The Thailand Arrival & Survival Guide Get prepared

Mukdahan

Mukdahan (มุกดาหาร) was a fairly sleepy Issan province along the Mekong River until the opening of the second Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge. Now it's an important commercial route for trade between the countries.

Wat-Roi-Phra-Putthabat-Phu-Manorom
Today 35° 26°
Fri 14th 35° 26°
Sat 15th 35° 26°
Sun 16th 35° 25°
Mon 17th 33° 26°
Tue 18th 33° 25°
Wed 19th 33° 25°
Thu 20th 33° 26°

Introduction

Mukdahan is a small province on the outskirts of Thailand, bordering Laos with only a narrow stretch of the Mekong River sitting between them. Still unpopular with tourists, most foreign visitors are only passing through on a ‘visa run’ to Savannakhet in Laos.

Activities in Mukdahan are limited to primarily temples and markets, but like most other towns along the Mekong, there’s some charm. Make sure to rent a bicycle and cycle the path running along the river – beautiful and relaxing in the morning and evenings.


Recommended for

  • Anyone passing through to Laos on a visa run
  • Travelers who enjoy towns almost totally absent of tourism
  • Travelers looking for the ‘real Thailand’

Getting there

By bus – It is common to get a bus from Bangkok to Mukdahan. You can catch a VIP bus from Mo Chit which will take about 12 hours. This will usually be done overnight, running at different times from 5pm until 8:30pm. There is also one available at 8:30 in the morning.

These buses cost between 500 and 750 baht. You can take a tuk-tuk or a songtaew into town when you arrive at the bus terminal.

By plane – Mukdahan doesn’t have its own airport, so if you want to fly, you will need a flight to Ubon Ratchathani, Nakhon Phanom or Sakhon Nakhon and connect via bus. Some airlines offer a ‘fly and ride’ service which is simply a combined flight and bus ticket.

By train – There is no train line passing Mukdahan.


Where to stay

The town center is the most convenient place to stay with the most hotels.

We stayed at Hop Inn because it was budget friendly, clean and a short drive to the river and other attractions.

We find our accommodation on Booking.com by first searching for the town or province and our dates, we then filter out any rooms with a score lower than 7 or 8 (depending on availability) as well as any rooms out of our budget. After this, we open the map and hover over all of the pins in the rough location we already decided we want to stay in. Hovering over the pins gives us the price for x nights plus the review score. We click on each pin to open those hotels in a new tab, review them and book our favorite.


Getting around

Bicycle – The town is fairly small and can be explored by bicycle. You can rent from Nikorn Bike, find a hotel with bicycles available, or ask your receptionist if they know any rental shops.

Motorbike/car – There are no rental shops hanging on the roadside like there are in destinations more popular with tourists. The most convenient way to rent a car is on arrival at an airport, but since Mukdahan doesn’t have one you’re most likely to get a rental by asking your hotel reception for a contact (they will usually arrange it for you if you can’t speak Thai).

Taxi/tuk-tuk – There are taxis available but you may need to ask your hotel to arrange one for you if you’re a little outside of town.

Songtaew/tuk-tuks – There are two different colored songtaews available in Mukdahan, yellow and blue. Yellow songthaew loop the town for 10 baht )including a stop at the bus terminal) Mukdahan Tower. Blue songteaw head south towards the Mukdahan Tower. Hop on and see where you end up.


Nightlife

Nightlife in Mukdahan is mostly limited to the weekends. There’s always a bar open with beer on sale but for a lively atmosphere, you’ll need to join other locals on Friday and Saturday night. We were there on a Monday night and couldn’t really find any nightlife open.

There is a Tawandang, a popular Thai nightclub which will be more lively after midnight.


Fitness & gym

BLOC OF FIT is our choice for a gym in Mukdahan. Downstairs is an air conditioned gym with modern equipment whilst upstairs is a coffee shop / restaurant. The price for the gym was 100 baht. More expensive than most gyms in Issan but worth the price in our opinion.


Getting out

After Mukdahan you have a few choices for your next destination. Our recommendation is to head to Nakhon Phanom province – an interesting, friendly town with an airport, good activities and good onward travel options, including Udon Thani and Buang Khan.


Photo gallery

When to go

Most of Thailand falls in to the generic high and low season categories, including Mukdahan.

High season - begins in November and runs through to February, bringing cooler temperatures, lush greenery from the previous months of rain, good air quality, and less rain. The downside is larger crowds and sometimes higher prices for tours, flights and accomodation.

Low season - begins in July and runs through to October. During low season the temperatures are higher, the chance of rain and storms are higher. That doesn't mean it's a bad time to visit though, if you can be flexible, there are deals to be found on flights and accomodation.

Destinations like Mukdahan in both northern and north eastern regions can be significantly cooler during the high/cool season than central and southern provinces like Bangkok or Phuket. It's a welcome and noticable change in season which may require a wardrobe change, especially at night.

As Mukdahan is in the northern/north eastern region, it's important you consider the smokey/burning season which affects the north, north east and sometimes central/eastern provinces. You can find more information for current and historical air quality on aqicn.org.

Need more? Read our post discussing the best time to visit Thailand.

Where to stay

Instead of recommending hotels, we think it will be more useful to share our process so you can pick based on your own critera for location, budget and style.

We always start our search on either Booking.com or Agoda. They have an easy to user interface and have some extra benefits for "Genius" and "VIP" users. You can also sometimes pay with credit card in advance if you're playing the cashback or air miles game.

Process:

  1. Search for specific province, city or town.
  2. Apply rating filters for a minimum rating or either 7, 8 or 9.
  3. Apply other filters: budget, fitness, breakfast, etc.
  4. If you have a specific location in mind, use map view to browse and make a final selection.

If there are too many properties available to choose from, increase the rating filter for less, higher rated selections.

Final notes: Prices are dynamic. Check the same hotel on both Booking.com and Agoda to see which has the best deal at any given time (go through to checkout to make sure all VAT and service charges are factored in). You can go one step further by calling the hotel and checking the price for booking directly. In our experience this saves money 50% of the time but you have less guarantees.

Emergency contacts

Knowing an emergency number could save your own, or somebody elses life. Take a photo or save these numbers on your phone:

Police & emergencies - 191
The most important number to remember. If the operator is unable to speak English, call 1155 (below).

Tourist Police - 1155 or (+66) 2308-0333
This hotline is available 24 hours a day and they will all speak English. This is an important phone number to remember - They will help you out with any concerns or questions you have and can redirect you to the correct number you may need.

Public Ambulance - 1669
Dialing this number will connect you to a public ambulance service, which will dispatch a vehicle to your location. The average response time for urban areas is around 10 minutes, but may take up to 30 minutes in rural areas. English-speaking staff should be available to assist you.

Fire Department - 199
In case of an emergency such as a house fire, or forest fire, call 199 for the Fire Department to be dispatched to your location.

Highway Police - 1193
If you plan on driving in Thailand, then you may end up needing to use this number if you break down in an unsafe place etc.