Nong Khai Aquarium (Sirindhorn Aquarium)
This large green aquarium displays freshwater and salt water fish from Thailand and beyond, featuring the local giant Mekong catfish in a 'giant tank' as the star attraction for the majority of visitors. It is a fun place to visit, but strangely located some way out of town, and is not served by public transport.
The Nong Khai Freshwater Aquarium is located on the Khon Kaen University campus, some 4km out of Nong Khai town, and is a great place to visit and relax, perhaps snacking in the picnic garden area, which has a few drink stalls also available.
There are scuba-diving shows on the weekends.
The aquarium is open from Tuesday to Sunday (9.00am to 4:00pm).
Admission price is 100 Baht for foreigners, 50 Baht for a Thai adult, and foreigners with a Thai driving licence, 30 baht for children.
The location for the aquarium is quite puzzling, being tucked away some miles from Nong Khai town, and in the midst of a University Campus, but it is of a fairly good standard. Okay, it is not London Aquarium by any means, but for this region of Thailand, it is very good. There is a large car park along with the 'standard' food and drink vendors of course, but what is currently on offer is quite limited.
As you approach the aquarium you can't help but think the building is not the most flattering design known to man, but as with most of life in Thailand, it is designed to be functional. The ticket booth is on ground level with the current admission charges shown on a board to the left. Nong Khai aquarium is unfortunately one of the many attractions in Issan that charge more for non Thai (or possible non Asian) people. As an adult visitor, you can expect to be charged 100 baht but in all honesty, it is a small price to pay for what is on offer indoors.
Also next to the booth are a couple of floor layout plans to show you what can be found where. After buying your ticket, bear left and go up the steps to the entrance, and show your ticket at another booth inside the building, then proceed to the aquariums. The aquarium complex is divided in to four main areas with the first one dedicated to marine fish species. In this room there is one large aquarium in the centre which houses some really big Grouper, a Leopard Shark and more and this is surrounded by a further 20 smaller aquariums with a wide range of Marine fish. The lighting in the room and the aquariums is very low, and as flash photography is not permitted, getting half decent quality photographs is not easy - therefore I cheated and used the flash to capture the following!
Each aquarium has a plaque below to provide the species name, natural environment and diet, but these are in Thai only at present (with the species in English). Although the lighting is quite poor, the water does appear to be very clean and healthy, suitable for supporting marine fish well.
The second room is home to more fish but once again the lighting is low and plaques are in Thai, There are a total of 14 aquariums here although not all of them contain fish at the time of writing. All the same, there is a pretty good range of species on show.
The third room is the tropical fish section, with low lighting yet again. Here you will find a large central aquarium with big fish and a further 16 tanks surrounding it. Curiously enough though, the plaques in this room are in Thai and English.
As you leave this room, you enter a large underwater tunnel, and this is where the Mekong Catfish, amongst others, can be seen in large numbers. The lighting quality is still very low but there is slightly better lighting above the water, making photography a little easier. At the furthest end of the tunnel section, at 11:00am every day, is where a feeding session takes place, where a diver enters the water with loads of free offerings for the hungry fish. This show really does capture the kids attention as the fish go in to something of a frenzy.
On leaving the feeding area, you head down a small ramp in to the freshwater section where the lighting is 'normal, and the aquariums are open topped. There are lots of tanks here and each stands about 5 feet high, tall enough to prevent kids from climbing up and dipping their hands in the water. This room is quite large and there is lots to see, including some very decorative fish tanks. If visiting the Nong Khai aquarium, you might want to consider avoiding it on Saturday's and Sunday's as the place is full of excitable and noisy children.
How To Get To Nong Khai Aquarium
Other attractions in Udon Thani Province
Ban Chiang Museum
Butta Bat Bua Bok
Ho Chi Minh Historical Park
Hui Luang Dam
Kaeng Khut Khu Rapids
Khon Kaen Zoo
King Cobra Village
Na Kha Silk Village
Na Yung Som Forest Park
Nong Khai Crocodile Farm
Phu Foi Lom
Phu Hin Lat Cho Fa
Phu Kao Phu Phan Park
Phu Kradaeng Forest Park
Phu Pha Lek National Park
Phu Pha Ya Cave
Phu Phra Bat Park
Red Lotus Sea
Sala Kaew Ku
Than Ngam Park
Than Thip Falls