Khon Kaen is a regional centre for education, financial institutions, government
offices and transportation. The city is also an industrial centre, especially for
the region's silk trade, as well as an agricultural hub Khon Kaen has played host
to several regional conferences, such as the Asean Regional Forum and United Nations
meetings. It is also the home of Rajamangala University and Khon Kaen University—the
largest university in the Northeast, with a student population of around 20,000.
Presently Khon Kaen is one of the major cities under Thailand's National Economic
and Social Plan, along with Chiang Mai, Songkhla, Nakhon Ratchasima and Chonburi.
Strategically important for the Isan region's infrastructure, Khon Kaen Airport was
raised to international standards in 2005 with the opening of a new terminal. However
despite efforts to expand services as off April 2010 only two airlines use the airport.Thai
Airways operate three flights a day to Bangkok with a Airbus and Nok Air run a twice
weekly service to Chiang Mai using a ATR turboprop. The city is bisected by the Mithraphap
Highway also known as Friendship Highway or Highway 2, the road linking Bangkok with
Laos. A modern, multi - lane by - pass enables through traffic to avoid the city
centre to the west and connects to the airport and to the main roads to Kalasin and
Mahasarakham in the east and Udon Thani in the north.
The city can be easily navigated by driving along either of the two north-south main
roads Na Muang and Klang Muang, which are located East and parallel to the Friendship
Highway. In addition, there are two main east-west roads Srichan Road and Prachasamosorn
Road, leading East to the city of Kalasin, and West to the airport, as well as to
other small villages.
Khon Kaen has some noteworthy Buddhist temples. On the south side of the city and
East of the Friendship highway, there is a beautiful lake Bueng Kaen Nakhon, with
a diverse range of places for entertainment. The lake offers paddle boats for rent
on the Northwest side and at night there is a lively night market buzzing with activity
where you can buy an assortment of food, clothing and various souvenirs. The lake
has a paved running path, which many people use during the evening. Also, there are
free outdoor aerobics classes at various points around the lake for any age group,
as well as ping pong tables ( table tennis ), and other recreation areas. A new shopping
complex, Central Plaza, opened in early 2010.
The Khon Kaen National Museum was opened by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej on
the 20th of December, 1972. It has a diverse selection of antiques, precious art
pieces and archaeological finds from the region. The museum is not overly large,
having two floors, but the exhibits range from the pre-historic to historical periods,
including ancient relics. One of the many highlights includes a skeleton of the New
Stone Age man and tools from that period, most of the archaeology being conducted
at Muang Fa Daet Song Yang excavation site and Ban Chiang.