Sakon Kakhon is a traditionally Buddhist town and features five stupas. It’s an important market town but, for visitors, its greatest asset is its proximity to the surrounding Phu Phan mountain range. Besides this natural wonder, Sakon is also perfect for exploring the surrounding towns that features all kinds of small temples and Thai traditions.
Phu Phan National Park
Just 25km outside of the city, this lush national park sprawls for 664 km2 covering limestone mountains, savannahs and fresh waterfalls. And there is wildlife roaming about here as well including deer, monkeys and even some elephants. You can camp out under the stars or rent out a charming bungalow to spend the night.
Nong Han Lake
One of Thailand’s most beautiful lakes and the largest one in the country’s Isan region, Nong Han is the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon. You’ll find it right on the fringes of town and quickly see you can entertain yourself here for hours. Local fishermen can take you sightseeing on their boats and you can even make a few pit stops in some of the various islands. Just don’t swim in the lake like the locals might do: the water is infested with liver fluke which can cause a serious infection.
Fishery Station Aquarium
Just a few steps from Nong Han Lake, you’ll find this fishery station. It houses an interesting aquarium right in its center and for a small fee, you can go in and observe the many freshwater species on display. They’re naturally from Nong Han, as well as the Mekong and Songkram rivers.
Wax Castle Parade
The communities from the Sakon Nakhon province have crafted the art of creating large models Buddhist temples out of wax. Every year, to celebrate the end of Buddhist Lent (October), these wax models are loaded onto trailers and paraded around the Sakon during the annual wax parade. The event is still quite unknown to foreigners, so be sure to attend if you’re looking for a slice of real Thailand.
Wat Phra That Choeng Chum
This 24-meter high monument is located right on the outskirts of town and it is one of Sakon’s most iconic landmarks. The towering Lao-style chedi was added later in the 17th century to the 11th century Khmer base. Its name means “Stupa of the Gathering of the Footprints Temple” in English because it was built on top of four Buddha footprints.
Wat Pa Sutthawat
Don’t confuse this temple with a church! At first glance it can be easy to make that mistake: the wat’s arches and etched-glass windows can confuse the untrained eye. But Wat Pa Sutthawat, located on the outskirts of Sakon, is a shrine to Ajahn Mun Bhuridatto, one of Thailand’s most well-known monks. Onsite, you’ll find a bronze image of the monk on a pedestal and inside relics that remained after his cremation are on display in a glass box.
The traditional Thai New Year is celebrated between 13 and 15 April, and it’s not just a party for the big cities. In Sakon Nakhon, the entire town comes out to play for some water throwing madness. It’s one of the most fun events of the year in Sakon, so be sure to not miss it if you happen to be around at the time!
Related: Places to See Thailand