have found and use as part of our day to day life here.
I hope that over time we can discover some interesting material to photograph and write about as the coverage of Isaan, this region of Thailand, is pretty sparse when compared to the big names on the coast and the North West.
Now I know that probably nobody reading this will ever visit Nong Bua Lamphu so reporting on its very minor attractions may seem a little strange but you never know. Someone may take the wrong turn in Pattaya and end up here looking for a decent pizza.
Nong Bua Lamphu is the nearest larger town to where we live, about 30 km to the North. Nong is the phonetic Thai spelling for lake, Bua = lotus flowers and “phu” is a hill. So we have a town beside a lotus lake near a hill and it definitely ticks all those boxes. It is also the name for the province we live in, Thailand’s 76th and newest.
Being in the “big smoke” also give us some other benefits such as 100% more choice in farang eating places, as Si Bun Ruang has none, and also satisfies my love of a decent massage, where once again the local scene is pretty woeful. On the former I have a funny relationship with Thai food. I enjoy it and Gaun, my wife, is a great Thai cook, but I am never hungry for a Thai meal in the way I am for a steak or some pasta. Wierd. Also in the same way I used to do something different and get some Thai takeaway in Australia, here it’s the reverse and I enjoy a change of menu back to my western roots.
Nong Bua doesn’t have much in the way of massage places when compared to farang centers of Chiang Mai or Phuket. There are two situated at the bus interchange, a fancy name for a large concrete area with a few of what look like pre-war, pick a war, buses that should never be on the roads. I have tried one of these places and they were hopeless. The second one is more upmarket and looked nice but is more expensive than “normal”. I haven’t tried this one yet.
There’s only one place I would recommend for massage in Nong Bua as follows:
Massage 4 – RECOMMENDED
Discovered on 4 Nov 2015 and definitely recommended. By far the best thing going in Nong Bua that I have found so far. It is a tiny shopfront on a backroad as marked on the map below.
Ask for Nan (Gaun pronounces it as Nun). She teaches massage, has worked in Korea and is spot on. 150 THB for Thai and 300 THB for oil. Try a Thai/oil combination – great stuff. They also do a good Thai massage, which I get for my stepdaughter Peng once a week. The place has three Thai massage beds off the floor and a separate oil massage space next to them with a proper in slightly short! massage table. Air conditioned and spotless.
Phone 086-5751800 or 082-1244275.
I have been here a many times now and Nan is a great masseuse. The massage is thorough and consistent each time.
Good View is a eating place on the ringroad around Nong Bua Lamphu on the Udon Thani side. If you take the ringroad going to Udon past Global House at the second set of traffic lights you turn right and you will see Good View on your right shortly after. It is a very much a Thai place but they do offer a limited farang menu including crumbed fish and chips, which is pretty good at 150 baht. The decor is modern but in usual Thai fashion it hasn’t been maintained since opening so is already looking a little tired. If hot inside is the best option with air con. The furniture is worn but comfortable although only at hobbit height so your knees will be at your ears.
In normal western circumstances this place wouldn’t rate a mention but as there is almost no alternative that I know of in Nong Bua is looks pretty attractive. Give it a go.
Pinocchio’s Italian Restaurant: This place has moved since my last post to a much nicer location. If you are that lost soul from Pattaya looking for a good pizza then Pinocchio’s is the place to head for. As you head South out of Nong Bau towards Si Bun Ruang on the 228 you will come to what passes as a roundabout, which confuses the hell out of the Thais. Follow the roundabout to the right as if you were driving back into Nong Bua and then immediately take a little soi off to the left. You are still in the roundabout about a third of the way through but on the other side – see photos below:
An Italian guy own the restaurant with his Thai partner. They have a decent menu of meats, pastas and pizza plus some Thai dishes and also have a small range of Italian cheeses and meats for sale.. Check out the special’s board, which changes regularly. The pizzas are made on site and are the proper thin crust with a range of toppings. A large 12 inch pizza will set you back 220 THB, a large beer 80 THB, so more expensive than a local meal but when you need a pizza……………………Good food and service – recommended.
Update 27 Feb 2017:
We hadn’t visited Pinocchio’s for a while and called in with friends in January. We were disappointed in the food this time. The kitchen seems to have been taken over by Thais and the result wasn’t up to previous standards. My lasagne was OK but nothing like a tasty. The pizzas were alway minimal in the true Italian style but they were a lower quality this time. My friend ordered a risotto and it was so salty that he couldn’t finish it. Now we may have just hit a bad night but I now have reservations about fully recommending this place, which I had no problems doping previously.
Nong Bua Lamphu lake
Not the big one in the middle of town – Nong = lake in the town’s name, but a smaller and hidden version on the ringroad. Coming into Nong Bua from the South on the 228 from Si Bun Ruang, turn left at the petrol station and then left again at a blue sign in Thai about 100 meters on the ringroad. The lake is a couple of minutes down this road on the left.
Update 20 May 2016. We went here recently and the food was not good. The fish was small and badly cooked and the vegetables of poor quality. It was a holiday day so they had been busy so maybe the best had gone. It took the edge off my previous recommendation. If you are paying top baht then the food needs to match.
Did you know that the Thai word for teeth is a word that phonetically sounds like “fun”. It gets better because the name for a a dentist is “more fun”……..I can’t think of a profession that generates less fun than a dentist let alone more fun 🙂
I am about to arrange for Peng, my step-daughter, to have braces put on her teeth. The dentist at Nong Bua has a orthodontist who flies in regularly from Bangkok to provide this service. The total cost over two years is between 35,000 and 45,000 THB or A$1,400 and A$1,800. I don’t know what the equivalent cost would be in Australia or elsewhere but I am confident it would be many time this.
Want a filling done? I have been told by a reader that A$20.00 will get you one here. All in high a quality clinic with modern equipment and an English speaking dentist. Pay for your trip to Thailand with dental treatments. Update 5 Aug 2015: Peng has now had nine fillings done all with white composite material and I can confirm the 500 THB per filling cost. If you wanted amalgam you would save 100 THB per filling.
Gas Bottle Refill
You have two choices to top up your LPG bottles. You can swap them or go for a refill of your existing bottle. Swapping is quick and easy but the downside is that if you bought your bottle new then you are exchanging it for a second hand one, although you can select one in good condition. The other possibility is that the exchange bottles aren’t filled 100%. Getting a refill is less convenient but you might be getting a 20% gas bonus for your money. All a bit marginal but at least there are choices available.
I have recently exchanged our main 16.3 kg bottle and next time will go for a refill and see which one lasts the longest. Not a very scientific approach but it might be possible to arrive at a conclusion based on the number of cooking days.
Fish Pet Shop
Unfortunately we lost a couple of fish when we recently emptied and cleaned our lotus and koi pond that sits at the front of our house in Si Bun Ruang. Also my stepdaughter’s computer broke down yesterday and the hunt was on for a place that could repair it. We had previously found a fish shop in Nong Bua but it was it was only when we visited today that I realised there was a computer repair shop next door. Two for the price of one.
The fish shop hidden away in the backstreets that can supply most of your day to day pond or fish tank needs. It is well set-up in a very small way and is clean and organised.
You will also find this lady at the Nong Bua Lamphu big local markets that happen once a month. You will need to find a Thai calendar because it is held on the Thai 11th of the month, which is different from our dates! In fact a Thai calendar is essential reading as it also shows you public holidays, which usually happens whenever you travel somewhere to use a government service! This is a country that had holidays for the police, army, teachers, government workers and many others including all sorts of Buddhist events. The only time I was a royalist in Australia was for the English Queen’s birthday when we got a day off 🙂
Major Hardware/building supplies
Global House have a huge store, which conveniently opened a week after we started building our house in November 2014. Coming into Nong Bua on the 228 from Si Bun Ruang turn right at the PTT petrol station and you will see the Global House sign.
An older and less organised store than GH. If you can’t find it in one then try the other. You will find Thai Watsadu on highway 210 as you drive out of Nong Bua on the right
Erawan Cave North of Nong Bua Lamphu on the 210, which I wrote about HERE. Recommended on a cool day.
Wat Tham Klong Phen, the “tham” in the name tells you this is a cave wat. Set in a large forested area just outside Nong Bua Lamphu on the 210 to Udon Thani this temple is worth visiting. I wrote about it originally HERE and then there is an update HERE.
The Isaan Cowboy Ranch
For some reason the Thais have a love affair with North American cowboys and the occasional Indian. When we lived in Chiang Mai our local area had a cowboy nightclub – well tin shed on the edge of fields truth be told – set up with straw bales and lots of people wearing cowboy hats. Mind you it was still loud Thai music and food so the theme was pretty limited in the extent of its application.
Here in our bit of Isaan in the North East of Thailand we don’t miss out as there is a place called the Cowboy Ranch, fifteen minutes drive from Nong Bua Lamphu, our local larger town and you can read all about it HERE.
These is a wat overlooking Nong Bua on the left as you head out on the 210 to Udon Thani. It is worth a visit even if just for the view. I covered it in my post “Watting Around”, which you can find HERE.
Nong Bua Lamphu Fishing Park
A short distance outside of Nong Bua heading South on the 228 you will see this sign to a new fishing park and cafe.
The front part of the property is the owner’s house, an English guy called Ian and his Thai wife. Follow the driveway past this and you’ll end up at the back of the property and a dirt carpark overlooking two large ponds. The one on the right is catch and put back while the one of the left you can take away up to 3 kg of fish you catch.
The setup is very new and Ian either hasn’t got around to planting up with trees and shrubs or isn’t minded to. Those salas will get pretty warm in the hot season without shade.