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Mekong Tourism Forum in 2018 moves to Nakhon Phanom

June 21, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

During TTM+ 2017 at Chiang Mai on June 14-16 it was revealed that the future Mekong Tourism Forum (MTF), which was held earlier this month in Luang Prabang in Laos, will move to Nakhon Phanom next year. According to Jens Thraenhart, Executive Director of the Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office in Bangkok, Nakhon Phanom is an emerging destination in Thailand’s I-san, where the beauty of the Mekong River is obvious and delegates will enjoy a myriad of attractions.

Shrouded in mystery, the history of Nakhon Phanom started in earnest in 1790, when the city requested to be under the reign of King Rama I of Bangkok. The “city of mountains” is situated some 740 km northeast from Bangkok and is located along the newly built Na Muang Embankment just opposite to the city of Tha Khaek of Khammuan Province in Lao PDR. There, the mighty Mekong River is the international border between Lao PDR and the Kingdom of Thailand and allows visitors to enjoy views of the sunrise as well as the sunset.http://www.itehcmc.com/

One of the most important attractions is the sacred temple of Wat Okat Si Bua Ban, which has been honored since ancient times. The temple houses two Buddha statues called Phra Tio and Phra Thiam, which were carved from wood and covered with gold in the time of the Si Khottabong Kingdom. Another sacred temple by the Mekong River is Wat Pho Si, which houses Phra Thong, a gilded bronze Buddha image in the gesture of subduing Mara and built in the Lan Xang style in the early Ayutthaya period. At the end of the Buddhist Lent in October, Wat Pho Si is a major venue of the famous Wax Castle Festival and Illuminated Boat Procession celebration. Also, the church of St. Anna Nong Saengwas built in 1926 and its beautiful architecture is in line with churches built by the French in Viet Nam. Actually, Ho Chi Minh, the Father of Vietnamese Independence, has lived during 1924-1931 in the village of Ban Na Chok west of Nakhon Phanom.

Not to be missed is Wat Phra That Phanom, which is one of the oldest temple pagodas in Thailand. Legends go back to the time of the Buddha. Mirroring the Khmer architectural influence, the sacred sanctuary has undergone many restorations in the course of time. On 11 August 1975, after days of heavy rainstorms, the pagoda collapsed and had to be rebuilt in its former shape including Buddha’s relic and numerous precious items. The more than 50 meters high pagoda is crowned with a golden umbrella and is located 53 km in the south of Nakhon Phanom along the Mekong River.

Wat Phra That Renu Nakhon is located a few kilometers before reaching Wat Phra That Phanom and was built in 1918, but the 35 meters high pagoda is only an imitation of the former Phra That Phanom. It houses the three divisions of the Buddhist canon and other valuable items, while its ordination hall shows the golden Buddha image Phra Saen in a fine meditation posture. It is highly recommended to visit the village of Ban Phu Thai nearby, as the Phu Thai minority group welcomes tourists with their Bai Si Su Khwan ceremony and their Pha Laeng traditional dinner including liquor drinking from a jar.

When in Nakhon Phanom, a boat ride on the Mekong River is a must. Threatened by the building of dams, it has to be seen if the Mekong Riverstays in its natural habitat or will be destroyed behind control.

Next to the clock tower, local products and souvenir shops abound. There is the Indochina Market, where you can buy handicrafts such as cotton and silk, basketry and pottery, or some musical instruments. Recommended hotels are the Mekong Grand View and the Nakhon Phanom Riverview. For the budget traveler there is the Windsor Hotel. Nakhon Phanom has also the picturesque Phu Kratae 9-hole Golf Course and a domestic airport. For self-drive, if you come from Bangkok by road, you will pass Saraburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Khon Kaen, Maha Sarakham, Kalasin, and Sakon Nakhon. Anyway, it is a good chance to experience I-san or the Northeast of Thailand with its special customs, food and traditions.

Written by : Reinhard Hohler

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