Mukdahan is the location of the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge and directly opposite the Lao city of Savannakhet. It is a lovely province with unspoiled natural heritage, interesting culture and folk beliefs, especially those concerning the naga or mythical serpent known in Thai as Phaya Nak.
Once the COVID-19 situation improves, we hope more people will visit Mukdahan to meet the friendly and hospitable residents, and of course, to enjoy yummy Isan food!
1.Hiking in Phu Pha Thoep National Park
2.Have a local breakfast at Ha Yaek Mukdahan, the junction of Vietnamese food.
3.Take in the view of the Mekong River at Wat Phu Manorom.
4.Check out the Mekong border trade at the Indochina Market.
5.Stop by the riverside park at Kaeng Kabao.
6.Pay respect to Pho Pu Ananta Nagaraja Shrine.
7.Admire beautiful quartz at Ruan Chom Phet Museum of Folk Beliefs.
8.Wind down at the viewpoint of the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.
Phu Pha Thoep National Park
We will spend our first day in Mukdahan in Phu Pha Thoep National Park.
This national park is about 17 km from downtown Mukdahan on a good, paved road. The terrain is dominated by a large sandstone mountain and big trees.
Please contact the Park’s information centre for instructions or guided tours. Its friendly staff can also loan you an umbrella if the heat is too punishing.
Ban Khonsai, Tambon Na Si Nuan, Amphoe Mueang, Mukdahan 49000
Open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Tel. 09 4289 2383, 0 4267 6.474
It takes almost an entire day to hike to all the attractions in this 48.5 sq. km park. And you are free to walk on your own or join the guided tour. Some of the highlights we recommend are:
Hin Thoep (20 metres)
This is a group of rock formations eroded by the elements some million years ago. Depending on your imagination, you might see a plane, boot, crown, lion, or a crocodile in the shapes of these rocks.
Lan Mudchalin (500 metres)
This rock terrace next to the Hin Thoep Rocks will be carpeted with many small wildflowers; such as, bladderwort and sundew between October and -December. From the middle of this terrace, you can also see the Mekong River in the far distance.
Colourful wildflowers in October
Wang Duean Ha Waterfall (1,000 metres)
Originating from the streams that flow through Lan Mudchalin, Wang Duean Ha is a small waterfall that helps nourish the plants and wild animals in the National Park.
Pha Ut (1,000 metres)
This is a cliff with a camel-shaped stone, a viewpoint to see the surrounding cliffs and boulders.
Phu Tham Phra Waterfall (2,000 metres)
Legend has it that a Khmer village was situated above this waterfall before a natural disaster struck, forcing the villagers to evacuate and hide their Buddha images in the cave nearby. Those statues were made of valuables; such as, silver and gold, as well as wood. You can still see some wooden images.
Pha Sai (3,000 metres)
This area is a popular viewpoint for watching the sunrise in Phu Pha Thoep National Park. On the way down from this cliff or Pha in Thai, you will walk between a narrow passageway formed by leaning rocks where villagers used to find artefacts and the remains of pottery.
Admission fee for foreigners
Adult 200, child 100
Bicycle: No charge; motorcycle: 20 Baht; 4-wheel vehicle: 30 Baht, 6-wheel vehicle: 100 Baht, more than 6 wheel vehicles: 200 Baht
Staying overnight in the National Park is currently prohibited until the COVID-19 situation improves (updated 20/01/21)
Phu Pha Thoep National Park has been given SHA Certification by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and health authorities, which ensures that it has proper standards of hygiene to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Park cleans its premises regularly, provides hand sanitiser or washing facilities for visitors, checks their temperature, requires use of the Thai Chana check-in app, and enforces mask wearing for both visitors and its staff.
After a full day surrounded by pristine nature, trees and rocks, today we’re back in town to mingle with the locals and learn about their folk beliefs.
Ha Yaek Mukdahan, the Junction of Vietnamese food
The people of Mukdahan town come to this junction to have breakfast and so should you. This area is home to a Vietnamese-Thai Catholic community that is still pretty dense and close-knit compared to those in other provinces along the Mekong.
Popular dishes here are the Thai-style Vietnamese food; such as, noodles, porridge, and pork sausages.
Soi Pitak Santirat, Tambon Si Bun Rueang, Amphoe Mueang
Open daily from 6:00 – 10.30 a.m. (closed Wednesdays)
Tel. 0 4261 2249
We recommend a favourite local eatery called Khao Piak Ha Yaek, a small shop house run by a family of Vietnamese immigrants. Khao Piak is a Vietnamese pork noodle soup. A bowl of this popular dish sets you back only 20-30 Baht, and we guarantee that it lives up to its reputation!
The small mountaintop temple of Phu Manorom or Wat Roi Phra Phutthabat Phu Manorom is a must-see for visitors to Mukdahan.
If you’re driving, you have to park your car in the designated area and take the songtaeo provided by the temple. Fare is by donation. All visitors are also required to have their temperature checked before entering the temple’s grounds.
The temple doesn’t allow cars from outside, as its narrow hill road requires skilled drivers to ensure safety of all the visitors. The temple’s songtaeo drivers are equipped with walkie-talkies to communicate with each other.
Mu 5, Tambon Si Bun Rueang, Amphoe Mueang, Mukdahan 39180
Open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
It takes about 10 minutes to reach the temple, which is home to Phrathat Phu Manorom, an octagonal chedi, and a replica of the Buddha’s footprint made of sandstone.
A gentle hill behind the chedi leads up to the statue of Phra Chao Yai Kaeo Mukda Sitrairat, a seated Buddha image in the gesture of subduing Mara. This massive statue that measures 84 metres from the base to the top was built to mark the 80th birthday anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej The Great in 2007.
When you reach a walkway lined with hanging bells, use a coin to gently hit each of them and place the coin in a container at the end of the walkway. It’s an auspicious practice according to local belief.
Next comes the highlight of the temple – a gigantic naga called Phaya Si Mukda Maha Muni Nilapala Nakkharat, which was created to mark the 100th anniversary of the temple and to be the guardian of Phra Chao Yai Kaeo Mukda Sitrairat.
This greenish-blue-coloured naga statue is 122 metres long, 1.5 metres in diameter, and 20 metres high, the largest of its kind in Thailand. You can find it slithering across the stony area raising its head to face the Mekong River below.
It is not uncommon to see people worshipping naga or Phaya Nak in Thai as communities along the Mekong share the belief that the river is home of the naga. At Phu Manorom, you can see those believers coming to pay respect to and ask for a blessing from Phaya Si Mukda Maha Muni Nilapala Nakkharat.
This riverside market is a popular shopping stop for Thai visitors, especially those on the way to or way back from Lao PDR.
Soi Samran Chai Khong Fang Tai, Tambon Si Bun Rueang, Amphoe Mueang, Mukdahan 49000
Open daily from 8.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m.
The Market is known for goods from Lao PDR., Vietnam, and China. Here you can find imported clothes, food and electrical appliances, some Thai handicrafts and made-in- Mukdahan souvenirs. And even if you don’t plan a shopping spree, the Market is worth visiting just to take in the buzzing local scene.
Kaeng Kabao rapids on the Mekong
This natural attraction is part of a beautiful park on the Mekong bank opposite Sainyabuli province in Lao PDR. The park is a popular picnic spot for locals and easily accessible with ample car parking. You can spend time relaxing and taking photos of its exhibits – Chinese zodiac signs and statues of the eight ethnic groups found in Mukdahan.
Amohoe Wan Yai, Mukdahan 49150
Next to the zodiac signs is an impressive giant white naga, Phaya Si Phuchong Mukda Nakkharat. The 11-metre-high and 51-metre-long statue is decorated with marble and glass and faces the Mekong, making it a scenic landmark of the area.
You may see worshippers of the naga walking under its belly for auspiciousness. In case you want to do as the locals do, simply follow the arrow on the floor.
Kaeng Kabao is a huge islet of rocks in the Mekong that have been constantly washed over, causing them to take on various shapes, some of which are sunken or hollow like underwater caves. You can visit Kaeng Kabao all-year round although the most popular time is between January and -May when the water recedes and the rocks are more visible.
A viewpoint to enjoy a breeze from the Mekong.
Pho Pu Ananta Nagaraja Shrine
The Shrine was erected to allay the worries of locals after a series of accidents during the construction of the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. They believe that a naga cave is beneath the section of the bridge where the accidents were occurring, and the Shrine was meant to appease the naga.
Tambon Bang Sai Yai, Amphoe Mueang, Mukdahan 49000
You will see a huge naga slithering on a pole facing the Mekong in the Shrine’s grounds. Regardless of what you make of the tales of the naga cave, the Shrine makes for a colourful landmark on the Mekong – the third gigantic venerable naga of this trip.
Ruan Chom Phet Museum of Folk Beliefs
Just a few steps from the naga shrine stands a traditional Thai house that is a museum displaying many objects related to folk beliefs.
Each floor of this 3-storey museum represents the three realms: the underworld, Earth and Heaven. This private museum is an expression of the owner’s faith and intention to practice good deeds.
Bang Sai Yai, Mueang Mukdahan District, Mukdahan 49000
Open daily from 8:00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. / Festivals 8.00 a.m. – 11.00 p.m.
Tel. 09 8670 3618
The realm of the underworld
This floor is supposed to be a treasure cave of the naga. You will see more than 3,000 pieces of quartz in various types, shapes, and sizes here. Use your phone as a torch to slowly flash the light through those stones to see their magic.
The realm of Earth
You know you’re finally on Earth because of the café. Buy a cup of coffee or another refreshment before exploring the Museum’s rare collection of amulets and charms, some of which are 150-180 years old. You will also see a statue of a naga in human form in accordance with the story about the monk’s ordination. The Museum provides flowers, candles and joss sticks at no charge for visitors who want to perform their homage-paying.
Don’t miss a chance to see the stone charms from the Mekong called Pathaveethat. Their beauty is best seen under the light.
The realm of Heaven
The third floor represents Heaven where you will see the wax statue of a mysterious monk named Luangpu Yai Thep Udon. Some people believe that he exists, and that he could help guide dharma practitioners via telepathy.
There are many statues of Thailand’s revered monks. This floor is supposed to be Heaven, as you will meet those monks who were destined to go there after their physical death.
If your definition of Heaven is peacefulness, this floor might be one. Its good vibe also helps you regain your composure.
A statue of Guan Yin with the manifestation of both male and female appearances is located in the innermost area of this floor.
The wall of this heaven is adorned with quartz. Through the light, you could make out many interesting images in each of the stones just by using your imagination.
In the evening, the Museum is where you can enjoy an attractive view of the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. The well-lit bridge is most stunning under the full moon, according to the Museum’s owner. The reflection of the moon on the usually calm water combined with the light from the Bridge gives off a romantic feel.
Viewpoint at the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (Mukdahan-Savannakhet)
The Bridge is among the biggest draws for visitors to Mukdahan. You can walk to its viewpoint, which is very close to the naga shrine and Ruan Chom Phet Museum.
The 2-lane bridge 1,600- metres long and 12-metres wide is part of the East West Economic Corridor (EWEC) route, which starts from Myanmar, passes through Thailand and Lao PDR. before ending in Vietnam. Construction began in January 2003 and the official opening ceremony took place on 20 December, 2006.
Tambon Bang Sai Yai, Amphoe Mueang, Mukdahan 49000
You can also treat yourself to a variety of local dishes at one of the many food shops nearby while enjoying the views of the Mekong in the evening.
Don’t use the “Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge” while searching for the exact location of this viewpoint, as you could end up at the Immigration Office. Instead type “the viewpoint at the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge” or “Shrine of the venerable naga”.