Nearly everyone who comes to Mukdahan finds themselves strolling through the Indochina market at some point; if you don’t mind the heat and haven’t quite had your fair share of Southeast Asian markets yet, you’ll likely end up here, too.
Located right alongside the Mekong (the setting is amazing!), this bustling market offers anything from cheap souvenirs, to homeware, to fresh meals. Browse the outer stalls in the fresh air before making your way toward the cramped indoor area.
As you weave around the stalls, you’ll likely see many Lao citizens doing the same, as they often make quick trips over the bridge to do their regular shopping. If you’ve had enough of cheap souvenirs imported from China, head to the food stalls and grab a bite to eat. This is where the appeal really lies; you’ll find food from multiple different cultures here, and most of it is cheap and delicious. (8am-5pm daily; free)
Phu Pha Thoep National Park
If you enjoy the outdoors and want to do some hiking, take a trip outside Mukdahan to nearby Phu Pha Thoep National Park, a lovely attraction that draws many visitors to the region. Before you make it down into the forested area, you likely won’t be too overwhelmed by the sights, although we did enjoy some interesting rock formations.
The real adventure starts once you’re surrounded by lush trees, bamboo, and dense forest, though. Explore the area, and make sure not to leave without hiking to the Tham Phra Waterfall. If you’re there during the wet season, you’ll likely have a stunning view of the falls. During the dry season, though, the falls don’t offer the same spectacular views.
If you’re making a trip out, be sure to pack more water than you think you’ll need, as hiking through the park can leave you sweaty and dehydrated. (8.30am-4.30pm daily; THB200)
Temples in Mukdahan
Mukdahan is packed with culture, so if indulging in a bit of history and getting in touch with your spiritual side sounds like a great way to spend the day, take a walk along the Mekong and stop off as you pass by four different temples.
Make sure to check each one off the list; the temples situated along the Mekong are (from south to north): Si Mongkon Tai, Yot Kaew Siwichai, Si Sumang Wanaram and Si Bun Rueang. You’ll see local Thais going about their daily routine in each wat, along with groups of tourists likely doing the same thing you are.
The sights here aren’t drastically different from most other temples if you’ve already seen your fair share, but after days of tuk-tuks, traffic noise, and crowds, spending a morning or afternoon exploring different temples can be a nice step back. In the evenings in Wat Si Bun Rueang you can sometimes see rehearsals of local dance group. (open during daylight hours; donations appreciated)
For expansive views over the city below, head up to Phu Manorom by bus or tuk-tuk. This area is a nice place to enjoy a picnic and check out the towering Buddha statue that can be seen all the way from Laos. Spend an afternoon here with friends or just come to relax while taking in the sights. You’ll see lots of tourists snapping shots of the Buddha and surrounding art and paintings, and you’ll likely be right there with them.
If you’re up for a workout, find a shop in town to hire a bicycle from, and make the trip out on your own two wheels. Plan your visit during daylight hours.