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Northern Thailand

Phitsanulok Expat Travel Guide

Phitsanulok (พิษณุโลก) is a historic city in Lower Northern Thailand, about halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It has a population of around 80,000. Understand A city in the lower part of Northern Thailand rich in historical, cultural and natural attractions, Phitsanulok is some 377 kilometres from Bangkok. The province around it covers an area […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Phitsanulok (พิษณุโลก) is a historic city in Lower Northern Thailand, about halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It has a population of around 80,000.

Understand

A city in the lower part of Northern Thailand rich in historical, cultural and natural attractions, Phitsanulok is some 377 kilometres from Bangkok. The province around it covers an area of 10,815 square kilometres, featuring mountains, plains and forest in the east and river basin. The Nan River, lifeline of the province, runs through the heart of the city.

It is also a regional commerce and transportation hub. Many travellers will at least pass through Phitsanulok on way to and from the North. The city itself is not the most exciting or prettiest place in the world, but it can be useful for stocking up on supplies, and Phitsanulok is a great starting point for exploring the ancient Thai capital of Sukhothai.

The local Tourism Authority Thailand (TAT) office is at 209/7-8 Borom Trailokanat Road, a few streets south of the train station (walking, 5-7 min) (08:30-16:30 daily).

History of Phitsanulok

The city dates back to the 10th century when the Khmer ruled this region. Formerly, the city was named Song Khwae, meaning two rivers, as it was located between the Nan and Khwae Noi River. The original location of Song Khwae city is at Wat Chulamani. Around the year 1357, king of Sukhothai, Phra Maha Thammaracha Lithai, decided to move the town to its present location. Since then, Phitsanulok served as a strategic border town ruled by members of the royal family.

During the Ayutthaya Period, the town played a larger role as a buffer town between Ayutthaya, the capital city, and the northern kingdom. Following an administrative reform by King Borommatrailokkanat, it had served as the capital city for 25 years. After that, the town was downgraded to a strategic border town. It has played a major role in blocking the invasion of Burmese troops. King Naresuan the Great, who ruled the town in a capacity as Crown Prince, mobilized troops from Phitsanulok to fight against the Burmese who then ruled over the Siamese Kingdom, and reclaimed independence in 1584.

Phitsanulok became a strategic town in coping Burmese invasion again in 1775 in the Thon Buri period. During a tough battle, the Burmese army commander requested the appearance of a Thai commander, Chaophraya Chakri, and predicted that he would become a king. Chaophraya Chakri was later crowned the first monarch of the Rattanakosin period, King Rama I the Great of the Royal House of Chakri. Phitsanulok was upgraded to be a circle called Monthon Phitsanulok in 1894 in the reign of King Rama V. Now, Phitsanulok is a province.

Get in

By plane

Nok Air offers regular flights between Phitsanulok (PHS) and Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) (50 min). Bus 4 runs to the airport, as do tuk-tuks, for about 10-20 Thai Baht.

Cheap Flights to Phitsanulok

Origin Departure date Return date Find Ticket

Bangkok

06.12.2020

10.12.2020

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Hat Yai

06.12.2020

08.12.2020

Tickets from 3 438

Khon Kaen

22.12.2020

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Surat Thani

25.02.2021

28.02.2021

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Udon Thani

05.12.2020

06.12.2020

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Chiang Mai

18.12.2020

21.12.2020

Tickets from 4 111

Chiang Rai

10.12.2020

11.12.2020

Tickets from 4 412

Nan

30.12.2020

02.01.2021

Tickets from 6 290

Roi Et

25.12.2020

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Pattaya

19.01.2021

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Travel by train to Phitsanulok

There are several daily services north to Chiang Mai and south to Bangkok. Both take about 6-7 hours.

By bus

Extensive bus services connect Phitsanulok with Chiang Mai (202 Thai Baht) and Bangkok (262 bath). As Phitsanulok is a major transportation hub, there are also regular services to the northeast. Phitsanulok is about 390 km from Bangkok. Buses take 5-7 hours for the journey. The return trip can take as long as 7 hours, depending on the Bangkok traffic. The bus to Chiang Mai takes 6 hours.

Beware that if you are coming from Chiang Mai, the bus will first stop on Bus Terminal 2 and after on the Bus Terminal 1. This later is nearer from the city center although the bus driver will call first Phitsanulok to Bus Terminal 2.

The main 16.819100.2791 bus station is 2 km east of the train station just off Singhawat Road (a 60 Thai Baht tuk-tuk ride). From there buses leave for Chiang Mai, Tak (via Sukhothai), Khon Kaen and Bangkok, as well as the surrounding provinces and to the towns within the province.

You can reach the bus station by tuk-tuk, or hop on the bus on one of the stops downtown, for instance on the broad road passing south of the Topland Plaza Hotel (a little west of the hotel). Bus stops and buses have signage in Thai only.

Get around

Public buses serve the town and there is no shortage of tuk-tuks and taxis. Bus 1 serves the route between the central bus station and the train station in the town centre, and leaves from the short road leading from the highway to the bus station.

Decent motorcycles (Honda Wave, etc.) can be rented from the shop near the central bus station, at prices somewhat higher than the Chiang Mai standard (starting ~200 Thai Baht)

See

Phitsanulok is not well-known to foreign tourists and thus has retained the charm of a typical, larger Thai city. Unfortunately, most of the older parts of the city were destroyed in a disastrous fire decades ago.

  • Aviary (Next to the Buddha casting factory). With around 100 local species such as parrots (English is spoken!) and hornbills.
  • City Pillar Shrine/Lak Mueang (Thai) (On the river, opposite Wat Yai). The spiritual centre of the city and province. A Lak Mueang (Thai) or ‘City Pillar Shrine’ is a golden pillar, which represents the tutelary deity of each province of Thailand, housed inside an impressively designed structure. This shrine was designed by the Thai Fine Arts Department, in a Khymer-style.
  • Folklore Museum (South of town centre). A small museum exhibiting local culture and society, as collected by Sergeant Major Tawee. Interesting, worth a look. 50 Thai Baht.
  • Houseboats. Once a symbol of Phitsanulok, only a few of these are left on the river and some now function as restaurants and cafes.
  • King Naresuan Shrine and Wang Chan Palace Ruin (North of city centre, past the government offices). King Naresuan was one of the great Thai kings who liberated Ayutthaya Kingdom from the Burmese in the 16th century. This shrine commemorates his life. A small white building contains the statue of the King. Surrounding the shrine are the ruins of the king’s palace birthplace.
  • Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat (Wat Yai) (Near Naresuan Bridge). This is the most important temple in Phitsanulok and is the home of the famous Phra Buddha Chinnarat, one of the most revered Buddha figures in Thailand. The temple is host to a large fair every January. There is also a small market on the ground, where people offer souvenirs and local food. Connected to the temple ground of Wat Yai is the Nang Phaya Temple. There you can get a traditional Thai massage.
  • Wat Ratburana (on the southern side of Naresuan Bridge). This wat is best known for its very old and tall chedi. According to legend this was constructed in the 15th century to house the ashes of the King of Sukhothai’s two brothers. There is also the usual Thai temple buildings, plus, a small museum, and a boat used by King Chulalongkorn.

Do

Visit the temples and stroll around a Thai city that is still unspoilt by the tourist traps of Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

There’s a really nice daytrip to two temples possible. 16.78926101.050851 Wat Prathat Phasornkaew and the Sitting Buddha Statue are around 2 1/2 hours by bus from Phitsanulok. Busses depart from the normal bus station and cost 80 Baht one way. From where the bus stops you have to walk for 25 mins up a hill (or hitch a ride on the back of a pick up truck). Both temples are quite new. The Sitting Buddha Statue temple is actually multiple Buddhas sitting in front of each other and getting smaller. The other temple (Wat Prathat Phasornkaew), which is just on the other side of the road, is completely covered in beautiful mosaic art, walls, floors and stairs are designed in a smooth, fluid way which reminded me of Antoni Gaudí. You can climb this temple quite a bit and have an amazing view on the surrounding hills. This is really Off The Beaten Path. When going back it’s possible to hitch hike or take a bus. For more information you can ask the owner of the Karma Home Hostel.

Eat

Several markets offer the typical variety of food stall dishes. During the day check out the Market just south of the train station, which turns into a popular night market scene in the early evening. Some of the best buys are gai yang (grilled chicken) and kweitiou pat Thai (Thai style fried noodles).

  • Night Bazaar (Located along the river). Offers lots of tourist type food options plus after dinner shopping with the usual night market items.
  • Topland Mall. Shopping mall with standard chain restaurant fare. There is a Tesco-Lotus downstairs for self catering and other essentials.
  • Big C Mall (3 km east of the city centre). Offers a wide range of small restaurants and a food hall.
  • Connection House, Borom Trailokanat Road (go southwest from train station/clock tower, past Xing Ming school but before Playground/Leelawadee.). Thai and foreign food, cakes and coffee.
  • Kuai Tiao Hoi Kha (ก๋วยเตี๋ยวห้อยขา), Soi Phutthabucha (riverside alley behind Wat Yai). Very popular noodle restaurant by the riverside. “Kuai Tiao” meens noodle and “Hoi Kha” to dangle one’s legs, refering to the fact that you can dangle your legs in the air while sitting there. May be difficult to find a seat during lunchtime. (updated May 2017)
  • Bubbletea Kiosk (At the river, near the school). A small bubble tea stall / kiosk offering really cheap, but tasty bubble tea. Open throughout the day. 20 – 25 Baht. (updated Jun 2019)

Drink

  • It’s a Cake (In the same building as Lithai Guesthouse). Great cakes and good sandwiches, pasta, and Thai dishes. Internet access.
  • The Pista, Phayalithai Road (Down the road from Lintai Guesthouse before the river.). Great little coffee shop mainly visited by young local students, with surprisingly good coffee and a quiet environment, good seating, and aircon. Free Wifi.

Sleep

Budget

  • Asia Hotel (a short walk from the railway station (turn left on the main road just past the 7-11)). From the outside this hotel doesn’t look much, but it has clean fan or air-con rooms with hot water, Wi-Fi and Thai TV. From the bus station, bus numbers 6, 8, and 12 stop opposite the hotel. 380 Thai Baht for an air-con room.
  • BP Tower. Pleasant 6 storey hotel, past the Big C on the main road (Mittraphap Road) out of the city, down a side street, sign on main road. A bit away from the city, but on the ground floor of the hotel is a mini-mart, laundry, massage, and a small restaurant. Bus to the city 9 Thai Baht, motorbike 50 Thai Baht. 300-500 Thai Baht.
  • Lithai Guesthouse, 73/1-5 Phayalithai Road (Taxi is 120 THB from the new bus staton. In walking distance of the train station.) , fax: +66 55 219627 ext 500. Very clean and good beds. Moderate prices, starting at 300 Thai Baht for a single fan room and 400 for double, both with en suite bathroom. Good in-room Wi-Fi is free of charge. Asian breakfast is included, and there is also a cafe downstairs in the building. (as of 9/2020) 300 single, 400 double.
  • London Guesthouse (short walk from Lithai Guesthouse). Check-out: 11:00. Clean, Spartan fan rooms for 100 Thai Baht. Shared bathrooms. Along one of the busier roads in town, so ask for a back room if noise is usually an issue for you. Pay another 20 Thai Baht for wireless password, good Internet speed. Good location, with night market & railway station nearby. Checkout time is 11:30. Friendly & helpful staff. 100+ Thai Baht.
  • LV Gardenhome. Very nice hotel – 2-storey with rooms surrounding central garden with water features. Bath, air-con, TV and free Wi-Fi in all rooms. Outside the city near Big C. Bus (9 Thai Baht) and songthaew (10 Thai Baht) during the day but no transport into the city in the evening; meaning you have little choice of what to do in the evenings as the place is quite remote. There are a few restaurants across the motorway open at night. Monthly rate 3,500 Thai Baht is for a minimum of 3 months stay.
  • Phitsanulok Hotel (across the street from the train station). Check-out: 12:00. Big hotel with small rooms. It feels like a barracks, the rooms cost 200 Thai Baht. Not really a bargain but it’s OK. Fan, table, chair, shower, Thai toilet. You get toilet paper, water, soap, and a towel. The staff hardly speak any English. Good option if you arrive with the train late at night. 200+ Thai Baht.
  • Tonwai Modern Place. 278 pra ong khao rd, a 15 or less minute walk from the train station and 20 or less minutes to bus terminal no.1. Doubles for 350 Thai Baht. Nice and clean rooms with TV, aircon, closet, minibar, private bathroom and a small balcony that includes a nice sunset. The owner is a Chinese Thai who speaks Thai, English and a bit of teochew. Breakfast is included, toast bread with jam and butter. Coffee, tea and chocolate. They also have a few adorable cats wandering around.
  • Phoonsab Hostel. (a short walk from Bus terminal 1). Clean and spacious rooms with toilet included. Free wi-fi. Rooms from 250-350 bath. Friendly staff that speaks a bit of English. 10 minutes walk to night market.}}
  • 16.82046100.263095 Karma Home Hostel, Lang Wat Mai Apaiyaram 26-64 , ✉ mark_connis@hotmail.com. Check-out: 12:00. Small hostel with only a few beds which come with curtains. The owner, Mark, is really nice and is a foreigner so speaks really good English. Location is central and good. The rate for a fan dorm bed is 180 Baht. They also have an A/C dorm. Free WiFi is available and good. Also there’s a rootop area with hammocks. Breakfast is with toast plus jam and cereals and it’s on a pay what you think it’s worth basis (not free). 180 Thai Baht for fan dorm.

Mid-range

  • Amarin Lagoon Hotel, 52/299 Praongkhao Road.
  • Grand Riverside Hotel, 59 Praroung Road. Free airport transfer. 2,000+ Thai Baht.
  • Rattana Park Hotel, 999/59 Mitrapap Road (About 500m from the bus station. Find the 7-Eleven, walk to the end of the road then turn right onto Mitrapap). Hot water in the shower. Breakfast is basic Thai food, and it was quite cold not all that late in the morning. Walk-in price for basic, clean, well-organised) air-con is 690 Thai Baht with breakfast.
  • Topland Hotel & Convention Center, 68/33 Ekathosarot Road. Part of the Topland Plaza shopping centre, this is one of the better hotels. Buses to Sukhothai leave from in front of the hotel. It is well worth the money, though can be noisy at night as it contains a popular night-club. This hotel has a lunch and dinner buffet. Price in the 200 Thai Baht range. Good range of eats. 2,000+ Thai Baht.

Cope

  • Immigration Office (visa extensions) (in the Floating Museum opposite the main Post Office, on the river. Walk upriver from the night bazaar (same river bank) approx 10 min (you will need to cross a road junction). After about 10 min you should see the main post office on the right. It’s the traditional wooden building, on the left, before the post office.).

Go next

Phitsanulok is a convenient transportation hub and good stop-over from Bangkok to Chiang Mai (or vice versa), or on the way between Northern and Northeastern Thailand (Isan).

  • Phichit – the town is the setting of a legend about the crocodile king, illustrated by a crocodile park. 55 km south, 40 min by train.
  • Sukhothai – ancient capital of Siam with historic monuments from the 13th century (UNESCO World Heritage site); a good day trip. 60 km (new town)/70 km (historical park) west, 1 hour by bus.
  • Uttaradit – 110 km north, 1½–2 hours by train or bus.
  • Kamphaeng Phet – another interesting historical park from the same era as Sukhothai. 110 km southwest, 2½–3 hrs by local bus.
  • Loei – main town of the coolest (climatewise) province of Thailand. 230 km northeast, 4½ hrs by bus.
  • Khon Kaen – informal capital of Northeastern Thailand, economic and transportation hub in central Isan. 320 km east, 5–6 hrs by bus.
  • Chiang Mai – informal capital of Northern Thailand, cultural centre. 345 km north, 5:15-7 hrs by bus, 6–7½ hrs by train.
  • Bangkok – Thailand’s capital and international metropolis. 375 km south, 5½ hrs by bus, 5–7 hrs by train.

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Reporting mainly on the Asia Pacific region and the global Coronavirus crises in countries such as Thailand, Germany & Switzerland. Born near Cologne and a longterm resident of Bangkok, Udon Thani, Sakon Nakhon and Phuket. A great fan of Bali, Rhodes & Corfu. Love to follow the English Premier League , the German Bundesliga and the Spanish La Liga.

Northern Thailand

Kamphaeng Phet Expat Travel Guide

Kamphaeng Phet (กำแพงเพชร) is a city in Lower Northern Thailand. Its historical park with ruins of 14th- to 16th-century temples, city fortifications and Buddha statues is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List “Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns”. Wat Chang Rop, Kamphaeng Phet Historical Park Understand Main entrance to the historical park […]

Wolfgang Holzem

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Kamphaeng Phet (กำแพงเพชร) is a city in Lower Northern Thailand. Its historical park with ruins of 14th- to 16th-century temples, city fortifications and Buddha statues is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List “Historic Town of Sukhothai and Associated Historic Towns”.

Understand

In the lower north of Thailand on the bank of the Ping River, Kamphaeng Phet is about halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. To its east are riverine plains while the western areas are made up of high mountains lush with forests where a number of national parks have been established.

Areas along the river bank at present-day city used to host several ancient towns which played a major role as strategic front-lines since Sukhothai was the kingdom’s capital down through the times of Ayutthaya and early-Rattanakosin (Bangkok) eras. The name Kamphaeng Phet actually means “wall as hard as diamonds”.

Kamphaeng Phet declined in importance and was an ordinary, smallish provincial city until the establishment of the historical park and its listing as a World Heritage site in 1991. Still, unlike its well-known neighbour Sukhothai, Kamphaeng Phet is largely ignored by tourists. This is why the city has barely any offerings geared to the needs of international travelers. Some may view this as a drawback, but those looking to experience authentic, upcountry Thailand, are coming just to the right place.

Kamphaeng Phet is a “banana capital”. Its local speciality are “egg bananas” (kluai khai in Thai), whose fruit are only about 10 centimetres (4 inches) long, almost oval shaped (hence the name) and much more aromatic then the run-of-the-mill long, bent banana varieties sold in most non-tropical countries. Kamphaneng Phet Province exports bananas worth 200 million Thai Baht each year.

Stay with our Hotel Partners in Kamphaeng Phet

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Get in

Fly to Kamphaeng Phet

The closest international airports are Bangkok-Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and Don Mueang (DMK), 370 and 340 km from Kamphaeng Phet, respectively. Flying to the regional airports of Phitsanulok or Sukhothai only makes sense if you are picked up or rent a car there, as public transportation from these airports to Kamphaeng Phet is inconvenient and very slow.

Travel by train to Kamphaeng Phet

Kamphaeng Phet is not connected with the train network. The closest train station is in Phitsanulok, from which it’s a nearly three-hour bus ride to Kamphaeng Phet.

By bus

The most usual way to get in, is by bus. Buses from Bangkok’s northern terminal (Mo Chit) and from Chiang Mai arrive about hourly. There are also some overnight connections. The ride from Bangkok takes five to six hours and costs 204 or 263 Thai Baht, depending on the class of coach. Most buses from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, Uttaradit, Mae Sot, Sawankhalok or Sukhothai stop in Kamphaeng Phet and may be used (ask at the counter).

Non-AC regional buses from Phitsanulok run hourly, from 05:00 to 18:00. For just 100 km, they take nearly three hours due to frequent stops and detours to villages along the way. A ticket costs 59 Thai Baht.

From Sukhothai you may either get on a bus towards Bangkok and hop off at Kamphaeng Phet, which takes some 1½ hours and costs around 70 Thai Baht (though passengers who book all the way to Bangkok may be preferred) or take the more rustic songthaew (converted pickup with passenger benches on the bed) that departs whenever there are enough passengers, takes up to 2½ hours and costs 60 Thai Baht.

The government-owned Transport Company’s bus terminal used by most intercity buses is somewhat incoveniently located, about 2 km outside the city centre, on the other bank of Ping River. From there, irregularly running songthaews, tuk-tuks, or motorcycle taxis (if available) take you to the city centre. Preferably, you ask your hosts to arrange a pickup. Wintour buses on their way from Bangkok to Sukhothai (or back) instead stop at the  bodhi tree close to the city centre.

By car

Kamphaeng Phet is conveniently accessible via Route 1 (Asian Highway 1), about halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It is a four to 4½ ride from either city. From Sukhothai it takes just over one hour, from Phitsanulok 1½ hours via decently paved roads.

Get around

Kamphaeng Phet lacks an actual public transportation system. The city is not well prepared for tourists. There are no regular taxis, and even tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis, or rickshaws are pretty rare. Reddish-brown painted songthaews cruise through the city, between the bus terminal and Big C shopping mall. Their departure times are irregular. Other songthaew lines connect with the surrounding province, departing either from the bus terminal or the large day market in the city centre. It may be difficult to find out where exactly they are going without speaking Thai. They do not have exact departure times either, but go whenever there are enough passengers for a certain destination.

To be independent and be able to do individual excursions to the hinterland, it is best to arrive with a hired car (e.g., from Phitsanulok) or to rent a motorbike (e.g., at Three J Guesthouse or Praepimpalai Resort).

Most distances within the city centre can be covered on foot. Moreover, Kamphaeng Phet is relatively bicycle-friendly (at least, in comparison to most Thai cities). While there are no designated bike paths, traffic on the roads is quite minimal, and there are quite a lot of green areas. To discover the historical park, the bicycle is just about the ideal means of transportation: it is a little too far to walk, while you cannot see that much from inside a car. Some guesthouses lend or rent out bikes to their guests. Another rental location is right at the entry to the historical park (Khet Aranyik)—30 Thai Baht per hour, mountain bikes for 50 Thai Baht.

See

Historical Park

Kamphaeng Phet’s Historical Park of temple ruins, Buddha statues, old walls and forts from the 14th to 16th centuries is part of the UNESCO World Heritage and the town’s main sight. It consists of three separate parts. Admission to either the “inner district” or Khet Aranyik costs 100 Thai Baht each. A combined ticket for both sections is 150 Thai Baht. The walls, forts and the sights of Nakhon Chum can be accessed without ticket. The zones that are surrounded by fences are open daily 08:00-18:00.

  • Khet Nai (Inner district). The ruins of the temple district of the ancient city of Cha Kang Rao, including Wat Phra Kaeo and Wat Phra That. The Reclining Buddha of Wat Phra Kaeo is arguably the most beautiful statue in the park and one of the best depictions of the Buddha’s serene smile from the Sukhothai period. The zone is surrounded by five metre high laterite walls and a 25-metre wide moat. Four of ten forts and gates are relatively well-preserved and can be visited. (updated Mar 2017)
  • Khet Aranyik (Forest district). Thailand’s Buddhist clergy was divided into “town monks” who studied, taught and performed ceremonies for the believers, and “forest monks” who went into retreat, dedicated to meditation and asceticism. The bigger part of the historical park, covered with light forest, consists of the hermitage ruins of the latter group. Thanks to the canopy of leaves, it is very pleasant to visit on foot or by bicycle (can be rented by the main entrance). Its main sites are Wat Chang Rop (with its remarkable chedi that is surrounded by 68 stucco elephant figures), Wat Phra Non (with a relatively well-preserved chedi and remains of a Reclining Buddha statue), Wat Phra Si Iriyabot (with the park’s only surviving, nine metre high standing Buddha statue). Next to the main entrance to this zone is also the park administration. (updated Mar 2017)
  • Mueang Nakhon Chum. Kamphaeng Phet/Cha Kang Rao’s sister city on the opposite bank of the Ping River is even older. Its fortification and temple ruins are however in a worse state of preservation. Unlike on the other bank, there is no actual park with fence, cashier, and trim paths, but the ruins are simply dispersed among the landscape, widely ignored by locals and tourists alike. The only historic temple that is still in use, is Wat Phra Borommathat (see below, in the temples section). (updated Mar 2017)

Temples

  • Wat Khu Yang, Th. Wichit 1. Old temple in the town centre whose history dates to c. 1600. The present buildings date from the 1850s. Notable is the ho trai, i.e., the monastery’s library, a traditional wooden house standing on stilts amid a water ditch. Its roof is covered with characteristic fish-scale shaped tiles. The ubosot is nice to look at too, especially at dusk when the colourful glass elements of the elaborately decorated pediment shimmer. (updated Mar 2017)
  • Wat Phra Borommathat (วัดพระบรมธาตุ), Nakhon Chum. This temple is one of the oldest in Kamphaeng Phet (its history probably dates back to the 14th century) and the only ancient monastery of the historical park that is not a ruin but still active. Its most visible feature is the tall, gold-covered pagoda in Burmese Mon style that can be seen from afar. Originally, the chedi was Sukhothai-style, but it was redesigned during a renovation from 1870 to 1907, sponsored by a rich timber merchant. The temple compound also hosts the “Nakhon Chum cultural centre” in a traditional teak building, with a collection of all kinds of antique objects, that however lack explanations (at least in English). (updated Mar 2017)
  • Wat Sawang Arom, Nakhon Chum (West of the Suan Mak canal, some 800 m off the Route 1/Asian Highway. Turn left at the Esso gas pump before the bridge, at the end of the road turn right through the underpass, then left, past the small market, after 450 m left again, across the bridge, and another 100 m to the temple entrance). Old temple with a beautiful, three metre high, Chiang Saen-style Buddha statue in the “calling the earth to witness” posture.

Museums

  • Kamphaeng Phet National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติกำแพงเพชร, Phiphithaphanthasathan haeng Chat Kamphaeng Phet), Th Pin Damri. W-Su, 09:00-16:30. Exhibition of bronze sculptures and pottery from different periods of Thai art and Mon art. The highlight is an early 16th-century bronze Shiva statue. Its head and hands were cut off in 1886 by a German trader who tried to smuggle them to Europe. They were however confiscated before he could send them abroad and were reunited with the torso. A replica was then made under orders of King Rama V, given to the German crown prince and is now exhibited at the Berlin Museum of Asian Art. 100 Thai Baht. (updated May 2017)
  • Kamphaeng Phet Chaloemphrakiat Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานกำแพงเพชรเฉลิมพระเกียรติ, Phiphithaphanthasathan Kamphaeng Phet Chaloem Phrakiat; also known as “Thai House Museum”, พิพิธภัณฑ์เรือนไทย, Phiphithaphan Ruean Thai). Daily, 09:00-16:30. Elegant replicas of traditional Thai houses, hosting an exhibition about local and regional history and lifestyle. 10 Thai Baht; multimedia room 250 Thai Baht per group. (updated May 2017)
  • Next to the Thai House Museum is a banana orchard, officially named the “Centre for Collection of Banana Varieties” (ศูนย์รวมสายพันธุ์กล้วย), growing banana plants of more than 150 different breeds.

Other

  • San Lak Mueang (City pillar shrine), Th. Ratchadamnoen 2 (At the corner of the historical park’s “inner district”, on the road to Sukhothai). Shrine that houses the symbolic navel of the city which according to the locals’ belief is home to the city’s guardian spirits. (updated May 2017)
  • Shiva shrine (San Phra Isuan) (Near Kamphaeng Phet Chaloemphrakiat Museum and the northeastern corner of the historical park, behind the family court (fenced, large white colonnaded building with red roof)). Original place of the Shiva statue that now is kept at the National Museum, there is a replica where locals bring their offerings, asking the deity for blessing of themselves, their families and pets. (updated May 2017)
  • Clock tower (At the main roundabout near the city limit). Landmark and central orientation point. It is made of laterite, thus referring to the ancient monuments of the historical park, that consist of the same material. With its castle-like shape and crenelations, it is also a nod to the city’s name: “diamond wall”. The bodhi (sacred fig) tree on the other side of the roundabout is used by locals as a meeting point. (updated May 2017)

Do

  • Stroll, jog or cycle along the palm-lined 16.47325699.5252911 waterside promenade on the bank of Ping River (Rim Ping, ริมปิง); enjoy a foot massage (200 Thai Baht/hr); relax at Sirichit Park (สิริจิตอุทยาน) which offers free outdoor gym machines, a children’s swimming pool, a tennis court and lots of stalls selling snacks and refreshments. You can cross the bridge to the quaint little island in the middle of the river (Ko Klang Maenam Ping, เกาะกลางแม่น้ำปิง).
  • Traditional Thai massage “Pa Phim” (นวดแผนไทยโบราณ), Rachavitee Road 1 (200 m west of Three J Guesthouse, next to Suea Yim Coffee Club). Owner is an alumna of the reputable Wat Pho massage school in Bangkok. 2 hr for 200 Thai Baht. (updated May 2017)

Festivals and regular events

  • Nop Phra Len Phleng festival on Makha Bucha, i.e., full moon in late-February or early-March, commemorates the donation of a Buddha relic to the city of Nakhon Chum (one of the precursors of Kamphaeng Phet) by king Li Thai in 1357. An inscription which describes a procession in honour of this relic is one of the oldest documents of local history. The tradition was revived in 1983 and since then a great pageant is held annually. The city is decorated several days beforehand. Nop Phra means to ‘pay respect to the Buddha’, Len means ‘play’ and Phleng is ‘song’. This sums up the programme of this festival pretty well: apart from the religious parade (with attendees in historic costumes), cultural performances like dance and plays are staged. Moreover there is a light and sound show in the historical park and a large fair where regional products are peddled.
  • Thai kite festival Cha-kang-rao (February to March), traditional kite competition at Sirichit Park
  • Banana Festival on ten days around Sat Thai, i.e., new moon in late-September, celebrating and promoting the province’s best-known product. There are different parades and contests, including the selection of a banana queen, and of course lots of opportunities to taste bananas and krayasat, a local sweet made from puffed rice, toasted sesame, peanuts and sugar.
  • Loi Krathong on November’s full moon, like in most Thai cities the festival of lights in honour of the river goddess is celebrated in Kamphaeng Phet, too. There is a parade with floats shaped like oversized krathong (i.e., decorated floats made from banana wood and leaves), a competition for the most beautiful krathong as well as the selection of a beauty queen and different cultural programmes. Most activities are centered around Sirichit Park at the bank of Ping River.
  • Food fair and noodle festival (1-3 December), Noodle dishes are the favourite food of many locals, so an annual fair was established around this theme with many food stalls offering local products around Sirichit Park.

Buy

Kamphaeng Phet is famous for a small, round, sweet and aromatic banana variety called “egg bananas” (Thai: kluai khai).

  • Big C Supercenter, 613/1 Charoensuk Road. Large shopping mall with a variety of shops, system catering and a cinema. (updated May 2017)
  • Tesco Lotus, Bamrungrat Road Soi 4. Western-style supermarket with a little mall of a few individual shops and a KFC branch. (updated May 2017)
  • Main daytime market (Between Thanon Bamrungrat und Wichit 2). Wet market selling fresh food and ready-to-eat dishes as well as craft products. (updated May 2017)
  • Talat Ton Pho (small daytime market), Thesa Road 1 Soi 2 (Near the bodhi tree). Mainly food, including ready-to-eat dishes. (updated May 2017)
  • Night market (or “night bazaar”) (Between Sirichit und Thesa 1 Roads). Great variety of food, including ready-to-eat dishes. (updated May 2017)
  • There are several 7-Elevens around the town, one of them next to the main roundabout (next to bodhi tree and clock tower).
  • Banana market, Tambon Ang Thong (On both sides of Hwy 1/Asian Highway, about 14 km south of town). Dozens of stalls selling fresh bananas (ripe or green), fried bananas, bananas baked in honey, and rattan products. (updated May 2017)

The city has branches of all Thai banks. ATMs can also be found at the bus terminal and Big C.

Eat

Apart from the local “egg bananas”, local specialties include “grass jelly” (Chao Kuai, เฉาก๊วย), served on ice as a dessert or refreshing snack.

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Northern Thailand

Mae Hong Son Expat Travel Guide

Mae Hong Son (แม่ฮ่องสอน) is a city (pop. 7,000) in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand. Get in View over Mae Hong Son Lake By plane Non-stop 30 minute flights from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son Airport (HGN) are flown daily by Nok Air By road Mae Hong Son is 924 km from Bangkok. […]

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Mae Hong Son (แม่ฮ่องสอน) is a city (pop. 7,000) in Mae Hong Son Province, Northern Thailand.

Get in

By plane

Non-stop 30 minute flights from Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son Airport (HGN) are flown daily by Nok Air and Bangkok.

Stay with our Hotel Partners in Mae Hong Son

The following hotels and resorts have special safety measures in place due to the global Coronavirus Pandemic.

Cheap Flights to Mae Hong Son

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Chiang Mai

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By road

Mae Hong Son is 924 km from Bangkok. Drive from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and then choose a route to Mae Hong Son. There are two road options from Chiang Mai, each taking 5-6 hours by car:

  • Chiang Mai—Hot—Mae Sariang—Khun Yuam—Mae Hong Son (Rte 108) totals a distance of 349 km. This is the easier drive, especially the Chiang Mai to Mae Sariang part.
  • Chiang Mai—Mae Malai—Pai—Mae Hong Son (Rte 1095), a distance of 236 km but with 1,864 curves. While this is the more scenic route, it is more demanding of the driver.

By bus

Regular bus services connect Mae Hong Son with Chiang Mai (Arcade Bus Terminal). The trip will take at least 7-8 hours. A better option is the minibus, also leaving from Arcade in Chiang Mai, which only takes 5.5 hours but costs 250 Thai Baht. If you’re going by bus, you can choose the northern (Pai) or southern (Mae Sariang) route. The northern route is a little faster. The new bus station in Mae Hong Son is about a 15 minute walk from the centre of town to the southwest. The bus station is set on a seemingly deserted street that runs parallel to the main road in town.

There is also an overnight bus to Bangkok Northern Bus Terminal (Mo Chit) which takes about 15 hours.

Sombat Tour, operates an air conditioned bus which runs directly from Bangkok to Mae Hong Son every day. The bus departs from Chatuchak (Mo Chit 2) Bus Terminal at 15:00, 17:00, and 18:00 with a fare of 718 Thai Baht.

Travel by train to Mae Hong Son

The nearest train station is at Chiang Mai. One can travel from Bangkok to Chiang Mai by rail and then continue to Mae Hong Son by bus. For more information, call 1699, +66 2 2237010, +66 2 2237020 or visit Thai State Railways.

Get around

This is a small town so walking is the way to get around. There are bicycles for rent from Titan Internet shop (across from the 7-11 and post office). To do anything in the surrounding areas a motorbike, or at least a bicycle, is needed.

The new bus station seems like it is in the middle of nowhere and the tuk-tuk and motorbike taxi guys love that. A ride to the centre (including most guest houses) costs 80 Thai Baht, but really it’s only a 10-15 minute walk to the centre of town. You should just turn left out of the bus station and walk straight until you hit the golden statue. Walking up next to the statue, the station is just a bit further towards the city center.

See

Walk around the picturesque lake and visit the surrounding wats. Wat Phra That Doi Kong Mu (aka Wat Phai Doi) overlooks the town from the west and offers superb views.

  • Ban Rak Thai (Mae Aw). A Kuomintang (KMT) village near the Myanmar border. On your way up (or down), you can stop by Mae Hong Son (Ruam Thai), a picturesque Shan minority village high in the mountains.
  • Pang Ung. Often referred to as Ruam Thai on some signs and maps, is a Shan Minority Village near Mae Hong Son. It should be combined with a trip to Ban Rak Thai. It is a picturesque village of bamboo houses, probably dolled up a bit for the tourist industry. Bamboo grows everywhere, including one stand at least 80 feet tall. There are one or two restaurants. It is unclear what they serve. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners speak some English, but this is not as heavily touristed as one might expect, so communication will be limited if you don’t speak Thai. There are at least two homestays here, and another guesthouse in the town between Pang Ung and the main road. From Mae Hong Song, follow signs for Ban Rak Thai, but at the village of Na Pa Paek, turn left, following the signs for “Pang Ung Reservoir,” or something of the sort. The signs are not exactly consistent, but if it indicates a reservoir, you are going the right direction. It is about 5.5 km from the turn-off, at N19 29.955, E097 54.705.
  • Fish Cave (Thumpla) (Near the village of Huay Pha, about 17 km from Mae Hong Son via Hwy 1095). This is a beautiful spot to escape the heat. A water channel that wends its way out of a small submerged cave. What is inside the cave is still unknown, but it astoundingly draws thousands of the “Pluang-Hin” fish into the cave, with only a small number of them coming back out.
  • Pha Sua Waterfall (26 km from Mae Hong Son on the road to Pai). This waterfall consists of six levels and offers some fine walks. This waterfall is about 20 m high and 30 m wide. It is said to be the most beautiful waterfall in Mae Hong Son Province. In rainy season, the cascading water makes the waterfall look like a rolling mat.
  • Thampla-Phasua Waterfall National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติ ถ้ำปลา – น้ำตกผาเสื่อ). This national park covers more than 488 km of the “Thanon Thongchai” range that separates Thailand from Burma. “Doi Larn” is the highest peak in the area, with an elevation of about 1,918 m.

Do

  • Hiking. One of the main reasons for tourist to go to Mae Hong Son is to go hiking in the surrounding mountains and visiting hill tribe villages. Nearly every guesthouse offers tours.
  • Mae Hong Son Loop. The provincial capital of Mae Hong Son is only one part of this vast and beautiful mountainous province. Explore the rest of the province by taking the popular Mae Hong Son Loop which travels through the province on a circuit that starts and ends in Chiang Mai.

Buy

  • Night Market (At the lake). Interesting market where you can buy art and handicrafts from hill tribe people.

Eat

Typical northern food consists of:

  • Nam phrik ong – a type of nam phrik chili paste that is made of minced pork and tomatoes. It is usually eaten with soft-boiled vegetables, pork crackling or deep-fried crunchy rice cakes.
  • Nam phrik num – another kind of paste that is popular in the north and eaten by Thais of all regions. It is often eaten with pork crackling.
  • Sai ua – a local sausage that is very aromatic and spicy, and usually is eaten with sticky rice.
  • Kaeng – a Thai curry
    • Kaeng Hang-Le – a northern-style pork curry.
    • Kaeng Om – a spicy curry made with intestines.
    • Kaeng khae – a spicy vegetable curry.
  • Khanom Chin Nam ngiao – a traditional northern chicken noodle dish.
  • Khao Soi – a noodle dish that can be made from chicken, pork, or beef. It contains coconut milk and is garnished with garlic.
  • Khao Som – cooked rice mixed with turmeric and tomato. Eaten with fried chilies and green peas.
  • Khao Lhueng – cooked rice mixed with turmeric. Made into a small ball and sprinkled with fried onion. It is usually eaten with pork balls.
  • Khaow Kan Chin – cooked rice mixed with the blood of fowls and steamed with fried onion. It is eaten with fried chilies.
  • Tua Pae Yee – dipped fried soybeans
  • Tau Pae Lau – fried soybeans with salt.
  • Souy Tamin – a dessert, made of sticky rice, coconut milk, and cane sugar.

Many restaurants are along the main road and the night market where there are also many food-stalls. There is a nice evening food market by the old jail, nowadays a table tennis club, close to the monument to the Shan king.

  • Bai Fern Restaurant, 87 Khunlumprapas Road—87 ถนนขุนลุมประพาส. An upscale restaurant with a pleasant atmosphere featuring Northern Thai specialties. Live (easy listening) music in the evenings. Affiliated with the Fern Resort (resort guests coming to town by shuttle drop off here).
  • Holland Club (Mok and Maew Souvenir) (Corner of Khunlun Praphat Road and Rung Ruang Kaan Ka Road. Look for the windmill out front.). Nice place to sit back and relax with a coffee and home baked apple pie (fresh out of the oven if you time it right). Browse the teak carvings, chat with the lovely lady who owns the place or browse the Dutch news printouts.
  • JiJi Restaurant. Closed Su. A larger restaurant just 30 m from the gates of the city airport is the best value for your budget money when you want to order vegetarian Western food. Of course the owner Lek is also fantastic at cooking Thai food.
  • Kai Mook, 23 Udom Chao Nithet Road (A few doors down from the corner with Khunlumprapas). Don’t miss the stuffed pork leg, and the fish sausage stuffed inside a deep fried snake head fish.
  • Meeting (SW corner of the lake). 08:00-23:00. Good coffee, good breakfast, free Wi-Fi.
  • Salween River Restaurant (Near the lake, next to PA Motors), ✉ salweenrivermhs76@gmail.com. Great food, people and atmosphere. Nan, the Shan owner, can cook up some amazing Shan/Thai/Western dishes. Try the Khao Soi, Burmese green tea salad, gai oup, or the green curry. Also good are the bread, pizza, and burgers. They have Wi-Fi and a big library of books that you can swap one-for-one for free. 30-300 Thai Baht.

Drink

  • Baiyoke Chalet (On the main road opposite the post office.). Mae Hong Son’s own kind of night club. Listen to live music, the same band plays almost every evening of the week, and enjoy the Thai audience singing along and dancing around the tables.
  • Crossroads (At the intersection between the main north-south road and the road leading to the hospital). The one pub that caters to both Thai and Westerners.

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget less than 500 Thai Baht
Mid-range 500-1,500 Thai Baht
Splurge over 1,500 Thai Baht

Mae Hong Son has a broad range of guest houses, mainly clustered around the lake. There are several hotels within the city. If you’ve got your own transport there are several more resorts farther out of town. Take a look before checking in because there are always changes.

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Northern Thailand

Nan Expat Travel Guide

Nan (น่าน) is a town in the remote valley of the Nan River in the Northern River Valleys region of Northern Thailand, bordering Laos. The area is heavily forested with arable land used mainly for agriculture. It is an ancient city steeped in history with its long association with the Lanna Thai culture and the […]

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Nan (น่าน) is a town in the remote valley of the Nan River in the Northern River Valleys region of Northern Thailand, bordering Laos. The area is heavily forested with arable land used mainly for agriculture. It is an ancient city steeped in history with its long association with the Lanna Thai culture and the Sukhothai kingdom.

Understand

Little-known Nan goes back to the depths of the history of Thailand. For centuries it was an separate, autonomous kingdom with few relationships with the outside world. The name Nan is also used in Thailand as a name given to annoying, buck-toothed, moon-faced children.

There are many evidence of prehistoric habitation, but it wasn’t until several small meuang united to form Nanthaburi on the Nan river in the mid-14th century – contemporary with the creation of Luang Prabang and the Lan Xang (Million Elephants) kingdom in Laos – that the city became a power to be taken into account. Associated with the mighty Sukhothai kingdom, the meuang took the title Wara Nakhon and played a significant part in the development of early Thai nationalism.

By the end of the 14th century Nan was one of the nine northern Thai-Lao principalities that comprised Lan Na Thai (now Lanna) and the city state flourished throughout the 15th century under the name Chiang Klang (Middle City), a reference to its position roughly midway between Chiang Mai (New City) and Chiang Thong (Golden City, which is today’s Luang Prabang.

The Burmese took control of the kingdom in 1558 and deported many of the inhabitants to Myanmar as slaves; the city was completely deserted until western Thailand was retaken from the Burmese in 1786. The local dynasty then regained local sovereignty and it remained semi-autonomous until 1931 when Nan finally accepted the full dominion of Bangkok.

Parts of the old city wall and several early wat dating from the Lanna period can be seen in contemporary Nan. The city of Nan’s wats are distinctive: some temple structures show Lanna influence, while others belong to the Tai Lü language, a legacy brought from Xishuangbanna in China, where the Tai Lüs came from.

Orientation

The city spreads out along around 4 km, between the airport at the north end of town and the bus station at the south end, but its historical and commercial centre is more compact. Its area follows roughly a north-south orientation, along the right bank of the River Nan. The two main axes of the town, more or less parallel, are Sumonthewarat Road (the easternmost and the closest to the river) and the Mahayot Road. The city’s main monuments are located at the junction of the three parallel axes: Pha Kong Road (west), Mahayot Road (middle), and Sumonthewarat Road (east) and Suriyapong Road which is perpendicular to them. As for the main shops, they can be found along the Sumonthewarat Road and its perpendicular, Anantaworattidet Road.

In the town, three bridges connect the right bank to the left bank of the River Nan: the southernmost, the Sriboonruang Bridge, the middle one, the Pattana Paknue Bridge, under which are held the boat races, and the northernmost, the Nakorn Nan Pattana Bridge.

  • Tourist Information Centre, Pha Kong Road (opposite Wat Phumin). Daily, 08:00-17:00.

Get in

Nan is connected by plane and by bus to the rest of the country.

By plane

Nan Airport (NNT) is at the north end of town, on the road to Pua-Thung Chang-Thai-Laos border (Rte 1080), about 1.5 km from downtown.

  • Nok Air connects Nan to Don Mueang Airport (DMK), Bangkok.

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By train

The train station serving Nan is Den Chai in Phrae Province. From the train station, take a songthaew parked in front of the station to Phrae bus station, about 30 min. Then catch a bus to Nan. There is also bus service directly to Nan from Den Chai. But you need to go to Den Chai bus station to take the bus.

By bus

The main bus station (Baw Kaw Saw) is at the south edge of town, at the end of a road perpendicular (turn left when arriving from Bangkok) to Wiangsa/Phrae/Bangkok Road.

  • From Bangkok: Buses to/from Bangkok take from 10-13 hours, according to the type of bus.
  • From Chiang Mai: 6-7 hours
  • From Chiang Rai: 5-6 hours at 09:30 from the old bus station in Chiang Rai, 164 Thai Baht.
  • From Phitsanulok: 5 hours at 11:00 and 16:30
  • From Phrae: 2 hours

Get around

Transportation in Nan is terrible. A traveller reported arriving at the bus station at 20:30 and finding no songthaews, tuk-tuks or taxis available (May 2020). That resulted in a 3-km hike to the guesthouse.

By motorbike

  • Hill Tribe House, 430/1 Sumondhevaraj Road (On the far side of Nan River, but you can call and they come get you). Do “Nan Sightseeing Tour-Riding and Camping Tour”. You can also rent a motorbike, although they only have 125 cc bikes.
  • Ultimate Adventure, 77/1-2 Mahawong Road. Rents out Honda Dreams, 110 cc (250 Thai Baht/day), Kawasaki D-Trackers, 125 cc (500 Thai Baht/day) and Kawasaki KlX 250 cc (800 Thai Baht/day). All bikes are new.

See

According to the Bangkok Post, the top two attractions are Doi Samer Dao and Wat Phumin, a temple with many local art masterpieces.

  • Pha Chu, or Pha Cheot Chu (ผาชูหรือผาเชิดชู). A cliff in Si Nan National Park (อุทยานแห่งชาติศรีน่าน) which covers extensive forested and mountainous areas. A national flag pole has a lanyard running all the way down to the foot of the hill, the longest in the country. (updated Sep 2018)
  • Thung Chang. H’Mong, Lua, Khamu and Thai Lue ethnic minorities villages. Caves, including Tham Pha Pueng, the deepest cave in Thailand. Doi Pha Phueng, limestone mountain peak. Tad Mok waterfall (trek) and Phukham waterfall. Wat Thueng Phueng temple, with a Buddha of the fourteenth century. Mani Phruek botanical garden and hill tribes. (updated Sep 2018)
  • King of Nan’s Teak House, Mahaprom Road (Opposite the back entrance of Wat Phra That Chang Kham). Built in 1866 of golden teak and reconstructed in 1941, this large house is now the residence of “Chao Sompradhana Na Nan”. It exhibits heritage antiques such as ancient weapons, war elephant ivory and photographs by King Rama V. Contact the owner for visits.
  • Chao Fongkham House. This is a large, rambling teak house in classic northern Thai style set in a beautiful garden. Chao Fongkham was a descendant of Chao Anantaworarithidej, the 62nd Lord of Nan and the father of the last two lords. The oldest parts of the house show planks cleaved by axe and knife, before large saws were available in Nan. At the time it was built, about 150 years ago, such large teak houses were reserved for nobility. It is probably the best preserved such noble house in the province. It was built in the area of Nan now occupied by the military camp, and was moved to its current site, on a quiet soi behind Wat Pragert, by Chao Fongkham’s parents, about 100 years ago. It is now occupied by Chao Fongkham’s children. (updated Oct 2018)
  • Nan Art Gallery (หอศิลป์ริมน่าน) (on the Nan River, about 20 km out of town on the road headed to Tha Wang Pha (Rte 1080)). Has many exhibition halls with temporary exhibition and souvenir shops. It can be reached by local songthaew (one that goes to Tha Wang Pha).
  • Nan National Museum (พิพิธภัณฑสถานแห่งชาติน่าน) (Pha Kong Road). Monday – Saturday, 09:00-16:00. In the original palace of the last two feudal lords of Nan. The building was constructed in 1903 by Phra Chao Suriyapnong Phalidet, the penultimate Lord of Nan, to replace his former wooden residence. After the death of the Chao Maha Brahma Surathada, the last Lord of Nan, his heirs donated this palace to the government in 1931 in order to be used as the provincial hall. The museum was inaugurated in 1973 after the new provincial hall had been erected. Thanks to renovations, it is one of Thailand’s most up-to-date provincial museums. Unlike many of them it also has English labels for many items on display.
    The ground level is divided into six exhibition rooms with ethnological exhibits dealing with the various ethnic groups found in the province, including northern Thais, Thai Lü, Htin, Khamu, Mabri, Hmong, and Mien. Silver work, textiles, folk utensils, and tribal costumes can be found on display. Exhibits on Nan history, archaeology, local architecture, royal regalia, weapons, ceramics, and religious art are shown on the second floor, divided into two sections. The first is the main hall which used to be the throne hall of the feudal lord. The second consists of the rooms in the north and south wings.
    The museum exhibits a wide collection of Buddha images which includes some rare Lanna styles as well as the floppy-eared local styles. Usually made from wood, these standing images are in the “calling for rain” posture (with hands at the sides, pointing down) and they show an obvious Luang Prabang influence.
    Also on display on the 2nd floor is a rare black (or more accurately reddish-brown) elephant tusk said to have been offered to a Nan king over 300 years ago by the Khün lord of Chiang Tung (Kengtung). Held aloft by a wooden Garuda (mythical bird) sculpture, the tusk measures 97 cm long and 47 cm in circumference.
    Books on Thai art and archaeology are sold in a building adjacent to the museum. 30 Thai Baht.
  • The Old Wall. Constructed in 1885 by Chao Anantavorarittidet, Nan’s ruler, the wall was built in place of an old log wall destroyed by flood in 1817. Remnants of the wall, around 400 m of the original 3,600 m, can be seen at the junction of Mahawong Road and Rob Muang Road, at the southwest end of town.

Events

  • Boat Races. For centuries, long-boat racing have been held annually in provinces with a major waterway. Long-boat racing is one of the traditional rites which commemorates the end of the Buddhist Rains Retreat. It takes place mainly in the 10th and/or 11th lunar months (around Sep-Oct) when the water level is at its peak. Long-boat racing is considered a national sport. Its history can be traced back to Ayutthaya period, around 600 years ago. In that time, boat racing was only a way to keep boatmen fit for national defence. Racing boats are usually made from dugout tree trunks and can accommodate up to 60 oarsmen (commonly dressed in the same colour) in a double row. The festival attracts several hundreds of spectators. Trophies and prizes are given to the winning teams at the end. The races on the Nan River are colourful and unequalled because the boats are brightly adorned with imaginatively designed prows. The cheering squads on the river bank are usually rumbustious and joyful.
  • Namatsakan Phrathat Beng Sakat Fair (งานนมัสการพระธาตุเบ็งสกัด) is organized on the full night of the 4th northern lunar month (around January).
  • Hok Peng Waisa Mahathat Chae Haeng Fair (งานประเพณี “หกเป็งไหว้สามหาธาตุแช่แห้ง”) takes place on the full moon night of the 6th northern lunar month or the 4th central lunar month (around the end of February–March). Sky rockets are fired as an offering to the Buddha.
  • Namatsakan Phrathat Khao Noi Fair (งานประเพณีนมัสการพระธาตุเขาน้อย) takes place on the full moon night of the 8th northern lunar month or the 6th central lunar month (around May). In the festival, there is a ceremony paying respect to Phrathat Khao Noi and sky rockets are fired as an offering to the Buddha.
  • Namatsakan Song Nam Phrachao Thongthip Fair (งานประเพณีนมัสการสรงน้ำพระเจ้าทองทิพย์) at Wat Suan Tan during the Songkran festival on 12–15 April.
  • Tan Kuai Salak, Hae Khua Tan or Khrua Than Festival (งานตานก๋วยสลาก หรืองานแห่คัวตาน หรือ ครัวทาน) Than Salak or Kuai Salak is an ancient tradition created in the Buddha’s time. For the northern people, it is considered as a major local merit making ceremony possessing local uniqueness. Monks are invited to receive the offerings by drawing lots.

Temples

  • Wai Phrathat Festival (งานประเพณีไหว้พระธาตุ). Nan is a town in the Lanna kingdom where Buddhism spread for a long period of time. Within the ancient city, both in Nan and in Pua Disrict, are wats on the hills. Every year, festivals paying respect to the important phrathats are organised as follows:
  • Namatsakan Phrathat Beng Sakat Fair (งานนมัสการพระธาตุเบ็งสกัด) is organised on the full night of the 4th northern lunar month (around January).
  • Hok Peng Waisa Mahathat Chae Haen Fair (งานประเพณีหกเป็งไหว้สามหาธาตุแช่แห้) takes place on the full moon night of the 6th northern lunar month or the 4th central lunar month (end-February-March). Rockets are fired as an offering to the Buddha.
  • Namatsakan Phrathat Khao Noi Fair (งานประเพณีนมัสการพระธาตุเขาน้อย) takes place on the full moon night of the 8th northern lunar month or the 6th central lunar month (around May). In the festival, there is a ceremony paying respect to Phrathat Khao Noi and rockets are fired as an offering to the Buddha.
  • Tan Kuai Salak, Hae Khua Tan or Khrua Than Festival (งานตานก๋วยสลาก หรืองานแห่คัวตาน หรือ ครัวทาน) Than Salak or Kuai Salak is an ancient tradition created in the Buddha’s time. For the northern people, it is considered as a major local merit-making ceremony possessing local uniqueness. Monks are invited to receive the offerings by drawing lots.
  • Namatsakan Song Nam Phrachao Thongthip Fair (งานประเพณีนมัสการสรงน้ำพระเจ้าทองทิพย์) at Wat Suan Tan during the Songkran festival on 12–15 April.
  • Wat Phumin. The city of Nan’s most famous wat is renowned for its cruciform ubosoth (or bot) which was constructed in 1596 and restored during the reign of Chao Ananta Vora Ritthi Det (1867-1875). It is the only temple built as if it were on the back of two immense snakes (or Nagas). Each of the four entrances is approached via a small corridor topped by a finely decorated point-shaped structure (underlining the royal origin of the temple) equipped with smoothly carved doors, with Chinese demon guards in the east, flowers in the north, and forest life motifs in the Lanna-style in the west and south. The wat’s interior is impressive. It is also a good example of Thai Lue architecture. Well preserved murals of great value illustrating the Khattana Kumara (Jataka) on the north wall and the Nimi Jatakas on the west wall, as well as scenes of the local life of the time when they were painted by Thai Lue artists during the restoration of the temple at the end of the 19th century. Europeans are depicted in a reference to the arrival of the French, to whom the east of the Nan Valley area was yielded in 1893.
  • Wat Phaya Wat (วัดพญาวัด). An ancient religious site, it has rectangular chedi base on which Buddha states are placed around the chedi structure. Combined artistic influences of Lanna, Lan Chang, and native Nan can be detected. (updated Sep 2018)
  • Wat Chang Kham Woravihan (วัดช้างค้ำวรวิหาร) (Opposite the Nan National Museum). Its main features are the sculpted upper halves of elephants adorning around the chedi, a Sukhothai influence. (updated Sep 2018)
  • Wat Nong Bua (วัดหนองบัว). Built by Thai Lu craftsmen who had early migrated from southern China. Apart from the viharn which is adorned with elaborate carvings, there are also wall murals painted by Thai Lu artists some one hundred years ago. (updated Sep 2018)
  • Wat Phrathat Beng Sakat (วัดพระธาตุเบ็งสกัด). The main Buddha image is in the local style residing on the so-called Chukkachi base. The back of the Buddha image is decorated with a mirror in accordance with the Thai Lue belief. (updated Sep 2018)
  • Wat Hua Khuang (Diagonally opposite Wat Phra That Chang Kham). This small wat comprises a distinctive Lanna / Lan Xang-style stupa with four Buddha niches, a wooden hàw trai, now used as a kùti (monk cell), and a noteworthy bòt with a Luang Prabang-style carved wooden veranda. A carved wooden ceiling and a huge naga altar can be found inside. Stylistic cues suggest this may be one of the city’s oldest wats though the temple’s founding date is unknown.
  • Wat Min Muang (Close to Wat Phumin on the same side of Suriyaphong Road, further west). Its ubosoth’s exterior is embellished with elegant bas-relief stucco while its interior is adorned with mural paintings depicting Nan people’s way of life, painted by present-day local artists. The Holy City Pillar is enshrined in the four-sided Thai styled pavilion in front of the ubosoth. This pillar is 3 m high, stands on a carved gilded wooden base and is topped with a four-faced Brahma, representing the four virtues on Buddhism. It is an ancient Thai totem that is still very significant. The city pillars were probably erected as a ritual centre for agrarian fertility rites in ancient Thai towns and kingdoms, in the heart of the old cities and just next to the seat of power of a king or a chief.
  • Wat Phaya Phu (on Phaya Phu Road, west of the police station,). This wat was built during the reign of Pra Chao Phukheng and is about six centuries old. There is a big chedi behind the vihara where are enshrined two ancient Buddha images. The vihara’s door are carved with image of mythical giant guards.
  • Wat Phra That Chae Haeng (วัดพระธาตุแช่แห้ง) (2 km past the bridge that spans the Nan River, heading southeast out of town). This temple dates from 1355, built in the reign of Pray Kan Muang. It is the most sacred wat in Nan Province. It’s set in a square-walled enclosure on top of a hill with a view of Nan and the valley. The Thai Lue influenced bôt features a triple-tiered roof with carved wooden eaves and dragon reliefs over the doors. A gilded Lanna-style stupa sits on a large square base next to the bôt with sides 22.5 m long; the entire stupa is 55.5 m high.
  • Wat Phra That Chang Kham, Pha Kong Road. After Wat Phra That Chae Haeng, this wat is the second-most important temple in the city. The main viharn, reconstructed in 1458, has a huge seated Buddha image and faint murals. Also in the viharn is a set of Lanna-period scrolls inscribed (in Lanna script) not only with the usual Buddhist scriptures but also with the history, law and astrology of the time. A thammdat (a dhamma seat used by monks when teaching) sits to one side. The magnificent stupa behind the viharn dates from the 14th century, probably around the same time the temple was founded, It features 24 elephant supports similar to those seen in Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai. Next to the stupa is a small, insignificant bôt from the same era. Wat Phra That Chang Kham is also known for having the largest hàw trai (Tripitaka library) in Thailand, now empty.
  • Wat Phra That Khao Noi (on top of Khao Noi hill, 2 km W of town). The hill is 250 m high. The recent temple buildings are nothing special but from the top of the hill, easily accessed by a road, one can see, side by side with a giant Buddha statue, Nan.
  • Wat Suan Tan (วัดสวนตาล) (Suan Tan Road). Supposedly established in 1456, the Wat Suan Tan (Palm Grove Monastery) is an interesting stupa of the 15th century (40 m high) which combines Hindu/Khmer style motives (stupa in form of prang) and, surmounting it, a Sukhothai-style motive in the shape of a lotus bud, modified in its current form in 1914. The heavily restored viharn contains the Phra Chao Thong Thipun, out of early Sukhothai-style bronze seated Buddha in Bhûmisparsha-Mudrâ. It measures 4.1 m and may have been ordered by the Chiang Mai sovereign Tilokaraj following his conquest of Nan in 1449.

Buy

Banks with ATMs can be found all over town, notably at Sumonthewarat Road, Anantaworrattidet Road and Sumon Thevarat Road.

Department stores

  • D Best Super Store, 42/3 Suriyapong Road (Near Nan Museum), fax: +66 54 710727. With a small cinema.
  • Nara Department Store (Old Nara), 400/1 Sumon Dhevaraj Road.
  • Nara Hyper Mark (New Nara), 155 Sumon Dhevaraj Road, (Opposite Soi Aranyawat 2). 09:00-21:00. The biggest department store in town with a parking lot.
  • Tesco Lotus, 320 Moo 4, Yantarakitkosol Road (Hwy 101 to Phrae, about 2 km from town centre). 09:00-22:00. Department store.

Handicrafts

Good buys include local textiles, especially the Thai Lu weaving styles. Typical Thai Lu fabrics feature red and black designs on white cotton in floral, geometric and animal designs and also indigo and red on white. The lai naam lai (flowing-water design) shows stepped patterns representing streams, rivers and waterfalls. Other excellent quality textiles are the local Hmong appliqué and the Mien embroidery. Thin grass-and-bamboo baskets and mats and Hmong silverware are also available.

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Thai Covid-19
4,072
Confirmed
19
Confirmed (24h)
60
Deaths
0
Deaths (24h)
1.5%
Deaths (%)
3,848
Recovered
9
Recovered (24h)
94.5%
Recovered (%)
164
Active
4.0%
Active (%)
In Thailand, the health authorities reported 19 new corona infections by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration within 24 hours. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the CFCSA has counted a total of 4,072 infections with Sars-CoV-2 in Thailand. The number of deaths related to the virus rose 0 to a total of 60.

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