Things to do in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand

When one think of places to see in Thailand outside of Bangkok, most people would cite Ayutthaya, Sukhothai, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phuket and Pattaya as just some of the most popular locations. Almost no one will mention a hidden gem of a place called Nakhon Phanom.

Nakhon Phanom is situated on the north eastern side of Thailand and also the capital of the province with the same name. It borders the country of Laos with the mighty Mekong River. Still uncongested with tourists, Nakhon Phanom is an ideal destination in Thailand that offers a variety of must-see places and things to do such as:

Before Sunset Mekong River Cruise

What better way to cap your first day in Nakhon Phanom than to ride a boat and cruise the historic Mekong River just as the sun was about to set. Witness the everyday flow of life of the communities living in both river sides of Thailand and Laos.

Shop and Foodtripping at the Night Market

No Thailand town is complete without a night market. At Nakhon Phanom, come night time a 200 meter stretch of street located near the Naga landmark by the river side becomes a haven for shoppers, as stalls selling interesting local products dots both sidewalks as well as carts filled with mouth-watering street foods.

Explore the town by Bicycle

With a biking lane spreading 14 kilometers running parallel the scenic Mekong River, Nakhon Phanom becomes one of the most bike-friendly places in Asia. One can easily explore the picturesque river side by renting a bicycle passing through quaint cafes and communities meeting friendly locals. The bicycle path can also double as a jogger’s track therefore giving you another option to mix your daily exercise regimen and your quest for exploration.

Check out the Naga Monument

The giant Naga Monument situated at the main river walk is the central landmark of Nakhon Phanom. The statue is in honor of a mythical serpent-like creature, which according to local beliefs, dwells in the waters of the Mekong River. The locals can be often seen passing by to pray and offering flowers to the giant Naga.

Visit Ho Chi Minh's house

During the mid-1920s a young Ho Chi Minh visited the town of Nakhon Phanom and lived in the house of a local family who hosted him. Today, this house is known as the Ban Na Chok (Ho Chi Minh’s House) and has become a popular pilgrimage site by Vietnamese travelers.

Wat Okat Si Bua Ban

Apart from the impressive façade architecture, this temple also holds significance among the locals and Buddhist pilgrims because it houses a well-regarded twin Buddha images, the “Phra Tio” and “Phra Thiam”, which are carved together and is believed to have been created as far as 785 BC. Inside the temple hall, are two ironwood replica statues of the Phra Tio” and “Phra Thiam” Buddha measuring 39 centimeters and 60 centimeters tall respectively.

Phrathat Si Khun

Phrathat si Khun is another sacred temple in Nakhon Phanom. It is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site, especially to people born on a Tuesday. The current temple which was constructed in 1954, stands over the ruins of an older temple dating back to early 19th century.

Wat Phra That Phanom

Wat Phra That Phanom is known as one of Northeastern Thailand's most revered temples located near the banks of the Mekong River. Housed inside the 57 meter chedi are countless Buddha statues, all glistening in gold and placed surrounding along multi-layers of Buddhist shrines. Among other Buddhist relics, it includes the most sacred one: a small piece of the sacred breast bone of the Buddha. This whole chedi is believed to contain approximately 110 kilos of gold.

Cross the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge

Since you are already in Nakhon Phanom which is only separated by the Mekong River to the country of Laos, you might as well cross the third Thai-Lao friendship bridge (built in 2011) into the Khammouane province of Laos. This is the perfect way to witness both the similarities and difference of the way of life of the Thai and Laotian locals residing in the river side border towns.

This is one of the side trips included in the program of the 2018 Mekong Tourism Forum held in the city of Nakhon Phanom, Thailand.