As the Mekong River flows East past Nong Khai and then South, it progresses down the Nakhon Phanom's entire elongated eastern side, separating it from Laos. With a past that dates back many thousands of years, the province is a collection of diverse cultures and traditions from the various ethnic groups that now inhabit this land. The province, literally translated as "city of hills", is renowned for its beautiful scenery and a great place to spend a few relaxing days by the Mekong River. The city contains one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites, revered in both Thailand and neighboring Laos. The province is opposite Tha Khaek in Laos. Nakhon Phanom is 740 kilometers from Bangkok. The province has an area of 5,512 square kilometers.

:: Attractions

Wat Phra That Phanom Woramaha Wiharn houses the highly sacred Phra That Phanom (Phanom Relics) in a central, Laotian-style, brick chedi believed to date back over 1,500 years, though legend says it was built 8 years after Lord Buddha's death in 543 BC as a burial place for his breastbones. The 57-m tall and beautifully ornate, square-shaped chedi is capped with an actual 10-kg golden crest. Numerous Buddha images line the inner compound wall of the gem-studded chedi.

The city's principal temple, Wat Okat , was built by one of the town's earliest ruler many centuries ago. It is situated on the banks of the Mekong river by the dam in front of the town which offers a scenic view, particularly in the early mornings when the sun rises above the lush Laotian mountains.

In the Renu Nakhon District lives locals who still maintain the traditional lifestyle of their ancestries and is well known for their weaving and intricate embroideries. Visitors are treated to the local hospitality practices of the baisri sukwan (tying white strings onto visitors wrist as a sign of blessing) welcoming ceremony, hosting lunch, invitation to drink ou (fermented rice wine), and the ranu classical dance.

Built in 1918 and modeled loosely after the nearby Phra That Phanom, the Phra That Renu Nakhon is a 35-m tall chedi that contains the Buddhist Holy Scriptures and the golden Buddha image of Phra Ong Saen. Around the temple grounds are stalls selling textiles and local handicraft products, such as the popular triangular pillows, mon lai kid.

Nestled in the Langka mountain ranges, the Tat Kam Waterfall Forest Park contains a spectacular small, 4-tiered waterfall of the same name and majestic Tat Pho Waterfall, which can be seen from the highway and is accessible by a one-hour, shady hike.

During the summer months of February to April, the water level recedes to reveal a stretch of pristine sandy beach, the Hat Sai Tai Muang , which extends nearly all the way across the Mekong River to the Laotian side.

Buddhist devotees visit the Achan Bua Temiyo Museum to view his personal items and pay respect to his corpse, which miraculously doesn't decompose though it was never chemically treated.

Wat Srithep Pradit Tharam (Wat Srithep) has a very beautiful ordination hall with exquisite wall murals. Enshrined here is the very important Buddha image of Pra Sang and the revered sculpture of Luang Phu Chan, a well-known monk and highly respected by the people of this region.

Wat Kosadaram was home to another important northeastern Buddhist monk, Luang Pu Kumpan Kosapanya. Within the compound, the Phra That Mahachai houses holy Buddha relics, the largest wooden engraved Buddha image, and the region's most exquisite wall murals.

Phra That Tha Uthen is situated opposite Hinboon in the Laotian province of Khammouange, a historical town during the Sri Kotrabun Kingdom. The shrine, with a close resemblance to Phra That Phanom, was built by Phra Achan Sritad in 1912 to store a relic of the Lord Buddha which came from Rangoon, Burma.

:: City attraction

Wat Okat on the Mekong bank is on Sunthon Wichit Road and is a temple that has been in the province since it was established. Many old Buddha images regarded as sacred by Buddhists are housed here. The temple also features beautiful wall murals.

Wat Si Thep is on Sunthon Wichit Road. The convocation hall and wall murals are exquisite. The temple houses Phra Saeng, which is said to have been built along with Phra Suk and Phra Sai, two other important images of Nong Khai.

Wat Maha That , another temple on Sunthon Wichit Road, is on the Mekong bank. Phra That Nakhon is a sacred pagoda worshipped by Buddhists everywhere. It has a square base, is 5.8 meters wide and 24 meters high. The pagoda was built by Phraya Ammat (Pom), the army commander-in-chief from Vientiane who built Nakhon Phanom city.

A walkway paralleling the Mekong is a perfect place to enjoy the area's scenery, particularly at sunset when the sun drops below the mountain on the Laos side.

Thai Muang beach is a freshwater beach which occurs only during the dry season from February to April when it extends to the middle of the Mekong almost to the Laos bank. This is another good place to enjoy the river view.