Best Day Trips from Nakhon Phanom
Wherever you get placed in Thailand, there is always something for you to do. We got placed in a remote section of North East Thailand. It takes us about 15-16 hours by bus to get to Bangkok or Chiang Mai. At first, we were tremendously bummed about not being placed somewhere more central. But once we got to the city, we realized that there still things to do near Nakhon Phanom. We found most of these trips from talking with our coworkers and exploring on Instagram.
One of the most famous temples in all of Thailand is located in That Phanom about forty minutes outside our city. It’s a tremendously easy day trip to make. All you need to do is get up by 8 or 9, grab a minibus to That Phanom for 40 baht one way, ride for about 40 minutes, and then you will be at the temple. This is one of the main stops between Mukdahan and Nakhon Phanom, which means Mini busses swing by every 30-40 minutes. It’s a great activity for your weekend.
That Phanom is a significant holy site in Buddhism. It was built by a Laotian king in the 16th century and is said to contain the breastbone of the Buddha. This is artifact makes it a very holy and sacred site. There is an annual, weeklong festival held at the site to celebrate the importance of the temple and what it houses. Thousands will make the pilgrimage to celebrate.
If you want a slightly longer day trip, Mukdahan is great. It only takes an hour and a half to get there by minibus. The ticket only costs 80 baht one day. We went for the weekend, but it can be done in a day too. You can visit their box market filled with great Thai and western food and see the giant Buddha on the hill. You can see the monumental structure towering about the city from pretty much anywhere, but you need to make a trip to the temple grounds. The temple and the Buddha are the biggest tourist attractions in Mukdahan. The grounds hold giant naga (snake statue) and the Buddha. There are several other temple structures you can explore and also a great overview of the city and the Mekong river. We love Mukdahan. It’s a great little town on the river, with more to do than you might think.
Sakhon Nakhon is another great day trip. It takes about two hours by bus and costs 100 baht one way. Head out by 8 am to have a full day there. We went and explored several coffee shops and temples. They also are famous for a large lake with a lily pad garden. We spent the day walking the city, exploring their large morning market filled with traditional foods and goods, and having some great coffee. The city has very few westerners making it one of the last places where you can really experience Thailand from a different age.
Red Lotus Sea
This really should be a weekend trip, but you can swing it in a day. Get up early, by 7 am, and get on the bus to Udon Thani. It will cost you about 150 baht one way. The trip takes about 3 and a half hours depending on the stops. Once you get to the city, grab a cab and tell them to take you to the Red Lotus Sea or the lake with red flowers. They should know what you mean. The drive takes about 40 minutes, and you will want to have him wait for you because there is little transportation coming from the lake. You will be dropped off in a small village beside the lake. The entrance is clearly marked. It costs 300 baht to take a small skiff out on the water where you can see the pink water lilies. This is truly one of the gems of NE Thailand. It’s largely unknown, making it one of the last hidden, non-tourist experiences of Thailand.
Even if you get placed in the middle of nowhere, Thailand is an amazing country. All of the time, we are learning about places to visit in random nooks and crannies of the country. You can always make trips to the key attractions, but sometimes it’s fun to explore the lesser, more unknown attractions, they will often surprise you!