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Phibun Mangsahan

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The small town of Phibun Mangsahan marks the halfway point from Ubon Ratchathani to Khong Chiam and is worth a stop on your way to the national parks, at least for a lunch break.

Best known for the Kaeng Saphu rapids which lie about 600 metres south of where the bridge crosses the Moon River, these rapids are only seen between January and May; they are submerged during wet season.

In the dry season, when the rapids are working, they're an extremely popular place for the locals to come and cool off. You can hire inner tubes to float down the river and over the rapids.

On the banks of the river are hordes of open-air food places, which throw mats down on the shaded grassy banks and ply you with excellent food and ice cold drinks.

Try some delicious Isaan treats like an extremely spicy baby prawn salad or the slightly less spicy som tam. There are no English menus and probably no English speakers, but the locals are friendly and will try to at least guess what you want.

Phibun houses an Immigration Office (T: (045) 441 108, open weekdays 08:30-16:30) offering visa extensions.

Aside from stuffing yourself by the river, browsing at the souvenir shops or getting a visa extension, there's no reason whatsoever to stay here, so if you're passing through at the height of monsoon, we wouldn't give it much of a pause.

If you're heading to Khong Chiam next, make sure to stop at Kaeng Tana National Park (T: (045) 406 887; open 8:00-16:30; admission 100 baht); there's a turn-off five kilometres before you reach Khong Chiam. Again, the optimum time for viewing is dry season. Canoes can be rented for 100 to 200 baht and tent rental is available at 150 baht and upwards depending on size.

Text and/or map last updated on 14th September, 2012.

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