Phu Thok means an isolated mountain in Isan dialect. Located in Ban Na Kham Khaen, Tambon Na Sabaeng, this sandstone range stands out and can be seen from a distance. It consists of two hills: Phu Thok Yai and Phu Thok Noi. Previously, this area was dense woods with many wild animals. Because of its tranquility, Phra Achan Chuan Kunlachettho, a meditation master, initially established a meditation place here for Buddhists to practise the Buddha’s teachings.
Phu Thok Noi is where Wat Chetiya Khiri Wihan (Wat Phu Thok) is situated. This temple is the starting point of a walk up to the top of Phu Thok, via a wooden bridge winding around the steep mountain. The bridge was built with faith from monks, novices and villagers. The construction began in 1969 and took five years to complete. This bridge is compared to a path of virtue that leads a righteous man to leave a world and enter into emancipation by their own efforts and determination. Phu Thok is still a meditation practice centre and a place for the community’s religious affairs. Visitors shall be calm in manner and pay respect to the place. The bridge’s stairs to the mountain top are divided into seven sections.
The first and second sections leading to the third section wind around the mountain which is covered by a dense dark forest with boulders and rocky grounds. At the end of the third section, a left turn is a very steep shortcut through the channel-like rock formation straight to the fifth section, but a right turn provides a path up to the fourth section.
The fourth section climbs around the mountain and overlooks small hills dotting the ground below called “Dong Chomphu” whose area to the west borders Phu Langka which is a rain forest in Amphoe Seka. Here, it is a residence for nuns. The section is around 400 m in circumference and is provided with rest areas here and there along the path.
The fifth section has pavilions and monk’s residences. There are several caves along the route to the sixth section. Many spacious rest areas are available on the sixth section, including cliffs, such as Pha Thep Nimit, Pha Hua Chang, Pha Thep Sathit, etc. To the north, visitors can see a natural stone bridge to Phra Wihan (hall) where the Lord Buddha’s relics are enshrined. Here, a mountainous line of Phu Thok Yai can be seen clearly. Most visitors often end their walk here. Since a further move to the seventh section goes along the winding bridge which clings to an edge of the high steep cliff, for around 400 m before reaching the shady forested hilltop destination. To visitors, this may seem horrifying and too dangerous.
To get there Phu Thok is around 185 km. from the town of Nong Khai. Take Highway 212, past Pho Chai, Pak Khat and Bueng Kan districts. Then, turn left to take Highway 222 and head for Si Wilai district. From Si Wilai, take a left turn and go on for another 30 km., past Ban Na Sing, Ban Sai Ngam, to Ban Na Kham Khaen and Phu Thok.