Temples Near Udon Thani - Wat Phu Tok
Wat Phu Tok is arguably the best tourist attraction in the region although it is actually in Bueng Kan Province to the north east of Udon Thani, and it really is quite stunning. If there is any drawback, it is that it's a fair trek from Udon Thani city, being located about three to four hours east of Nong Khai (another 40 minutes from Udon by car). It's name literally means 'Temple of the Table Mountain', although it is not actually a mountain as it is someway short of being 500m high.
A whole day is advisable to get the most of this superb location and at least one overnight hotel stay in Bueng Kan may be order. If you are a slightly nervous disposition, you may think twice about scaling the side of the 'mountain', while not especially high, the climb itself, and the platforms, do not always inspire confidence. However, if you take it nice and easy, you will find your way up and will be well rewarded. The rocky outcrop here overlooks the Mekong floodplain, and you climb up by the use of steps and ladders that were built by Ajarn Juan, who was a celebrated monk and visionary, and famed throughout Thailand.
There are seven levels of wooden ladders, steps, rocks and roots on the mountain which represent the seven levels of spiritual enlightenment in Buddhist philosophy. You may want to take your time scaling the heights with the hot sun, but it really is worth getting there.
Inside caves and sitting on cliffs, there are many meditation huts which are used by monks from all over Issan. Wat Phu Tok is a quiet mountain and a place of peace and respect where many Thai's and other Buddhist followers climb to the summit to practice meditation. For the visitor, it's the fantastic views that are a draw, in addition to being something very different.
Auarn Juan was killed in a plane crash on a trip to visit Her Majesty the Queen. There is an elaborate mausoleum at this site also in commemoration.
The site is open 6:30am to 5.00pm daily, but is closed between 10 April and 16 April, over the Songkran festival.
If you want to get a basic understanding of the statues you will see in the temples, visit our Buddha Statue Meanings page.
How to get to Wat Phu Tok