Sakon Nakhon is in the upper Northeast of Thailand and sits at the edge of the Nong Han Lake and the Phu Phan mountain range. The entire province is covered with lakes and rivers and its landscape is quite unique in comparison to the rest of the Northeast. You will find many forest temple retreats used for meditation; these temples are where famous monks familiar in meditation circles reside.
Nong Han is Thailand's largest fresh-water natural lake and a popular place of relaxation for the local people. Its offshore isles, above all the Don Sawan, are both stunning and relaxing and boats can be easily hired.
Wat Phra That Choeng Chum has a tall Lao-style chedi that stands over 25 meters high, built in the Ayutthaya period. The inhabitants of Sakon Nakhon celebrate the end of the annual Buddhist Rains Retreat at this wat by moulding miniature Buddhist temples and shrines out of beeswax. They believe this will earn them merit and they will receive good karma. The wax models are then ceremoniously paraded around the city and offered to temples and the next day there is a large festival.
Sakhon Nakhon is well known amongst Thais for its association with two of the country’s most famous Buddhist monks, Achan Man Bhuritatto and Achan Fan Ajaro, who both attained a high level of meditation while living in this peaceful province. Wat Pa Suthawat has a small museum dedicated to Phra Acharn Man Bhuritatto. Achan Fan Ajaro organised a cave hermitage at Tham Kharm on Phu Phaan Mountain. A museum commemorating his works is found at Wat Pa Udom Somphon.
Wat Phra That Narai Cheng Weng Castle was built by the wife of a Khmer ruler and has an old Khmer prang and many stone carvings. Formerly part of a Khmer Hindu compound it has lintels delicately engraved with images of Shiva and Vishnu.
Phu Phan National Park has some interesting hiking trails through its mountains, with over a 100 types of animals in the park, this is a good place to do some bird watching. There is also a herd of wild elephants, but apparently they are rarely seen. You might also get to see some monkeys, barking deer and wild pigs. Check out Khom Hom Waterfall, a small three tiered waterfall best visited in the rainy season and popular with locals at weekends, and Phra Tha Phu Phek the ruins of a building built to hold the breast bone of Buddha. Located on top of Phu Phan Mountain you have to be fit to climb the 500 steps to get a good view.