Thailand welcomes Bung Kan as its 77th province, which is being carved out of Nong Khai province along the mighty Mekong River in the northeast region commonly called Isan. It borders Laos and four other Thai provinces. Bung Kan has many temples such as Wat Phu Tok with its wooden stairs and ladders up seven layers and natural wonders including Phu Wua Wildlife Sanctuary, a forested hill area near the Mekong River with elephants, tigers, and other wildlife. The province also has waterfalls, caves, and Nong Gud Thing, which is a large swamp with rich biodiversity including 20 fish species found nowhere else in the world.
Thailand is creating a new province, the kingdom’s 77th, which is an auspicious number.
The geography and the natural beauty will remain the same, but by becoming a province the people will gain a new sense of place and pride.
Bung Kan is being carved out of Nong Khai province along the Mekong River in the northeast region commonly called Isan. It borders Laos to the north and east across the Mekong River, and to its south and west are four Thai provinces: Nakhon Phanom, Sakon Nakhon, Udon Thani, and Nong Khai.
Vietnam and China are both nearby and easily accessible, just across land-locked Laos.
The Thai cabinet has approved Bung Kan and it will become official after being published in the Royal Thai Government Gazette.
Thailand’s newest province is subdivided into 8 districts and 3 MPs will represent it’s about 400,000 people. More than 98 percent of locals wanted the district upgraded to a province, according to a Ministry of Interior survey.
The people will now be closer to local officials making it easier to reach them and solve any problems. It already has government offices including a court and post office, and water and electricity offices.
The road network is well developed with bus service available to the main attractions. Rubber plantations are common in the area, and Bung Kan also offers some worthy attractions to visit, perhaps the most noteworthy is Wat Phu Tok, meaning mountain temple.
This temple is a remarkable vision and accomplishment in a man’s quest for spiritual enlightenment. Stairs and wooden ladders encircle the temple on seven levels of the rocky outcrop. They symbolize the seven traditional steps towards enlightenment. The higher levels offer wide views of the Isan plains. The seventh level is the top of the rocky outcrop. The temple is in good condition and reasonably easy to climb, although the stairs and ladders prove a bit slippery during the rainy season.
Other attractions include Wat Ahong Silawat, which is situated on the banks of Mekong River. It means “Navel of the Mekong,” and just in front of the temple in a deep section of the river there is a whirlpool, where it gets its name. It has been renovated and now includes essential services for monks and visitors.
Wat Sawang Arom, offering an expansive view of Thailand and Laos from near the shrine hall built in the shape of a bell, is another interesting tourist spot. It is located in a hilly area with cliffs, stone platforms, and trees for shade, perfectly providing a peaceful setting with a small stream flowing through it.
Thailand’s newest province features the Phu Wua Wildlife Sanctuary, which protects a forested hill area near the Mekong River. The area is home to wild animals including elephants, tigers, bears, gibbons, and monkeys. Several bird species are also common.
There are also areas of natural beauty including waterfalls such as Tham Fun in a timber forest with a scenic view to the north of Phu Wua. There is no water in the dry season, though.
Tham Phra Waterfall is another. It flows over a cliff about 50 meters high and 100 meters long and visitors can relax in the pool below. Like Tham Fun, it is dry during the dry season.
Chet Si and Chanaen waterfalls are others to remember. The path to Chanaen passes a 100-meter-long natural stone bridge.
Bung Kan also offers caves to explore in the province, and Nong Gud Thing, which is a large swamp with much biodiversity including 20 fish species found nowhere else in the world.
Other aquatic fish, animal, and bird life are common, too.
It is a diverse province, but it may not be Thailand’s newest province for long, with several districts in other provinces also looking to gain province status, including Fang district in Chiang Mai province.
But Bung Kan will always offer many attractions worth a visit and the best thing will remain the friendly nature of the people there.