Fifty kilometres south of Nakhon Phanom, THAT PHANOM, a riverside village of weather-beaten wooden buildings, sprawls around Isaan’s most important shrine, Wat Phra That Phanom. This far-northeastern corner of Thailand may seem like a strange location for one of the country’s holiest sites, but the wat was built to serve both Thais and Lao, as evidenced by the ample boat-landing in the village. Plenty of Lao still come across the river for the fascinating Monday and Thursday morning waterfront market, bringing for sale such items as wild animal skins, black pigs and herbal medicines, alongside the usual fruit and veg.

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