Ultimate digital detox at Nakhon Phanom

With offbeat destinations becoming main stream, Nakhom Phanom has to be on the list. A peaceful yet charming town located in the north east of Thailand needs limelight so that travelers can get their ultimate digital detox. Bordering Laos and being separated by the tranquil brown waters of Mekong River, Nakhon Phanom has everything a traveler would want and expect.

I had the opportunity to visit Nakhon Phanom as it was chosen as a venue for Mekong Tourism Forum, 2018. I was extremely pleased with the choice of the venue as it gave a different perspective of Thailand which in so uncommon.

How to reach Nakhon Phanom?

Flight: It is well connected with Bangkok and there are 4 flights everyday with run time of 1 hour and 20 minutes

Bus or Car: There are 2 buses that run daily from Bangkok Bus Terminal to Nakhon Phanom with run time of 11hours and 30 minutes

Train: There is no direct train but if you choose this option then you have to board at Hua Lamphong to Udon Thani which takes about 9 hours and then a bus to Nakhon Phanom which takes 4 hours.

Top 7 things to do (or not) for the ultimate digital detox at Nakhon Phanom

1. Chill along the banks of Mekong River

Since the entire town is situated at the Mekong river bank, you cannot miss Mekong no matter where you are. Stay in one of the hotels situated at the river bank or take a walk at the riverfront. The only sounds you will listen to are the bird calls, cricket sounds and the occasional motor boats to catch fresh fish. The ever changing cloud formations and the colour of the sky will keep you around the river bank for sure. I stayed at The River Hotel and it had the best views in town, period!

Nakhon Phanom

Nakhon Phanom

2. River Cruise on Mekong River

If you are bored by doing nothing, hop on to the boat for evening cruise on the river to watch the beautiful sunset. It generally rains in the afternoon and the sky colours in evening are one of the most gorgeous that I have seen so far! Grab a snack and beer and watch the sun go down, the water splash on your face and people going about their business in Laos! Yup, time to tick off ‘Being in 2 places at once’ from your bucket-list.

Nakhon Phanom

Nakhon Phanom

3. Coffee and desserts

Nakhon Phanom has a lot of influence from Vietnam because a lot of people migrated here during the Vietnam war after crossing Laos. And that is the reason you will find the Vietnam coffee here. Some desserts won’t hurt either! Cute European style cafes are lined up along the main road overlooking the Mekong river.

Cafe in Nakhon Phanom

Cafes in Nakhon Phanom

4. Street Photography

The riverfront comes alive in the evening as the entire town comes down, to have a good time, catch up with friends, walk or snack. You will not get tired of photographing street art, installations, boats on the river, sunsets, cute children playing  on the riverfront and the Multiheaded Naga (Paya Sri Satta Nakara) which is the landmark of Nakhon Phanom.

Nakhon Phanom river front

Nakhon Phanom riverfront

Road art at Nakhon Phanom riverfront
Road art at riverfront

5. Night Market

Some retail therapy and local gastronomic indulgence is always good for relaxation, right? I found the night market at Nakhon Phanom to be cheaper than Bangkok (for clothes) with almost similar varieties if not more. Do indulge in some local lip smacking starters, mains and desserts. The market timings are 5pm – 9pm.

Clock tower as seen from Nakhon Phanom night market

Nakhon Phanom night market

6. Massage/Spa

Thailand is known for its amazing massage parlors and Thai spa. In Nakhon Phanom you can detoxify yourself with a local massage. Forget about expensive lotions and designer scrubs. Let the local community ladies rejuvenate you with freshly ground coffee and turmeric, with a pinch of salt. Don’t worry it does not have odour and the scrub is amazing and not to forget organic and sustainable! Way to go, you ladies 🙂

Organic spa in Nakhon Phanom

7. Ride a Skylab!

Tuktuk is locally called a skylab! The name is derived from its structure which when seen from a distance and going at higher speed looks like a tuktuk is flying – hence a skylab. Take a ride around the town or outside by riding one of these. Do not forget to hold on to the railings!

Skylab at Nakhon Phanom

Sustainable Travel Tips:

  • Most hotels in Nakhon Phanom have refill water station – use it instead of buying PET bottles from 7-eleven stores.
  • Nakhon Phanom is still  developing and opening up to tourism. Try buying food and clothes from a local market/food joint to boost their economy.
  • It is a clean town so do not add your waste to the streets. Always use a dustbin.
  • The entire SE Asia is railing in the single use plastic storm. Politely say no to a plastic bag when buying the soup or that beautiful indigo shirt!
  • Cover your knees and shoulders when visiting a pagoda

Wondering where to stay in Bangkok? Click here to know the sustainable hotel option.

Disclosure: I was invited by Mekong Tourism Coordinating Office (MTCO) to attend the Mekong Tourism Forum. Special thanks to Tourism Authority of Thailand, Destination Mekong and Office of Nakhon Phanom province for organizing this event.

 Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. It means it adds no extra cost to you if you book through the link but I get a referral bonus which helps me earn a little to keep this website up and running.

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31 thoughts on “Ultimate digital detox at Nakhon Phanom

  1. Love your pictures of the riverfront and I clearly remember the six-pack chicken! I’m really pleased with the current focus on sustainability tourism – it’s the focus that should have been right from the get-go. Looking forward to read more of your posts, Ketki 🙂

  2. I feel like i am in need of a digital detox. It is nice to go out and not worry about thing you have to do online right! A spa sounds like the perfect way to do that as well.

  3. I have never heard of Nakhon Phanom and I’m so glad to read about it. I’m always looking for places that are too touristy so I can actually relax and enjoy the country for what it is. I’ll love to wake up next to the Mekong and watch the day unfold with one of those delicious coffees!

  4. Ooh, I love that street art on the walkway. The galaxy looks pretty reachable! I’d love to go on a digital detox. I’m sure lounging by the beach would be ideal! Or even a spa day!

  5. I would love a digital detox!! But especially to see that street art, that is fascinating!! I also am a sucker for spas and massages, so I would do that the whole time as well. haha

  6. That riverfront road art is just stunning! I’ve honestly never heard of this beautiful hidden gem before so thank you for introducing it to us. I’m a little surprised the night market closes at 9pm tho. In my mind, Asian night markets usually open until late.

  7. never been there but I have been to Mekong river from Laos side. It was as beautiful as your pictures 🙂 I’m going to add Nakon Phanom to my list, perhaps I can visit when I’m around. Keep exploring x

  8. I had been to Thailand but never heard about Nakhon phanom. I would love to add this to my travel list and I love your idea of Eco tourism.

  9. I spent quite a while in Thailand but never heard of Nakhon Phanom…it’s always great to discover quieter, off the beaten path destinations. Thanks for sharing Ketki!

  10. This is so insightful given that most people haven’t heard of Nakhon Phanom. I am yet to visit Thailand and would love to include this in my itinerary. Thank you for all the information!

  11. Mekong river is gorgeous.Digital detox by spending time river watching will be my idea of a perfect holiday.

  12. It’s amazing how decadently luxurious a digital detox is in the 21st century! I really love the street art along the water!

  13. oh wow, I would kill for a tumeric/salt/coffee massage right now!! Loving your sustainable travel tips at the end, looks like a wonderful trip! I’ve pinned to remind myself of this destination if I make it to the area.

  14. i need to go on a digital detox soon! also i always refuse plastic bags or even tissue paper when shopping as it’s not necessary unless it’s a gift. if we all refused tissue paper, we could do so much! xo, natalie http://nataliastyleblog.com

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