Mukdahan is a larger Thai city in Isan, at the banks of the Mekong River. The Mekong marks at this section the border between Thailand and Laos. On the opposite banks of the grand river lies the Laotian city of Savannakhet. Mukdahan is the capital of Mukdahan Province.
The '2nd Thai/Laos Friendship Bridge' over the Mekong River. Image by Asienreisender, 2/2010
A great contribution to Mukdahan's economic development pays the '2nd Thai/Laos Friendship Bridge', opened in December 2006. A great deal of people and commodities pass the bridge here and boost the trade. Among it are also many goods from Vietnam, which lies not far east behind the here quite small Laotian corridor. One of the city's very 'attractions' is therefore the locally famous 'Indochina Market', a smallseller market where a great number of small shopkeepers sell their Vietnamese stuff along the banks of the Mekong River, around the immigration office. The merchandises are cheap in both, price and quality. The low prices come, it is whispered, for the stuff does not always properly pass the customs services.
The Mekong River at Mukdahan
On the opposite side of the magnificent Mekong River lies the Laotian city of Savannaketh. Image by Asienreisender, 12/2015
The crap shops on Mukdahan's Indochina Market. Image by Asienreisender, 12/2015
Apart from the Indochina Market is the boulevard along the Mekong River banks the greatest attraction, particularly for me personally. One can walk for more than a kilometer along it. Parts of it have been improved in the last years. There is often a fresh breeze at the river, what makes it a pleasure to walk along here. At the southern end of the promenade is a military base.
When walking along the Mekong banks, one passes some Thai temples. It's always quite interesting to watch the temple paintings; one of the temples is of Vietnamese origin with Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai style contributions.
About a kilometer south from the Indochina Market stands Haw Kaew Mukdahan Tower. The tower is 65m high and has a dome with a 360 degree view around the whole place, means over the Mekong to one side with Savannaketh in the background as well as over the city of Mukdahan and the Phu Phan Mountains. It houses also a small museum of arts and shows what of the cultures of the local tribes. A number of Buddha statues is also placed inside the building. The tower was built in 1996 and is meaned to glorify the king of Thailand.
View to and from Mukdahan Tower. Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 2010/2016
One can partially see the the Phu Phan Mountain Range from the city, densely forested mountains. Some 16km south of town is the entrance to Phu Pha Thoep National Park. The mountains here consist of sandstone formations, some of them quite bizarre, formed by the erosion of rain and wind over millions of years, like the Hin Thoep Rocks.
Phu Phan Thoep National Park, some 16km south of Mukdahan, is a smaller national park. It has a number of these mushroom-shaped rock formations which the erosion formed out of the sandstone. They lie on a larger high plateau from where one can start an easy hike deeper into the landscapes. After the bizarre rocks don't appear anymore, there are other attractions like caves, cliffs and some great views over the surrounding landscapes. Close to the park entrance I found too many local tourists who were all the time noisy and giggling, busy to make photos of themselves in front of the rocks. A bit apart from the entrance there was nobody anymore.
Entrance fee for foreigners 100 bath, Thai 20 bath. Images and photocomposition by Asienreisender, 2010, 2016
When I came the first time to Mukdahan, I found it ugly, dirty and shabby. One of these faceless Thai cities you can not say much in favour for. In the meantime, the place suffered a stronger development boom. The boom brought more din, more traffic, more fume, more ugly buildings and roads and more business into town. In one word: more pollution of all kind. Additionally the prices rose considerably. Living quality dropped. Great development, right? Well, that's just the price we are willing to pay for the absolutely necessary growth of the fetish economy, don't we?!
In the Phu Pha Mountains around Mukdahan were prehistoric paintings found who show that there lived people already thousands of years ago. The town of Mukdahan was founded by a noble man from Savannakhet. In the time of king Taksin (1768-1782 CE) the place came under Siamese control, together with parts of what is nowadays Laos. The Mekong border here is the result of a French/Siamese demarkation border of 1893, forced by the French colonial power which took over the lands east of the grand river.