General Information A quiet and tranquil province, Nan nestles in a verdant valley in northern Thailand. About 668 kilometres from Bangkok, it covers an area of 11,472 square kilometres and is made up of the following districts: Mueang, Wiang Sa, Na Noi, Pua, Chiang Klang, Tha Wang Pha, Thung Chang, Mae Charim, Ban Luang, Na Mun, Santi Suk, Bo Kluea, Chaloem Phra Kiat, Song Khwae, and Phu Phiang. The people of Nan descend from the Lan Changs (Laotians). Their forebears moved to settle around present-day Pua district which is rich in rock salt deposits, about 700 years ago at the time when Sukhothai was becoming the kingdom of the Thais. They subsequently moved south to the fertile Nan River basin which is much more extensive.
Nan's history is deeply involved with its neighbours, in particular Sukhothai which played an important role in both political and religious terms before Nan became a part of Lanna, Burma and Thailand in that order. Today Nan is still the home of numerous Thai Lue and other hilltribes who retain highly interesting customs and traditions.
How To Get There
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 32 to Nakhon Sawan and use Highway No. 117 to Phitsanulok, Highway No. 11 to Amphoe Den Chai, then take Highway No. 101 to Nan via Phrae, a total distance of 668 kilometres.
By Bus Transport Co. Ltd. operates bus services from Bangkok's Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Nan every day. Call 0 2936 2852-66 or visit www.transport.co.th for more information. Other private companies are such as Phrae Tour Tel: 0 2245 2369, Sombat Tour Tel: 0 2936 2495-6 and Choetchai Tour Tel: 0 5471 0362 (Nan Office).
Thai Airways flies from Bangkok to Nan every day. Call 1566 or visit www.thaiairways.com for more information.
Traditional Boat Race
The Traditional Boat Race is held in October or November each year when the Nan River flows swiftly past the province. It is incorporated with the celebrations of the Black Ivory and the local Kathin ceremony. Boats are dugouts made from large logs ad beautifully decorated. Manned by well-trained oarsmen, the racing boats are lustily cheered on by spectators lining both banks of the river.
Nam Wa Rafting
This exciting activity waits for tourists who like to shoot many rapids. Rafting can be accompanied by elephant riding. The suitable time for rafting is from September to February. Visitors can contact travel agencies in the town.
Nan National Museum
The building of the Nan National Museum was actually constructed in 1903 and once the residence of a ruler of Nan. It displays exhibitions concerning the town's history and major structures, evolution of arts in different ages, and numerous ancient objects, the most eminent of which is the Black Ivory. It also provides anthropological information on the northern indigenous people including the several minorities residing in Nan. The museum is open Wednesday-Sunday from nine in the morning until four o'clock in the afternoon.
Wat Chang Kham
Opposite the Nan National Museum is Wat Chang Kham. Its main features are the sculpted upper halves of elephants adorning around the Chedi, a Sukhothai influence. Here have been found stones with ancient Thai scripts relating the alliance between the kings of Nan and Sukhothai when Nan was still and independent state. An ancient golden Buddha is enshrined in the Vihan.
Wat Phaya Wat
This temple is located just before reaching the town on Highway No. 101. An ancient religious site, it has rectangular Chedi bases on which Buddha states are placed around the Chedi structure. Combined artistic influences of Lanna, Lan Chang and native Nan can be detected.
Wat Phra That Chae Hang
Wat Phra That Chae Hang, about 2 kilometres from town on Highway No. 1168, is ancient religious site of the province. Once the centre of the old town, it was moved to its present location in about 1368. It features a 55 metre-high golden Chedi containing a Holy Relic from Sukhothai. Over the Vihan's door frames and on parts of the roofs are plaster designs in the shape of Naga, the great serpent, which represent the artistic best in local architecture.
A uniquely designed and the most interesting temple in Nan is Wat Phumin, which has a 4-portico, single building housing both the Ubosot and Vihan. Four Buddha statues with their backs against one another are installed in the main hall facing the four directions. The doors are delicately carved in splendid designs by Lanna craftsmen.
Wat Phumin underwent a major restoration in 1867 since it was built some 27 years ago. It is believed that the wall murals were commissioned during this time. The wall paintings, in Thai Lu style are considered highly valuable and depict legends concerning the Lord Buddha as well as local legends and the local way of life, which include native attires, weaving and commerce with foreign countries.
Wat Suan Tan
Wat Suan Tan, built in 1230, features an old, beautifully-shaped Chedi and houses a huge bronze Buddha statue, Phra Chao Thong Thip cast by a king of Chiang Mai in 1450.
Ban Pak Nai
Ban Pak Nai, about 22 kilometres along the road winding over the shoulder of the mountain some 96 kilometres from the provincial town, is a fishing village on the bank of the fresh-water lake above the Sirikit Dam in Uttaradit province. Local rafts are turned into restaurants and accommodations for visitors who prefer vacationing amid peaceful natural surrounding. The most famous food is the many kinds of fresh-water fish caught in the lake.
Hom Chom is a natural geological occurrence located about 10 kilometres from Na Noi district on Highway No. 1083. The site is characterised by a large earthen mould eroded by the elements through the ages, leaving only hard eastern columns, whose exotic shapes and forms can be interpreted as differently as the imagination goes.
Si Nan National Park
The Si Nan National Park covers extensive forested and mountainous areas. Pha Chu is the major attraction in the park. The cliff can be reached by taking the Nan-Wiang Sa - Na Noi route for 135 kilometres, then turning into Highway No. 1083 and on for another 22 kilometres. The cliff-stop offers an excellent viewing point to enjoy a panoramic vista of the mountains. A national flag pole has a lanyard running all the way down to the foot of the hill, the longest in the country. There are camping areas for visitors in the park.
Doi Phu Kha National Park
To the north of Nan along Highway No. 1080 in Nong Bua district and with a further distance of 25 kilometres on the route to Bo Kluea district lies the Doi Phu Kha National Park. The terrain is mainly forested lands on limestone mountain ranges, the source of several streams which merge into the Nan River. The elevation is about 1,900 metres above sea level.
Here are found several rare and near-extinct floras, particularly the Chomphu Phu Kha, whose pink flowers are in full bloom during February. In the morning, a sea of mist can be seen drifting across the valley. There are also several scenic waterfalls. Permits to camp can be applied for. Alternatively, tourists may choose to utilise the accommodation services in the park.
Thai Lue Village Ban Nong Bua
This village is about 40 kilometres to the north of the town on Highway No. 1080, with an additional 3 kilometres after the left turn into the village in Tha Wang Pha district. The Thai Lue people living at Ban Nong Bua are noted or producing the traditional tribal fabric, an art handed down from generation to generation. It has also been improved in the designs but still retaining the original patterns. The native woven materials have now become a highly popular buy among tourist.
Wat Nong Bua
Wat Nong Bua in Nong Bua village of Tha Wang Pha district was built by Thai Lue craftsmen who had early migrated from southern China. Apart from the Vihan which is adorned with elaborate carvings, there are also wall murals painted by Thai Lue artists some one hundred years ago. Their artistic value and degree of perfection equal those at Wat Phumin.