Nakhon Phanom province was once a glorious Kingdom in the past, so it has unique and interesting cultures and traditions. It is also one of the pathways to Laos and getting well-known to tourists.
There are 11 district – Mueang, That Phanom, Na Kae, Tha U-ten, Renu Nakhon, Ban Phaeng, Pla Pak, Sri Songkram, Na Wa, Phon Sawan, Na Thom, and 1 sub-district – Wang Yang.
Nakhon Phanom, bordering to Lao PDR in Isaan Prvince, once the center of the ancient Sri Kotrabun Kingdom, lies along the western bank of the majestic Mekong River, although over the centuries it has moved back and forth across the river. The lovely setting of Nakhon Phanom town is enhanced by the rugged beauty of the jungle covered mountains that lie beyond the town of Thakaek on the Laotian side of the river. King Rama I chose the name Nakhon Phanom, city of mountains, because of the remarkable mountains found in the province.
Partly a result of its long history, Nakhon Phanom is a melting pot of diverse ethnic cultures and traditions, particularly represented by the Lao, who have lent a strong influence to the architecture, customs, and cuisine of Nakhon Phanom, including the Bai-Sri-Su-Kwan welcoming ceremony.
Covered with both high hills and low lying, forest covered plains, Nakhon Phanom is the site of Phra That Phanom, the most ancient and sacred religious monument in Northeastern Thailand. Thais and Laotians are both common pilgrims to this highly venerated Buddhist shrine where they come to ask for blessings.
Throughout the history of Nakhon Phanom, Laotians and people from smaller ethnic minority groups migrated across the Mekong River giving modern Nakhon Phanom a distinctive cultural fusion that is apparent in the local language, customs, and cuisine. Visitors can appreciate this culture during the Bai-Sri-Su-Kwan ceremony or by witnessing one of the region’s folk dances, such as the Sri Kotrabun, Fon Phu Thai, Sek-Ten-Sak, and So Tung Bung, some of which are only performed on special occasions.
In addition to its rich culture, Nakhon Phanom, which literally means “city of hills” is an area with great natural beauty and which features a number of opportunities for visitors to participate in outdoor activities, including trekking in the national park or shooting a round of golf.
What to see and do
There are a number of interesting temples in the city including Wat Okat Si Bua Ban and Wat Mahathat, but the most revered site is Phra That Phanom located 55km south of Nakhon Phanom city centre. The town is also home to some beautiful old buildings with the architecture inspired by French colonial structures from the Indochina period. One of the most striking is the Governor’s Residence which is open to the public as a museum.
The Vietnam Memorial Clock Tower serves as a good way to get your bearings and just over 2km north of the clock-tower is St. Anna’s Church Nong Saen. Continuing north from the church for anther 800 metres brings you to the tranquil Rama IX Park and Gardens. Approximately 5km away from the city centre in the rural setting of Ban Na Chok is the former home of Ho Chi Minh who lived here in the late 1920s.
Nakhon Phanom is a quiet riverside city where it’s enjoyable to just relax and enjoy the laid-back atmosphere. Hire a bicycle or go for a stroll along the promenade next to the Mekong for great views of the river and mountains of Laos. If you’re visiting on a Friday or Saturday, the local Walking Street Market is worth checking out, but any evening is a good time to pay a visit to the host of riverside restaurants and enjoy the local food with views of the Mekong River.
Full story at Tourism Authority of Thailand