Nakhon Phanom is a northeastern province, bordering Laos across the Mekong River, and covering some 5,312 square kilometers. The riverside provincial capital is 735 kilometers northeast of Bangkok. Nakhon Phanom literally means 'City of Mountains' the name derived from rugged mountains behind the Laotian settlement of Tha Kaek, which faces Nakhon Phanom on the opposite bank of the Mekong River. Laotian influences are seen in Nakhon Phanom's dialect, customs, architecture and cuisine. Many unique folk dances are performed on special occasions, and the custom of extending a generous welcome to guests can be seen during the Bai-Sri-Su-Kwan ceremony. Nakhon Phanom's major religious monument, Phra That Phanom, is highly revered throughout northeastern Thailand and Laos.
Attractions - in the city
Located beside the Mekong River, next to the Indochina Market, this temple contains two highly revered and ancient Buddha images.
Wat Srithep Pradittharam
This temple is noteworthy for a beautiful ordination hall with delightful murals, and revered Buddha images, and a statue of Luang Pu Chan, a widely respected ecclesiastic throughout Thailand's Northeast.
This provides a clear view across the Mekong River to the Laotian settlement of Tha Kaek and its mountain backdrop, which is especially scenic at sunrise, and during the late afternoon.
Thoetphrakiat Park & Strand
This riverside area is particularly popular during February, through April, when river water drops to reveal unspoiled sand stretching almost to the Laotian side of the Mekong. The area is a favored spot for picnics.
Phu Kratae Golf Course
This picturesque 9-hole golf course is located at the Technical College (4 kilometers from Nakhon Phanom on the Sakhon Nakhon Road) and occupies more than 80 acres of land around the Phu Kratae reservoir.
Attractions - out of the city
Renu Nakhon is 52 kilometers south of Nakhon Phanom provincial capital, via Highway No.212 until the Km 44 marker, and Highway No. 2031. The town is best known for the Phu Thai ethnic minority who retain their ancient culture, namely in the form of dances and the custom of the Bai-Sri-Su-Kwan welcoming ceremony. Many local products, including woven cotton, are on sale at local shops.
Phra That Renu
This was built during the early 1900s to resemble the larger Phra That Phanom, and to house sacred scriptures and golden Buddha images.
Phra That Phanom
This highly revered riverside temple is located 50 kilometers south of Nakhon Phanom provincial capital on Highway No. 212, and is believed to date back more than twelve centuries. The more than 50-metrehigh pagodas is one of the most revered shrines in northeast Thailand and regularly attracts pilgrims. A museum within the compound houses many ancient relics.
Phra That Srikhun (Na Kae)
Some 55 kilometers southwest of the provincial capital, this pagoda bears a strong resemblance to Phra That Phanom. The square base is decorated with bas-relief.
Dan Sao Coi (Na Kae)
This scenic viewpoint 6 kilometers from Na Kae offers panoramic views of Phra That Phanom and adjacent areas.
Phra That Tha-Uthen
This shrine, north of the provincial capital, along Highway No. 212, bears noted resemblance to Phra That Phanom. It was constructed in 1912 to house a Buddha disciple's relic, which came from Yangon in Myanmar (Burma).
This riverside temple in Tha Uthen district contains the ancient 80-inch-tall Phra Bang Buddha image, which, it is believed, needs only to be paraded around town to ensure plentiful rainfall.
Phra That Prasit
This is in Wat Phra That Prasit, some 80 kilometers northwest of Nakhon Phanom provincial capital in Na Wa district.
92 kilometers northwest of Nakhon Phanom provincial capital, along Highway No. 212, and 6 kilometers from Ban Phaeng, this hill is where many streams originate. There are numerous wild flowers, orchids and trees.
Tat Kham Waterfall (Ban Phaeng)
This forest area marks the place where streams originating from Phu Lungka unite. The resultant river cascades through the multi-tiered waterfall.
Tat Pho Waterfall
2 kilometers north of Tat Kham Waterfall - this waterfall can be reached only after a 30-40 minute walk. The fall can be seen from Highway 212.
Phra That Mahachai
42 kilometers from Nakhon Phanom provincial capital, along Highway 22 to Sakon Nakhon, this pagoda contains a relic of the Lord Buddha. A mural depicting the history of Buddhism adorns the walls of the ordination hall.
Phra That Phanom Festival
This 7-day festival takes place during the full moon period of the third lunar month, generally in is centered on the revered shrine. Religious merit making, folk entertainment and native bazaar number among activities attracting pilgrims from northeast Thailand and neighboring Laos.
Annual Illuminated Boat Festival
This occurs in the provincial capital and forms part of the celebrations marking the end of the annual 3-month Buddhist Rains Retreat. Celebrated in late October, during the period of the full moon, the 7-day festival commemorates the occasion when the Buddha returned to Earth after preaching to his mother in Heaven. People traditionally showed their respect by illuminating their boats. During the festival, there are dragon-boat races on the Mekong River, frequently featuring Thai and Laotian teams, and the festival finishes with an illuminated boat procession in which model bamboo boats are decorated with lights.