Fifty kilometres downriver of That Phanom, MUKDAHAN is the last stop on the Mekong trail before Highway 212 heads off inland to Ubon Ratchathani, 170km to the south. You may feel a long way from the comforts of Bangkok out here, but this is one of the fastest-developing Thai provinces, owing to increasing friendship between Laos and Thailand and the proximity of Savannakhet, the second-biggest Lao city, just across the water. Few farang visitors make it this far, though Mukdahan–Savannakhet is an officially sanctioned crossing to Laos, via the new bridge 7km north of town, and as the cranes dominating the skyline show, new hotels are springing up all the time.

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