Mukdahan is a peaceful province located on the bank of the Mekong River, opposite Sawannakhet in Laos. The ancestors of the Mukdahan people migrated from Laos to establish the city in the late Ayutthaya period. The province has always been an interesting mixture of cultures from various tribes since ancient times. Moreover, it is a land of fantastic natural rock parks and is a major gateway to tourism in Laos and Vietnam. The province is renowned for its sweet tamarind fruit and features many natural attractions. Mukdahan has an area of 4,339 square kilometers.
Built in 1956 by Vietnamese immigrants, Wat Sri Mongkhon Tai is noteworthy for its statue of mythical creatures at the entrance to the main chapel. Housed here is the province's principal Buddha image, Phra Chao Ong Luang, and a Buddha image made of steel, both discovered buried in the grounds during the town's construction.
Also situated by the riverfront is Wat Yot Kaew Siwichai which houses an enormous, golden, seated Buddha image in an open-fronted wiharn with paneled glass on both sides. In between these 2 temples is a market that almost runs the entire length of the riverside. Also located running alongside the riverfront is the scenic Samran Chai Khong Road. On this road is Wat Sri Boon Rueng , where the bronze Phra Buddha Singh Song image is housed.
The provincial town serves as the Thai-Laos Checkpoint , and opens daily from 08.00 hr. until 17.00 hr. Across the river, the Laotian town of Suwannakhet features many interesting tourist attractions. Several travel agencies are located in the area to facilitate tourists.
Visitors can see panoramic views of Mukdahan, the Mekong River and Sawannakhet on a clear day, from the top floor of the Mukdahan Tower. On the ground floors are displays of the city's culture, including the 7 indigenous people tribes.
At Phu Pha Therb , there are groups of rocks with various shapes such as mushrooms, umbrellas, airplanes and crowns. And during each season, different kinds of flowers bloom on and in between the rocks. At the apex of the Phu Pha Therb is Thum Fa Mue Daeng (Red Palm Print Cave). Inside the cavern walls are 10 red-colored palm prints dating back over 5,000 years ago.
The largest mountain in Mukdahan National Park is Phu Tham Phra , where several hundreds of wooden Buddha images and animal statues can be seen inside a cave located in front of a waterfall.
A one-foot thick layer of fossilized Stone-Aged Conch Shells , estimated to be about 27 million years old, were found buried 40 feet underground at Ban Nayor. This is one of 3 such places in the world.
Though diminutive in size, the hills of Phu Mu (Pig Mountain) Forest Park are actually 353 meters above sea level. The vast plateau, with an area of 4 sq km, located at the summit was originally inhabited by numerous wild boar, thus the name. The area used to be an American military camp with a radar station and heavy artillery stations. It offers another great viewing spot of Mukdahan.
Running across the Mekong River is the Kaeng Ka Bao Islet. During the dry season, water recedes at different levels around the islet, creating an image resembling many small waterfalls. The islet is a popular recreational place for locals not only for the scenic attractions, but for the famous "Kaeng Ka Bao roast pork" , a local dish where the meat comes from the Laotian side of the river.
Wat Song Khon , the most beautiful and largest temple in South East Asia, is situated close to banks of Mekong River. On display here are waxed replicas of 7 blessed martyrs. Behind the temple is the scared graveyard, the burial ground of the seven blessed Martyrs. Other noteworthy attractions are the bell-tower by the side of the shrine, the circular wall on which the plaques were placed for veneration, and an aerial view of the Shrine of our Lady of Martyrs by the Mekong River.
Chao Mae Song Nang Phi Nong Shrine is on Samran Chai Khong Road, next to Mukdahan immigration checkpoint. No records exist of its origin but it is regarded to be as sacred as the Mung Muang Shrine. The locals hold a celebration to pay homage to both shrines in May every year.
Chao Pho Chao Fa Mung Muang shrine is on Song Nang Sathit Road. It is here that the city shrine is located. It is believed that the shrine was built at the same time as the founding of the city. The people of Mukdahan regard the shrine as a sacred place that preserves the city's happiness.
Wat Si Mongkhon Tai is near the immigration checkpoint. The temple houses an important Buddha image of the province, Phra Chao Ong Luang, an image built before the city's founding. This brick image is 2.2 metres wide and 2 metres high. According to legend, the first lord of Mukdahan discovered it while he was overseeing the city's construction. In addition, another image made of steel was found under a Bodi tree with only its top part protruding from the ground.
Phra Phuttha Sing Song is a Buddha image at Wat Si Bun Ruang (Ban Tai) on Samran Chai Khong Road. This bronze image is 1 metre wide and 1.2 metres high. Chao Kinnari took the image from Vientiane to Mukdahan when the city was built. A ritual to pay homage to the image takes place every Songkran (Thai New Year) day.
Sawannakhet Province, Lao People's Democratic Republic is opposite Mukdahan. The second largest city to Vientiane, the province has routes linking Laos to Danang in Vietnam. To enter Laos, foreign travelers must have a valid passport and obtain a visa from either a Lao embassy or the Lao consulate in Khon Kaen.
Ho Kaeo Mukdahan is a 65-metre-high tower, 2 kilometres on the Mukdahan-Don Tan route. The lower floor features an exhibition on Mukdahan's history, another on the arts and culture of various tribes and the way of life along the Mekong River from past to present. The topmost part is an observation room where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the Mekong River, Sawannakhet and Mukdahan.
Mukdahan National Park (Phu Pha Thoep) is 17 kilometres from the city on the Mukdahan-Don Tan Road. To get to the park, turn right at the 14-15 km marker and drive for 2 kilometres. The park has an area of 48.5 square kilometres and consists mainly of many high mountains connected together like Phu Manorom, Phu Nang Hong, Phu Pha Thoep, Phu Tham Phra, Phu Lak Se, Phu Rang, Phu Pong, and Phu Kham Mak Mi. The highest peak is Phu Chom Si, which is 420 metres above sea level. The forest is a hardwood forest and is the source of several waterways.
Some parts of the park are steep cliffs and wide rock plateaus. The most striking of these is Phu Pha Thoep where rocks of peculiar shapes abound. It is believed that this area was once a dirt mountain that eventually eroded due to rain and wind. Around the end of the rainy season in October, flowers of different colors bloom from the rocks, giving the park magnificent colours.
Other places of interest include Phu Tham Phra, the largest mountain in the park. Visitors can find a waterfall and a cave where hundreds of small wooden Buddha and animal images are placed. Another site is the Tham Fa Mu Daeng on Phu Pha Thoep where numerous prehistoric drawings of hands and people can be seen. Drawn with red paint, the drawings are estimated to be older than 5,000 years.
Phu Manorom can be reached by taking the Mukdahan-Don Tan route on Highway No. 2034 for 2 kilometres and take right turn for 3 kilometres. A replica of Lord Buddha's footprint that is 1 metre deep is here. Visitors can have a good view of Mukdahan, the Mekong and Sawannakhet in Laos.
Phu Nang Hong is on the same way as Phu Pha Thoep. About 500 metres before the park headquarters is a left-hand road to Phu Nang Hong. The area is both a rock plateau and a dwarf forest. Natural rock formations in groups surround a huge swan-shaped rock.
Mahorathuk drum is kept at Wat Matchimawat (Wat Klang), not far from Don Tan District Office. This ancient artifact is over 3,000 years old. It is a single-sided bronze drum with a diametre of 86 centimetres and a length of 90 metres. The drum face has a sunrise design and the drum case has drawings of 4 frogs. The Kha and ancient Khmer people loved to collect drums. This drum was discovered in 1938 on the bank of the Mekong River at Ban Na Tham in Laos.
Nikhom Kham Soi
Wat Phu Dan Tae , or Wat Phutto Thammatharo, is on Highway No. 212 at the 134-km marker at Ban Chai Mongkhon, Tambon Chok Chai, about 15 kilometres from town. The temple is on a rock plateau and houses a large standing Buddha image with a halo on top. The image is clearly visible from a distance.
Phu Mu Forest Park can be reached by taking Highway No. 212 to the 128-129 km. markers, then take a left-hand road for 12 kilometres. Phu Mu (Pig Mountain) is 353 metres above sea level and has a mountaintop plateau with an area of 4 square kilometres. Wild boars used to roam the area, hence, the name given by villagers. The summit has 3 vantage points, 100 metres, 400 metres and 800 metres from the park office, respectively. Visitors can have great views of Mukdahan from all 3 points.
Tat Ton Waterfall is to the south of Nong Sung and west of Kham Cha-I on Highway No. 2030, 18 kilometres away between the 67-68 km markers. The waterfall is 7 metres high and 30 metres wide. A pool here is suitable for swimming.
Wat Ban Song Khon church is the largest and most beautiful Catholic church in southeast Asia. Situated on the Mekong bank 6 kilometres from Wan Yai, or 25 kilometres from Mukdahan, the church was built to honor 7 Christians who sacrificed their lives to protect the religion. The wax figures of the 7 martyrs with their ashes inside are on display in the rear of the church.
Kaeng Kabao is an islet that parallels the Mekong River. A wide rock plateau on the bank is popular for villagers seeking relaxation. Islands and beaches emerge in the middle of the river in the dry season, making the area more picturesque than in other seasons. To get there, take Highway No. 212 (Mukdahan-That Phanom) for 20 kilometres and turn right to Wan Yai and drive for 9 kilometres. Kaeng Kabao is 9 kilometres north of the district office.
Wat Mano Phirom is at Tambon Chanot. This old temple was built by Laos architects from Vientiane. A fire caused extensive damage to the temple in 1904, but it was fully renovated in 1911. The temple has buildings of interest such as the chapel and convocation hall, as well as Buddha images and a stairway, all reflecting beautiful local art.
Boat racing is an age-old tradition of the province. It is held on the Mekong River at the end of the Buddhist Lent every year in Novembe r. Numerous small, medium and large boats compete over a distance of 3 kilometres. All boats are made from a single tree trunk. Boats from Laos also take part. There is also a prize for the most beautiful boat.
Ruam Phao Thai Mukdahan and Makham Wan Chai Khong Fair is organised to promote the province's products and tourism industry every January 9-15 in front of the provincial hall. Activities include a procession using hundreds of people wearing ethnic tribal costumes of groups like Phu Thai, So, Yo, Kha, Kaloeng, and Kula; a sweet tamarind contest; the Thida Phao Thai pageant; shops selling products; and local performances.
Hotels and accommodation
- Banthom Kasem : 25/2 Samut Sakdarak Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4261 1235, 0 4261 2223] : 140-250 baht
- Chun Khwan Inn : 74 Phongsai Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4263 0736-7] : 550-800 baht
- Hong Kong : 161/1-2 Phithak San tirat Road, In front of Police Station Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4261 1143] : 160-250 baht
- Hua Nam : 36 Samut Sakdarak Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4261 1137, 0 4261 1197] : 120-250 baht
- Kim Chek Sin : 40/5 Phithak Phanomkhet Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4263 1041] : 250-350 baht
- Muk Tara : 207 Phithak Phanomkhet Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4263 0657-60] : 250-450 baht
- Mukdahan : 8/8 Mu 3 Samut Sakdarak Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4261 1619] : 100-400 baht
- Mukdahan Grand : 74 Song Nang Sathit Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4261 2020-5 Fax: 0 4261 2021] : 1,800-15,000 baht
- Mukdasawan Resort : 69 Chayankun Road (Mukdahan-That Phanom Road) [Tel: 01- 220 5191] : 400 baht
- Ploy Palace : 40 Phithak Phanomkhet Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4261 1329 Fax: 0 4261 1883] : 900-5,000 baht
- Ploy Palace Hotel : [(66 42) 631-111]
- Saen Suk Bungalow : 2 Phithak San tirat Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4261 1214] : 300-500 baht
- Saeng Thai : 9/2 Wiwitsurakan Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4261 1121, 0 4263 3159-60] : 250-450 baht
- Suni Bungalow : 50 Mu 17 Chayangkun Road Amphoe Muang [Tel: 0 4261 2681] : 200-300 baht
- Amphoe Muang
- Dara : 28 Muang Mai Road, Tel: 0-4261-1561
- Kiang Khong : Samran Chai Khong Road
- Narin Fishing Park : Mukdahan-Ubon Ratchathani Road (Tel: 0- 4263-0036)
- Nat Phop : 11 Wiwitsurakan Road, Tel: 0-4261-1189
- Phai Rim Khong : Samran Chai Khong Road, Tel: 0-4261-3016
- Rabiang Rachai : Samran Chai Khong Road
- River View : Samran Chai Khong Road
- Riverside : Samran Chai Khong Road, Tel: 0-4261-2846
- Ruen Amis : Samran Chai Khong Road Ruen
- Phae Mae Muk : Samran Chai Khong Road, Tel: 0-4261-2839
- Ruen Thai : Near Mukdahan Hotel, Samut Sakdarak Road, Tel: 0-4261-1620
- Sala Formost :74-74/1 Samut Sakdarak Road, Tel: 0-4261- 2251
- Sukhawadi : Samran Chai Khong Road, Tel: 0-4261-1842
- Thip Wari : Samran Chai Khong Road, Tel: 0-4261-2273
- White House : Phithak Phanomkhet Road, Tel: 0-4261-3963
How to get there
* By car
- From Bangkok, take Bangkok-Saraburi-Nakhon Ratchasima-Ban Phai-Maha Sarakham-Phon Thong-Roi Et-Kham Cha-I-Mukdahan route.
- From Bangkok, take Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route then use Highway No. 207 via Prathai, Phutthaisong, Phayakkhaphumphisai, Suwannaphum and take Highway No. 2169 via Sai Mun, Kut Chum and Loeng Nok Tha before turning into Highway No.212 and proceed to Mukdahan via Nikhom Kham Soi.
* By train
There is no direct train from Bangkok to Mukdahan. Visitors can take a Bankok-Ubon Ratchathani train and connect a bus to Mukdahan. For more information, call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20.
* By plane
Visitors can fly from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani or Nakhon Phanom and then connect a bus to Mukdahan. Call Thai Airways, Tel: 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 for more information.