Published/Last edited or updated: 22nd April, 2021
Located in the tiny village of Ban Tha Di Mi, 21 km west of Chiang Khan, Phra Yai (“Big Buddha”) is a 19-metre-high, gold-hued standing Buddha placed on a high hill that slopes sharply down to where the Hueang River feeds the Mekong. Completed in 2001, the tall but otherwise unremarkable statue is overshadowed by great views that are sure to inspire geography nerds.
To the west of this point, the Thai-Lao border follows the comparatively narrow Hueang; to the east, the two countries share the Mekong. Virtually the entire view from Phra Yai—including a village that’s literally a stone’s throw away—is part of Laos. This is the first point in Northeastern Thailand that affords a glimpse of the Mekong, here churning dramatically southwards between a pair of green mountains. It feels like you could jump down to Laos and start the swim up to Luang Prabang.
This is a remote attraction with nothing but a shrine at the foot of the statue, some rubber trees and a pavilion for enjoying the views. The place was completely empty when we visited on a weekday around sunset. The road to get here is also devoid of anything save a couple of villages that don’t appear to have changed much over the last century.
If you have your own vehicle, head straight west out of Chiang Khan along Sri Chiang Khan Road, which becomes Route 2195, and follow the blue English signs to Phra Yai, located at the end of a right turn off the main road. We would expect a tuk tuk to charge in the neighbourhood of 400 baht for a return trip, while a boat from Khaeng Khut Khu should cost 1,000 to 1,500.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.