Nakhon Phanom Province
Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom Province, opposite to Khammouan of Laos
Map of Thailand highlighting Nakhon Phanom Province
|Capital||Nakhon Phanom town|
|• Governor||Phongsiri Kusum (since March 2009)|
|• Total||5,512.7 km2 (2,128.5 sq mi)|
|Area rank||Ranked 39th|
|• Rank||Ranked 33rd|
|• Density||130/km2 (330/sq mi)|
|• Density rank||Ranked 35th|
|Time zone||Thailand Standard Time (UTC+7)|
|ISO 3166 code||TH-48|
Nakhon Phanom (Thai: นครพนม) is one of the north-eastern provinces (changwat) of Thailand. Neighboring provinces are (from south clockwise) Mukdahan, Sakon Nakhon and Bueng Kan. To the north-east it borders Khammouan of Laos.
The province is located at the valley of the river Mekong and is mostly plain. In the northern part of the province has more upland character, and forest covered plains. The main river in the northern part is the Songkhram River and the smaller Oun river. The southern part is more flat, and has the Kum river as only notable river. The provincial capital, the city of Nakhon Phanom, is located directly at the banks of the Mekong.
Phu Lang Ka National Park covers 50 km² of forests and hills, and includes the waterfalls Tat Kham and Tat Pho as its most popular attractions. Also flowers like the Lady Slipper Orchid and diverse wildlife is found in the park.
|Climate data for Nakhon Phanom (1981–2010)|
|Average high °C (°F)||29.4
|Average low °C (°F)||16.3
|Rainfall mm (inches)||3.0
|Avg. rainy days (≥ 1 mm)||1||3||5||9||19||23||24||26||18||8||2||0||138|
|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 are concentrated in the city of Thakhek of Laos, which is on the other side of the Mekong. Nakhon Phanom should then mean a city where you can see mountains.
The area was long settled by Lao people and belonged to the Lan Xang kingdom. Also after it came under the control of Ayutthaya the population stayed predominantly Lao. At first it was known as Si Kotrabun, and during the times of King Rama I as Maruka Nakhon.
Nakhon Phanom saw some of the most serious fighting between North Vietnamese insurgents and the US forces during the Vietnam War (or American War as the Vietnamese called it). During the 1960s, 73 of the 131 subdistrict (tambon) were said to be infiltrated by the Vietnamese and Lao communists, it was known as the "heartland of insurgency". American 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 Trails in Laos and carried out counter insurgency operations against Thai Communist forces while conducting search and rescue operations primarily within Laos and North Vietnam.
Between 1967 and 1971, most of the communists were defeated and towards the end of the Vietnam War, American forces moved their Indochinese military operations to Nakhon Phanom.
Another point of interest: Ho Chi Minh resided between 1928 and 1931 at Ban Nachok, a small village on the road between the airbase and Nakhon Phanom. Both his home and a new modern museum are now open to the public.
The provincial seal shows the pagoda of Phra That Phanom in That Phanom district. This highly revered religious building was originally constructed around 535 BC in Khmer style. The original pagoda 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, on which occasion many locals pilgrimate to the temple to pay homage. At the end of the Buddhist lent in November illuminated a boat procession is done.
The cuisine is mostly the same as in all Isan. Pla Ra, a kind of preserved fish, originally comes from the Si Songkhram area and is now popular in the whole country.
Traditional products in the province include hand-woven fabric, made from silk or cotton. Renu Nakhon, That Phanom and Si Songkhram districts are the center of this industry. Also hand-made Kaen instruments can be found in the province.
||This article is written like a travel guide rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (May 2008)|
||This section may stray from the topic of the article. (March 2011)|
Wat Okat Si Bua Ban (วัดโอกาสศรีบัวบาน). The temple houses two ancient Buddha statues ‘Phra Tio’ and ‘Phra Thiam’, which are situated together. Phra Tio, 60 cm. high, was carved from ‘Tio’ wood and later covered with gold plate.
Wat Si Thep Pradittharam (วัดศรีเทพประดิษฐาราม). Besides housing beautiful murals regarding the Lord Buddha’s history, the temple also houses an important Buddha image called Phra Saeng. It was awarded by the Association of Siamese Architects for Best Preserved Architecture in the category of Places of Worship and Temples.
Wat Mahathat (วัดมหาธาตุ). The temple was built since 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 beautiful 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 will be watered on the full moon day of the 6th lunar month.
Rama IX Park (สวนหลวง ร.9). Situated at the northern end of Nakhon Phanom city, the park was built to celebrate the 60th Birthday Anniversary of His Majesty 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 habitat for a number of wildlife, 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 located in the compound of Wat Phrathat Phanom Woramahawihan. The stupa is the real icon that nourishes the hearts of Nakhon Phanom’s people, as well as people from other provinces and Laotian Buddhists.
Renu Nakhon (เรณูนคร). Renu Nakhon is home to the Phu Thai ethnic group who strongly preserves their tradition such as welcoming guests with a ‘Bai Si’ ceremony, ‘Pha Laeng’ typical dinner party, with ‘U’ local liquor and traditional ‘Phu Thai’ dance.
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 the Lord 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 hill-top rock terrace offers a nice view of Phrathat Phanom. In the past, it was a meeting point for couples before going to gather wild produce 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 the Lord Buddha. It is located 98 km. from Nakhon Phanom.
Nakhon Phanom’s local handicrafts include:
Cotton and Silk (ผ้าฝ้ายและผ้าไหม) During the dry season, the villagers in these districts always weave cotton and silk tube skirts and tie-dyed ‘Mudmee’ clothes.
Iron Tools (งานตีเหล็ก) The production processes only in the dry season.
Local Musical Instruments (เครื่องดนตรีพื้นเมือง) Khaen - a local style panpipe.
Phrathat Phanom Fair (งานมนมัสการพระธาตุพนม) The annual celebration is scheduled to be 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 always illuminates the Mekong River in front of the city hall. The dazzling procession is held to welcome the Lord 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 the Lord 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, with candles and lamps to illuminate it before being launched onto the river. Today, the boat is built to be larger and much more extravagant. And it impressively illuminates the river during the festival.
Boat Races (Suang Huea) (การแข่งเรือ) The old tradition is held annually at the end of Buddhist Lent. It is quite successful to strengthen the harmony and relationship between the Thai and Laotian 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’ Tradition.(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 spirit. If the dance is to be performed in another period, the spiritual leader will have to ask for permission by offering a pig’s 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’ Tradition (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.
- Brocheux, Pierre (2007). Ho Chi Minh: a biography, pages 44 and xiii.
- http://www.nakhonphanom.go.th/ Website of province administration
- Province page from the Tourist Authority of Thailand
- Royal Thai Air Force Base - American Experience
||Bueng Kan Province||Khammouane Province, Laos|
|Sakon Nakhon Province||Savannakhet Province, Laos|