That Phanom

That Phanom

One of our favourites

There may be no better place than the small town of That Phanom to experience Isaan’s warm hospitality. Throw in a broad expanse of the Mekong River along with one of the most cherished chedis in Southeast Asia, and you’ve got one memorable destination. We love this place!

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Situated across the river from Laos and about halfway between the larger cities of Nakhon Phanom and Mukdahan, That Phanom’s history stretches back for over 1,000 years. Probably once the capital of the Si Khotrabun kingdom, the town was moved back and forth across the Mekong several times before coming under the sway of Bangkok in 1790. No matter what the town was called or which bank it was on, it always stood in reverence of the great chedi, Phra That Phanom.

The main attraction. : David Luekens.
The main attraction. Photo: David Luekens

Legend says that the original chedi was built a mere eight years after the Buddha’s death around the year 550 BCE. While this is a serious stretch, it very well might have been the first Buddhist chedi built in what’s now Northeast Thailand. According to the excellent museum located next to the impressive modern version of the chedi, the original and its replacements were renovated and destroyed several times, including most recently in 1975.

Phra That Phanom is, by far, the most sacred of Nakhon Phanom province’s nine important chedis, and it’s a major pilgrimage site for Buddhists from all over Thailand, Laos and beyond. Unlike some of the region’s other key religious sites that are overrun by tourists, this one is mainly visited by monks and white-clad laypeople. Though not quite as awe-inspiring as a Wat Doi Suthep or Wat Phra Kaew, the Phra That’s spiritually charged atmosphere can be a lot ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 700 words.)

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