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Nakhon Phanom Province


Nakhon Phanom Province

Nakhon Phanom
Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom Province, opposite Khammouan of Laos
Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom Province, opposite Khammouan of Laos
Official seal of Nakhon Phanom
Map of Thailand highlighting Nakhon Phanom Province
Map of Thailand highlighting Nakhon Phanom Province
Country  Thailand
Capital Nakhon Phanom town
 • Governor Phongsiri Kusum (since March 2009)
 • Total 5,512.7 km2 (2,128.5 sq mi)
Area rank Ranked 39th
Population (2014)
 • Total 713,341[1]
 • Rank Ranked 33rd
 • Density rank Ranked 35th
Time zone ICT (UTC+7)
ISO 3166 code TH-48

Nakhon Phanom (Thai: นครพนม) is one of the northeastern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from south clockwise) Mukdahan, Sakon Nakhon, and Bueng Kan. To the northeast it borders Khammouan of Laos.


  • Geography 1
  • Climate 2
  • History 3
  • Symbols 4
  • Culture 5
  • Administrative divisions 6
  • Tourism 7
    • Sights 7.1
    • Local products 7.2
  • Culture 8
    • Festivals 8.1
  • References 9
  • External links 10


The province, in the Mekong River valley, is mostly plains. The northern part of the province has a more upland, forest-covered character. The main river in the northern part is the Songkhram River with the smaller Oun River. The southern part is flatter with the Kum River as its only notable watercourse. The provincial capital, the city of Nakhon Phanom, is on the banks of the Mekong.

Phu Lang Ka National Park covers 50 km² of forests and hills, and includes the Tat Kham and Tat Pho waterfalls as its most popular attractions. Flowers such as the Lady Slipper Orchid and diverse wildlife are found in the park.


Climate data for Nakhon Phanom (1981–2010)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 29.4
Average low °C (°F) 16.3
Average rainfall mm (inches) 3.0
Average rainy days (≥ 1 mm) 1 3 5 9 19 23 24 26 18 8 2 0 138
Average relative humidity (%) 67 67 66 69 78 84 86 88 84 76 70 68 75.3
Source: Thai Meteorological Department (Normal 1981-2010), (Avg. rainy days 1961-1990)


The name Nakhon Phanom, meaning "city of mountains", was given to the city by King Rama I. There are no mountains within Nakhon Phanom itself, the limestone mountains being concentrated in the city of Thakhek in Laos on the other side of the Mekong River. Nakhon Phanom is more accurately described as a city where the mountains can be seen.

The area had been long settled by Lao people and belonged to the Lan Xang kingdom. After it came under the control of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya, the population remained predominantly Lao speaking. At first it was known as Si Kotrabun, and during the reign of King Rama I was called Maruka Nakhon.

During the Vietnam War (or American War as the North Vietnamese called it) Nakhon Phanom saw some of the most serious fighting between North Vietnamese insurgents and the US forces. During the 1960s, 73 of the 131 subdistrict (tambon) were allegedly infiltrated by the Vietnamese and Lao communists, and the province was known as the "heartland of insurgency". US and Thai forces established a base at Nakhon Phanom, where the Thai military hosted the 56th Air Commando Wing, which conducted special operations against both the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Laos and carried out counter-insurgency operations against Thai communist forces while conducting search and rescue operations primarily inside Laos and North Vietnam.

On 7 August 1965, an ethnic Phu Thai village in the province, made headlines when Thailand's first-ever physical confrontation between communist fighters and Thai security forces occurred. Eight communist villagers were involved, one of whom was shot dead during the incident after the town was surrounded by state forces.[2]

Between 1967 and 1971, most of the communist insurgents were defeated. Towards the end of the Vietnam War, US forces moved their Indochinese military operations to Nakhon Phanom.

Vietnamese communist leader Ho Chi Minh had resided from 1928 and 1931 in Ban Nachok, a small village on the road between the airbase and Nakhon Phanom. His former home and a new museum are now open to the public.[3]


The provincial seal shows the highly revered pagoda of Phra That Phanom in That Phanom district. Originally constructed around 535 BC in Khmer style, it collapsed in 1675 and was rebuilt in Lao style. The provincial tree, as well as flower, is Fagraea fragrans.

The provincial slogan is The city of the revered Phrathat Phanom, cultural diversity, beautiful Phu Thai ladies, brilliant illuminated boat procession and picturesque Mekong River.


Important festivals in the province include the traditional dances of the Phu Thai ethnic group held during May and June every year. The Phra That Phanom temple fair is held every February, when many locals pilgrim to the temple to pay homage. At the end of the Buddhist Lent in November, an illuminated boat procession takes place.

The cuisine is similar to that of Isan. Pla ra, fermented, preserved fish, originally comes from the Si Songkhram area is now popular throughout Thailand.

Traditional products in the province include hand-woven fabric, made from silk or cotton. Renu Nakhon, That Phanom and Si Songkhram districts are the centers of this industry. Also hand-made Kaen instruments can be found in the province.

Administrative divisions

Map of Amphoe

The province is subdivided into 12 districts (amphoe). The districts are further subdivided into 97 subdistricts (tambon) and 1,040 villages (muban).

  1. Mueang Nakhon Phanom
  2. Pla Pak
  3. Tha Uthen
  4. Ban Phaeng
  5. That Phanom
  6. Renu Nakhon
  1. Na Kae
  2. Si Songkhram
  3. Na Wa
  4. Phon Sawan
  5. Na Thom
  6. Wang Yang



Wat Mahathat by night

Wat Okat Si Bua Ban (วัดโอกาสศรีบัวบาน). The temple houses two ancient Buddha statues Phra Tio and Phra Thiam. Phra Tio, 60 cm high, was carved from Tio wood and later covered with gold plate. Wat Si Thep Pradittharam (วัดศรีเทพประดิษฐาราม). Besides housing murals regarding Buddha's history, the temple houses an important Buddha image called Phra Saeng. It was awarded by the Association of Siamese Architects for Best Preserved Architecture in the category, Places of Worship and Temples. Wat Mahathat (วัดมหาธาตุ). The temple was built in the year 607 by Phraya Maha Ammat, the army leader from Vientiane. It houses an important stupa, Phrathat Nakhon. St. Anna's Church Nong Saeng (วัดนักบุญอันนา หนองแสง). Through its architecture, the church represents the town that houses people from different ethnicities. Before Christmas Eve of each year, Christians from different communities will make stars and place them in the church.

Wat Pho Si (วัดโพธิ์ศรี). The temple houses Phra Thong, a bronze Buddha image in the gesture of subduing Mara built in the Lan Xang-style in the early-Ayutthaya period. Phra Thong is watered on the full moon day of the 6th lunar month. Rama IX Park (สวนหลวง ร.9). At the northern end of Nakhon Phanom city, the park was built to celebrate the 60th birthday of the king.

Si Khotrabun Golden Beach (หาดทรายทองศรีโคตรบูร) One of the most beautiful river beaches in northeastern Thailand. The beach, from February to May, extends to the middle of the Mekong River and attracts lots of people. Ban Na Chok (Ho Chi Minh’s House) (บ้านนาจอก/ บ้านโฮจิมินห์) The village was once a safe house for Ho Chi Minh during 1924–1931 when he led the war for Vietnam's independence, later becoming president of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Phrathat Tha Uthen (พระธาตุท่าอุเทน). The large three-storey, 15 metre high stupa was built in 1911 to cover a tunnel containing precious items as well as to house Arhat's relic from Yangon. Phra Bang, Wat Trai Phum (พระบางวัดไตรภูมิ). Phra Bang is a standing Buddha image in the gesture of stopping the flood built in the Lan Xang-style. The people believe that the sacred Buddha image always attracts rain whenever the image is taken in a rain-begging parade.

Phu Langka National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติภูลังกา). The park is blanketed by tropical rain forest, mixed deciduous forest, and deciduous dipterocarp forest, which is a wildlife habitat as well as watershed for many streams.

Namtok Tat Kham (น้ำตกตาดขาม). The small waterfall runs through 4 levels into a pond.

Namtok Tat Pho (น้ำตกตาดโพธิ์). Originating from the Phu Langka Range, the waterfall runs through 4 steep levels, each of which is over 10 metres high. The second level is 30 metres high.

Phrathat Phanom (พระธาตุพนม). The sacred stupa is in the compound of Wat Phrathat Phanom Woramahawihan. It is revered. Renu Nakhon (เรณูนคร). Renu Nakhon is home to the Phu Thai ethnic group who strongly preserve their tradition such as welcoming guests with a "Bai Si" ceremony, "Pha Laeng" dinner party, with "U" local liquor, and traditional "Phu Thai" dancing.

Phrathat Renu (พระธาตุเรณู). The stupa houses the "Tipitaka", the three divisions of the Buddhist canon, gold and silver Buddha statues, precious items and regalia of Nakhon Phanom's rulers and noblemen.

Phrathat Si Khun (พระธาตุศรีคูณ). The stupa is a sacred place for Na Kae people. Phrathat Si Khun is similar to Phrathat Phanom, but it has different details. Wat Phu Tham Phra (วัดภูถ้ำพระ). The temple houses Prasat Thong Pagoda that contains relics of Buddha and arhats. This temple is a quiet place where a famous monk, Phra Achan Man Phurithata Thera, practiced his meditation. Dan Sao Khoi (ดานสาวคอย). The hilltop rock terrace offers a nice view of Phrathat Phanom. In the past, it was a meeting point for couples before going off to gather wild plants together.

Wat Phrathat Maha Chai (วัดพระธาตุมหาชัย). The 37 metre high stupa of Ban Maha Chai is regarded as a sacred monument as it houses relics of the Lord Buddha and Arhats. The temple also houses sacred Buddha images; namely, Phra Phutthachaiyasit, the principal Buddha image, as well as a Buddha image carved from a neem tree, which is the largest of its kind in Thailand.

Phrathat Prasit (พระธาตุประสิทธิ์). The sacred stupa houses the chest bone relic of Buddha. It is 98 km from Nakhon Phanom.

Local products

Cotton and Silk (ผ้าฝ้ายและผ้าไหม) During the dry season, the villagers in these districts weave cotton and silk tube skirts and tie-dyed ‘Mudmee' clothes. Basketry (เครื่องจักสาน) Pottery (เครื่องปั้นดินเผา) Iron tools (งานตีเหล็ก) Production only in the dry season.

Local musical instruments (เครื่องดนตรีพื้นเมือง) Khaen, a local-style pan pipe.



Phrathat Phanom Fair (งานมนมัสการพระธาตุพนม) The annual celebration is held from the 10th day of the waxing moon to the 1st day of the waning moon of the 3rd lunar month. It is an important celebration for the people of Nakhon Phanom and nearby provinces.

Illuminated Boat Procession (Huea Fai) (งานประเพณีไหลเรือไฟนครพนม) Held from the full moon day to the 1st day of the waning moon of the 11th lunar month, the procession illuminates the Mekong River in front of the city hall. The procession is held to welcome Buddha back to earth after preaching to his mother in heaven during the three-month period of Buddhist Lent. As part of the inherited tradition, the illuminated boat procession is among the numerous offerings to Buddha. The celebration has been handed down since ancient times. In the past, the illuminated boats were 10-12 metre-long rafts made of a banana trunk or bamboo. The raft was loaded with desserts, offerings, flowers, joss sticks, and with candles and lamps to illuminate it before being launched onto the river. Today, boats are built larger and much more extravagant.

Boat Races (Suang Huea) (การแข่งเรือ) The old tradition is held annually at the end of Buddhist Lent. It purports to strengthen the harmony between the Thai and Lao people along the Mekong River. The 3 km races take place on the Mekong River, in front of the Nakhon Phanom Embankment. The races are quite exciting as strong currents make them more difficult. Saek Ten Sak (ประเพณีแสกดต้นสาก) The "pestle dance" belongs to the Saek ethnic group in At Samat Village, 4 km from Nakhon Phanom. The dance is performed annually on the 3rd day of the waxing moon of the 3rd lunar month to please the spirits. If the dance is to be performed in another period, the spiritual leader must ask for permission by offering a pigs head, 20-baht cash, and liquor, then pick up a predictive coloured stick. If the leader picks up a stick of the same colour, that means the spirit does not allow. The dancers will perform to the fast rhythm of drums and striking pestles painted in red and white. So Thang Bang (ประเพณีโส้ทั้งบั้ง) The So ethnic group, both men and women, perform this traditional dance in the funeral to send the soul of the deceased to heaven. The So, who speak their own language which sounds like Mon and Khmer, settled down in Amphoe Tha Uthen, Amphoe Na Kae, and Amphoe Si Songkhram.

        Phu Thai Dance (การฟ้อนผู้ไทย) The dance of the Phu Thai ethnic group is performed in festivals during the 5th and 6th lunar months. Although the dancers do not perform synchronically, the dance entertains the audience with beautiful postures from the dancing couples, male and female.


  1. ^ "Population of the Kingdom" (PDF). Department of Provincial Affairs (DOPA) Thailand (in Thai). 2,014-12-31. Retrieved 19 Mar 2,015. 
  2. ^ "Northeasterners Mark 50th Anniversary of the Communist Armed Struggle". The Isaan Record. 2015-08-13. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Brocheux, Pierre (2007). Ho Chi Minh: a biography, pages 44 and xiii.

External links

  • Nakhon_Phanom travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Website of province administration
  • Province page from the Tourist Authority of Thailand
  • Royal Thai Air Force Base - American Experience

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