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7 Best Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom

If you’re looking for things to do in Nakhon Phanom, one of the lesser known towns in Thailand, then look no further.

Located in north east Thailand, Nakhon Phanom has a population of approximately 800,000. Not as touristy as some places in Thailand, you can get a real feel of everyday Thai culture in this town.

It sits on the western bank of the mighty Mekong River, with the country of Laos just across the water. In fact, a popular attraction is the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge that spans the river, connecting the two countries.

It’s also home to the large and spectacularly ornate Wat Phra That Temple as well as some scenic, jungle-covered mountain views. 

Here’s our 7 best things to do in Nakhon Phanom.

1. Cruise Along The Mekong

The most popular of things to do in Nakhon Phanom.

Sitting in the north east of Thailand, the city of Nakhon Phanom shares a border with Laos. This picturesque city also has the famous Mekong River running alongside it.

If you’re heading anywhere near the Mekong, then we recommend jumping on a boat and taking an hour cruise up and down the river.

Departing from the pier, close to the the Indochine Market, you can get a comfortable and inexpensive tourist boat.

Gliding peacefully through the water, it gives you great views of all the beautiful temples, buildings and life along the river banks. Including fishermen from both Thailand and Lao working in the many fisheries.

It’s an opportunity to literally sit in between two countries and, although it’s not the cleanest water in the world, it’s definitely a big fat tick to the bucket list!

Mekong River Cruise Thailand Thai Foot Massage Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom River
Charlie ready to embark on a Mekong River cruise
Mekong River Cruise Thailand Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom
Our captain steering us along the Mekong

2. Rent Bicycles And Explore

If you don’t fancy river cruising then many of the guys on our trip recommended taking bicycles to get out and explore the city.

This bicycle-friendly city has plenty of options for rentals and kilometres of cycle tracks. So, off we set with our helmets for an early morning ride on our penultimate day!

We got up at 5am and rode around the town while it was pretty quiet. Although, you will meet quite a few cyclists as this is a popular form transport with the locals.

There’s a great cycle track that runs all the way along the promenade and matches the Mekong River for around 13km. From here you can enjoy views across into Lao and some lovely mountain landscapes.

Making for a really refreshing and beautiful way to start the day!

Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom Mekong River Bike Ride
Lauren taking the healthy and early option

3. Wat Phra That Phanom

Spectacular Wat Phra That Phanom is one of the most photogenic temples we’ve ever seen.

Standing 53m tall, the square shaped pagoda is said to have first been created before the 12th century and originally in a Khmer style.

However, when renovations took place during Lao control, the pagoda took on a Lao design.

Local legend has it that the temple contains Buddha’s breast bones and thus it is a really important structure for Theravada Buddhists.

Every year there is a week-long festival held to honour the temple which attracts thousands of people who make pilgrimages to the shrine.

Visiting this stunning building is definitely worth putting on your list of best things to do in Nakhon Phanom.

Wat Phra That Phanom Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom Temple
The beautiful Wat Phra That Phanom

4. Visit The Night Market

Open from 5pm – 9pm on Fueang Nakhon Road, this was one of our favourite things to do in Nakhon Phanom!

Surprisingly enough this small city night market was HUGE! It was full of cheap clothes, gifts, snacks and denim shorts…a lot of denim shorts!

This bustling market also has a variety of food stalls, offering some interesting dishes. Including everything from grilled frog skewers and deep fried cicadas to noodle soup and sticky rice.

This is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the local culture and get a real taste of Nakhon Phanom.

Lauren managed to pick up a couple of cool character tees and Charlie got an amazing chocolate brownie, so in our opinion it’s well worth a visit!

Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom Night Market
Sunsets over the Nakhon Phanom night market…
Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom Night Market
…with some interest snacks for sale

5. Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge

Ok, so this one is kind of impossible, highly illegal and we don’t recommend it!

The Thai-Laos Friendship bridge is exactly what it says on the tin. A bridge built over the Mekong River connecting the neighbouring countries of Thailand and Laos.

The bridge is highly patrolled with security and works as an immigration check-point for those crossing the border by land.

On the day we visited we were lucky enough to be travelling with members of the tourism board on our conference, who granted us access to pop through (without any passports) and stand in the middle of the bridge to take photos.

Never-the-less, it’s a cool monument and one that’s visible from the cycling lane along the river.

Third Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge Nakhon Phanom Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom
The incredible long stretch of tarmac connecting Thailand and Laos
Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom Mekong River Bike Ride
The Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge from a distance

6. Local Massage

Thailand is well known for its centuries-old history of massage treatment and wellness, with massage being seen as a traditional Thai medicine.

You will find massage therapy available all across the country and, when performed by a well-trained and experienced practitioner, can be really relaxing and therapeutic.

When we pulled up a chair to a lady covered in orange powder, it wasn’t quite the kind of massage we were expecting.

However, we can throughly recommend an aromatic foot massage in Nakhon Phanom as a great pick-me -up. Especially if you have been out pounding the pavements during your exploration of the city.

A mixture of tamarind, coffee and lemon infused water was the most refreshing way to reward our feet and try out a local tradition at the same time.

Definitely one of the best things to do in Nakhon Phanom for a little bit of self-love and care.

Thai Foot Massage Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom
Lauren enjoying a local foot massage – a must on your things to do in Nakhon Phanom list

7. Mix With The Locals

One thing we love about visiting less toursity areas of Asia is seeing the reaction of the local kids.

Pretty much 9 times out of 10 they’re sooo excited to mess around and mix with the westerners.

So if you see a smiley kid, make sure to stop and put the effort in, you may be the first non-Thai person they’ve ever seen!

Thai Children Nakhon Phanom Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom
Charlie hanging out with the locals

Where To Stay In Nakhon Phanom


The River Hotel

Located in Nakhon Phanom, The River Hotel features rooms with a private balcony.

Other services include massage and free Wi-Fi, which is available in all areas.

The River Hotel is a 5-minute ride from Wat Mahatat and Indo-China Market. Air-conditioned rooms are provided with a flat-screen cable TV, a fridge and a safety box. An en suite bathroom comes with free toiletries and a hairdryer.

For convenience, the residence provided a 24-hour front desk and a laundry service. On-site parking area is available.

For more places to stay in Nakhon Phanom, you can check the latest prices on

Planning Your Trip

Book Your Flight

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight.

They search websites and airlines around the globe to find you the best possible routes and prices.

Book Your Accommodation

Use to find the best accommodation deals.

They consistently return the cheapest rates on everything from guesthouses to hotels for all of your budget needs.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Use SafetyWing to find the best travel insurance for you.

They provide travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads.

Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

Book Your Tours & Activities

Use GetYourGuide to book your activities in advance.

They sell the best tours, excursions and activities to attractions around the world.

Conveniently book, download and access your tickets on the move all from your mobile.

Book Your Rental Car

Use to find the best deals on rental cars in the area.

They compare all major car rental companies and allow you to easily book the perfect vehicle for your trip.

Buy Those Last Minute Bits

Use Amazon to buy everything you need for your adventure.

They offer next day delivery and you can use my travel packing checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.

This trip was coordinated by Destination Mekong

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7 Best Things To Do In Nakhon Phanom

Leanne Marshall

Wednesday 11th of July 2018

Love going to local night markets! Such a good vibe and you get pretty cool bargains too!


Charlie Pauly

Thursday 12th of July 2018

Yes yes! We're all about the night markets in Asia!!