A growing city by the Mekong

The provincial capital of Mukdahan has recently grown into one of the largest Mekong River towns in Thailand. Located directly across from Savannakhet in Laos, the bustling city draws many Lao citizens who pop over to take advantage of modern shopping centres and sprawling markets. Travellers will find some good eats along with a few note-worthy attractions.

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Muang Muk, as the locals call it, was founded in the late 18th century and has always been a sister to Savannakhet. Most of Muk’s residents are Lao/Isaan-Thai but there’s also a large number of Vietnamese-Thai. Out in the countryside, minority groups like the Phu Tai, Tai Kha, Kraso and Tai Saek have largely assimilated into larger Isaan culture, though some groups retain bits and pieces of their old traditions.

No trumpets. : David Luekens.
No trumpets. Photo: David Luekens

Since the 2007 opening of the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, Mukdahan has morphed from a low-key town into a modern city with a swiftly growing population. Travellers coming from Laos will notice a stark contrast between a “developing” communist country and a so-called “middle-income” country where Western-style capitalism is deeply embedded.

Unless there’s a need to satiate a KFC craving or avail yourself of all the pleasures found in a 7-eleven, most travellers will miss Savannakhet’s attractive French-Indochinese houses upon seeing the boring blocks of concrete that line Mukdahan’s streets. If you’re looking for a more relaxing Thai town with some interesting architecture along the Mekong, head further north to That Phanom and Nakhon ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,000 words.)

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